User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 119

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Advertising on Italian Wiki Loves Monuments page

An Italian user posted the following to the Wikimedia Forum at Meta some weeks ago (they never received a reply):

During this month a banner is appearing in both italian and english version. It promotes the monuments photographic competition.

Clicking on the italian version you are redirected to a page promoting the competition itself. This page is populated bu advertising banners as shown in this screenshot.

Advertisement banners on wikimedia italy related project - September 2012

I have always supported wikipedia financially basing on the fact that no advertising appears on this site. Of course if advertising banners will start to appear I will loose any reason to continue financial support, as I will consider financial support already provided by advertisers.

Note that you are redirected to an external site in this case (, but the banner from wich you start is from wikipedia. I think this kind of bahaviour should not be accepted as it is not coherent with wikipedia rules.

The website appears to belong to Frieda Brioschi, the head of Wikimedia Italy. AndreasKolbe JN466 23:01, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

I agree. The premise of advertising on Wikipedia is bad and Jimbo explicitly refutes it. I think it is noncompliant for these banners to be up on the site. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thegreatgrabber (talkcontribs) 23:58, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

There are several interrelated issues here, and since I know nothing about the particular details of this case, I can only speak philosophically about the broad principles.
First, there has never been advertising in Wikipedia. From time to time, though, various conferences and events have acknowledged sponsors on the page of that site. That's what this looks like to me, an acknowledgement of a "technical partner" and "media partners". I don't consider things like that to be particularly problematic at all, and this sort of thing is wildly different from Wikipedia itself having advertisements.
Second, it is important that we assume good faith about perceived conflicts of interest. You seem to be implying that Frieda is profiting personally from a sponsorship of a project of Wikimedia Italy. That strikes me as very very very highly unlikely, but the polite thing to do if you are concerned about it is to ask Frieda, not me.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 01:59, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
I was more concerned that the sponsors were benefiting from a Wikimedia project—but if, as you say, it is common for Wikimedia events to have commercial sponsors, and for these sponsors to have their logos on the event website, then that may be absolutely fine. I hadn't come across anything like that before. In any event, your advice to ask Frieda directly is of course a good one; I've located her Italian user page and dropped her a note. Cheers, AndreasKolbe JN466 03:35, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps if you take a look at the aptly-named sponsors section for the Wikimania 2012 page. Yazan (talk) 03:51, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Right you are. Face-glasses.svg I now see the English and German wikilovesmonuments pages have sponsor logos too, though not in such a prominent position (you can easily miss them). AndreasKolbe JN466 04:09, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes, WLM Italia has sponsors and technical partner. I know no rule that forbids this :-) And as Yazan shows above Wikimania has sponsor too.. WLM Italia costs ~30k and our sponsors covered these costs, it's pretty common. And as you probably know WMI doesn't take part in WMF fundraising neither asked a grant or FDC for its funds.

Frieda (talk) 07:04, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

ps: I forgot one stuff: WMI hired a project manager for WLM and it's not me. I'm still a volunteer in everything concerning WMI. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Frieda (talkcontribs) 07:06, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Do we need 'Did you know' anyway?

Do we? Obviously not. We don't need it to fulfil our role as providers of an online encyclopaedia - it would still be an encyclopaedia without it. And we could surely find something else to fill a DYK-shaped hole on the main page if we chose to. So what is it for, exactly? What would we lose if we did away with it (other than a focus for unnecessary drama)? Personally, I'm of the opinion that it serves no useful purpose whatsoever - there are plenty of ways of drawing attention to article content that don't involve extraction of dubious out-of-context factoids just for the sake of it. So, a challenge for those who like it - imagine that we didn't have a DYK feature on the main page - what arguments would you make for one to be included? What would it add to the Wikipedia experience for our readers, and why shouldn't we use the space for other content instead...? AndyTheGrump (talk) 03:08, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

  • DYK seems to have two points. One is to highlight novel and entertaining facts. The other is to display new content. The latter is useful because it exposes the new content to many eyes. For example, the lead DYK is currently Bad Pharma — an article which I started and another editor expanded. This is about a recent polemical book which claims that "medicine is broken". This is obviously a strong and significant claim and so it's good that this content is brought to the attention of many readers. It seems to be of more general interest than the current FA, which is about a comic book. The FA is, by definition, already well scrutinised and so putting it on the front page is just bragging. There's a place for that but, as Wikipedia is far from finished, we need to stimulate interest in incomplete articles too. Warden (talk) 08:11, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
OK but incomplete articles are an invitation to edit. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:21, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
We should use the Main Page for editor recruitment. There were only 12,633 new English Wikipedia editor registrations in September 2012, the least since 2005.

If you actually wanted to encourage editing with the front page, you wouldn't put things which were recently expanded or improved, but things which need to be, such as WP:TAFI. Paum89 (talk) 14:48, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

  • The question puts the cart before the horse. You say we could fill the hole with something else, Andy. So suggest what would replace DYK that would be better. Resolute 20:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
    • [Edited:] {{Today's article for improvement}} Paum89 (talk) 15:42, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
      • Ok, so instead of a series of one sentence factoids from random recently expanded articles, you wish to replace with a series of one sentence factoids from problematic articles? And, obviously, we are going to ignore all of the previous complaints about putting unsourced, possibly policy violating material on the main page? I have to admit, I am not seeing that as being any sort of improvement for our main page. I do, however, wish you well with the TAFI project. Resolute 22:09, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
        • Since when are articles which need improvement "problematic"? They are opportunities! Something with as many views as the Main Page shouldn't be used to let experienced users gloat and paid editors earn their COI moneys. Why isn't it being used for editor recruitment? Paum89 (talk) 22:19, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I updated the template to the one with "How to edit" instructions in it. Paum89 (talk) 15:42, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
The real problem with DYK is that many of the hooks just aren't hooky enough. I would rather relax all the other requirements about newness of articles etc., in favour of really surprising facts. (Made up) Example:
  • Sminoddia purpilla (a species of rush moth) ranges over much of the Australian outback.
  • Sminoddia purpilla (a species of rush moth) has a tongue three times its own body length.
To me the first is only interesting if you know a lot about rush moths.
Sometimes wording can help - suppose for example that the every other rush moth species has a tongue less than 0.1 mm long, whereas S. purpilla has a 0.5 mm tongue.
  • Sminoddia purpilla (a species of rush moth) has a tongue that can be longer than 0.5mm.
  • Sminoddia purpilla (a species of rush moth) has a tongue more than five time the length of any other rush moth species.
Rich Farmbrough, 22:08, 27 October 2012 (UTC).
Which one are you suggesting is more interesting than the others? Paum89 (talk) 22:21, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
Clearly the second one in each pair. Rich, I agree with you. Sometimes it's not easy to write interesting hooks, and writing good hooks is something that needs some experience to do. I've written over 100 DYKs so far, and some of them have been among the most-read DYKs of all time. My five top DYKs got over 150,000 page views between them, and there were two factors that helped with that: (1) all but one appeared at the top of the slot with a picture - any DYK that does that gets an automatic advantage - and (2) I consciously tried to go for hooks that would make people want to find out more. For example, for those five DYKs:
I like to think that it's rather like writing a newspaper headline - you only have a few seconds to catch people's interest and make them read whatever's below the headline, or in this case to click on the link. It's not always easy to get it right. One thing I've noticed is that DYKs where the main link is at the front of the hook do better in terms of page views than those where the hook is at the back, so I now consciously try to front-load the main link and have as few other links in the hook as possible, to reduce the likelihood that visitors will be distracted from the DYK article. Prioryman (talk) 23:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
By the way, I've kicked off a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Did you know#Improving the quality of DYK hooks. Please feel free to join in. :-) Prioryman (talk) 23:24, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
  • So, my perspective is very much "we don't need DYK....and we don't need anything to replace it".
    If we're talking about replacing it with something in terms of a metric for content creation or good work, I firmly agree we need an actual badge that says "this person did [a thing of value]". That we should work on. But in terms of sticking something else on the main page, not so much.
    Ultimately it boils down to this: Wikipedia's main page is outdated, filled with far too much information, and doesn't actually reflect the site. It's very much orientated as a biased public face: it's "here's what we've done", not "here's what you can do", which is great for readers but not so great for the potential editors amongst them. A lot of editors recognise that the main page needs a do-over - there's yet another redesign poll going on right now. But what those designs all ultimately suffer from is the obligation to keep every realm, every domain of information currently present on the main page on the main page. And this is because every represented segment (FAs, DYKs, ITNs) has its own advocates and its own people who stand to gain from keeping it around.
    This is not healthy - we should have a better main page, and we should have a more coherent set of metrics for the value of an editor's contributions. I'm strongly supportive of efforts to mark as historic or merely remove from prominence the DYK process, in line with these goals, and I'd be interested in seeing if anyone else is interested in working with me to look at the main page design without constraints of existing elements. Ironholds (talk) 01:59, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Someone should. How about replacing DYK one day per week with a link-heavy paragraph on getting started editing followed by {{TAFI blurb}}? Paum89 (talk) 05:52, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Noo! Link-heavy is bad; it gives people 100 different places they could head down into the labyrinth. And the problem with TAFI (as wonderful as it is) is that it's somewhat open-ended - what's the specific task people are being asked to do? - and also limited (one article for the number of readers we get is going to get overwhelmed). Ironholds (talk) 10:06, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Overwhelmed? The Today's featured article almost always is left unprotected, and even when it gets lots of misguided edits cleanup is easy. Test it and see, don't just assume. Paum89 (talk) 16:00, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

Im rather curious as to why this discussion ws started here at all. What is the purpose talking about possible removal of a main page section here, rather then at WP:MAIN or WP:DYK? --Kevmin § 03:58, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

Why? "Jimbo welcomes your comments and updates – he has an open door policy". Lots of things get talked about here. Jimbo has commented in the past regarding DYK. DYK seems once again to be a factor regarding the whole Gibraltar mess. Why shouldn't it be discussed here? AndyTheGrump (talk) 04:52, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
The Gibraltarfication of DYK is a Jimbo-level fiasco. Replacing DYK with TAFI or similar editor recruitment efforts is a Jimbo-level proposal which won't go over well at WT:DYK or WT:MAIN because the status quo's constituency are the only people who discuss things there. Refocusing the main page's 8,000,000 views per day on editor recruitment is more of a Foundation mission-level change far beyond the cosmetic changes contemplated on those pages. I'm sure it will need all manner of WP:CENT, watchlist notice, Village Pumps, and RFC treatment if it doesn't get shot down here. Paum89 (talk) 05:01, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
The labyrinth (dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands???) of discussion pages are each controlled by small groups of volunteers emotionally vested in maintaining the status quo of each associated page in mainspace. With vogon-like officiousness, they ensure that the dreaded publicity of ongoing debate that would ensure broader participation is eradicated under Wikipedia's ill-conceived "anti-canvassing" rules. This page, fortunately, is essentially a place for macro-level debate and discussion of emerging problems. It is well watched by those holding the full range of perspectives on every important issue — and that's a good thing. Carrite (talk) 05:59, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Someone needs to identify (1) is the Main Page important? and (2) if it is, what should be highlighted on it? My view is that it is important, and we should highlight both excellent articles, and opportunities for new editors to become involved. DYK can at its best do both of those, but usually doesn't - there are far too many articles listed, and both hooks and content are too often poor or trivial. It should still exist in some form, but have many fewer and much higher quality hooks. It's at least as important to highlight areas where editors can contribute to articles needing improvement, and to guide new editors through some of the basic editing processes and guidelines. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:22, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
(1) yes, and (2), not sure. Steve Krug has some guiding design principles on "home pages". I really need to write about this. Ironholds (talk) 10:06, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
  • The format and content of the main page matters most upon mobile devices, which are increasingly the way that people access the internet. On my smartphone, the default view just shows the Featured Article and the In the News sections. Today, that is much more about the porbeagle than I care to know and so this wall-of-text format seems quite poor. Our default view ought to be more general and should provide an option for the reader to tailor the main page view to show the section(s) of their choice. Let the readers control this, not the editors. When the readership is able to vote with their feet, we will then be able to see what they want and use most. Warden (talk) 08:55, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    I imagine we could do some A/B testing fairly easily (heck, I could do it in my spare time) and work out which sections interest readers the most. Ironholds (talk) 10:06, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
We need a mechanism, yes, which gets editors to produce new content or expands articles from a poor condition into something different. However critical anybody is of DYK and its petty rules and flaws, nobody can deny that articles initially need to go undergo expansion before they can develop to GA level. DYK serves as this at present but I personally would be very open to something to replace it, a times I find it exasperating, at other times it seems fine. But reform, whether its adding GAs, changing it from DYK? to article snippets or whatever is unlikely to forma consensus so I'm of the opinion the people with the power to make a change need to simply just to something to change it.♦ Dr. ☠ Blofeld 16:04, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
"Welcome to the English Wikipedia mainpage, sponsored by Article Rescue Squadron..." j/k Actually, if you think about it, the Wikipedia mainpage is potentially an extremely valuable "ad space" for getting casual visitors clued in to editing at WP. Carrite (talk) 16:32, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
  • A possible alternative universe - What would happen if we were to do a take on the famous "Google white front page"? WP has already got this going to some extent with the logo search page, but what if a truly vanilla "Welcome to English Wikipedia" page stood in lieu of the cluttered and controversial main page? Carrite (talk) 16:25, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    Personally, I think that'd be too minimalist. Google is about going to other places: what you find through it is up to you, is dependent on your actions. Google is a portal to The Other. A minimalist page makes sense for this kind of site, particularly since it's the only service google search offers. Thematically, Wikipedia is different; we're made up of a large jumble of things, most of which can be stuck in two boxes; "passive content" and "active content". Passive is, well, reading - there's no interaction, it's merely a one-way thing. Page loads, reader reads. Reader goes to other page, reader reads. Active content, like contributing, or avenues to contribute, are a whole other shebang, and it'd be interesting to see that surfaced. Ironholds (talk) 17:07, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    Y'know, I'm tempted to just call in a favour at work and go "[designer], please rebuild this with no preconceptions. Do a mockup, we'll take a look". Ahh, corruption :p. Ironholds (talk) 17:08, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    Love this idea. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 17:33, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    There is currently a straw poll on Main Page redesign which includes proposals for including editor recruitment text, e.g. Dr. Blofeld's proposal. Paum89 (talk) 18:42, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
    Indeed, but they all fail by including all the existing elements. The end result is that there's far too much stuff :(. We need to have someone just go "alright, ignoring the current design completely, how would I build it". I've got a few ideas of ways to massively reduce the size of existing elements while keeping them all in circulation, but that's sort of a half-solution. Ironholds (talk) 18:44, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
User:Nathan2055's redesigned main page (I've left out the sidebar)
  • Check out Nathan2055's mock-up, which is, I think, close to perfect. (It could use an "advanced search" option, and maybe a couple of other links, but its style is exactly right for Wikipedia.) Nathan's proposal is being unanimously opposed. Maybe it's time for a wider poll on this question. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:49, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
    Totally disagree. As said above, we've got a problem of too much content, but we've also got a problem of "the content doesn't represent what we do here" - that's not really a solution. Ironholds (talk) 04:54, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
    I can see why it's being unanimously opposed. It treats Wikipedia like a search engine, which it's not. The Main Page needs to be a content portal, not a search box. Of course, the question then becomes what content links need to appear. Prioryman (talk) 08:48, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
It links to these portals: Arts, Biography, Geography, History, Mathematics, Science, Society, Technology, All portals. What's missing? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 11:15, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
How to write a Wikipedia article and Wikipedia:Contact us should probably be given prominence, too. What other portals? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 12:43, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
The very underwhelming references to volunteer contribution mechanisms was what I was getting at, yes :). And has anyone evaluated the portals to check they're user-friendly and what people use? We could just be sending people to a (different) morass of information. Ironholds (talk) 15:27, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm sure they could be improved. But that applies to all the project. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 15:48, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

(od) Why not replace it with a "Edit this article" section and invite readers to add information to a stub article? Since the encyclopedia is a work in progress, let's highlight that part as well. --regentspark (comment) 13:16, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Lets face it. At this point in Wikipedia's progression it needs editors that have the knowledge of a topic and who have or are willing to seek out sources and use that knowledge to intelligently put in sourced content from them. And due to policies and guidelines that haven't been written well enough, Wikipedia is a rough and nasty place to them; it has plateaued out partly because it mostly isn't getting or keeping them The idea that "we want everybody to edit" is a chant that is no longer applicable. And so recruitment misses the boat, we need changes to get and keep the editors and editing that is needed. North8000 (talk) 13:49, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
I think it depends how we do it. Uncategorised articles? Unreferenced ones? People can be trusted with those. Ironholds (talk) 17:22, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

DYK, particularly the way it currently works, is too poorly scrutinised for it to be a good advert for Wikipedia. I'd be only too happy for it to be dropped from Main Page. --Dweller (talk) 15:28, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

  • We don't "need" DYK but it is a rather useful option. IMO 76Strat String da Broke da (talk) 15:58, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I see this claim made all the time, but DYK is actually a lot better scrutinised than either "In the news" or "On this day". There's no review process at all for the articles that get highlighted there – any autoconfirmed editor can add any article they like to OTD – and a fair number of them are really quite crappy. In terms of scrutiny of what's on the Main Page, the order is as follows from most to least:
  • Today's Featured Article (FA nomination then TFA nomination)
  • Today's Featured Picture and Today's Featured List (featured nomination)
  • DYK (nomination and review)
  • ITN (nomination, no review as such)
  • OTD (no nomination or review, anyone can update)
  • So if you're looking for low-hanging fruit, OTD seems to have the greatest room for improvement. DYK is actually mid-ranking in terms of the level of scrutiny it gets. Prioryman (talk) 18:50, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
  • The difference is, compared with those others, DYK makes it much easier for a group to 'game the system' and promote their favoured articles. ITN and OTD are limited by the fact they need to tie into recent news/today's date - they're not immune to manipulation, but it's harder to do so. Creating a new Featured Article or Featured Picture takes a great deal of time and effort (and even that doesn't guarantee it'll get shown on the main page). But getting an article onto DYK is very easy - it doesn't take a great deal of effort to expand a short article, they can be on any subject, all that's needed is a little cooperation to get it featured. Personally, I've always thought DYK was pretty pointless; the latest controversy just demonstrates that the system is fundamentally dysfunctional. We should have got rid of it a long time ago. Robofish (talk) 16:55, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

I made {{Today's article for improvement}} from Wikipedia:2012 main page redesign proposal/Dr. Blofeld and {{TAFI blurb}} which looks like this at present:

How to edit
Everyone can edit Wikipedia, but please follow our policies and guidelines, especially the five pillars. You can help Wikipedia by creating a new article, editing an existed page, or simply inserting pictures. If you are a newcomer, please refer to our tutorial and FAQ. Here is an article we are trying to improve:

A view of the Quetschenfest street fair in the community of Geichlingen, Germany

Please help to improve this article!

Could some administrator please be bold and announce that they plan to replace something with that or add it on the front page for one day in the next few days and see what people have to say about the proposition? Please feel free to spruce up the larger template. Paum89 (talk) 23:18, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

  • I agree with Dweller. I only visit the main page by accident these days. Between the TFA politicking and the DYK spam there's nothing there for me. And I realized that long before the Gib issue. But for the millions of clueless readers [some of] who[m] donate money, it's probably worth having. It's basically a feature for the captive audience. That redirect is an example of Wikipedia "not needing" more articles, by the way: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]. Tijfo098 (talk) 21:57, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Editor of the day?

How about replacing DYK with a kind of editor "testimonial" section, where editors briefly state what they like doing on wikipedia and why. This could be through some nomination process, for editors who have recently been making "good edits". editor testimonials might give wikipedia a more human feel, and possibly encourage readers to try editing.. it would also be an impressive badge to say "I have been featured on the main page"! Just an idea. :-) Mark M (talk) 21:59, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

I *really* like this idea. I think this is just what we need to help move the main page from being "you are the reader and we are the editors and oooooo looky this is what we've done!" to "you are editors, and we are editors, and we are all a part of one big family trying to achieve a common goal". Totally support this.--Coin945 (talk) 16:43, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

A real Did You Know?

How about we get rid of the gaming provisions of DYK - from Wikipedia:Did_you_know#Eligibility_criteria, strike #1, #2, and #5. Give up on automatically crediting editors. Maybe enhance our commitment to avoiding regional or ethnic centrism. Instead, let the editors read through Wikipedia looking for the wackiest, coolest, or occasionally most useful bits of information, regardless of what article they're in. So, for example, it would be legitimate to nominate

... that Third Reich officials awarded the Iron Cross to several Jewish officers during the Continuation War?

... that an ultra-dense form of deuterium has been described with a density of 140 kilograms per cubic centimeter?

even though these articles were not newly created and any facts added to them afterward are forever ineligible under the current rules.

I think that with such a revision, where DYK deliberately solicits extraordinary claims from all over Wikipedia, it would have a flavor much more like that of the Refdesks, with much of the discussion being one of whether the things cited are really true or not. The competition might be more of a friendly quest for interesting tidbits than people tooting their own horn. Wnt (talk) 00:06, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

It could be fun, for editors and the readers, while still requiring the articles be cleaned up for their presentation. I like it. -Fjozk (talk) 00:46, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Using the front page as an incentive to reduce systemic bias would be a great idea and I would be behind that 100%. However, I'm not sure that world war 2 and chemistry are the best examples, since these are among the best-represented fields on en.wikipedia. bobrayner (talk) 12:22, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
{{Today's example of egregious systemic bias}}? Does WP:NPOVN work for that? Paum89 (talk) 15:45, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
True, WWII is well done, chemistry is quite biased towards certain areas on Wikipedia and has major missing articles in other areas, though. But, I think it could be done, underrepresented areas posted as interesting hooks. I don't think it's necessary to stick with underrepresented so much as interesting hooks, but it could be an incentive to get a hook, that it comes from an underrepresented area. I also think it could work well with the other suggestion (below?) about featuring editors. -Fjozk (talk) 18:01, 31 October 2012 (UTC)


Of interest: An RfC on our COI guideline for editors with an "intractable" conflict of interest. -- Ocaasi t | c 18:02, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

A new draft has been posted there to address some of the initial concerns and work toward a consensus version. Gigs (talk) 16:45, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Essay WP:Datahoard

Jimbo, while you are on travel, I just wanted to note that I have written essay "WP:Avoid data-hoarding"  (WP:HOARD), to begin discussing ways to reduce the clutter in articles. Everyone should consider the core question:

"What is the difference between an encyclopedia and a "record book" or a laundry list?"

For years, people have commented about "cruft cruft" and beyond the initial level of notability for a subject, there seems to be no stopping when it comes to data-hoarding of factoid lists. I half-expect to find "List of people born on Earth" or such. One sports article had 24 navboxes tacked onto the bottom, and I am sure that many articles are similarly overloaded with navboxes. More later. -Wikid77 (talk) 14:49, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

See Deletionism and inclusionism in Wikipedia.
Wavelength (talk) 16:53, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
The crux of the problem has become the rambling size of each article, rather than AfD debates over general notability. However, that WP article, "Deletionism and inclusionism in Wikipedia" provides an early view of the problem, before the issues emphasized terms such as "size" or "significance" or "excessive details" or "undue weight" of data, or "hoarding" of factoids. It is intriguing how the size-related or scope issues were not covered much in that article. -Wikid77 17:08, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Article size is not really an issue that we have a problem with. Rich Farmbrough, 13:56, 31 October 2012 (UTC).
I'm not sure I agree. We definitely have some articles that run to a length that is just overwhelming to a casual reader. Sometimes we can't help that - some topics are just huge (World War II for example) but what about History of Eglin Air Force Base which is 300,000+ bytes and runs to 71 pages when I click "Printable version"? GabrielF (talk) 14:23, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Gosh! [8] shows my opinion - this "article" which is beyond overkill for any reader. In fact - will anyone read a nearly 300K article? Collect (talk) 14:55, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I gave it a go but gave up when it began to explain how they got funding for a new sewage system. :) Jonty Monty (talk) 15:03, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
You must picture Wikipedia as a coffee table book - a safe, tame little thing not meant to intimidate the dilettante, nor to compete with non-free publications for the attentions of the serious reader. But I would want the article to be genuinely useful as a reference even to those people who actually intend to move to Eglin Air Force Base next week. And so I am glad that people want to put in every bit of detail, even on how they funded their sewage treatment system. Spin it off, maybe, but certainly don't delete it in an effort to fit every user to your Procrustean model of what you think they should be interested in. Wnt (talk) 22:06, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I hate to break it to you, but Wikipedia's content is hardly designed to be edgy or dangerous. We may cover a broad range of topics, but we don't, for instance, publish personal opinions or original reporting. In a lot of ways we're far more tame than, say, The New York Times, which, on a daily basis, publishes controversial opinions and original accounts that people may find painful or maddening to read. The problem with a 71 page article is that a reasonable person would take one look at the length and give up. I'm not opposed to a short summary of the article with sub-articles dealing with the history of the base in World War II, in the early Cold War, etc. I'm happy to have editors work on things that are going to interest only a handful of readers, but we shouldn't turn off the majority of our readers just because someone couldn't resist the urge to include every detail they could scrounge up. GabrielF (talk) 23:00, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Database reports/Long pages
and Long pages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Wavelength (talk) 18:30, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
  • I strongly disagree with the first part of this essay about "data hoarding" - the point of good organization is to file useful data away to appropriate locations, not to delete it. Wikipedia should see itself as a sister project to museums like the Smithsonian, which have a reputation for filing away practically anything people send them in a drawer or box ... somewhere. However, I absolutely agree with the complaint about navspam in the second half - I have previously suggested limiting navigational templates to 50 items as a starting point. Anything more than that should be a category or list article, not a list of >200 articles spammed on 200 articles. Wnt (talk) 21:39, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Massive articles thwart copy-editing: Another problem, with the large size of articles, is the chilling effect on copy-editing of a long page. Many editors run out of patience, towards the end of a long, rambling, endless page. In fact, when asked to copy-edit an article, I would suggest to start checking the bottom 20% of the article, first, to catch most remaining grammar or phrasing problems, then scan the upper text, which often has been fixed by other readers, who still had interest in reading, before the page dragged during the bottom part. -Wikid77 (talk) 02:17, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Large articles stiffle interwiki translation: Another problem, with the large size of articles, is the shutdown effect on translation into other languages. As could be expected, many sections are typically translated top-down, with the premise that later text refers, or depends, on prior text, which is often the case with the sequence of events in each section. The same effect will occur for the plot of a film/novel, where later text is translated only after the prior text. The longer the page, the less likely that bottom sections will be translated (or copy-edited, for that matter), and I think people only need scan a few dozen translated articles to confirm how the bottom sections are still hollow, or missing, for months/years in the longer translated articles. Years ago, I noted the impact on interwiki translation when using simple infoboxes, as more easily converted into another language (see essay: "WP:Thinking outside the infobox"). Anyway, a concise article, top-to-bottom, stands a better chance of full interwiki translation, into more languages. -Wikid77 (talk) 02:17, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
There can be a new WikiProject specializing in splits (WP:SPLIT) and mergers (WP:MERGE), or one for each of those functions. At this moment, there appears to be no such WikiProject listed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Directory/Wikipedia.
Wavelength (talk) 16:31, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
We have something like 20,000 articles with stale merge tags on them. I could make equally compelling (if not more compelling) arguments regarding maintainability of many thousands of ultra-short articles. Gigs (talk) 16:47, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
There is a WP:WikiProject Merge. Don't know why it isn't listed. DoctorKubla (talk) 16:54, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm also in disagreement with some of the specific concerns, although agreeing that articles can be too long, and we aren't a repository for everything. I am not persuaded by the examples. I agree History of Eglin Air Force Base is too long as a stand-alone article, but that why Wikipedia:Splitting exists. This article is begging for it, but at first glance, I didn't see piles of items that belong in the dustbin. Better organized, yes. And while doing so, one might find a couple odd items that should be discarded, but I don't see the 300K going to 100, more likely, it will end up as three of four articles of 100k each.
    As for navboxes, I strongly disagree. I find them very useful. OP didn't specify which article had 24 navboxes, but Diana Taurasi has 31. It is my own personal practice to collapse awards and honors into a single navbox when the count hits five, so the article as presented is tidy, but the interested fan can open the collapsed box and see a number of relevant navboxes, every one of which is of interest to many readers. Perhaps I'm not understanding the problem caused by a large number of navboxes. It isn't space, and I don't believe it is performance, so what is the concern?--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:21, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Do General sanctions/2012 Presidential Campaign apply to creation of articles and transient new articles?

Particularly concerned that editors are creating new articles, clearly WP:UNDUE at the campaign articles, and to get deleted through AfD takes a week. Article Probation and General Sanctions apply to all campaign articles, "broadly construed", and creation of, for instance, Mitt Romney FEMA and Hurricane Sandy controversy, Romnesia, Binders full of Women (not a complete list, I am sure there are more) constitute attempts at circumvention of the General sanctions. Have also noticed that the ideal solution WP allows, namely Speedy Deletion, does not seem to work. Attack pages obviously attract attack editors, and SPEEDY requires the tag to remain long enough for an Admin to consider.

A couple of questions rolled into one; does creation of these mini-articles violate General Sanctions?, can any such articles be immediately tagged as "Article Probation", and if so, how and by whom? is there any way to ensure that they are considered for Speedy Deletion on the basis of them being inappropriate spinouts or attack articles?

Not a question that easily fits into the ArbCom or the usual Admin dispute resolution framework; needs a quick and definitive answer, as it is almost sure that the next week will continue to see further micro-articles making small points about candidates outside of candidate or campaign Articles. --Anonymous209.6 (talk) 00:47, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Consider WP:BOMB and use _NOINDEX_ to deter Google bombs: There seem to be ample incentives for political editors to try WP:SEOBOMBing WP with numerous tiny articles, or to fill bottom navboxes with eye-catching phrases. It might be time to insert "_NOINDEX_" (double-underbars on each end) into new articles, to thwart spamming into the Google index. In many cases, Google will index new articles within minutes, or re-index a corrected paragraph within a hour; however, incorrect boasts or other text will still match search-words for days, even though the linked article has been corrected for the boastful text. Before deleting a hopeless article, prune all excessive text, and allow to re-index the cleaned stub, overnight, before deleting the article. Even with wp:Speedy, Google might have already indexed incorrect text, and if deleted, such search-phrases have matched for 3 weeks after deletion; hence, prune the text+protect, allow overnight to re-index, then delete the speedy. -Wikid77 (talk) 02:46, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, both good suggestions!--Anonymous209.6 (talk) 15:36, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
    • Does NOINDEX work in mainspace now? I used to not, but I think there was an RfC on using it in CSD templates that may have included turning it on for mainspace. Gigs (talk) 16:44, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
  • You're not going to get less political rancor by banning people for creating "the wrong" political article! Nor should we be looking not to be a useful resource for people who look up "Romnesia" on Google. And there's nothing wrong with having an article on "Romnesia", however obscure it might be in some short time. Wnt (talk) 06:10, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
    • Actually, when you take the single-purpose advocates and disruptors out of a hot-button topic area, yes, it actually does tand to ease the rancor quite a bit. Romnesia is a minor quaffle of a political neologism that was redirected to the Romney 2012 campaign; neither it or the insipid "binders" comment deserve mention in an encyclopedia. Tarc (talk) 14:50, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
      Apparently some people think it is wrong to have an article on "Romnesia". Paum89 (talk) 15:58, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
      • Apparently, some people revert against consensus while lying about the rationale, too. Funny, isn't it? Tarc (talk) 16:30, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
        Are you trying to claim that the closing admin's statement does not amount to a blatant admission of error? If so, then please explain why. The closing admin has not responded to my questions at DRV. Paum89 (talk) 21:44, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
        How on earth would a closing statement be erroneous; a closing statement is simply the admin's rationale for closing. You aren't making the slightest bit of sense here. The closing admin did respond to you the first time. There's no need for a 2nd. Tarc (talk) 12:32, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
        I invite others to decide for themselves whether the closing statement is equivalent to an admission that the admin is fully aware of the pertinent rules but decided to violate them anyway. Paum89 (talk) 17:21, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
      • Don't forget You didn't build that.--В и к и T 15:24, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
        Also an example that should be under the umbrella of General Sanctions, even though, like War on Women, it's a meme that has been committed to by more than one 2012 campaign.--Anonymous209.6 (talk) 15:43, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
        And should note that addition of articles to be under General Sanctions should be open to all political viewpoints, very specifically said the examples initially mentioned were not exhaustive, and not the last ones to be created before Nov 6, I am sure. --Anonymous209.6 (talk) 16:21, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Back to the Subject Not to argue with either side as to the merits of any specific Article, but the question being put is both whether and how Articles being created should be subjected to the higher editorial standards (with Reverts, NPOV, civil, on hair-trigger, and violators subject to unilateral Admin action) of the General Sanctions. --Anonymous209.6 (talk) 15:36, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
I say clearly no. This kind of political witch-hunting, punishing editors for starting brand new articles according to arbitration they've never heard of - this is the worst of Wikipedia, it's the reason why editors continue leaving in droves - in the end one party would dominate over the other and brandish the process as a blatantly rigged tool of political engineering and I think that would be the only possible point of the whole exercise. No special rules for "off limits topics" for articles, no special measures meant to play SEO games with Google results, and no deliberate suppression of sourced, accurate information. Wnt (talk) 22:00, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
General Sanctions already exist, and are not "witch hunting". They do not prevent editors from editing, just hold them to a higher standard, and allow for QUICK action when those principles are violated. --Anonymous209.6 (talk) 16:09, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
I say yes if someone could work out a feasible system to control such a thing. I've always wanted to outright ban new users from creating new articles, as what they produce is invariably junk. Tarc (talk) 12:36, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

I asked on WP:VPT and NOINDEX does not work in mainspace currently. Gigs (talk) 01:34, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Big Problem about Wikipedia,

Firstly Hi,there is a really big problem on Zazaki Wikipedia,we really tried to resolve it many times and we worked hard to resolve it but we were unsuccesfull.We really have exhausted all other possible remedies,so I would complain here. The problem is that we users cant get along with the Sysop Mirzali.He is blocking all users random.On the Zazakipedia my main account is this [[9]],and my contributions are here [[10]].On this account,I was contributing for Wikipedia Zazaki/development of Zazakipedia.On this account I made too many contributions on Zazaki wikipedia,you are all can check it.At that times,Sysop Mirzali did not notice me,because he were not caring Zazaki Wikipedia,He were joining to wikipedia just one or two days in a week.At this time I made many contributions on Zazaki Wikipedia.When he noticed me,he blocked me for no reason.You are all can check it.Later I talked with him,but he did not want me on wikipedia for no reasoun(even i did not know him,and he dont know me).Later I met with Erdemaslancan pn Wikipedia.And I told him about the topic,and he talked with another a sysop of wikipedia(He is Asmen,you are can check it [[11]]),and through him Mirzali unblocked me.For a while time, I continued to make contribution to Wikipedia Zazaki,but after a while He(Mirzali) again blocked me and again for no reason.And I was forced to open a new account.I opened a new accont(Newos,you are can check it) and I started to make contributions on Zazaki Wikipedia.But Mirzali again blocked me.For weeks, I tried to talk with Mirzali but he did not listen me.Later urged by necessity I again forced to open a new account.Mirzali also blocking other user [[12]] too.Erdemaslancan working for Zazaki Wikipedia but,Mirzali blocking him. Except [[13]] and [[14]],nobody makes contributions on Zazaki Wikipedia and Mirzali blocking us.Please look at to Zazaki Wikipedia,growth of Zazaki Wikipedia is stoped,because of Mirzali.He dont want that Zazaki wikipedia is growing.We (I and [[15]]) are working for Wikipedia and We want to make contributions for Zazaki Wikipedia but Mirzali is blocking us.and also Mirzali omly sometimes comes to Wikipedia and just chaning the Main page and going back.Mirzali's action is just this on wikipedia.He is not helpful for Wikipedia Zazaki.Briefly we users dont want him on Wikipedia and We want abolition of Mirzali's management on Zazaki Wikipedia.We have complained the problem here [[16]],but we did not get a result.Please help us,nobody can work with Mirzali.

I cant write my signature here,I cant use my account as global.its just because of Mirzali.So Im writing,your's respectfully Arde 13:40, 2 November 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

8 million lost power in Superstorm Sandy

In case you were gone on travel, during Monday-Tuesday in parts of 16 northeast U.S. states, the electricity was cut to 8 million customers, for a variety of reasons, including flooded power substations along coastal areas. The impact of Superstorm Sandy began like a typical Florida hurricane, with a flooding storm surge pushing some cars/houses and sand inland, but unfortunately, New Jersey has few houses on stills and many with basements. They tried to block basements/subways (the tube) with sandbags only 3 feet (1 m) high, but the flood waters on city streets exceeded 4 feet+waves. There was a clear warning to prepare for a storm surge of 5–11 feet (1.5–3.4 m), at high tide (c.8 pm), but perhaps many did not know the NHC "storm surge" excludes the tide level, so the actual storm tide was nearly 14 feet (4.3 m), and some electric substations exploded when the water flooded them. I have reread WP article "storm surge" and it does not clearly emphasize the danger of hearing "surge of 11 feet" and forgetting to add "3-4 feet" (1.2 m) for the tide level on the East River (see area tide tables: Tides-NOAA-CT/NY). Consequently, 7 New York subway tunnels flooded, spanning 46 miles (74 km), with insufficient caps at walkways and ventilation grates. In other areas, 3 nuclear plants shutdown (source: USnews 31Oct12). Although many in the area knew upper-level winds can be double the ground-level speed of 90 mph (145 km/h), with skyscraper windows shattering, I think the failure to understand "storm tide" was a major problem. This is an area where the official terms seem to be very misleading, and perhaps WP can even have an article about the danger of thinking storm surge is the actual water level. It was bizarre to see sandbags used to try closing NYC subway entrances, and they need more actual floodgates and shutters. More later. -Wikid77 (talk) 21:11, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Meanwhile in Haiti. Paum89 (talk) 22:01, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
  • The article has long contained the statement in the lead, "When referencing storm surge height, it is important to clarify the usage, as well as the reference point. National Hurricane Center reference storm surge as water height above predicted astronomical tide level". That seems pretty clear to me. Now why New York couldn't figure out a way to batten down hatches on their subways in two or three days (I mean come on, plywood, circular saw, something that only leaks a few cubic feet a minute?) --- that sounds like a stumper question. Wnt (talk) 22:08, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
The underground ventilation grates were not expected to flood, at the projected "11 feet" higher, but the storm tide was 14 feet (4.3 m), including the 8 pm high tide of 2-4 feet (1.2 m), along NYC's East River. Hence, if local officials thought the worst-case scenario was "11 feet" then that would explain why they just put sandbags at the numerous subway entrances, which were overtopped by 2 of 14 feet of water, as 3 feet (1 m) higher than expected. BTW, they did use plywood covers+sandbags at stairwells. -Wikid77 00:56, 2 November, 14:06, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
The situation is concerning (my daughter lives there, and a SIL is now living with us) but this post is perplexing. Is OP suggesting that there is a disaster in NY because someone misread Wikipedia? It is fairly well known that storm surge is in excess of the high tide, if not among the general public, certainly among disaster pros. Not to mention the fact that the article mentions it as well. I knwo Jimbo likes to allow broad leeway in the use of his talk page, but a nitpick about an article where the alleged problem isn't even there is going overboard. This is Jimbo's talk page, not the Wikid77 Random Thought of the Moment--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:36, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
I have to correct you there on your last sentence; if you look back, particularly over the last year or so, you will find that it is both. pablo 16:18, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Restoring power 1 million per day: News reports estimate 50-65 thousand utility workers, with 40,000 emergency crew from out-of-state utilities, are restoring electric power, in those 16 U.S. states, at the rate of ~1,000,000 customers per day. So most would be back online by Monday, except where damage was too extensive. -Wikid77 00:56, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
    I'm a little puzzled why this section is here; it has no direct relevance to Wikipedia. Do you think this is Wikinews or something? I'm sure Jimbo follows the news and is well aware of the effects of Hurricane Sandy, he doesn't need you to inform him about it. Robofish (talk) 13:56, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, Wikipedia is accessed by users with computers which run on electricity, and (hint) 8 million people lost electricity on 29-30 October, so ergo. Meanwhile, for years, there have been articles about hurricane-related topics, such as "eyewall replacement cycle" or "storm surge" and others have noted that the surge term is well-known by "disaster pros" but seem to imply that Wikipedia should not worry about the details...because it would clutter Jimbo's talk-page??? I am somewhat puzzled why several editors think these topics seem irrelevant to Wikipedia, but I thank people for alerting me to the confusion. -Wikid77 14:06/14:12, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Jimbo, You're My Last Resort

Mr. Wales. This is Colton Cosmic. Before contacting you here. I tried everything else I could think of. I was indef. blocked for sockpuppeting but I didn't do it. If you look at my case you will find about a dozen accusers, but you will never find a single diff of a sockpuppet. Some of the accusers use "sockpuppet" as epithet meaning dishonesty, and they do this with intent to injure. Others try to redefine the word to mean clearly-disclosed and non-deceptive IP edit. You might find a diff of the latter. But you won't find a sockpuppet. Some do both! I am asking you to negate the block on the basis of no evidence at all and to reinstate my account.

I recall the Bomis Babe Report. I liked that. It was a precursor of websites like Egotastic and The Superficial. You let it go to do this, which is obviously like a hundred levels of magnitude more important than a site like that, but then there's nothing necessarily wrong with a site like that.

Anyhow, I guess I'll say the same thing I've been saying, which is that I promise to be civil and limit myself to a one-revert per day rule if you reinstate my account. I wasn't blocked for that, but I see those as my main failings as an editor. What else? I'll throw the links at you, they will make your eyes bleed (I didn't want any of that stuff!), you cannot at face value accept the stuff that is thrown at me in those without looking at the context or my rebuttal (if I was allowed to rebut, and my rebuttal wasn't reverted), but I'm putting them here if you feel like you need to look at that and not take my word for it. I do tell you you don't need any more. Links[17] Whoa crap, I was going to link the diff for "Timotheus Canens" original block of me, but it seems to have been wiped out from the public record, interesting. Well, he linked to a deleted section of WP:SOCK and said without discussion that I was abusing multiple accounts. Here's BWilkins you remember him[18]. More[19][20][21]. More(this is where I got uncivil, should have said "not true")[22]

Thanks man. Colton Cosmic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:02, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

In your contributions page it only shows the last block action. Under the title "User contributions", you have a small link called "block log". It links to your full block log. In the contributions page, under the block message, there is another small link called "View full log". --Enric Naval (talk) 22:10, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
There is nothing less convincing than repeatedly evading a block to argue that you aren't evading a block. For the talk page stalkers, this user has had their case heard by WP:BASC who rejected his appeal. In the time since then he has engaged in a prolonged campaign of IP block evasions, emailing individual admins, and ham-handed appeals like this one.
Colton, Jimbo is not going to unblock you. He knows better than to wade in and summarily overturn a block that was already upheld by the ban appeals committee. You are only making it worse with these foolish posts. Please stop it and follow WP:OFFER, it is basically your only avenue to ever being unblocked. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:07, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Colton, Beeblebrox is right: Jimbo is not going to unblock you. You say you are innocent, but who cares even, if you are. As you probably know Wikipedia is all about verifiability, not truth. In your case your "sockpuppeting" was verified by a reliable source: The Arbitration Committee. Nobody is going to unblock you because a user who will dare to unblock you will have to deal with The Arbitration Committee or even with the Wikipedia Community, the very Committee and the very community that have been successfully turning normal people into cowards and bullies for quite some time. (talk) 05:02, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
In this case, truth is also self-evident, as they have used a block-evading sock to make this very posting. Resolute 14:08, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Editing without logging in, but saying who you are is not socking. Sure it's block evading. Rich Farmbrough, 04:01, 3 November 2012 (UTC). Please do not do this. No, I'm not referring to the block or the banned user. I'm referring to your invocation of "verifiability, not truth". As I hope you're aware, we did away with the original formation of that because it was misunderstood. It was supposed to mean that if something isn't verifiable, you shouldn't treat it as true. It wasn't supposed to be used the other way, to mean that as long as something is verifiable, you can't treat it as not true. It doesn't mean that just because something was reported in a reliable source, we're forced to keep it regardless of its truth or falsity. That's misuse.
You are stating that if someone's guilt is stated by a reliable source, whether they're actually innocent doesn't matter. Now, that is true for actual blocks and bans. But it's true because verifiability doesn't apply to administrative actions at all. If it did, you would be making exactly the same misuse of "verifiability, not truth" that it took a long and hard struggle to get rid of. Ken Arromdee (talk) 18:26, 2 November 2012 (UTC)
Ken, you are missing 67's point. 67 is pointing out that the OP's (Arbcom?) appeal is refused with no explanation. The ban also seems to be without explanation. Sure, the editor seems to be somewhat of a problem editor, but there is no transparency to the process, which is very unfortunate. Rich Farmbrough, 03:59, 3 November 2012 (UTC).
Thanks, Rich. I meant that most members of the Arbitration Committee are corrupt, and act pretentiously self-important, others are much more concerned about keeping their power than about anything else. (talk) 16:00, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Note: User talk:Colton Cosmic has more background relevant to this request. (talk) 18:52, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Editor recruitment with TAFI

We should use the Main Page for editor recruitment. There were only 12,633 new English Wikipedia editor registrations in September 2012, the least since 2005.

Jimbo, this went to the archives before you weighed in on it: Will you please support an experiment to place {{Today's article for improvement}} on the Main Page temporarily in order to judge the extent to which it may be an effective tool for editor recruitment? Please see WP:TAFI for more information. Paum89 (talk) 17:56, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

I support this experiment. I'm back at work full-time on Monday, so I'll try to get involved a bit.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:00, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Paum89... why don't you propose this at a relevant village pump and see if there is community support for such an addition? Resolute 19:13, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Lower September activity among many editors: I have wp:autosized the graph image 40% larger as "upright=1.40" to note the September drop (red-line spike), which is slightly further than the typical seasonal September drops of editor activity from prior years. The September 2012 drop, which was also larger for all editors, is perhaps related to changes in the WP interface software, or zillions of CSS classes, or new JavaScript changes which have locked up browsers. This might be related to what I saw trying to use Wikipedia at various U.S. hotels which were running Microsoft Vista with IE 7 (from 2009), which locked-up in Wikipedia, and I think MSIE 8 also. The latest changes to the JavaScript were noted by another user of Internet Explorer. However, I think we should consider all factors as to why activity in all user categories dropped in September. Meanwhile, I have also noticed that there has been no shortage of other editors, during the past 2 months, when it comes to complaining about changes or messages which they did not like, whether on this talk-page, at the Village wp:PUMPTECH, in templates, in template TfDs, or in article edits. Almost every day, there have been many people actively resisting changes. Hence, we should prove, first, that having fewer editors would mean less progress, rather than fewer to block progress. -Wikid77 (talk) 15:41, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Saudi Arabia partnership and censorship

Hi Jimmy,

did you have time to investigate this matter? Are you happy or not?

-- (talk) 18:27, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I've learned a great deal more. I am happy about it now. I will report fuller when I have time, but I'm at a Wikimedia board meeting now... probably early next week, although if I get a spare moment, maybe later today.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:40, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
If you got time - I am still interested. -- (talk) 15:31, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes. This deal, like many other deals with telecom companies around the world, allows end users to access Wikipedia without paying data charges. Per our longstanding principles, we do not condone or participate in any way in censoring Wikipedia on behalf of any government or organization. This applies in this case as well. Whatever censorship there is in Saudi Arabia (and there is censorship in Saudi Arabia) is imposed by a government-run proxy "run by the Communication and Information Technology Commission". Neither we nor the ISP (mobile operator) has any control over that.
Deals like this involve a careful weighing of risks, of course. Some might argue that we should refuse to do partnerships to bring Wikipedia to more people, if it involves partnering in any way with any organization inside countries who practice censorship. My own view is more complex: we should evaluate such cases against two very firm principles: (1) First do no harm, i.e. we do not participate in censorship schemes ourselves no matter what offers might be made (2) we should maintain our fight against censorship in any effort to provide greater access to Wikipedia around the world.
I would be very unhappy indeed, if we ever agreed to participate in a censorship process.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:25, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Please fix the Wikipedia watchlist

I'm an average but somewhat active wikipedian, and I'm writing to ask you to improve the watchlist system that Wikipedia uses. A few years ago Wikipedia switched to a different watchlist system. No longer do you see multiple edits, but just one edit per article, the latest one. This is misleading since the latest edit often misrepresents the other edits. Assuming the following:

  • Edit 1 - Bob Brown -2500 - Delete criticism section
  • Edit 2 - Bob Brown +50 - Link to correct article
  • Edit 3 - Bob Brown -5 - Edit link

With the previous watchlist system, all the edits were visible and it let users verify and revert the deletion of the "criticism section" if necessary. But with the current system only the last edit shows, which misleads editors into thinking that Bob Brown did nothing more than a minor edit and deserves no verification. From a design standpoint this is a flaw and should be fixed as soon as possible.

One solution is showing all the edit comments, with the total chars added and deleted in a single entry:

  • 3 Edits - Bob Brown -2505 and +50 - Delete criticism section, Link to correct article, Edit link

Thank you. -- Tom Jenkins (reply) 12:51, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

There's an option in Preferences-Watchlist-Expand Watchlist to show all changes which may help a bit.
Personally, I prefer to have just the last change in the list, and hover the "hist" link using PopUps to see previous changes, but ymmv.Begoontalk 12:58, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Jimbo, can you consider an improvement for the same? -- Tom Jenkins (reply) 17:02, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I am not directly or indirectly in the flow of such specific decisions about the software. As a board member, I was one of the unanimous votes for Sue's "Narrowing Focus" plan, see this vote and the associated document. It includes an increased focus on engineering and editor experience, and this will include the sorts of improvements that you're discussing. It will also include an additional focus on empowering community developers to roll out code changes more quickly than in the past. I'm particularly hopeful that this will allow us in the community who can program to get involved in the kinds of small fixes that we're talking about here.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:03, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Use of First Person?

Hi, is it appropriate for this user page to use first person, as though the paragraphs were being written or spoken by the subject? I realize that it is his user page, but it seems odd that there are thousands of editors assuming his voice. I personally don't feel comfortable writing in the first person for anyone other than myself. --Lacarids (talk) 00:09, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Assuming you mean the page User:Jimbo Wales, then my guess would be that there's only some hundreds of people who have made edits on the page that have stayed, not thousands.
The other way of looking at it is that, when something is added to the page that editors feel does not reflect what Jimbo wants to be there, it will get removed or fixed. The basic theme of the page has been the same for years now, and we assume that basic theme was provided by Jimbo, not by us speaking in his voice. Occasionally Jimbo also makes clear that there are certain things he does or does not want on it. (Like lots of fancy or confusing markup, for example.)
Think of it as similar to a ghostwriter made up of thousands of people. There's a basic story that needs to be got across, but the exact wording is up to us. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 03:01, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

A twisted essay

Greetings Jimbo and stalkers as well. I've never been a huge fan of WP:IAR, though I understand its intent, and predominantly agree. I've created an essay that twists the concept to a position more favorable to my comprise, and I'd like to introduce it to you, and others; WP:IAR. I believe it allows an equivalent flexibility while comporting with structure and discipline. In the absence of outcry, I think it can be useful, and I commend its existence to you, and the community at large. By all means, feel free to tweak it towards an improved version, as well as express assent or dissent, as deemed appropriate. Thank you. 76Strat String da Broke da (talk) 03:22, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

In a word, no. --Malerooster (talk) 03:31, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
This is neither the meaning of WP:IAR nor is it a good idea... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Müdigkeit (talkcontribs) 05:13, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
If this redirect essay is kept in Wikipedia space, someone should write a "This page in a nutshell" section for it, to summarise its content in an easy to understand manner. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 05:42, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I am confused slightly, There are no redirects except the shortcuts. WP:IAR. is an essay, it has a nutshell, and it is a counter-equivalent sentiment to WP:IAR. WP:IAR.? is an explanation of the former, as similarly as WP:IAR? is to the latter; it has no nutshell, so I omitted it in similar form. Personally I can accomplish all of my editing without ignoring any rules, so instead I will incorporate them. And I am interested in suggestions to improve it, or bold edits to accomplish the same. If it should be MfD'd, I'll join the discussion, but hey, it's an essay. Cheers, - 76Strat String da Broke da (talk) 06:43, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
  • The new "essay"? — pointy and snarky and unnecessarily confusing. Carrite (talk) 14:28, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
    Certainly the shortcut is confusing. "IAR." should be deleted or redirected to WP:IAR and a far less confusing shortcut chosen if this is to remain. Resolute 14:33, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Concur with Resolute - very very inappropriate hijack ... (✉→BWilkins←✎) 15:10, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
So far, nobody agrees with WP:IAR.? as an essay in WP space. I accept My76Strat's invitation to be bold. I've userfied both to User:My76Strat/Incorporate all rules and User:My76Strat/What "Incorporate all rules" means, and updated the redirect WP:IAR.? to point there. The name of the redirect IAR.? is POV about IAR, a core policy based on WP:Five pillars, and it's needlessly difficult to reach by typing as a link, even though it seems strictly legal per naming conventions. The articles are radical outliers which seem intended to confuse editors, and to subvert a long-standing policy based on the WP:Five pillars. The word "rules" itself is disavowed by WP:Five pillars, and Ignore all rules amplifies that. But "Incorporate all rules" encourages their application as rules, counter to pillar and policy. IMHO, the less said about rules except at IAR and the Five pillars, the better. --Lexein (talk) 06:52, 6 November 2012 (UTC) (expanded --09:08, 6 November 2012 (UTC)}
I agree with what I see as two parts of the premise: that following the rules is generally, if not the best way, a very good way to get to an encyclopedia article; and that most actions that are "justified" by IAR are just "ignoring the rules" without any adherance to the conditional "if it improves the encyclopedia". But I dont know that any essay or this particular essay would be helpful in discussions to bring either of those points home. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:51, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

The link has been added by someone whose username is very similar to the domain being added

Request doesn't really quite make sense to me. Please unarchive and explain if it makes sense to you. Thanks!--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:39, 5 November 2012 (UTC)----Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:39, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.


Personal request: you need delete this topic: IP: (IP - the mirror of the official site of the UK government). See:

  • The link has been added by someone whose username is very similar to the domain being added;
  • The IP related to the link is added by someone with an IP close to the IP of the link.

Link to delete this: (only crazy human could make the such violation).

Because the government has the big shame (admins of Wikipedia gave status of "spamer" for the Queen almost).

And USA - partner of the Monarchy.

Additional link:

We very ask. Thank you! - (talk) 11:35, 5 November 2012 (UTC).

Near as I can tell, the website "" has been blacklisted because people were using it to spam links to epetitions. It is, however, a site hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom. So their complaint, hilariously, is that we are basically accusing the queen of being a spammer. We aren't, of course. As to their apparent request, I can't see any reason why we would unblock an online petition website, even one hosted by a government. It isn't Wikipedia's role to support people in their online activism. Resolute 14:41, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
It's a fairly important and legitimate site, though. Wouldn't it make more sense to simply block whoever was linking to it inappropriately? A total site ban on links to the site seems excessive to me. Can you show me examples or help me find the original discussion of this, so that I can be sure I understand the full story?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:44, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Some technical details here: Wikipedia:WikiProject Spam/Local/ Its child page shows there have been at least 28 attempts to link a petition to an article, by 23 different accounts/IPs, so no, blocking isn't a viable solution. I guess the question is, would there ever be a legitimate reason to link to a specific petition? My personal answer is no, but if someone can convince the community of value, then a single petition link could be whitelisted. Likewise, the main site url could be whitelisted without allowing specific petitions to be linked/spammed. (For the record, I've no involvement with the spam wikiproject or the blacklisting of the site. I was just curious). Resolute 15:40, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I can imagine many legitimate reasons to link to a specific petition. If a petition is successful enough to trigger a debate in Parliament, and receives independent news coverage as a result, then articles on the general topic, the petition itself, prominent people involved, etc. might discuss the petition and it would seem bizarre not to link to it in that case.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:32, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
The idea that "If a petition is successful enough [it triggers] a debate in Parliament" is an urban myth, generally put about by petition organisers trying to encourage people to sign up in the belief that their signature will have an effect. Petitions with 100,000 signatures go to a committee which considers them as a potential topic for Parliamentary debate, but that's a big jump from "triggers a debate". Britain has a weak and unstable coalition government, which has enough difficulty getting its own policies through Parliament - the odds that any significant Parliamentary time would be devoted to a bill not coming from one of the four main parties is close to zero, and the odds that a petition would be independently notable are even lower. Mogism (talk) 17:56, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps. But then, our coverage of the petition would be written using the RS sources that covered it. Adding the petition itself would be of little additional value as an EL on anything except an article specifically about the petition. That would be one of those exceptional cases where we'd probably whitelist that specific link. Resolute 18:06, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Site of the UK government was unblocked earlier. IP: - is the mirror of the site (official site of the government). Thus, not simple user made the editings (staff or webmaster of the site of the UK government). Resolutions in relation of these petitions - are the results of opinions of people with state power. Because agencies of the government must be free of the such shame everywhere, we ask delete this dangerous info fully (reputation of any government - important thing). Our discussion - is on several hours, but fine results - is forever. When the Monarchy will be free of the damage for the reputation (fine results). Important detail: the UK government can forbid all projects of the Wikimedia in its the jurisdiction because of the insult in relation of the Monarchy. Legislation: (great number of laws). On the page with the shame are located even threats in relation of the government:

WARNING to users of this data. At the moment of creation, parts of the database were not available (due to maintenance or database problems) - be careful: there may be more additions available. My signature has no relation to this phrase. - (talk) 18:45, 5 November 2012 (UTC).

  • Several things. First, Please write your posts in coherent English. You are nearly impossible to understand. Second, read our no legal threats policy. About the only reason why I don't block you for its violation is the patent silliness of your threat. Third, blacklisting the site does not damage the reputation of the Monarchy (not that it has traditionally needed outside help for that). Fourth, given your poor English, you most certainly are not affiliated with the UK government. So please, stop beating around the bush and just tell us which petition you want to add and to what article so we can deal with your real request. Resolute 18:51, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Hmm..., both IPs are from the Moscow region. 95, you need to read WP:NLT. You can be blocked for that. Wikipedia does have a fine legal representation, and please show civility. The Crown's reputation will not be harmed. Thegreatgrabber (talk)contribs 00:06, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

"Jimbo Wales ... people from whole world will control your actions" - I think this is a very interesting proposal. However, for it to work, Jimbo would need to be fitted with some sort of cybernetic implants (muscle actuators or whatever) connected to a web interface. I can also imagine it causing some difficulties with co-ordination when more than one person tries to control Jimbo's actions at once. I think Kevin Warwick has done some research in this area.
Also I think there may be some misunderstanding due to a language gap - Jimbo has indicated an enthusiasm for knowledge being available to everyone in the world, not control of him personally. So such an experiment might not be a priority! --Demiurge1000 (talk) 03:17, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Are you happy? Not exists even one reason (see). The problems are just beginning. When someone hates rights of other people - he must be punished by some method. Jimbo was punished (first shot from millions). - (talk) 03:42, 6 November 2012 (UTC).
  • In my humble opinion, it's the same old "Beatles" troll from Corbina IP ranges (see also User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 113#Website is in the black list of Wikipedia: B E A T L E S. R U), so i don't think the discussion with him has any sense... OneLittleMouse (talk) 06:16, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
    They are coming from the same ISP, so you may well be right. Perhaps time to play a little whack-a-troll? Resolute 14:59, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
    The second IP's Link "Black List for the protection of Human Rights" has a link to an email address Beatleshigher80. I won't disclose the domain to avoid outing but I think it's safe to consider them the same. Stuart.Jamieson (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:33, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Just a more general remark regarding petition sites from one of the editors regularly involved with the Spam Blacklists (more or less @Jimbo):

First of all, that a link is on the spam blacklist does not mean that a link is spam by definition. There are sites on there to protect the reader (malware), there are sites on there that can be used to circumvent the blacklist by itself (and of which the first use is very often in good faith!), or sites which are too often used as joke-abuse (some major, reputable, legal sites carrying .. adult material have NEVER been spammed, and we have good articles on them, nonetheless they are generally 'used' in petty vandalism to replace the official website of e.g. a school, a major company, or even wikilinks with a link to those sites). The 'Spam blacklist' is a misnomer, and a request to rename the blacklist has been done a long time ago, as well as a request to reprogram the blacklist to something more user friendly, but that all to no avail (...). Note that it is not necessarily the owner of the site (in this case, the queen) that is the spammer, it may be an editor unrelated to the hosting of site itself, but who has an open petition on the site and wants to bring that to the worlds' attention (or an SEO firm who in all innocence thinks that over-linking on Wikipedia helps).

Links to petition sites in 99.9% (if not more) of the cases make NO sense. On active petitions they are just soapboxing, and their mention is hardly ever notable enough (and if they are, then a (textual) mention of the petition with a reliable reference from an independent source will do, there is still no need to link to it). The same goes for closed petitions (except that the soapboxing argument is often less strong; it can still be a POV push though): if they are notable enough, they serve, at the very best, as a primary source, which would, to show that the fact that the petition is notable enough to be 'news'-worthy independent sourcing anyway.

The problem with petition sites is (whether notable or not), when they are active they regularly get 'pushed' (and sometimes spammed). That has happened with other petition sites, and this may have been the umptieth website where maybe one user pushed it just a bit too hard, and it was shoveled under the same rug as other petition sites (IIRC the original request for the petition site blacklisting covered a good handful of sites at the same go, I am not sure if this one was part of it). That is why petition sites very often end up on the spam blacklist (and even on the meta one).

Regarding the concern that some may be notable, yes, that is true, but that will be a very small percentage, and first of all, there will then be independent sourcing for them showing their notability, and for those cases that the primary source would be really needed a mention, there is always the possibility to whitelist a specific petition. Blacklisting the petition sites stops a lot of disruption by POV pushers and some spammers, while the opposite disruption will only be in a very minor number of cases. --Beetstra (public) (Dirk BeetstraT C on public computers) 12:50, 7 November 2012 (UTC)


Are you actually Welsh? I took the liberty of translating your userpage to Welsh, but are you from the awesomest country in the world? (Ydych chi mewn gwirionedd yng Nghymru? Cymerais y rhyddid o gyfieithu eich userpage i'r Gymraeg, ond a ydych o'r wlad orau yn y byd?) --██████ 15:11, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

... and Mitt Romney is from Romney Marsh because of a coincidence of names? And Mike England, the Welsh football player, should never have played for Wales? - Sitush (talk) 15:15, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
There are a lot of similarly confusing people in the publishing and media world; ‪André Deutsch‬ and ‪William Henry Ireland‬ to name but two. pablo 16:03, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
And then there are Americans with names like Tedeschi... William Avery (talk) 22:47, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

He likely had Celtic ancestors - it appears the name means "foreign" and was applied to Celts in England. On the other hand, on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this? Collect (talk) 17:51, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

I think... 1. Hat?--Müdigkeit (talk) 10:35, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
-7. Definitely hat. pablo 11:19, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
Is there something wrong with my screen or is the OP's signature just a blue block? DeCausa (talk) 10:49, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
No, that is the OP's signature. Legoktm (talk) 10:57, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
To my knowledge, I don't have Welsh ancestry.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:28, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

wanna see puerile game-playing in action?

WP:Collect's Law was a pithy essay -- and put up for MfD. I answered every objection to it, and then the games began. Some of the protagonists in the deletion discussion have made "interesting edits" to it, which I think make for a splendid example of incivil game-playing on Wikipedia <g>. Cheers. Collect (talk) 14:52, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

I have no idea if it should be userfied or not; I don't keep up with what is normally done with essays. But I will note with some amusement that at least some of the argument around it is a clear verification of Collect's Law. :-) Take it all in good humor, I suppose.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:56, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Aww, crap, I often end my talk posts with "cheers"? :( I suppose I'll just have to use my other standard salutation instead. Regards, Resolute 15:05, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Respectfully, may I infer that you mean the one recommended for Simple English Wikipedia? With warmest personal regards, Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:14, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

WP:Communicate OER paying over $40,000 to User:Peteforsyth's company

Jimmy, it seems, from documents released by the University of Mississippi under that state's freedom of information act, that User:Peteforsyth's company, Wiki Strategies, is being paid $40,500 to coordinate the project. The details are in the following table, also posted at the project's talk page:

Activity Days Money Money per day
Project advocacy and engagement on Wikipedia, blogging, public communications 5 7,500 1,500
Recruitment, pre and post event communications, record-keeping 5 7,500 1,500
Assemble measurements of individuals' Wikipedia participation, before and after events, and assessment of article quality. Prepare final report 5 7,500 1,500
Project management 18 18,000 1,000
Total 40,500

How do you feel about this? (talk) 17:32, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

So, in short, a contractor is being paid for work they have contracted to do?--ukexpat (talk) 17:37, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Just FYI oh mysterious IP. I have mentioned this company and conduct before and so have several others but no one cares it seems. Not sure why some users like this are allowed to do it while others are run off site and banned for life but...Wikipedia doesn't really make much sense these days. Kumioko (talk) 03:52, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
If you're going to hire someone to study the Wikipedia user experience, etc., it's clearly a good idea to hire someone who is experienced with Wikipedia. Gnome de plume (talk) 12:15, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
About the amount of money, I´ll assume it´s reasonable in its context. About a Wikipedia user being paid to work for Wikipedia, that doesn´t seem unreasonable at this point. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 11:50, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

I will need to know more information before I can form a firm opinion. As I have often said, paid editing isn't a problem in some contexts, but paid advocacy is always a problem. A University project to increase public access to knowledge about some field can certainly be valid (though certain precautions should be followed of course, and there are various pitfalls to avoid). A University project to (for example) promote that university is no different from paid advocacy by any type of organization, and we take a very dim view of it. I don't know enough about "Communicate OER" yet to have an understanding of where it fits into this framework.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:17, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for your response, Jimmy. I will email you the material I have so you can think about it. (talk) 14:52, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

"paid advocacy is always a problem" This leads me to the same request for clarification. In my view the current state of affairs is poor and it is very difficult to do COI in a way that is beneficial for Wikipedia, but it is a challenge that not only can be overcome, but one we need to take on.

Is it your view that all PR participation is bad, or just that PR should stay on Talk pages? I apologize if I sound argumentative, but it is an important clarification for me personally. Not trying to argue or lobby for a POV. Corporate 18:01, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

I've never seen any compelling argument that paid advocates should edit articles directly. Using the talk pages, wikiprojects, notifying other editors on notice boards, coming to my talk page, emailing OTRS - these are all valid options that work successfully. Editing directly is extremely likely to prove embarrassing for your client.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:42, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
I haven't found any of the venues particularly satisfactory, but neither do I think it's Wikipedia's job to provide customer service to PR beyond the extent of an accept/decline, correcting cases of obvious bias within reason and protecting the same civility/AGF offered to all editors. But I should work on the Bright Line more firmly. It is something I firmly believe in. I myself am still working things out and in doing so ask for a degree of acceptance of error.
The clarification I was looking for is if there is value in paid advocates that use Talk pages; if it can actually be a good thing, rather than something that is tolerated merely as a way to keep PR off article-space.
I could envision a task force of "certified" COI consultants that could create piles of GA articles and I think it would be great if PR agencies as a de-facto approach shared their coverage reports in citation templates on the Talk page. If all that happened (all through Talk page participation) would you see that as a good thing for Wikipedia? For PR people to do PR with Wikipedia's editors the same way we do with the media, rather than astroturfing it. Corporate 20:20, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
Jimbo there is only one problem with that theory. If someone was "advocating" on talk pages, wikiprojects or the like they would very qucikly find themselves blocked for spamming. Wikiprojects have trouble sending newsletters to members of the projects without making some editor angry. I would also note that a glance at the company's page, clearly seems to indicate paid editing as well as advocacy.Kumioko (talk) 20:36, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
I think that we have two different meanings of "advocacy" in "paid advocacy" floating implicitly around here. One is where the arrangement includes acceptance of an obligation to do advocacy (vs OK) editing. The other is where the editor is free to do only OK editing. I used the vague word "OK" to keep this post short vs. a book. North8000 (talk) 20:48, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)We're getting a little off topic here, but Jimbo I'm afraid that I (and at least some other editors I believe) are to the left of you regarding "Using the talk pages [etc.] - these are all valid options that work successfully". Here's why, based on my experience:
Theory: Paid reputation-management agent goes on the talk pages, declares himself, describes some problem(s) or suggested improvement(s), perhaps offering refs and proposed solutions, these ideas are kicked around, and some changes are made or not, depending on the general consensus.
Reality: Paid reputation-management agent posts a completely new, entirely re-written version of their client's article, which presents their client in an entirely favorable light, on the article talk page. Paid reputation-management agent probably include in this new version such GA-worthy enticements as plenty of properly formatted refs, lots of attractive pictures, proper sectioning and formatting and professional-level prose and so forth. Paid reputation-management agent may then be assured that some other editor will happily post the new version (perhaps with unimportant changes after some desultory conversation) over the existing article, and Bob's your uncle.
There are lots of reasons why the second editor will do this favor. Some editors are committed libertarians and, assuming the client is a private entity, are glad to help valorize a private entity as a general philosophy. Some editors are naive, or credible, or just helpful and eager to please a fellow person. Some may feel the proscription against any editor editing an an article directly is silly and are willing to help another editor bypass this technical requirement. Some editors will be seduced by all the GA-level foofraw, which is only human and understandable. (And... it'd be naive to think there's zero possibility that the second editor is in on the deal.) So there's no shortage of people willing to "help" in this manner.
Don't know the solution to this, but not too willing to pretend that this doesn't happen. Herostratus (talk) 20:57, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
There is something to be said for genuine discussion, rather than just drafting re-writes. But it's also not like the articles I submit to AfC would be created just by asking. My understanding of WP:Advocacy is that it's not allowed by anyone, least of all sponsored editors. Corporate 21:15, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
North8000 made a very good comment above about different definitions floating around. The OK comparison reminds me of the difference of paid journalists practicing objective journalism versus advocacy journalism. -- Eclipsed (talk) (COI) 21:32, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
(replying to Herostratus' theories above) Or another reason: the new version is actually better than the old version. Heck, I've moved over COI versions that were more critical of the subject than the prior versions. Herostratus, seriously: put up or shut up. Recommend that Wikipedia:WikiProject Cooperation be deleted/closed. I recommend that you also ask for desysops of myself, and probably blocks of myself and Silverseren, along with all of the COI editors we help. If not, please stop your completely baseless attacks on those of us who care about having better articles, regardless of where they come from. Of course, maybe I'm just stupid and blinded by all of the GA froofraw. In which case, again, present diffs and get the community to make me and others on the project stop. Qwyrxian (talk) 00:19, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
And now that I think a little more, the underlying assumptions of your proposition are simply ludicrous. Let's imagine someone comes along, without a declared COI, and proposes a major overhaul of an article (or even boldly does it). And further lets suppose that it's overall positive, though not with any obvious puffery, advocacy, or the like. Are we supposed to automatically reject that, simply because it's positive? Do we reject it until such time as someone hunts down every piece of negative information we can find? What if, in fact, there isn't any significant (WP:UNDUE-meeting) negative information? Your position necessarily entails that we treat all revisions that add positive information to articles as suspect. Just because a PR agent says something positive doesn't necessarily make it false. Similarly, just because an irate blogger says something negative doesn't necessarily make it false, either. How do we decide what to put in an article? The same way we always do: by looking at the provided reliable sources. But you seem to be implying that it is the responsibility of every editor to, whenever they see a positive addition, to drop everything and hunt down every available piece of information to ensure that it's fully balanced. Qwyrxian (talk) 00:28, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Hero's comments are not exactly solution-oriented, but his complaints aren't without warrant. We need to improve how we handle the request edit process. Some editors have too high of standards while others are too low. More re-write requests should involve a degree of independent editing. "An improvement" is a good measure, but there are other more nuanced considerations and a lot of leeway on how we define "improvement." We need some fine-tuning, but I think that is motivation to make it better, rather than dump on the whole thing. And of course it brings us into the inevitable rabbit hole of the alternative of attempting to ban it. Corporate 01:58, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Advocacy is a good place to document what we think about this. Jehochman Talk 21:57, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
    Now it is funny that from all users Jehochman is the one to give an advice on where is a good place to document what we think about advocacy. (talk) 16:57, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
    Not sure those links say anything conclusive about Jehochman at all, but they do perhaps illustrate how much attitudes to paid advocacy have changed in Wikipedia over the past five years. Being accused of it then was considered a stain on your honour. Not so today. Andreas JN466 21:59, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Some real structural organization / framework / dissection for the wp:coi efforts is needed to prevent them from eternally going in circles. Because the logical underpinnings/ conflations of wp:coi are probably the most complex of any policy/guideline, conflating attempts at definitions, defining personal situations and what should happen based on those, editing actions (vs situations), and guidelines for editing for people in widely varying circumstances with respect to this. Without that the situation is a Gordian knot. North8000 (talk) 23:14, 7 November 2012 (UTC) North8000 (talk) 23:14, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Agreed that some leadership here could be a real breath of fresh air. It seems like even as Wikipedia's volunteer base shrivels up, that paid opportunities are becoming more and more common - WMUK's "train the trainers", thematic organizations like Wiki Medicine, and these various companies. Right now, it looks like the people who totally ignore the rules and are good at politicking are going to start companies and make millions, and the honest volunteer editors some day soon will be queuing up to sweep their floors for sub-minimum wage. With certain self-appointed critics over at Wikipediocracy, writing their fancy tell-all book about hundreds of editors and getting a pipeline set up to pour out trumped up news stories, setting themselves up as the ubermafia in charge, collecting all the ID cards for the editors and threatening to cyberbully anyone who isn't fully subservient to them out of the project entirely. There should be a way to legitimize honest grants for honest Wikipedia development by universities, museums, nations, etc., so that the work is defined in a way that is 100% acceptable, advertised in a public place and bid out for any and all editors to apply for without prejudice (but with consideration of their qualifications, both in terms of off-wiki and on-wiki experience) and without publicly disclosing information that certain parties would abuse against them. Wnt (talk) 04:57, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
While it may be considered self-serving for me to say so, I think any actual COI work that is officially endorsed/organized by the WMF itself would eventually prove disastrous for its image. A marketplace for recruiting paid editors is the same as eLance and Wikipedia itself wouldn't necessarily have better outcomes. However, editor retention is tied closely to civility, which is tied to COI. I would guess today that at least 75 percent of COIs are non-disclosed. This creates good justification for paranoia that is toxic to the environment here. Corporate 17:56, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
To be honest, I think it is more like 95%. It is quite common to find COIs that are neither disclosed nor really hidden. You get an article on Boris Smith mainly edited by an editor called Boris007, articles on trade publications where key editors have names easily traceable to staff listed at that publication's website, admins editing articles related to their employment, etc. You only need to poke around a few articles to find the same thing again and again. I firmly believe large swathes of Wikipedia would not exist at all without undeclared COI editing. And Wikipedia has always been schizophrenic about this: on the one hand tempting people to edit in this way, by offering anonymity, "Be bold", "IAR", and so forth, all to get "participation" and "page views" and up the article count, and then sometimes coming down on people like a ton of bricks when it turns out that Boris007 really is Boris Smith (quelle surprise!). Andreas JN466 18:24, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

BLP issues

Those who care about BLP issues may want to review this [23] with an eye toward helping make sure Wikipedia follows policy and does so responsibly.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:17, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Reviewed and commented thereon. But we seem to have folks attacking all those who most seek to protect biographies from such acts. Collect (talk) 15:44, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Russian language: video lessons

If you wish to learn the Russian language, then I recommend this series of video lessons.

(There are about 15 months between now and the scheduled commencement of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.)
Wavelength (talk) 20:03, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Perhaps more articles about immersion to learn each language: I see we have (along with article "Language immersion") an article on "French immersion" and so, perhaps we could have an article "Russian immersion" to report techniques which work well. The German language follows from a culture which sees issues as "right/wrong" (rather than a spectrum of acceptable levels), and a person should be "immersed" also in the backwards, reverse word-order for saying verbs at the end of sentences; where even simple sentences, which should have the verb in the middle, are often said with verb-at-end. Plus, some aspects of German immersion should perhaps reflect the influence of dialects, such as "Berlinerisch" (etc.). For Russian, I am thinking immersion in the culture of public coldness (blank stares), mixed with private warmness among known friends. There is also some sing-song phrasing in Russian, perhaps not as much as Swedish sing-song phrases, but listening to many Russian songs should help with the immersion, even if not all the lyrics are clear. Also, we have the general article on childhood "Early immersion (foreign-language instruction)". -Wikid77 (talk) 00:27, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Potential Lua-based Template:CheckMOS to spot errors

Beyond having Template:Watchdog expanded by lightning-fast Lua script searches to question improper words in live articles, I now see the need for some edit-only templates which could check for hundreds of grammar or punctuation problems in older articles, but only during an edit-preview to perhaps run 2 whole seconds of numerous error searches. Such a Template:CheckMOS (short alias {ckmos}?) could hunt for the following numerous small problems, as noted in wp:MOS:

  • warn of any contraction "n't" (although quotations are exempt).
  • warn of ampersand " & " used as "and"
  • warn of run-together units, such as "3km" should be spaced "3 km".
  • warn of misused "then" when "than" is the expected phrase.
  • warn of abbreviated units "km" when full "kilomet.." expected
  • check for the 200 most-often misspelled words.
  • warn of hundreds of other potential issues.

In recent work to edit another 150 articles, for copy-edit problems, I am again seeing the need to fix about 30-50 small punctuation, or phrasing, problems in every article. As more patterns emerge, then a {ckmos} template could be expanded to search for hundreds of those small errors, perhaps listing just 15 at a time (as "showing 15 of 57 detected"), to allow an editor to fix a dozen, then try again for the next dozen, to keep from overwhelming the editing process. This note is just an FYI to think about easier ways to solve the current 50-typo-per-article problem, in a few edits, rather than waiting years for articles to be AWB-edited for 3 words at a time. More later. -Wikid77 (talk) 20:04, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

That's a very smart idea! Pesky (talk) 09:33, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Show borderline cases at end of scan: Well, a common problem, when trying to detect potential text errors, is avoiding too many messages about borderline cases, such as flagging of intended style differences, or even "deliberate errors" in some sections. Because a Lua script module can increment counters, then multiple messages could be combined, such as, "Detected 67 commas preceded by spaces" rather than listing all 67 messages. Another advantage, to showing only "15 of 57 detected" at a time, would be to display the high-priority typos first, and then minor, debatable glitches would be suppressed until the "top 15" major issues were corrected first. It is important not to overwhelm the user/editor with a zillion messages, as done for decades by the old UNIX "lint" or newer Splint (programming tool) which checked for syntax errors in C language software files. Now, I am thinking that editors are often led to an article for some specific update, not intending to copy-edit the whole page, but perhaps might have time to run a "{ckmos}" and decide to fix perhaps 20 small problems while editing for their original update. It is sad to see an Indo-Pak article, with 250 obvious typos, rarely get an AWB-edit to fix 3 words, and leave the remaining 247 typos for months/years. Also, it is an eye-opener to review a major article ("Jennifer Lopez") and find 37 new typos from recent editing last month by fans with quick fingers. -Wikid77 (talk) 22:19, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Borderline cases as a separate option: Upon further reflection, I think some borderline typos or "deliberate errors" should only be reported by a {ckmos} template when a specific option was requested; otherwise, there might be too many valid exceptions to a borderline rule about punctuation. The problem is that many typos can also be valid, but unusual, text phrases, especially in quotations or math formulas which are not clearly within quotation marks or math tags, but perhaps inside an image caption. Hence, the best way to control for too many exceptions would be to turn the option off, when it distracted from detecting other issues in a text section. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:37, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Rapid, template parameter lists of words to check: Previously, I had thought that some editors who worked on the wp:MOS style guide might perhaps update a Lua script module to search for text errors. However, now, I am thinking that the lists of words to hunt should be, instead, the parameters of the template which #invoke's a Lua module. Because the Lua language is so vastly different from the markup language used in writing templates, I am worried that most editors will dislike making changes to Lua modules, which are currently processed similar to "compiled source code" versus the interative changes to edit-previewed templates. Lua is almost identical to advanced computer software with parameters imported by accessor functions (but with implicit data types), and casting of data from one format to another can be complicated, where if a user does not "live and breathe" writing in C language, then they are likely to find Lua almost unintelligible. Fortunately, we have many computer experts contributing to WP, but most users will probably want to work with Lua-based template parameters, rather than modify the Lua modules directly. -Wikid77 (talk) 00:51, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Court case ruling commercial conflict-of-interest editing illegal under European law

As the de:Wikipedia:Kurier (the German Wikipedia's internal newsletter) reports, a recently published German court decision ruled that if someone paid by a business adds information about the business's products to a Wikipedia article, then the intent is to influence consumers – and that this is a form of advertising, as well as a part of the business's commercial activities. Moreover, the court ruled that because this is a covert form of advertising, it is illegal under European unfair trading law.

Ongoing discussions in German Wikipedia point out that the German law under which the decision was made is merely the German implementation of a European directive, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. This seems to be true, and there is a parallel law in the UK: The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This lists the following in Schedule 1, under "Commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair":

  • 11. Using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial).
  • 22. Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.

In the German court case, a manufacturer of incense products had (1) mentioned in a Wikipedia article that their own products were widely available in German pharmacies and (2) had claimed that a competing Indian product was not readily available in Germany for various reasons. The court saw both of these types of statements as designed to bias purchasing decisions in favour of the company's own products. They were taken to court by the competitor and ordered to desist from making such statements in Wikipedia on pain of a €250,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison.

This was so despite the fact that they had declared their conflict of interest on the article's talk page. The court ruled that as the average reader would not consult the talk page, and because Wikipedia saw itself as presenting articles from a neutral point of view, with an impartial description of any existing disputes, the company had breached the unfair trading regulations.

Wikimedia Germany has commissioned a legal opinion on the wider implications of this judgment for Wikipedia, given that the German Wikpedia's own advice on conflict-of-interest editing is not consistent with the court decision.

For a UK application of the same law, see

At least as far as the UK is concerned, this might represent an excellent vindication of the bright-line rule never to edit article space with a commercial conflict of interest, as it lays the editor's company open to lawsuits from competitors, and claims for damages. Andreas JN466 17:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

This sounds like a huge can of worms. Think about how many companies in the U.S. have been saying "like us on Facebook for a chance at a free iCrap." But I assume there's nothing like it in the U.S., nor do I think there could be, which, oddly enough, sounds like it will give our companies an unfair advantage. So far as I understand from what these articles say, these European companies can't just hire some Americans to edit for them... not unless they have an American subsidiary doing it?... Wnt (talk) 17:51, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
European free speech law maybe less protective but even in the US, a competitor can sue another competitor for 'unfair trade practices.' And get an injunction. From the Pedia's interest, this is just likely to drive such editing even more underground, and subject the WMF (and others) to more subpenas. In the end people should just not do this stuff, but "business ethics," are well, "business ethics." -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:38, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not totally following how it affects purchasing decisions. If I'm standing in a German pharmacy and see Indian incense in front of me, am I supposed to say to myself, "Hold on, I just read in Wikipedia that this incense isn't widely available, so this must be an illusion, and I'll search for another brand?" Or to put it differently, who ya gonna believe, Wikipedia or your lyin' eyes? (Yes, I can imagine some effect, but I couldn't pass up a chance at a cheap line.)--SPhilbrick(Talk) 18:56, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
It seems they were trying to influence wholesale purchasing decisions, and to discourage imports of Indian goods that would have competed with their own product. According to this analysis they made factually inaccurate statements about import regulations in the process, while stating that their product was widely available in pharmacies as a nutritional supplement. Andreas JN466 19:40, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Good Lord. Now that I think of it, is the NPOV policy - is Wikipedia policy - really relevant to whether "unfair trade practices" were committed? I mean, does this affect the company only because they lied about a competitor's product in a specific way, or because they violated Wikipedia policy? If it's the latter ... then companies could be going back five? years and Wikilawyering in court that X adding an EL to its own web page was not recommended by WP:EL, saying that Y was linked to baldness was a WP:COATRACK. The expert witnessing opportunities alone (not to mention the paralegal opportunities) could be enough to gainfully employ every Wikipedian who ever made 100 edits... Wnt (talk) 20:29, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Here's an example of what would could get in the trouble with this legislation. If people search Wikipedia for "bodkinprints" they will find a number of outgoing links to a site that used to belong to a company that was wound up a couple of months ago. These links were added in 2006 which predates the legislation. However, in the period from when the law came into force (or if similar legislation existed before then) until the company stopped operating, Wikipedia just happened to link to a commercial organisation. The user who added the links was User:Johnbod aka John Byrnne, now the Treasurer of WMUK. ([24], [25] etc.) The "bod" in his id is no coincidence. He was a director of Bodkin Prints. So Wikipedia had apparently dispassionate link to a site which had some links to useful pictures but in reality these links were inserted by someone who had a business interest in the linked site. It would need a lawyer to work out whether the continued existence of these links after the directives came into force made them unlawful in Europe, but it certainly is sleazy.--Peter cohen (talk) 21:07, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
I have been saying for a while now that the Federal Trade Commission in the US "strongly advises" companies to disclose their affiliation in all online communications. When companies edit Wikipedia deceptively with socks, this is illegal astroturfing; when they edit it anonymously in a non-deceptive way, this is violating what the FTC "recommends." The issue the FTC struggles with - as is our issue as well - is enforcement. In many instances a company must astroturf to compete in a market where doing so is prolific and product reviews are a strong influence on purchasing decisions. However, I think more real-world legal repercussions would dissuade a lot of blatant astroturfing, especially by larger companies with legal departments. Of course, I need to read this now to see what it might infer about Talk page participation. Corporate 21:17, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
For anyone interested: The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking. Corporate 21:29, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Corporate, the FTC does not "strongly advise" or "recommend" disclosure, it requires it.

§ 255.5 disclosure of material connections. When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.

In the rest of the document it clarifies that "endorser" applies to "consumer-generated-media", it doesn't need to be an explicit endorsement. They give an example of an Internet forum participant that has a commercial COI, unknown to the rest of the forum participants, § 255.5 Example 8. Gigs (talk) 22:16, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification - I had read secondary interpretations that suggested it was more like "advice." It's a very compelling argument for us to require disclosure, as it is not a good idea for Wikipedia to give companies advice that encourages something potentially illegal. On the other hand, we can dive into things like what is an "endorsement" and what materials may "materially effect" the company and so on. Corporate 22:26, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
The difference here though is that while a company rep on a web forum might disclose his identity either in his signature or in his postings, he can't do that on a Wikipedia article. While Wikipedia articles can actually resemble forum threads if you page through from diff to diff, they're generally read as static documents by the reader, who wouldn't know to look on the talk page, nevermind the userpage of each contributor. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 00:41, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
The inability to put disclosures in the article itself is a pretty compelling argument to forbid all direct editing by people with a commercial COI. Gigs (talk) 04:02, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Well Gigs I'd like to forbid all direct editing by people with a commercial COI, but then I'd also like a flying pony. But as to your other point, why can't we put disclosures in the article itself? It's a wiki! Yelp and Amazon and so forth have a similar problem with their reviews. It's not the same problem because their reviews are explicitly user-generated so they don't have the same legal exposure, but it's still a problem for them. Well here's what Yelp is doing. Why can't we do something like that? We can, because we have the template {{Corrupt (organization)}}. (We didn't five minutes ago, be we do now.) It looks something like this:
Now that we have this, we can deploy it,where its appropriate. I think that for legal reasons we need to do this right away (and its a service to the reader to boot). Let's get to work! Herostratus (talk) 04:55, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I would hate for that kind of banner to become common. In general I dislike article issue banners. It also kind of runs against WP:NDA. I would hope we could come up with some other solution. Gigs (talk) 16:35, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Yeah I don't like banners either, but I guess in this case the alternative of no banner is worse, especially when you consider that this solves a possible legal problem. Even if the legal issue is found to be not a problem, I think it's only courteous to alert the reader that she's being played. WP:NDA is only a guideline, offers some exceptions, and was written before this particular issue came up. This is not WP:TOBY or spoiler alerts, this addresses a whole nother level of bad. We need it. Herostratus (talk) 17:20, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Surely, this banner would only be put in place if problematic edits have been identified. But, if so, why not just revert them? Formerip (talk) 17:22, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps because the "bad" analysis need to await litigation? (Eg. It looks like the DE Wiki knew there were COI edits but did not know they were "anti-competitive" under the law.) Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:03, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure I follow, Alan. Are you saying we would only use a banner as an interim thing while we are waiting for de.wp's legal advice? If so, I'd suggest that it would be easier just to wait for the legal advice. That will be along in less time than it would take to get agreement on a banner. Formerip (talk) 18:08, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
No. I am not familiar with getting legal advice for article content. My understanding is that there are not enough lawyers or an identified editorial "client" to do so, in the case of almost all content. (Also, in the En-Wiki Project, it would not just be German law). However, there is still a risk, apparently, that anti-competitive statements go into articles, which the volunteers have no training or authority to evaluate. A banner just warns the readers, where we know that such risk exists, I take it. (It might also discourage such edits, altogether, one supposes) - Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:21, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm still not entirely following you. But, AFAICT, promotional COI edits of the type being talked about either are or are not lawful in the US/EU, and so we either do or no not need to think about adapting our policies to exclude such edits. We wouldn't need an army of lawyers, just appropriate wording in our policies which addresses the legal issue (in the same way that our BLP policy is worded to as to address the legal issue of defamation). Having general disclaimers everywhere would just make WP look inept and I don't think it would realistically give us any legal protection (unless you want to get into inline editor attribution). Formerip (talk) 18:46, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Formerip, it's often not practical to revert the edits, for a number of complicated reasons. One reason is that it's very tedious and time-consuming to vet material that's been worked over by a paid reputation-management editor. Any bias may be subtle and consist partly of omitted material, and its hard to vet material that isn't there. There are other problems which I won't detail here, but it's a big job and just not always possible to get someone to do this. It's possible that there's nothing false or misleading in the article. Who knows? So all we're really saying is "Paid agents of the subject have worked over this article, you might want to read this with a grain of salt (or not, depending on your own personal credulousness and so forth)."
As to the other argument, I've never been much of a fan of the "It's probably not technically actually illegal to do X, so therefore it's fine and dandy". Legal considerations aside, allowing our readers to be deliberately played without notifying them when we easily could is unethical. All things equal, we shouldn't be knowingly unethical, especially when there's no upside. Herostratus (talk) 18:58, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, but when you say "it's often not practical to revert the edits", that can't be what you really mean. In fact, it's always fairly straight forward to revert edits. It clearly wouldn't, on the other hand, be practical to expect editors to make case-by-case legal determinations about content. That's one of the reasons we have policies. You're quite correct that sometimes it may be unclear whether content is or isn't lawful. This happens with BLP all the time. We just apply the policy.
So, for example only, our policy in this case might be to make mandatory what is currently advice about COI editors and direct editing. Or it might be something less sweeping. Whatever. If you have a tiger in your restaurant, you should not something about the tiger, rather than thinking about appropriate signage. Formerip (talk) 19:18, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Why wouldn't you tell others about the tiger? Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:24, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't think I would run a restaurant with a tiger in it in the first place, and I don't think I would bother with a sign alerting customers to the ever-present hypothetical possibility of a tiger jumping out of the soup. Formerip (talk) 19:30, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
You aren't running it, 1000s of unknowns are. We hopefully give them a myriad of tools to run it a responsible fashion, and to know when to look for tigers. (BTW: Tiger soup, violates the endangered species act). Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:47, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

(E/C):No. 1) I don't think the concern is for liability for Wikipedia or the liability of its editors. Rather, it's information for readers. 2) BLP is a poor analogy because BLP is expands to remove critical information of living people but the same (moral) issues with corporations/companies don't exist. What does exist is complex anti-competitive law and identified COI. Legal/not legal involves factors which lay editors cannot know. But they can know when someone says they have COI, and that's where the risk for unwary readers begins. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:16, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Doesn't an article-space disclosure essentially make it legal for companies to astroturf us? Corporate 19:30, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I can't see how it does that. They still need to "follow the law." That's still on them. But wiki policies are not the law, and are not patrolled or administered by the law. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:34, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
The whole point of the law is that advertorials must be clearly identified as such. To avoid infringing the law, a paid editor would have to disclose in article space what information they had inserted, and do so at the time they were inserting the info. That is something we do not allow: it would be quite helpful in a way, adding transparency for the reader, but it is not present house style. Let's not kid ourselves: if Wikipedia had article space declarations like that, they would be all over this website. Andreas JN466 21:48, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, of course Users are already barred by policy to do any of that, which you describe, beginning with editing it as an advertorial. There are only a few ways (currently) to deal with that. 1) Trust they will not do that; or 2) Raise other's antennas about COI editing. "Templateing" articles where it is in evidence that commercial COI editing is occurring (or has been requested) is just one way. But overtime, as with citations, and copyright, and BLP, one gets a culture going that is aware and thus less conducive. (As for the body of law, that's not its only point, it covers a broad array of anti-competitive communications). Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:20, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
NPOV is violated every day, by all sorts of editors. Also note that it seems a pure mention of one's own product may be enough to fall foul of the law, because of the lack of transparency, while the mention itself may not necessarily fall foul of NPOV. Andreas JN466 00:46, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes. As noted above, this area of the law covers a broad range of speech and wiki policies are not law. Violations of NPOV are also pointed out everyday. That's what other editors do when they are aware. Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:58, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Where do you get the idea that pure mention of one's own product may be enough to fall foul of the law? My German is not excellent, but the decision appears to me to focus on the making of marketing claims, rather than editing of Wikipedia in general. Formerip (talk) 00:53, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────── One of the statements the editor was forbidden to make was "d. das Erzeugnis [...] sei in Deutschland als Nahrungsergänzungsmittel in allen Apotheken erhältlich"; i.e. the mere mention that their product was available in German pharmacies as a nutritional supplement was ruled unfair advertising.

An analysis on this law firm's website adds that in their opinion any edit a company representative makes to an article on Wikipedia lays them open to the charge of "covert advertising", as Wikipedia does not provide any means to make other than "covert" contributions: "Wie man nun überhaupt als Unternehmen selbst ohne den Vorwurf einer Verschleierung auf Wikipedia Änderungen vornehmen lassen möchte, erscheint mir derzeit äusserst schwierig zu beurteilen, ernsthafte Möglichkeiten sehe ich jedenfalls auf Wikipedia nicht. Insbesondere, da das OLG letztlich einen offen gewählten Nutzernamen nicht als Kenntlichmachung diskutiert hat und die Diskussionsseite als Argument abgelehnt hat, verbleibt kein ernsthafter Diskussionsspielraum." In other words, even though the user identified their company in their user name, and identified themselves on the talk page, their edit to the article itself was considered non-transparent because the average reader does not read the talk page, and does not check all the accounts in the contributions history.

The de:Kurier-Artikel itself ("Die Konkurrenz liest mit!") comes to the same conclusion: "Aus Sicht des Verfassers dieses Beitrags ergibt sich aus dem Urteil und der allgemeinen Rechtslage, dass kein „zulässiger Bereich“ – in den Worten des Gerichts: keine „allgemeine Unterrichtung der Öffentlichkeit“ – existiert. Damit ist tatsächlich jeder Edit eines Unternehmens gleich Schleichwerbung und kann Unterlassungs- und Schadensersatzansprüche von Mitbewerbern und Verbrauchern auslösen." In other words, their conclusion is that the judgment means that there is no "permissible area" and any Wikipedia edit by a company is covert advertising. Andreas JN466 02:38, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

So let's take the example of a company that changes the location of its head office. The press officer logs in to WP and updates the company infobox to reflect the news. Are we saying that, according to Kurier, this would be a breach of EU law, as interpreted in Germany? Formerip (talk) 02:51, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. What is certain though is that the press officer can go to a talk page or a noticeboard, explain who they are, and provide info on the location of the head office without falling foul of the regulations. If they do that, then they are not making a covert contribution to the article the reader reads. And to readers of the talk page or noticeboard, their contribution has the required transparency, because they've said who they are. The problem with article space is that there is no way for them to hold up their hand and say, "I did that." So the reader, who according to the German court is led to believe that they are reading a neutral article authored by third parties in Wikipedia, unwittingly reads one that was secretly (partly) written by the company itself. Andreas JN466 04:16, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
In terms of what would be a good way to handle things, you'll get little argument from me. But, if we're talking about responding to a legal issue, I think we need to begin with clarity about what the legal issue actually is. Formerip (talk) 15:52, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Actually, why don't we put this template on ALL articles:

That would at least reduce the number of different warning templates... Saw the template on Gigs user page and stole it, sorry. Sometimes you must steal things you like. Just like "In many instances a company must astroturf to compete in a market". What can you do? Create a new template, i guess. --Atlasowa (talk) 20:36, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

@FormerIP: Yes. This is a great example for how far the ratio decidendi of the judgment goes. Any edit with a commercial background is unfair competition. It is important to understand, however, that Wikimedia cannot be held liable for any unfair competition taking place in Wikipedia. The only thing that can happen that is that a competitors sue each other for their Wikipedia edits. --Gnom (talk) 15:44, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that's quite correct, Gnom. In the UK, at least, we would be talking about a regulatory criminal offence, so a company would normally be prosecuted by the Office of Fair Trading. But if Germany does it through regular civil proceedings, then it would be inescapable that someone is going to need to demonstrate loss. That would mean that it is not the case that any edit whatsoever is a problem.
I'm not trying to start a pointless fight over it, I'm just counselling against setting off with half an understanding. Formerip (talk) 17:01, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for your comment, Formerip. No, no demonstration of loss is necessary under German law, the claimant must only prove that he is a genuine competitor of the defendant and that the commercial practice in dispute is of commercial relevance for his business. I understand that under Part 4 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, England uses a different approach where a government authority enforces unfair competition regulation. --Gnom (talk) 17:11, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
(e/c) Hmm? Injunction (order to stop) does not require financial loss, rather potential harm. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:14, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, but either way, that's not going to cover absolutely any edit, is it? To take a step back, how plausible does it seem that there could be a court case, for example, over someone correcting a typo on Wikipedia. I've been wrong about stuff one or two times before, but I'd say it just isn't. There has to be a line somewhere. Formerip (talk) 17:34, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
There is a line somewhere, but the Pedia does not draw that line. The Pedia tries to guide Users to "do the right thing," in support of the Pillars. Don't do illegal acts, is generally in that vein. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:51, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, there is (must be) a line. Correcting typos is definitely okay, and I can see the point where people say information that is in a public register is okay as well, also correcting obvious errors although I am not sure about the latter two. But the vast majority of corporate edits fall in neither of these categories. --Gnom (talk) 23:00, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
@Alan. I'm again not clear about what you are saying. It sounds like you're saying we have it covered through our existing practices, but that seems at odds with what you've said further up.
@Gnom. Are you sure that the German law would work by exceptions to the rule, so that there are certain categories of edit are OK? I think it more likely that it would attempt to positively define what is not OK. Formerip (talk) 00:31, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I do not see that this affects the English Wikipedia; our servers are in the United States where there is commercial free speech.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:13, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
This is not a very bright pertinent comment: after all, the German Wikipedia is hosted on the exact same servers, and this evidently did not prevent a German court from making a binding judgment. As with all these things, Wikipedia (i.e. the Wikimedia Foundation) is covered by Section 230 safe harbour provisions anyway. But the safe harbour does not extend to the individual Wikipedia contributor like the manager of the German company involved in this suit, whose actions in Wikipedia fell foul of European fair trading law. And note that even the US have laws against astroturfing, and that astroturfing is not protected speech. Andreas JN466 08:54, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
That "not a very bright comment" bit is kinda rude. I am not clear on how the Germans view precedent, but in the United States, a judgment would not bind a non-party. And calling editing in the manner you mention "astroturfing" and then saying the US has laws against astroturfing does not mean the editing you do not like is illegal. It simply means you'd like it to be, or for others to think so anyway.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:21, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Sorry. Edited. What I meant to say was: that Wikipedia cannot be sued is trivially true anyway. You do not need to invoke freedom of speech here; Section 230 is enough. But individual contributors to Wikipedia evidently can be sued, fined and jailed under EU law for what they do here. That does affect Wikipedia. And I did not call any particular edit astroturfing: I am merely pointing out that certain Wikipedia edits might fall foul of US astroturfing laws, too, i.e. I am saying that there are limits to the freedom of commercial speech in the US as well. Andreas JN466 10:10, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Not a problem. But as a lawyer, I'm not going to be convinced by anything short of a legal opinion that I can examine and check through. Though I intend to come to my own conclusions. I suspect there's a range, depending on what the company actually does and what it's purpose is in seeking edits to its article.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:05, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
@Formerip: the German law does work by exceptions to the rule: Every commercial practice that disguises its commercial character is unfair competition unless a) the practice has no effect on competition or b) the commercial effect is negligable. See sec. 3 Unfair Competition Act.
@Wehwalt: Precedent is of course not binding in Germany, but it is treated as a legal opinion where another court would not depart from without stating why it would do so, thus creating a threshold for disagreement. --Gnom (talk) 15:32, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

@Former IP: We discourage commercial COI editing -- we should still discourage commercial COI editing, and raise awareness that it should be discouraged. That's not a change in policy, but re-emphasis. Are there changes in policy that might do that better? Probably, but that needs discussed elsewhere. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:14, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

The idea that editing with a financial interest might carry government sanctions is potentially huge; there are so many implications, my head is spinning. I'll try to read up and give this some sober thought. - Dank (push to talk) 18:23, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Arbitration Election Commission RFC closing advance notification

Mr. Wales, per the consensus reached at Arbitration Committee Elections December 2012 it is requested you close and select the commission members sometime after Saturday 23:59, 17 November NE Ent 23:14, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I think we'd all prefer it if you selected the Arbcom some time after 17 December ... :-) Graham87 10:07, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Or rather, acknowledged the community's selections. This is certainly one of the reserve powers, such as they are, that should be turned over to the community.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:05, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Electoral Commission != Arbitration Committee. NE Ent 13:18, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

According to the page, "This is not a vote or an election; the final appointments will be made by Jimbo Wales." I will do that. However, despite this being neither a vote nor an election, I do not intend to exercise my own discretion or judgment; I will follow the advice of the community. That more or less makes in into the equivalent of a vote or an election. In any event, this is just the electoral commission, a role which is purely functional/technical in nature - the electoral commission has no right to do anything other than tally the votes and communicate the results to me for the ultimate ArbCom appointments where, again, I will simply follow the advice of the community. As a side note, I think this electoral commission is a layer of bureaucracy that we could do without.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:44, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

I don't know if its good or bad but my meager understanding is it had its genesis in something like an unexpected resignation last year and who was to handle that issue. So, it's unexpected problems, that they are suppose to sort out. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:19, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but I think it's unnecessary to for that sort of thing. I can do it in consultation with the community just fine. Too many layers of rules aren't really the right answer.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:19, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree with what Jimbo says (talk) 10:04, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I think a lot of editors do! Most just choose to stay out of it because these things can be particularly nasty and regard editors that are very well established and for lack if a better word, "powerful" within the community. (talk) 23:12, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

The Wikipedia

Hi Jimmy! When exactly did you create the Wikipedia and can it be that you are a billionare? Dol Grenn (talk) 12:51, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

2001 and I'm very far from a billionaire.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:57, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
If you like you can read History of Wikipedia for a comprehensive history of what Jimmy did when. Rcsprinter (talkin' to me?) @ 19:48, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Finsbury editing of Usmanov biography

Another PR / BLP story, from two different perspectives:

"PRCA director-general Francis Ingham added that the site’s internal process for amending inaccurate or inflammatory material was ‘opaque, time-consuming and cumbersome’. [...] Ingham urged Wikipedia to implement ‘radical reform’ to its editing process."

"Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the newspaper: ‘It is a disappointment that PR firms or lobbyists think that this is what they have to do when we’re here, we’re free, we’re open. We have a community very keen to correct errors.’"

Each side complains of feeling they are misunderstood by the other. Andreas JN466 14:00, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

And no wonder, with people like you spreading misinformation.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:58, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
[ Citation needed ]. Sorry Jimmy, but Andreas is a passionate amateur investigative reporter, which is a good thing to have around to compliment a project which is (ideally) created by passionate amateur encyclopedia contributors. Everyone our age has been told from time to time to consider an email to be like a postcard (as opposed to a top-secret document), and you have no-one to blame but yourself if you forget that sometimes. Andreas is one of the good guys, so you need to get over it if you really want to get things fixed (rather than just giving the impression to the media that things are getting fixed). --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 23:36, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Andreas doesn't compliment the project much though, does he?
Besides which, I thought it was the person to whom Andreas sent the email - one of the "Wikipediocracy trustees" who have such great plans for how Wikipedia should be run - that just happened to be the "reporter", right? --Demiurge1000 (talk) 00:36, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Opaque is rarely a criticism that stands alone as most people don't object to a complaints system that is opaque but efficient, fair and effective. Cumbersome and time consuming can be valid criticisms, but only if someone has actually tried to use a system. Do we have any evidence that those particular PR people had tried to either Email OTRS or make a comment on the talkpage before they decided that doing the right thing was "cumbersome"? I don't have access to OTRS, but I did have a look at the article talkpage. If people in the PR industry can show that our mechanisms for dealing with error are in some way more time consuming and cumbersome than is normal for an internet information site, then I would hope we would review our processes and look at the way others do this better. But as for this incident, it seems difficult to see how this is about our processes being cumbersome at delivering a neutral article; More the usual case of a PR company wanting a positive article about their client. As for the idea of allowing PR agencies to rewrite wikipedia articles on their clients, can you imagine them even asking that of the BBC or a Newspaper? ϢereSpielChequers 15:47, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I've asked people to check my work, but when I searched in OTRS, I found zero evidence that we were contacted about this at all. Seriously, no one can plausibly claim that they have to engage in deception because we aren't responsive. That's doubly true when they didn't even bother to email us with a concern.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:29, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I think their basic point is that even finding/using OTRS is 'overly cumbersome'. Lets face it, it could be made a lot easier for PR companies to find out how/why/who can help them in correcting info they believe is incorrect. For some reason there is a lot of resistance to do so. I suspect because of the innate reluctance and difficulty of the wikipedia community to alter long-standing guidelines/processes/policy. And of course the stubborn 'why should we help PR shills' mentality which leads them to avoid interaction altogether. Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:40, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
If this is their "basic point" then it's total and complete nonsense. How do you contact us? It's easy. Like most websites, there's a "contact us" link at the bottom of every page. You click there and it tells you what to do. The page is written very clearly and simply. It does not use jargon like "OTRS". It even links to a specific and more detailed page about what to do if you are the subject of an article, and that page clearly tells you what to do. There is so far zero evidence that Finsbury did any of those things, so their objection that the editing process is 'overly cumbersome' is nonsense. It tells how to leave a message on the talk page and tells how to email us. If anyone has suggestions on how to make that easier, I think we should make it easier. But it's super freaking easy already, and I have zero - let me emphasize that - ZERO - sympathy for pr hacks who don't even both to email before they slag us off in the press after they've attempted some sneaky nonsense.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 20:43, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Having worked with hundreds of COI editors (for free!), I think most of them simply do not want to "contact us". They think Wikipedia is like Facebook or LinkedIn or the various PR-News-Release websites and business directories - it's "their" entry so they want to be able to edit it directly! (And in some cases they want it "locked" once they've done so.) Some of them can have it explained to them that this is not the situation; some understand that explanation but want the situation to change; some (as you've implied) don't even make the effort to ask or enquire in order to receive the explanation. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:15, 13 November 2012 (UTC) And all three of those categories of COI editors are more than happy to spout nonsense publicly, whether ignorant nonsense or badly researched nonsense or deliberately misleading nonsense. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:18, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
The comment about our complaints process being ‘opaque, time-consuming and cumbersome’ was not from Finsbury, but from PRCA director-general Francis Ingham. It's also worth noting that, as stated below, the Contact Us page was only recently revised, shortly after this discussion. It was an absolute maze before. Andreas JN466 22:02, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
It was sub-optimal before; but it was much less of a maze than many major internet companies' equivalent pages. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 22:07, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
These were the pages you had to go through if you wanted to report a problem: 1 2 3 4. So on their way to the location of the OTRS email address, PR people would in fact pass several invitations to edit the article themselves! Andreas JN466 22:50, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, so, only four pages. So, yes, even in its previous state it was, as I said, much less of a maze than many major internet companies' equivalent pages. Whether that previous state also sent conflicting messages is another matter. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:40, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Has anybody bothered to read the Contact Wikipedia page and see what it tells people to do? And why is it Wikipedians assume that people who have occasional need to contact Wikipedia can be reasonably expected to stumble upon the impenetrable policy pages? WTF does OTRS mean to a real human being anyway? (Clue: not a lot). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
The contact page was recently overhauled and is a lot better than it used to be. Used to be impossible to find the email addresses, now they are pretty easy to find. Gigs (talk) 16:38, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes. That was overdue, and Ironholds did a fantastic job. Andreas JN466 17:00, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
One BLP subject told me it took a month for OTRS to respond. "I've seen this happen on OTRS time and time again: real tickets about unbalanced articles do go unanswered for weeks." Jclemens 02:50, 1 March 2012 (UTC) The other complaint is that talk page messages sit without adequate response, which is also my general experience with leaving talk page messages. Jimbo has offered people that they can come to his talk page, but I have never seen anyone do this, and frankly, it's not an ideal solution: it's a bit like standing in the middle of the market place and telling the crowd that someone has put something unflattering into your article, thereby broadcasting it. Andreas JN466 16:59, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Were, neither of them advertises itself as a place "anyone can edit", nor do they put up biographies like this one or this one or this one. Some of Johann Hari's vandalisms, calling people alcoholics and antisemites, lasted for a whole week in mainspace. When the BBC gets something that wrong for a day or two, the Director General resigns. Newspapers answer to the press complaints commission. Wikipedia answers to no one. Andreas JN466 17:10, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
This template would solve a lot of issues by telling the article subject what to do Corporate 18:41, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Using and publicising the conflict-of-interest noticeboard as a default on-wiki location for article subjects and PR people to go to would be useful. I really like the idea: it's an existing noticeboard with regulars where people should get a response within a reasonable time, and a larger community could grow around it in time. A centralised location also produces good transparency for the public, who can see what sort of job the community is doing handling such complaints. Andreas JN466 18:48, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Sounds sensible. Already works fairly well in the parallel/related case of WP:BLPN. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 19:47, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

I think that many examples of "paid company PR editing" are similar to BLP. This is a prime example, especially since it does indeed involve claims about an individual, not his company. The concerns which led to this are pretty much identical to the ones that BLP subjects complain about all the time. The only difference is that he edited through an intermediary instead of doing it himself. I don't know what the exact edits are so I can't say whether they're justified BLP edits or not (was the original page from before he was found innocent or after? If before, did it mention an appeal?), but I know that if the guy himself had come on and made exactly the same edits for exactly the same reasons, our rules say that we should treat him with leniency and seriously consider his concerns. But as soon as someone says the words "paid PR professionals" this gets treated as a horrible crime for which we don't want to listen to excuses. Ken Arromdee (talk) 19:01, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Has anyone identified the actual edits Finsbury made? Andreas JN466 19:22, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Possible candidate. Formerip (talk) 19:32, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
The first part of that does mention the exoneration, but it's a weight issue.
The second part is even easier to argue as correct. A guy accused Usmanov of violating the law, but Usmanov wasn't convicted. Under WP:BLPCRIME this should not be mentioned if Usmanov is relatively unknown. Obviously he's a rich person with media coverage, but a case could be made that he's still relatively unknown--I certainly hadn't heard of him before now.
Even if we would have ultimately decided these are bad edits, we would not have reacted to them the same way if they had been made by Usmanov himself instead of by his PR department. Ken Arromdee (talk) 19:51, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, FormerIP. It looks like the stuff about the Kommersant free-speech row that was taken out in that edit was never restored; at any rate it's not in the article now. Andreas JN466 20:16, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I do see BLPs and PRs as different. When a person or company has professional representation, they are expected to know better and a higher level of orchestration is presumed. Corporate 20:49, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
They are different, but Ken does have a point. In looking at who made the edits, we should not lose sight of what the edits actually changed, and shouldn't forget to examine whether the edits were in fact in line with Wikipedia's own policies. If we don't do that, we may be giving anonymous defamers who are abusing Wikipedia for their own purposes a free ride. Andreas JN466 10:32, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Mike Peel on wikimediauk-l tells me the IP mentioned by The Times was a different one, i.e. (talk · contribs). Both this and the other IP, (talk · contribs), are from London. Andreas JN466 21:08, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Corporate raises a good point on one aspect. Moreover, the "professional representation" is often there to remove the person from responsibility for what is done. This leads into issues of when the "representative" can or cannot be trusted. Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:11, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

This illustrates the basic problem with BLP - there's too much subjective "it would be unethical to follow the sources properly" kind of stuff in it, which just begs for amateur and hired censors alike to descend on articles. How can we expect a PR company, or an editor hearing their hypothetical talk page plea, to decide fairly if some Russian billionaire is a "relative unknown"? It's absurd. For love's sake we should just cover all the sourced information fairly, good and bad, and express sympathy for the principal by ensuring that he gets his fair say in the article and that his side is not neglected. Wnt (talk) 05:49, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
The problem is you get people who are very keen to put the really negative stuff in, while nobody is keen to put the bread-and-butter stuff in. The result is an unbalanced article containing just the juiciest negative bits. See WP:ADAM. Andreas JN466 10:26, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't see the problem with having one lousy sentence in Deborah Orr's biography about a controversial incident. You can say that was a quarter of her biography, sure, but that's an impeachment of the lack of development of the rest of it. The result of that sentence being taken out now is only that we have an even shorter biography. Similarly, I don't see what's the matter with detailing the arrest history of somebody notable for activism in which these things happen, though giving it half a dozen headers is a bridge too far. With many of these cases, it would be possible to smooth over the impact of some of the negative tidbits by diplomatic phrasing or by properly infilling material. Let's be crystal clear here: this kind of approach replaced the right of the reader to know what the sources say with the right of the editor to apply "editorial discretion". And now readers need to turn to Google or other copyrighted sources to find out "the real deal" instead of the official propaganda about a topic (or to share it with others) - and editorial discretion is for sale on the open market, as should be expected. Wnt (talk) 17:12, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
To a (limited) point, I can sympathise with this. Wikipedia has somehow managed to grow a worrying, energy-draining BLP-absurdist tendency that it would be good to do something about. For a good current example, witness the current RfC about whether the current BBC hoo-ha should be included or excluded from the Lord McApline bio.
But there's a separate (though often separable only with difficulty) thing about our responsibility to provide accurate, balanced articles for the benefit of our readers. This ought always to trump (not negate, but trump) questions about our duty to living people. So, Deborah Orr writes words and says things that other people (other newspaper columnists, letter writers, pressure groups and so on) may disagree with, so that her name gets mentioned in other media so that she's still in employment next year. It's what she does for a living. So if she makes some completely unremarkable comments about an issue that its completely predictable that some other people will get up in arms over, then it may quite well be poor form for WP to care about it, particularly given that the article is a stub. It's about aesthetics, rather than ethics in that case.
Isn't this quite a tangent from the thing about Usmanov, though? Formerip (talk) 20:19, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Is OTRS fit for purpose?

So, OTRS is the answer. As we have an answer, there is no need to worry. Box ticked, press pacified, PR consultants sent away with flea in ear... aside from when people who are actually involved with OTRS tell you that it doesn't work; it is not fit for purpose; there is so much nonsense that it is too difficult to find the posts that need responding to; and OTRS volunteers complain of burn-out due to overload. Don't you think it is about time that the WMF ought to start taking some responsibility for the problems that Wikipedia creates, as well as the good things, and not just assume that it will magically get sorted out by volunteers, however willing they might be? (talk) 21:42, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Your appeal for more OTRS volunteers is highly eloquent, and I shall apply forthwith. (OK, maybe tomorrow.) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:46, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
The WMF is currently evaluating a crm product (three products in fact) that would eventually replace OTRS and be a darn sight easier to use. That won't address the need for volunteers, but at least the technology might be a help rather than a hindrance --Elen of the Roads (talk) 22:10, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Funnel them to WP:COIN if the issue is not confidential. Gigs (talk) 14:35, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Arbcom elections

I've been periodically asking some Wikipedians who I think are this side of awesome whether they would like to run for arbcom. I just saw your name pop up on my watchlist and thought: "Why not". What would you think about sitting in on Arbcom? I realise you select the other members, but I don't think that should disqualify you from selecting yourself to actively take part and sit in for a term. What do you think? - jc37 22:49, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, I do sit in, I always have. I'm on the ArbCom mailing list and sometimes participate in a limited way in discussions. I try to keep my participation there to discussion of broad principles and giving whatever basic factual information I have that might be relevant.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:55, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. I merely thought it was worth asking : ) - jc37 22:57, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

An AGF approach to the PR crowd

I do assume good faith, and I'm not browbeating anyone. No purpose would be served by allowing direct article editing by people who are paid advocates. There is no reason to modify the software to encourage more bad behavior.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:05, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I've been thinking lately, Jimmy, that your approach to the PR people hasn't been up to the ideals that Larry tried to push with the original policies, and in particular the AGF policy. You've been more or less brow-beating them, which they might deserve, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Perhaps as a better approach the Mediawiki software itself could be modified slightly to allow them to edit articles directly: the talk page/noticeboard/OTRS/whatever thing is way too complicated and frustrating, and goes against the "anybody can edit" ethic to boot.

The software currently can mark edits as bot or minor, but I can't imagine it would be all that difficult to add a third option for "COI". This would mean adding an option to click on your edit comment (just like the minor edit button) to indicate that you have a personal/commercial/political/etc. stake in the article you are editing. Even better an extra edit comment field would pop up when you click on the COI button to allow the editor to describe the COI. Additionally, edits that go through where that button was clicked would be flagged as such, and perhaps have a "recent COI-conflicted edits" appear in the special pages so that wikipedians could look over them and either mark them as NPOV or revert the edit if it's spam-ish.

So, for example, if you were editing your friend's biography, your edit comment would look like:

(removed uncited and patently false information connecting Micky Mouse to the Kennedy assassinations)
COI note: (Micky Mouse is a good friend of mine.)

Or, for a PR person (riffing off of a recent controversy):

(removed false information that Jeep is moving its factories to China)
COI note: (I am a PR representative for Chrysler)

I hope this makes sense... and improving Mediawiki really is something the WMF can do, as opposed to trying to change policies on the wiki itself. Section 230 doesn't in any way prohibit the provider from improving the software, and this approach would both avoid some headaches and (more importantly, perhaps) extend AGF and "anyone can edit" to those COI editors (who can't really be stopped anyway, as you know all too well). --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 00:06, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, you seem to be brow-beating me for even suggesting a different approach. Is it because you're sure that you can convince every PR department in the world to see it your way, or is it because you only accept ideas from people who unconditionally approve of you? --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 22:45, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Great news, guys!

Hi, there! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 13 November 2012 (UTC)


We're battling a backlog of over 500 articles right now at Wikipedia:URBLP. I try to do a few now and then, but without more editors involved, it's hard to keep up. We are 2 months deep at this point. Part of the problem is that even a link to myspace or youtube prevents the use of WP:BLPPROD. Gigs (talk) 20:03, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for bringing this to attention here... could you post here regularly, like every week or two, reminding people of the number? A lot of good people hang out here and might very well be motivated to chip in and help!--Jimbo Wales (talk) 20:36, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
There's even still a special bounty on unreferenced BLPs at DYK, to motivate people that little bit more :) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 22:05, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Whoops, I had been checking URBLP, but it got away from me - distracted by other shiny blinking problems. --Lexein (talk) 18:54, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Spotting off-wiki disputes that end up causing serious problems here.

Hi Jimbo and others. I've recently come across two separate cases where poorly-sourced defamatory material was included in articles for extended periods, and want to float an idea about how we might be able to stop it. The two articles are Antisect (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) and Nude Records (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) and both involve parties who are in disagreement off-wiki edit warring over extended periods, without anyone noticing. Looking at the edit histories of both articles it is obvious that they are substantially different from an article without such problems - accounts reverting each other again and again. While this could happen in cases where there were no defamation issues, patterns of editing like this almost always need administrative attention of some form. I would hope that someone could develop software to spot patterns like this in article histories and log them for us to review. Sure it would be difficult and time consuming, but as you well know, cases like this cause people real distress to real people. Surely it is our responsibility to develop a way of spotting it if at all possible? To demonstrate how poorly we deal with this at the moment, the person being defamed in the second article posted at AIV > 7 times - this was their last post and never received any assistance - tens of admins ignored a blatant plea for help (I only came across it by chance). I hate to think how many other cases like these are lurking hidden from our view. SmartSE (talk) 21:26, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

There already exists logic to spot things like "possible BLP issue or defamation" or "new editor rapidly reverting" and tag it as such. This is helpful in that it means those edits will be picked up more quickly by recent change patrollers (and anyone else who already happens to have the articles on their watchlists). The problem, however, is that a significant proportion of recent change patrollers will tend to just click on "revert as vandalism" if they see section blanking - and from what you say about BLP-related complaints at AIV being ignored, the average administrator may not be much better.
I think there are indeed some patterns in what undetected/unresolved BLP issues can sometimes look like, and it shouldn't be impossible for a bot to pick that up. While tagging edits doesn't help much, there's no reason why a bot - even a rather cobbled-together experimental one - shouldn't write its guesses to a sub-page of WP:BLPN, and BLP-interested people can look through the bot's (or bots') guesses and see what they think of them. I'll have a look into what can be done, unless someone is inspired to knock something up quickly.
This doesn't solve all the problems of course - for example it won't pick up cases where defamatory material is added and even the subject is unaware or unwilling to remove it. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 22:02, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. None of these edits got picked up by those filters though, because AFAIK they only look at the content added, not the pattern of editing. Unfortunately way too many people blindly revert IPs removing content which is why a different approach is required. A sub page of BLPN or AN3 sounds like a good idea. The real problem is that there are so many pages that are unwatched by regular editors, which leaves spotting this to chance. SmartSE (talk) 23:09, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
SmartSE, in my last two posts (deleted by Jimbo as "trolling") I tried to illustrate how off-wiki disputes end up causing serious problems here. In particular I brought up this example:
On November 22, 2009 a false accusation is added to a Wikipedia BLP. It took a whole week! to remove it. How many sites picked it up during this week?
Another interesting detail about this case: This libel was introduced to the article by Johann Hari and reverted by the husband of the subject of this BLP.
Wikipedia BLPs, Wikipedia Administrative noticeboards, Wikipedia talks have been used as a weapon do defame opponents for years, and nothing could be done to stop it, and it is the difference between Wikipedia and BBC (talk) 22:47, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I (and most of the others here) are fully aware of these problems. I'm interested in working out how we can stop them though, rather than simply moaning to Jimbo about it as if it's his fault. Sorry if I'm harsh, but it does appear as if you are trolling. SmartSE (talk) 23:09, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I an not trolling and not moaning. I provided a very good example for your post, and I supported it by evidences. I've never said it was Jimbo's fault. It is nobody's fault. It is how Wikipedia works. This problem is unsolvable, at least not until Wikipedia remains an encyclopedia that is written and governed by largely anonymous Internet volunteers (talk) 00:03, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
But's it not the same - it is one edit not a slow edit war. SmartSE (talk) 00:17, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
One suggestion I've brought up a few times in the past is to have an elected committee that can look at cases like these in a timely manner, rule on content, and topic-ban editors who are consistently not editing within policy. Wikipedia needs a place where the buck stops. (Needless to say, WMF would have to indemnify members of such a committee in case they were ever sued for libel.) The underlying problem is the number of low-notability articles that are only ever edited by subjects and their detractors. Andreas JN466 02:13, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, yeah. Wikipedia shall capitulate to a single throne, and from that throne, you shall watch over us. How much do you expect to be paid for this service anyway? Just abandon the notion that volunteers can come up with good articles, abandon consensus decision making, hand everything over to a few professionals who are qualified, not by their understanding, but by their ideology. All that - including Wikipedia officially being responsible for libel by these overlords - so that we avoid some momentary defamations of the occasional rock band or record label by some contributor that Wikipedia is not liable for? So not worth it. Wnt (talk) 20:51, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Agreed - an elected committee is over the top. Ultimately Wikipedia is not liable, but that's not to say that the foundation shouldn't encourage the development of bots to spot cases like these and alert volunteers. SmartSE (talk) 21:46, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
One potential way to target nasty stuff that gets past recent changes is to look at words and phrases that have a high risk of being contentious. I have a little project in Alpha test that has let me find quite a bit of nasty stuff, there is no need to change policies to find and remove such things, but I could do with an accomplice or two with strong stomachs. ϢereSpielChequers 21:13, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
IIRC you mentioned that at this meetup right? That still relies on spotting the actual content being added, not the pattern of editing - nothing in these cases would be picked up like that. SmartSE (talk) 21:46, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes the current version relies on spotting high risk phrases and words. That is different to editing patterns, but in my experience there is an overlap. However the general principle can be broadened to other tests, the crucial difference in approach is that edit filters and other auto revert tools can only safely be deployed when we can pretty much be sure that everything they find is vandalism. There are many useful tests where a proportion of what you find is dodgy and much is OK, searches like that require a whitelisting system, ideally one that can whitelist pages, phrases and editors. ϢereSpielChequers 15:12, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, just to say the obvious here and support the original proposal by SmartSE – developing a bot capable of spotting cases like this, and having a place to discuss them, would obviously be a good idea. Andreas JN466 05:43, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
COIBot is already designed to catch COI link spam and certain kinds of COI in other edits. Gigs (talk) 14:37, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Most Wikipedia articles are stubs

How do you feel about the fact that most Wikipedia articles are stubs? Wikipedia:Version_1.0_Editorial_Team#Statistics says there are 2,207,914 stubs and 478,688 unassessed, out of 3,936,234 articles total. The main page says there are now 4,096,981 articles total, so the information isn't too far out of date. Dream Focus 23:46, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Many articles are tagged as stubs but in fact have not been stubs for a long time. It's quite easy to contribute a little to fixing this; just sign up to WP:SUGGESTBOT and, from time to time, click on (and check) a few whose titles take your fancy. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 23:52, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Doesn't it just count how many have a stub category in them? I'm sure most of those are actually stubs. Dream Focus 23:56, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
What makes you sure? I was referring to this kind of thing. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 00:03, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Need to automatically search for articles below a certain size, to determine how many real stubs there are I suppose. Dream Focus 00:38, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
I've done this though not automatically. Basically sampling about 250 random articles (via the "random article" feature) and counting what proportion were stubs or *should* be stubs (which I defined as less than 1500 characters). I actually did this twice for two separate reasons, and also to get a higher sample size. The result is that if anything, the bias goes the other way. Stub-tagged articles under represent the total number of stubs. Going by above numbers 2208k out of 3936k is about 56%. When I did my sampling I got that between 62% and 66% were stubs or should-be-stubs. So stub-tagged articles miss about 6% to 10% of Wikipedia's articles. Another 5% to 8% were disambig pages. Including "Lists", got that later number to be between 7% and 12% (definition of "List" is a bit more ambiguous - some Lists are pretty extensive write ups, while others are just an enumeration of a bunch of crap, yet others have only two or three items). So non-stub, non-list, non-disambig articles are between 31% and 22% of Wikipedia's articles. This means that rather than having the 4,097,118 articles which the main page currently claims we really have only between 901,366 and 1,270,107 "real" articles. Nothing to sneeze at, but still...  Volunteer Marek  03:35, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

How do I feel about it? Well, many or most stubs aren't problematic. I think some should be gotten rid of (particularly if they are BLPs which are not highly likely to ever move beyond the stub stage) but most of them are just short articles that someone, someday, might wish to improve.

One old-time debate in Wikipedia has never been settled, to my knowledge, with actual data: which is more likely to generate productive editing and improvement over time: a stub or a red-link. We are now big enough and active enough that a test could be done by selecting 2,000 stubs, then randomly deleting half of them. But the problem with that would be that there's no way to do it quietly enough that people with an agenda couldn't come and cause a lot of problems with the experiment.

But stubs, in and of themselves, aren't inherently a problem.

I'd love to see the stub template be made as friendly and exciting as possible though. A bit of humor wouldn't hurt. Possibly an experiment could be done with that... I bet I can write a template that generates more worthwhile edits per pageview than what we have now. :-)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:06, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

I personally would love to are a nature metaphor in the stub template, something like "this article is a it to grow and become part of the tree of knowledge" ....except less cheesy.. :)--Coin945 (talk) 00:41, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
With respect Jimbo I do not agree that we are as active as we should be or could be. Many things have been done that make it both hard to recruit new editors, retain current editors and entice senior editors to stay. With that said though that suggestion of improving the Stub template is precisely the type of suggestion we need from our (excuse the term her)leadership to help get things moving in the right direction. Perhaps you could periodically suggest things like that for the community to consider. Of course I understand you are trying to separate your role and allow and encourage the community to make their own decisions but lest us not forget that it was your idea to start this (arguments to the contrary aside) and I think you likely have a lot of good ideas that could help us get back on track. Unfortunately as a community I think we have shown a lack of ability in general to make many of the decisions needed to allow Wikipedia to be all it can be. A couple of obvious examples are the ever floundering RFA process, the decrease in editor retention, the decrease in recruitment and keeping them, the fact that we currently block about 2% of the worlds internet from editing, etc. And of course the boring nature of stub templates. Kumioko (talk) 03:13, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
It is likely that shorter articles will always outnumber longer articles on Wikipedia. Also, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Zipf's Law approximately describes the distribution of lengths of articles (not counting ridiculously short articles, of just a few words, which are no longer common). Cardamon (talk) 06:08, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Numerous active editors want everything fixed everyday: Perhaps the thousands (9,000?) of active users are not all expanding stubs, but they are bouncing around in every corner of Wikipedia. Over at wp:PUMPTECH, it has been a non-stop string of requests to fix everything, by yesterday. Problems that were left unfixed, years ago, have resurfaced. People cannot even wait for Lua script modules; no, they want all these templates fixed to run with acceptable features, no more waiting until "next year". When we change things, then someone else says, "Who changed my toolbar, my gadget, my template?" When some busy editor wants a new feature, then some other busy editors want things to remain as before. If the users were anything like idle, then days would pass with no reaction to changes, but instead, every day, every hour, some busy editors are asking about what has been, or should, be changed. It has been going non-stop for months. -Wikid77 (talk) 07:11, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Let's also note that part of the cause of this is that more work is being put on fewer editors requiring them to work more efficiently and do more with less by asking for more tools and tweaks to existing one. The ever popular phrases of "There's no rush" and the frequent tone of "Wikipedia doesn't need you" being directed at a lot of editors doesn't help either. We need every editor we can get so blocks of useful editors like Femto/Smack/HelpfulPixie bot, Rich Farmbrough and others with extremely high productive rates so that watch lists don't fill up is really stupid. Since I quite editing articles recently myself thats also a net loss of about 10,000-15,000 and sometimes more edits a month not getting done because I got tired of fighting every edit with the same three editors who want to play edit cop and since I have to request half my edits be implemented because everything is protected these days it got to be too much of my time was being spent requesting work for others that I am quite capable of doing myself but the community doesn't want to give me the tools to do the job. I mention this because I am not the exception. Its common and becoming more common every day as the rate of protecting content increases. Kumioko (talk) 13:32, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
I have to take issue with your equation of "edits per month" with "highly productive". For instance, in the past few days, I made about 400 edits to tag botanical articles for WikiProject Plants and 7 edits to Asplenium platyneuron (plus 9 to its talkpage, which I'm using to support the article writing). The impact of the 7 on readers of the encyclopedia is vastly greater than the 400. I think you and Rich are, in fact, exceptions, in that you have very high editing rates, but you're performing edits that are not a very high priority. (That doesn't mean they're wrong or harmful; it's just that their individual value is very very small.) Choess (talk) 15:01, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Well I have to say your part right there. We did both do a lot of minor edits like adding banners to talk pages. However we also did a lot of consequential edits as well. I have quite a few featured and GA articles, created a few hundred articles, created a lot of categories and did a lot of maintenance stuff to WikiProject and Templates. Unfortunately I couldn't do much with vandalism or things of that nature because I didn't have the tools so I could block a vandal or temporarily protect a repeatedly vandalised page, Rich did have admin rights and could and did do those things. On the other hand we also did a lot of minor stuff like adding and removing stub tags, adding, removing or creating categories and templates, etc. and participated in many discussions and votes. So although you are right, we did a lot of edits that were less minor, they also incrementally made the articles and the pedia better. I think edits per month is a biproduct of several factors: The amount of time (hundreds or thousands of hours each), the wide breadth of knowledge across multiple facets of editing both of us have, our technical capabilities to be able to create scripts and modules that allow faster and more efficient editing, etc. The bottom line is these are just 2 obvious examples of many and how the community and the pedia is hurt when a productive editor is either tossed or gives up in frustration. Some editors, especially admins, like to make comments about rage quitting but the reason people rage quite more often than not is in frustration at the toxic and frustrating atmosphere that has developed in WP. Kumioko (talk) 15:57, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Sure, I know you did some great work on Medal of Honor winners a few years back. I'm just trying to explain the difference between your perceptions of the situation (edits way down!) and the community's response (so?). Actually, I thought of a useful example to illustrate the point: Betacommand (talk · contribs), another user who made large numbers of automated or semi-automated edits that really irritated some users. He generated a *lot* more controversy, with passionate advocates, for and against restricting him, in a saga that dragged out through three Arbcom cases. The difference is that he was enforcing non-free content policies, and because of the legal implications for Wikipedia, a lot of editors felt that we couldn't dispense with his services, even if they were disruptive. That's apparently not the case for a lot of these little maintenance things. You've been trooping up and down the 'pedia saying "Look at all the edits we're losing!" and, I assume, expecting people to react with alarm and regret. As far as I can tell, they've been pretty indifferent. I think what this is saying is while the community may want these edits to happen, there's no real sense of urgency among editors at large, so they aren't really that bothered that it's not happening. I think most people's concerns are driven by the loss of content editors and experts, which may be occurring for different reasons. (e.g., banner templates being protected doesn't really affect article creation or improvement, but it can seriously affect maintenance.) Choess (talk) 17:17, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Well that's rather disappointing that the Medal of Honor recipients is the last good thing I was known for. I guess that does sort of validate that the general attitude is that WikiProject United States and the supported projects are not needed or wanted, which also explains the general attitude of why most WikiProjects are failing. The reason I am running up and down the pedia is because it is a problem that I have seen. Most editors wouldn't notice this because they stay in their niche but your right there is no sense of urgency. I also agree that we are losing a lot of content editors and those are also for a variety of reasons. Frankly I would have liked to do more things like blocking vandals and the like but I wasn't allowed. Which is disappointing but fine I guess since we apparently have more than enough people with the tools, although the current blight of RFA process seems to indicate otherwise. Since, based on your comments my edits are neither needed nor particularly wanted, nor am I likely to change anyone's opinion of me, my edits or my desire to actually make this place better I am going to go back into my retirement and give up on this mess. I tried to make a few comments and see if things would turn around if I just stopped editing for a while but its obvious that's not going to happen and I am just kidding myself thinking otherwise. Good Luck with the mess Jimbo I hope you can turn this place around before its too late and people start to refer to it as Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia that allowed any editor to edit. Kumioko (talk) 00:07, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Jimbo - "We are now big enough and active enough that a test could be done by selecting 2,000 stubs, then randomly deleting half of them." - Or you could do it in a non-disruptive way by selecting 1000 stubs at random, and 1000 existing redlinks at random and watching over time to see which group gets edited/expanded more over time. That would actually be a far more representative test than what you propose, as the level of needless disruption a mass deletion would cause would only create special focus on those 1000 deleted articles. Resolute 16:31, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
That's a clever idea. There is one problem with it, but the problem is not sufficient to negate the value of the idea. There are probably systemic differences between articles that are stubs today and articles that are redlinks today. First thought is that redlink articles are probably on average about things that are on the whole even more obscure than stub articles. Second thought is that stub articles are more likely to be articles where people who are in to a particular area can write stubs by running through some kind of list or data. For example, 1000 obscure musicians can have a discography that is generated by looking at various data sets, whereas 1000 obscure politicians may have no similar dataset to drive stub creation.
But even with that caveat (and perhaps this could be controlled for by looking at categories, although you'd have to make category judgment calls for the redlinks, since no one has categorized them yet!)... even with that caveat, it sounds worth doing as a first look at the issue.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:39, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
There is Special:WantedPages, which has been inactive since 2009, but if this module were to be re-enabled, could generate your list of redlinks. Of course, it would still need to be cleaned up a little, as looking at that 2009 list, a redlink like Max Clendinning is linked on over 5000 pages because it is built into the {{WikiProject Northern Ireland}} template for some reason and probably has few to no inbound links from mainspace. I think you are completely right about current redlinks likely being obscure topics. That would go along with the theory that we've pretty much started articles on all widely covered topics, with only new developments and concepts/people more on a fringe left to create. We may be beyond the point where stub vs. redlink is even testable in a useful fashion. Resolute 20:41, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
A possible solution to half of that problem is to find a person who creates stubs from datasets, wait until he plans to create (say) 1000 stubs based on a particular dataset, and then freeze him in amber (or otherwise interrupt his activity, perhaps voluntarily) when he's created, say, 500.
Lack of references is often not the cause of an article being a stub or a unreferenced. It's not that hard to find BLPs that are unreferenced and/or stubs and/or appalling quality just because they are, even when a good healthy half-dozen serious references are out there to be found just with Google. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 20:40, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
A case in point (though not a BLP) is Bill Cook. The guy was a Hockey Hall of Famer, but this is what the article looked like on September 16. Within a week, I had it expanded enough to nominate as a GA, carrying 37 references. That's pretty much the lion's share of my editing... long forgotten stub bios. There are a lot, no doubt, but we plug away at it. Resolute 20:46, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
My preferred example is the former Chief Minister of a state with greater population than any U.S. state except California, whose article looked like this fantastic unreferenced mishmash of POV, possible facts, peacock wording, and partial irrelevances, for several years. Sadly I don't think I can get it to GA, and repeated emails demanding free photos have produced no response whatsoever. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:10, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
Maybe try asking, instead of demanding? ;) Have you tried posting a query at WT:INB? - it is a long shot but ... - Sitush (talk) 15:32, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Didn't the stub v redlink argument get settled some time ago when RaMbot created stubs for lots of places in the US? In any event if we want a more scientific test now, there is a much less contentious method than deletion. Just take a bunch of redlinks, create stubs for a random subset of them and watch the result. Of course you'd need to avoid the areas where we are already pretty complete, but we still have huge gaps, especially in topics that don't interest the male cognoscenti. This could also be a good way to redress the gender balance, create a few thousand stubs on things that women are interested in and see what happens. I wonder if Google would be willing to give us a list such as 5,000 most common search terms where over 90% of the searchers are female? ϢereSpielChequers 21:05, 14 November 2012 (UTC)


You have been mentioned in an ANI discussion regarding administrator misconduct related to the Paula Broadwell/Petraeus affair in this section. Toddst1 (talk) 07:44, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

What if

While the recent RfC suggests that at least 8 seats will be open in this election, and as you have suggested you won't pick people who have not gained at least 50% (per that same RFC), do you have any plans for what to do if we don't have at least 8 people with over 50% support? - jc37 21:26, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

I will carefully study all the relevant documents and act as carefully as I can to carry out the will of the community. It would be unwise for me to comment hypothetically and off the top of my head on a situation that hasn't occurred. As always, I will try to do the most harmonious and least surprising thing.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 04:39, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough, Thank you for giving this consideration. - jc37 20:37, 15 November 2012 (UTC)


Given that FaceBerk have far more money than they know what to do with it does reasonable to me that they should pay Wikipedia a single cent every time someone 'likes' a Wiki page. Wikipedia could use the money well and wisely and why should FaceBook use our content for free? SmokeyTheCat 10:29, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

"why should FaceBook use our content for free?" - Read our license: they have every right to do that. That said, of course if Zuckerberg decided to do that it would be nice. --Cyclopiatalk 10:38, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Well maybe we should modify our license then, for FaceBerk anyway. SmokeyTheCat 17:47, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
You've been editing here since 2006 and you don't understand one of the most basic principles underlying Wikipedia? Huh. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 17:56, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
What is "FaceBerk"? Is this like how the cool kids used to do "Micro$oft" back in the day? Tarc (talk) 17:59, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
It's probably part of a stupid Internet meme, supposedly imitating a person's speech as distorted by an orthodontic retainer. A Google search for "ermahgerd" will probably get you the context: prepare to be underwhelmed. Writ Keeper 19:45, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Smokey is from London, so I would guess its based on something rather older than an internet meme (or the orthodontic retainer). William Avery (talk) 22:29, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

A beer for you!

Export hell seidel steiner.png Didn't know you were humble enough to be an editor in Wikipedia. Its a Privilege to give you this beer. Harishrawat11 (talk) 16:26, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Hey Jimbo

I don't think I've ever posted here before and I know you're a busy man, but I thought I'd say hello anyway and thanks for setting up this encyclopedia. I've been working in little bursts over in the Rwanda related space of the Wiki for the past six years or so. Despite its detractors I think Wikipedia is generally a very good thing and I'm glad to be able to play my very small part in that!  — Amakuru (talk) 20:22, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Thank you! Take a look around, there's lots of other fun and not-so-fun stuff going on that you might enjoy working on!--Jimbo Wales (talk) 20:31, 15 November 2012 (UTC)restored, I think this got accidentally deleted in the mix Writ Keeper 20:43, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Books using Wikipedia articles, II

Jimbo, as you and others are well aware, someone named "Jesse Russell" and "Ronald Cohn" are selling Wikipedia articles as books on demand on[27] Now, while you and the foundation and everyone else is OK with this, there appears to be some unintended consequences. Virtually every single review of these products has been negative. Not one single positive review. This makes Wikipedia look extremely bad and part of a false advertising gimmick that Russell & Cohn are using to sell these "books". If you read the Amazon reviews, you soon discover that every one of the buyers bought the book because they were "tricked" into thinking it was something that it wasn't. Shouldn't there be a larger disclaimer on these pages rather than a small, six-word notice that this is "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles" buried in the middle? Here is a sample of the negative reviews from people who were tricked into buying the books: [28][29][30][31][32] That's just a sample. Allowing the Wikipedia brand to be used to fool unsuspecting buyers only hurts Wikipedia. Either the disclaimer needs to be bigger and more informative, or Wikipedia is unintentionally allowing itself to be used to facilitate scams. Viriditas (talk) 03:34, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

I sympathize with what you are saying. I must say you sound a little bit angry with me about this, but that would be misplaced as I'm not the one doing this, nor am I "OK with this".--Jimbo Wales (talk) 03:44, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
I apologize if it sounds like that, but no anger was intended. I am not angry at all, although I do not admire or respect the marketing strategies used by "Jesse Russell" and "Ronald Cohn", who are selling Wikipedia articles for 20 dollars a pop to unsuspecting buyers who believe they are purchasing a different product. I don't subscribe to tricking the consumer but rather to being honest and upfront about a good product and letting it sell itself. I think a much larger disclaimer on pages would solve the problem in the short term so that buyers are fully informed as to what they are purchasing. As you can see from the negative reviews, they were not. Viriditas (talk) 03:51, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree, they are sleazy. I'll complain again to Amazon. Thanks for reminding me. And I'm sorry I was touchy.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 04:08, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
See also User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 65#Somebody is making money on WP articles (September 2010). —Wavelength (talk) 03:48, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Added to the heading. Viriditas (talk) 03:51, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Aruna Roy

Hello, I am contacting you to kindly immediately remove the story about Mrs. Roy on your website. Being a NAC member Mrs. Roy is very upset with the controversy about her caste and marriage and wants it to be permanently removed from all wikipedia pages. We went to Wikipedia main page and from there to Contact us. We have already placed the takedown notice on the Aruna Roy user discussion page and also sent the email to, but no one has replied. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Arunaroy (talkcontribs) 06:50, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Note: Can't deal with this myself right now, but I've added a link to this request from WP:BLPN --Demiurge1000 (talk) 07:28, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Nothing immediate here - the disputed content is not currently being published by Wikipedia and the BLP is Fully protected for the next week. There is a thread for discussion at Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons/Noticeboard#Aruna_Roy - I also notified the complainant on User_talk:Arunaroy - Youreallycan 08:10, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Update - User:Arunaroy has been temporarily blocked for violation of Wikipedia:No legal threats a Category:Wikipedia legal policies - Youreallycan 09:22, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

It's once again time for the people who go on about paid advocates editing Wikipedia (who watch this page) to put their edits where their mouths are. Champions of the various positions on paid advocates writing articles about their employers on Wikipedia should demonstrate by action what they think should happen in the case where there is effectively only one unbiased person involved in an AFD discussion with the paid advocate about an article written by that same paid advocate. Those who think that paid advocates should always use their own names might, for example, commend this paid advocate for doing that in this case.

Interested onlookers, watching to see whether edits are indeed placed where mouths are when it comes to the crunch, might also notice the paid advocate's mention of other articles on other companies within the same corporate group. These include Cohn & Wolfe who was described by Wikipedia for five years as "driving brand favorability" with a "mission to support clients" through "unconventional marketing", a "powerhouse" with "unprecedented global resources", and other such clichés and information-free buzz-phrases. If you have access to the encyclopaedia of marketing campaigns that is now cited, you might care to help with our little campaign to make that article less full of corporate puffery and more full of properly documented history, by getting the "Go For Zero" campaign out of Further Reading and into the article proper. If you don't have such access, you might like instead to sort out the vague and (of course, sad to say) citation-free accusations of corporate malfeasance during the 1990s that are buried in the middle of Young & Rubicam.

Uncle G (talk) 11:35, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Looking at the parent WPP plc I found some interesting issues about Indian TV ratings which I've added. Apparently, the parent group is in what one source (though I didn't cite it; not sure it's reliable) described as a "battle for public opinion", with somewhere near two billion dollars potentially at stake. (I don't know if that has anything at all to do with your issue) Ultimately, our position as neutral researchers gives us great power, not to name heroes and villains and go after people we don't like, but to set down information so that people can better understand the world. Ultimately we should try to get neutral editors to do thorough coverage of everything, at which point each company will be naturally rewarded according to its nature. But the more editors retreat from a Wikipedia too dominated by struggles for power over its public clout, the further we fall from that. Wnt (talk) 18:41, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

A kitten for you!

Red Kitten 01.jpg

Thanks for creating Wikipedia!!!

Seonookim 05:24, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

A cookie for you!

Choco chip cookie.png :-) Maxtirdatov (talk) 11:19, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Cite_web COinS cut so Wikipedia 20% faster

This is just an FYI about the improved {cite_*} templates now allowing 20% faster Wikipedia reformatting (or edit-preview), as with Template:Cite_web (etc.) quickened by removing the COinS metadata from Template:Citation/core. After months of discussions, and the use of new Template:Cite_quick for rapid reformatting in a few major articles, developer Tim Starling finally proposed/performed the removal of the slow COinS metadata (on 12 November 2012), and {cite_web} or {cite_news} now run 35% faster, to cut 6 seconds from edit-preview in major articles with ~200 {cite} footnotes. Hence, a major celebrity article which formatted in 24 seconds will edit-preview within 18 (just within the frustration level, ~20 seconds I think). As with any technical discussion, there were some objections to removing the COinS metadata, despite allowing 1.6 million articles to reformat 15%-30% faster. Other users even noted how the former COinS data was misformatted and broke some math articles (now running OK). Although the upcoming Lua script Module:Citation (on, which I helped to improve, will make {cite} templates over 10x faster (for article edit-preview 300%-400% faster), that improvement is still months away.

Meanwhile, the current markup-based templates can still be improved, in preparation to use Lua-based templates. Here are the major processing steps:

  • STEP 1: Each {cite_web} formats 230 aliases as standard parameters to invoke {Citation/core}.
  • STEP 2: {Citation/core} then re-checks all standard parameters to format the wikilinked footnote text.
  • STEP 3: {Citation/core} then re-checks most standard parameters to format the COinS metadata.

Currently, Tim cut STEP3 (totally removed the COinS markup from {Citation/core} ), and that reduced the processing by about 35%. The next stage would be to bypass both STEP 1 & 2 to directly format the footnote text when only the most-common parameters but also check for rare parameters to instead run the full STEP 1/2 when special parameters are also used in a {cite} which cannot be formatted by the simple bypass logic. The use of a bypass method will likely make the citations, on average, another 3x faster than now, because over 90% of {cite} usage does not involve the rare parameters. Meanwhile, {cite_quick} already runs 9x faster for special articles which need rapid reformatting, such as many nation articles. Anyway, the overall 20% faster edit-preview from mid-November is a massive improvement, due to the impact in 1.6 million articles, and confirms that major progress is being made (although somewhat slowly). -Wikid77 (talk) 17:22, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

What about the metadata? Is there a replacement in the works before this is done? are we losing data for 2 second gain?Moxy (talk) 22:04, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Removal of COinS metadata is temporary, re-added in Lua: The ongoing discussion, at Template_talk:Citation/core, is treating the removal of the COinS metadata as a temporary step, and the COinS data is already "re-added" in the Lua script version (on, test2:Module:Citation, which I have personally inspected to ensure the COinS metadata is formatted by the upcoming Lua module, which it is. Meanwhile, DASHBot (or other automated interfaces), which parse for {cite_*} metadata, will find none at all, but if we add bypass logic into {cite_web} to make it 5x times faster, then we could re-add the COinS data, and then {cite_web} would still run 4x faster than the prior {cite_*} versions of October 2012. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:16, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Seriously, deeply concerned ...

...about the way our "Government" is evolving. I'm trying to hang on in here, by the skin of my teeth. I really don't like this "Government". It reminds me far too much of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. And also of the Ceaușescu regime. And of the Forced disappearances in so many places. And of Lord of the flies and Animal farm.

"Disappearances work on two levels: not only do they silence opponents and critics who have disappeared, but they also create uncertainty and fear in the wider community, silencing others who would oppose and criticise."

We're living in a scary place, right now. First they came….

I may be around from time to time, but certainly not as before. Surely this isn't what you meant by a "community"? Pesky (talk) 08:17, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, that's a lovely dramatic turn of phrase, but can you be more specific about a particular problem that I might learn something from?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:47, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
It's about the blocks of User:Penyulap and his talk page, as discussed at User talk:Courcelles and a few other locations. Fram (talk) 10:01, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
No, not, it's not just about that, at all. It's an accumulation of a number of things in a number of places. That's just one thing. A previous one, which I found very deeply concerning, was when ArbCom were asked for clarification on an issue, and brought out the firing squad as opposed to clarifying a point of law (which was all they were asked for). A total failure to understand the question asked of them, and an apparent failure to realise the concerns and consensus there. Pesky (talk) 10:06, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
It's not about that? Well, if it had been about that, it would be worth noting that one of the major participants in the discussion at User talk:Courcelles has just now been blocked for two weeks on a different matter, but with an explanation at WP:AN that "I have blocked for two weeks, which I think was fairly generous, especially considering the personal attacks and the battleground mentality on User talk:Courcelles' talk page". I'm worried that this may enhance your dramatic turns of phrase, though :-) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 10:20, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
I apologise for not being able to keep up with things. Real Life, ya know, getting in the way. this is one of the others. (As far as I recall, this is the one and only time I ever flew off the handle in the 'pedia. Yes, I hurled obscenities, myself ... very unlike me.) I wish it were easier to find archived requests – I've had to do a cowboy-cobble to get to (probably not all) of this. I'm not referring to any particular situation that affects me personally, here, just what seems to be developing into a very heavy-handed approach all around. Pesky (talk) 10:23, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Demi, dearest, I know you've predicted this, but that example is a little bit disturbing. If the block were required (and I'm certainly not saying it's not required, under the letter of the law), it would have been so much better if it hadn't been applied by someone who was involved in an argument with the user at the same time ... who hadn't just told the blocked person "You're not discussing, you're engaging in a torch-and-pitchforks procession. I strongly advise you to disengage and let someone else deal with this who doesn't have an ax to grind." So much better for this to have been done by someone who was disengaged from any current / recent disputes with the editor in question, and couldn't possibly be seen, by anyone, as having an ax to grind.

Adding: the above may very well not violate the letter of WP:INVOLVED, but it certainly appears to violate the spirit of it. Things like this do get gamed, in many places, though I'm not necessarily suggesting that this was deliberate gaming. Pesky (talk) 10:36, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree that it is being gamed, though perhaps not in the way you think. A phenomenon I've seen increasingly frequently in the past years is people setting themselves up in the role of a "critic of authority" and using that as a shield for their misbehaviour. Whenever someone tries to put them to task over the disruption, cue the cries of "They're trying to silence a critic!" The sad thing? It works more often than not. Most of the administrators then turn a blind eye and avoid acting for fear of being "repressive" given our powerful culture against that – and the arbitrators are even more strongly tied up given the scrutiny.

Is this everyone who claims "repression"? Certainly not. Still, someone much wiser than I once said "When someone screams about 'admin abuse', it's most likely true – they're probably abusing admins again." It bears keeping to mind before you take every claim from self-designated martyrs at face value. — Coren (talk) 14:18, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I am aware that this happens. However, in attempting to shut up those who are gaming the system in that way, we need to be very careful that we're not also silencing those who aren't: those who are genuinely concerned that something has gone / is going very wrong. It's very tempting (and human nature) to tar everyone with the same brush. And it's almost always wrong to. Adding: there is always the thing, of course, where everyone who criticises is seen as "misbehaving". Pesky (talk) 14:23, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
That's true, but I believe that's actually very rare. I don't remember every seeing someone setting themselves up as a critic that got in trouble over the criticism rather than actual disruption – I'm sure they exist (and are possibly fairly common given the generally libertarian outlook of Wikipedians) but since they tend to never pop up on the drama boards, they keep a low profile and never end up in the limelight.

With one (very salient) exception, I don't recall a high-profile critic that was a critic before they got sanctioned for some problematic behaviour. — Coren (talk) 14:37, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

(Coughs) – iridescent 14:42, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, I'm not "high-profile", I suppose. But I am (kinda by definition!) a critic. And I've never (yet) been sanctioned for any problematic behaviour. Pesky (talk) 14:45, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Me, too. And I think that others with messageboxes similar to that of Boing! said Zebedee also fit the bill. There is a problem at the moment. - Sitush (talk) 14:50, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
(e/c) Well yes, that's my point. I doubt you'll find anyone here even thinking of (virtually) roughing you up over that criticism! There is no conspiracy to take you out, nor "attempts to bait you", nor even people trying to find a nit to hang you over.

Let me put it this way: this project's community is so fundamentally permissive of criticism and anti-authoritarian in nature that even the trolls that pose as critics are left to disrupt and consume community resources – sometimes over years – over the reluctance of even appearing to be repressive. That is why I take it with a five-ton grain of salt when someone who ends up over and over on the drama boards is crying "Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" — Coren (talk) 14:52, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Would you please address Pesky's concern about ArbCom turning a request for clarification into an attempted banning of an editor (before most of them came to their senses)?
Kiefer.Wolfowitz 15:36, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
It was neither unprecedented nor particularly surprising; there is a reflex – not entirely unwarranted – to re-evaluate whether an editor's continued participation is beneficial on the whole when they have returned in front of the committee for the umpteenth time over the same issue. Would I have voted to ban him? I don't know. I haven't evaluated the situation, nor was it my job to do so. I do think that some of the comments from the sitting arbs were catastrophically asinine (on both sides of the discussion) and I will certainly vote accordingly come next elections.

Do I believe that this is indicative of a fundamental problem of repression or political payback? I know it isn't. I know for a fact that the poor sods currently sitting on the committee are doing the best they can to help the project, to the limits of their ability. Mostly it works out on average, sometimes it blows up. I certainly will be voting against some of the current arbitrators (not just over that incident), but I see no justification for heaping scorn on the group, the institution, or even those individuals whose judgement I find most lacking. I was in that seat. I know it's a fucking hard job. I know that even those I think should not be within 10' of the committee have willingly taken a shit responsibility for trying to do the Right Thing even if it means being spat upon and crapped all over as your sole reward, and they deserve respect if only for that. Disagree with them. Vehemently if you feel the need for it. Campaign, or run for a seat yourself. But do yourself and everybody else a service and stop imagining vast conspiracies to "get" some editors, or to take over, or whatever else is the reproach du jour. — Coren (talk) 16:20, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

───────────────────────── I've skimmed the rest of this conversation, but right now I really just want to make one point, directed at Pesky's original post: Pesky, are you aware how painful it is to be someone working in the "government" to help the encyclopedia run, and to see you saying we're basically committing genocide, murder, real-life horrors? I know you say you're very concerned about civility and not hurting people, so I'm really very surprised to see you tarring all admins with such a horribly offensive brush, especially when you're then hurrying to add that we're all so truly, deeply horrible that we're sure to arrange for you to "disappear" next because you dared call us the war criminals we are. No, I don't want you dead. No, I don't want anyone dead. I don't want the worst trolls I've ever encountered "dead" or "disappeared" or "sent to Siberia" or "given smallpox-ridden blankets," and I think I speak for pretty much every other admin on Wikipedia when I say that when you make statements implying that we do, or that we are just as bad as people who do, you are alleging very serious things about people who have never done anything to you. I don't understand quite why you dislike all of us so much when 99.99% of us have never had a thing to do with you, or why you feel it's ok to hurl such horrible words at us as if we don't have feelings and don't count, but I wish you'd give some thought to the fact that you're hurting real, live human beings when you go on about how we're less than human. It doesn't make the people you think are being victimized any better off for you to turn and victimize others. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 15:50, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

A fluffernutter is a sandwich, if it is so painful "to be someone working in the "government" to help the encyclopedia run", there's an easy way out of that "government" and its pain: just resign your position in the goverment, and go write the encyclopedia. (talk) 17:50, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Hello logged-out/IP editor. Do you genuinely think that the best response to being hurt by what someone says is to resign and stop helping? If we all did that, things would cease to function around here very rapidly, and we might be able to power a small country with the force of all the "whoosh"ing as people go out the door. My personal feeling is that a better place to start is to ask the person to reconsider what value they're getting from using dehumanizing or offensive terms. Often they don't even realize that they've crossed a line or hurt you; other times having attention drawn to it will make them reconsider their strategy even if they knew what they were doing. In a similar "ask to reconsider" vein, I would point out that you appear to be conflating "administrator" with "has never written an article or otherwise contributed to Wikipedia content". Could I perhaps urge you to reconsider that notion? I'm in the middle of the pack as far as creating and improving articles - that is, I work steadily, but I am by no means a "top" creator - but I think you'll find any number of admins around here who create or improve tons of articles (as well as any number of non-admins who don't; for instance, under this IP address the only thing you appear to have done on Wikipedia is speak here on Jimbo's talk. That doesn't mean I get to look down my nose at you, as long as you're operating in good faith and trying to help). A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 18:20, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Arbcom places restriction on editor. Editor edits in line with written wording of restriction but not in spirit (continuing the same behavior that the restriction was placed in an attempt to prevent). An administrator raises clarification request as admin actions taken in line with enforcing spirit of restriction are contested by editor. Arbcom leans towards banning due to the ongoing behavior but settles for re-wording the restriction to make it say unambiguously what the editor must not do. Entirely within their remit. If you dont want to end up at Arbcom, dont skirt around things arbcom have sanctioned you not to do. Pesky's complaint is about not following due process, however the due process here would have been for Arbcom to a)clarify intent of restriction, b)wait until someone raises an AE enforcement request or an amendment request. Its needless process wonkery given everyone was already on the same page after clarifying it. Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:03, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

I can understand Pesky’s point of view, as the past few months have been very unsteady in certain circles. Malleus Fatuorum spent nearly 24 hours under threat of a ban at ArbCom. Large portions of the community spoke out against this and Malleus’ ban proposal lead to a number of editors going on strike. Penyulap is an example of a blocked editor who was trying to improve the encyclopedia, who has been blocked and unblocked from editing his talk page multiple times, along with his talk page fully protected (in no small part by sitting Arbitrators). I’m sure you’ll see editors here with an axe to grind.

The reason that these two cases are linked and the reason that Pesky has posted here is that they both involve civility complaints and de-humanisation of editors. In Malleus’ case, Jclemens suggested that he “is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of the Wikipedia community” as Malleus did not abide by all 5 pillars. In Penyulap’s case, similar to many blocked editors – his userpage has been blanked and tagged ([33]), his talk page has been blanked and fully protected with accusations of trolling ([34]) - both actions have since been undone. I’m not commenting about the validity of any statements or actions – they are all debateable. If anyone want’s my opinion on these cases, I’d be happy to give them at my talk page.

What I am trying to highlight though is how we as a community treat people. From the comments made in the request for clarification to the comments made to blocked users to Pesky’s comments above, highlighted by Fluffernutter – which tar the “government” as similar to those responsible for atrocities. These are all uncivil comments, because civility means treating people like people. I was bored the other day and put together a list of contradictions between standard wikispeak and what I’d consider to be civil. We’re on the internet, it’s easy to forget that the editor you’re talking about is a real person, with real feelings. It’s a problem with an anonymous society and I don’t have a solution. WormTT(talk) 16:48, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

@Fluff (and all those sharing Fluff's views): yes, I actually do understand how difficult it can be to be in a governmental-type situation. I really do. I can (kinda) imagine the amount of pure crap wossname that arrives in the email every day; I can sure as heck understand the levels of stress which can be involved. Fing is, though, fing is ... that a lot of good people are seeing things going wrong. Not just "all the usual suspects". We seem to be swinging towards more and more draconian measures to deal with what are sometimes really semi-trivial little things. And draconian measures, unless the levels of absolute pure justice are unimpeachable, are always something to be very cautious about.

Oh, umm, errmmm .... I didn't actually tar all admins with the same brush. And I didn't actually call everyone war criminals. I just said I'm being reminded of various oppressive regimes, where the voices of critics and "the puling masses" can just get silenced. It seems that my original concern has been kinda twisted around a bit; almost certainly unintentional, I know, but still a little hurtful to see what I was trying to say being distorted into some kind of all-out name-calling attack against all admins and all arbs ... Pesky (talk) 18:17, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Well, you did invoke Godwin in your opening paragraph; that's rarely conductive to cool heads even with the very best intentions and some people are bound to take offence. That said, I don't think anyone is making light of your concerns, but I do think you're worrying for the wrong reasons. I think that fear of an oppressive regime on Wikipedia are not warranted. Yes, there are critics that end up in trouble. No, I don't believe it ever occurred that they ended up in trouble because they were critics. Some may have gotten in trouble over the manner of the criticism (trolling, or disrupting to make the point) that would have been welcomed if they had behaved, some were critics that ended up in trouble for unrelated reasons, and some simply played the role of critics as a cynical ploy to shield themselves from consequence of their unrelated misbehaviour.

If I ever find someone who was ousted or harassed because they held or expressed critical views, I'd be the first to take up arms to protect them. — Coren (talk) 18:45, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

(after much edit conflicting) Really, either you're making a point that Wikipedia's admins are operating like dictatorships that "disappear" people - in which case it's appropriate for you to say we remind you of war criminals - or you're making some other point entirely, in which case saying we remind you of this dictator, that maniac, and this book about how people get off on abusing each other is...not only misplaced, but very unnecessarily inflammatory. I feel like I say the phrase "unnecessarily inflammatory" a lot lately. That's probably because people on Wikipedia are prone to using hyperbolic, extreme language to describe what could be described much more calmly, and then being surprised when the extreme language is interpreted as them saying what they mean to say. Let's try an analogy. I know you love your ponies, right? So suppose I think you've overworked one of them one day, and I wander up and I say to you, "God, watching you work that pony reminds me of the guy who just got arrested for slowly dismembering dogs while enjoying their pain. No, more than that. I'm reminded of that other guy who who doused a horse with gasoline and then lit it on fire, and then posted on youtube." You, obviously, would get upset. How could I say such a thing about you? You love your ponies and you would never, ever purposely injure one of them or be cruel to them or enjoy them suffering! Would it be appropriate for me to then see how upset you were and say, "What? I'm hurt that you think I was comparing you to cruel, animal-killing maniacs! You've twisted around my point, which was just that you've overtired your pony and I think you shouldn't do that!" And really, maybe that is all I meant. But I sure did a bad job of saying that, didn't I, since instead I somehow managed to compare you to horrible abusers of animals? In other words, if what you want to say is "I think we need to be careful about interpreting criticism itself as disruption", then you can say that very well without throwing out things that look like accusations that the administrators here are maniacs who not only disapprove of criticism, but will take any violent, destructive means necessary to keep people from seeing it. I believe you if you say that wasn't your point, but I question why you then felt you needed to couch your point in language dehumanizing admins as horrible criminals.

The problem with doing that - the problem with overreaching your analogy to the very end of that slippery slope, with implying we are the very worst of the worst, is that you're spiking your own guns. If that's what you think of admins who you haven't even met yet, or haven't even had a conflict with - and all signs until your latest comment point(ed) to that being what you were trying to get across - how can we learn from you at all? If I'm going to be thought of as Ceaușescu whether I block vandals, or I never once use the block button, or I counsel everyone I can get my hands on and only block as a catastrophic last resort, how would I know whether I'm actually doing anything wrong with any of those? There's no real feedback here; I'm assumed to be horrible no matter what I'm doing. If you really want people to hear and understand what you're afraid you see happening, and you want us to be able to act on it, you have to speak in realistic terms, actually explaining what the problem is, because those are the only type of terms that give people something to act on that might satisfy you. Godwinning, on the other hand, alienates the very people - those reasonable, calm, non-abusive admins - that you want to be listening to your concerns. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 19:04, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

What Fluff said, really. You're twisted and hurt that we took offence at comparisons to brutal, autocratic and in many cases genocidal regimes? You didn't intend repeated citing of brutal, autocratic and genocidal regimes as things that reminded you of us to imply that we reminded you of brutal, autocratic and genocidal regimes? And that when you said "government" you didn't mean to tar all its members, or even the majority of the members, just some of the members? I'm having a hard time AGFing on all of that. I would suggest that if you don't intend for things to come out like that you try not to start a discussion by invoking godwin's law. Ironholds (talk) 19:11, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
:o( That's not what I meant. I apologise if anyone thought I was calling them, personally, names. And I didn't see this as a "me vs. them" thing, at all. So I'm a bit confused by references to "us". I note Coren said That is why I take it with a five-ton grain of salt when someone who ends up over and over on the drama boards is crying "Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" But I wasn't crying that I was being repressed, and I don't end up over and over on the drama boards ... if I were only better at expressing myself (or finding links to oppressive situations / regimes / whatevers which aren't "brutal, autocratic and genocidal "). I'm concerned; maybe I could have found better wording (but Real Life is a bi@tch and a half at the minute), and all that really happens seems to be a kinda pile-on Yell At Pesky thing. Never mind. Pesky (talk) 19:25, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
The danger of speaking so metaphorically as you did, Pesky, is that it results in wide ranges of interpretation. I can see why some were offended, but I can also see where you were trying to come from. I won't speak to the specific cases that brought you here, but I will say that I support Coren's arguments. As a general rule, the first people to scream "oppression!" are often those who feel that hurling abuse at others is the most effective way of backing up their criticism. So when they get sanctioned for being abusive, they cry that it was instead due to the criticism itself. The problem at this point, IMNSHO, is not the "repressive regime", the rules or even the abusive critic. The problem is the enablers. The abusive critic rallies their supporters, earning just enough support to continue doing what they were doing. Consequently, a frustrated community reacts to the abusive critic, and you create feedback loops, hurt feelings and repetitive complaints. It is those enablers that cause these problems by not taking the abusive editor to task. Give an abusive person a sense of entitlement and invulnerability, and nothing good will come of it. It's like training an attack dog and setting them lose on the community. Resolute 20:01, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
  • I know and understand exactly what Pesky was rather clumsily tying to say at the beginning of this thread , and I, unsurprisingly, agree with it. That we have Coren talking his usual load of hypocritical bollox “’’If I ever find someone who was ousted or harassed because they held or expressed critical views, I'd be the first to take up arms to protect them. — Coren (talk) 18:45, 6 November 2012 (UTC)’’” is equally unsurprising. I can’t be arsed to find the link to prove how he behaves, but I’m sure someone can if he wants to argue it – he can be dismissed. The way Wikipedia’s leadership behaves is becoming increasingly cult-like, mysterious and unpleasant and is one of the reasons I have largely withdrawn. This blasted and ridicuous, overused Godwin’s law prevents a lot of honest opinion, to such an extent it could have been drafted by Adolf Hitler himself. Now, put that in your pipes and smoke it. Giano (talk) 19:56, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
    Interestingly(?) enough, you are the one salient example I was speaking of; the one case I know of of someone who became a stern critic as a result of having been wronged. — Coren (talk) 20:53, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Oh I remember your concern well: Odd isn't it how this quote is removed from your contributuons record ~ I wish I had such magical friends [35]. Giano (talk) 22:37, 6 November 2012 (UTC):
"*Giano, your paranoid delusions are taking a turn for the worse. I'm hoping this blows over soon before you cover yourself with ridicule, because your contributions (especially in architecture) are valuable; but you are quickly expending what little credibility you have left by insisting that the windmills are giants. The only place there is a conspiracy is in your own overactive imagination. You're being confused by a consuming grudge over an imagined slight to the point of twisting everything that happens into self-fulfilling confirmation of your delusion. And, to prove the point, you'll now deem me part of that conspiracy (if I wasn't already) for pointing this out.
Take a break away from Wikipedia for a few months and do something else to clear your head, or go and discuss things with a health professional. "Truly I was born to be an example of misfortune, and a target at which the arrows of adversary are aimed." — Coren (talk) 17:53, 9 November 2010 (UTC)"
  • I have restored (it was removed overnight [36]) this comment above by Corent to my post as it's an exampled of how a sitting Arb (as Coren was at the time) can attack an editor, without rebuke from his peers) and then have the comment removed from his contributions, while at the same time condemning incivility and bullying. This is a prime example of the way that Wikipedia is run and it concerns many and it needs to change. Giano (talk) 07:46, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not so very magical, sadly. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 22:50, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
You can find a verbatim copy there. It was on a page that ended up deleted in an unrelated discussion, but I've nothing to hide. That comment, of course, was intemperate and quite a bit nasty – which is why I've reconsidered and reverted it swiftly. I fail, however, to see how that's relevant to what I've been saying here. — Coren (talk) 23:09, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually, you reverted your own post within less than a minute of making it. It was Giano, in his great wisdom, that chose to restore it himself. Mind you, this was more than two years ago now, I think. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 02:59, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Rich Farmbrough, currently blocked, wanted someone to post his message here. Just doing it procedurally. Wifione Message 03:32, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

This idea that Wikipedia is not "Real Life" is fallacious. I have had at lest two editors contacting me saying that they were suffering ill health because of abuse on Wikipedia, and two who have felt close to taking their own lives. In every case but one administrators (individuals, not as a cadre) were responsible. You have to remember our editor demographic corresponds very closely to the suicide demographic. It is only a matter of time before "Wikipedia editor takes own life" is a headline, and I just hope that when that evil day happens none of us have anything to reproach ourselves with. (Note: We have of course lost editors to suicide, but not due to Wikipedia as far as I know.)Rich Farmbrough, 03:24, 7 November 2012 (UTC). (posted in edit-2346. -Wikid77 06:16, 7 November 2012 (UTC))

Good point. There is such a thing as a community here – the only community for some active members. It is time we acknowledged this and began insisting on more humane treatment of each other; we should, at the very least, observe the norms of a functional workplace. One aspect of the governance problem that Pesky points to is slowing our progress toward a more humane ethos here: admins with little social wisdom lording it over others are virtually unremovable. They have no idea what real incivility is, what it can do to recipients, how it undermines genuine debate, or that it matters. These tin-eared misfits are numerous enough to defend each others' behaviour and influence the mores of the rest of the community. Not sure what the answer is. (It would help if we didn't elect such people to ArbCom, though.) --Anthonyhcole (talk) 04:03, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
Very smart comments from Anthonyhcole. Pesky was alluding simply to abuse of position & power, which everyone agrees is "bad", but people pile on to criticize examples of abuse of power, only meant to highlight why abuse is 'bad' thru exaggeration to make a point, because they have no other argument. Pesky is right. The environment & culture is tending repressive. I wake up every morning wondering if I have been indef-blocked (again) for having made conscientious comment I can support and back up. The Request for Clarification re Malleus morphed into a ban proposal, the criticisms of abuse of process are obviously reasonable. (WP doesn't want anarchy, does it?) I made a couple light exchanges w/ Penyulap re Elen, and they've apparently been rolled into "trolling" accusation which rationalized a further block of access to his Talk. Admins have been clearly extra-authoritative and trivially oriented IOM, presumably to assert their buttons & egos, which just produces resentment and complaints re obvious fairness issues, which are marginalized to "there is no justice" mantra. The resentment smolders & grows. Pesky is pointing to something real. Ihardlythinkso (talk) 06:11, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
It happens a great deal. I can understand why people get hurt and offended by less-than-wise use of language (which I fully admit to, but I couldn't think of many linkable examples of abuse of power). BUT ... here's the big "but" ... this is what happens. The harshest input comes not from addressing the point I was trying to get across. We probably need, as a whole, to focus much more on what someone is trying to say, rather than attacking the way they said it. Anyhoo, that's it from me here (on this page). Anyone wanting to know what Real Life is like at the mo has only to visit my talk, and just read. Pesky (talk) 06:26, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Term limits and leadership lottery re Plato: As before, I favor term limits for admins, to again become non-admin users after so many years of membership in admin factions, but then I also favor "mandatory wikibreaks" where users agree to schedule time away to prove they are not addicted, well, not "overly addicted". However, I am channeling Plato with ideas I haven't remembered in years, specifically the selection of random leaders, as in:
"Dear User:X, as a long-term user beyond 3 years, you have been selected at
random to become a one-year junior admin, do you accept this offer?"
I cannot quickly verify the concept was fully Plato's idea or perhaps Socrates (remember I'm channeling here), but the general concept is to avoid cronyism by spreading administrative power, by random appointments, among qualified people to deter cliques of people (aristocracy) from all seeking related powers. The idea is related to the "philosopher king" issues. By having a level as "junior admin" then the powers could be kept limited, and perhaps a chosen junior admin might, months later, submit a wp:RfA to become a full-fledged admin, not limited to the "one-year" (or 6-month?) term as a junior admin. At least, with randomized leadership, there would be fewer us-versus-them groupings, which seem to be quite common these days. -Wikid77 06:58, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
The "philosopher king" concept is indeed Plato's, but the idea of officials being chosen by lot in order to avoid cronyism would be better attributed (albeit with a level of uncertainty) to the reforms of Solon about a century earlier. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 11:08, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
I lied, above ... I haven't quite finished here. Has anyone else noticed the weird thing? There seem to be two conflicting no-win views here: #1 is "If you've been oppressed, you probably deserved it! Stop whining!", and #2 is: "Why are you having a go about this? Nobody's ever done you any harm?" So ... who can actually try and point out stuff like this, if neither the people who may have been directly affected nor the people who haven't been have any perceived right to do so?

The trouble is, partly (I think) that people's politely-worded concerns simply get ignored, belittled, brushed under the carpet, not really addressed, until it gets to the point where they're so frustrated that they yell. And then all that happens is they're told off for yelling ... Pesky (talk) 11:18, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

Stop it! It is ungood to present logical argument. You will be *blocked* from editing if you persist in this tendentious and battleground behavior. This is your final warning. Ihardlythinkso (talk) 11:40, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
[Chuckles, despite everything] Pesky (talk) 12:23, 7 November 2012 (UTC)
Ahhh. So ... any ideas on how the community can actually improve on this one? Because it is a real problem. And I'm not here because I've personally "been oppressed" and am whining about it. Nothing I've "brought on myself". Stuff like that. And it's a much bigger, more extensive problem than just one or two cases. Also, I'm not here "because I'm an enabler" (and when someone can get blocked for calling a group of editors sycophants, and anyone thinks that's OK, then nobody should think it's OK to call any other editors enablers, fan-club, posse, supporters or anything else which means the same thing; either both are just fine or neither is).I'm here because I'm seriously, deeply concerned about what's happening to the atmosphere in our community. And a lot of other people are, too. They just might not all be prepared to stick their necks out. Pesky (talk) 04:49, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't calling you an enabler, Pesky, so my apologies if you took it that way. I was speaking in general terms. We have the abusive/oppressed (depending on your point of view) and the oppressors/defenders (again, depending) as the obvious groups in this dynamic. But without speaking to any specific cases, there are those who wrap the enablers around themselves as a shield or as a weapon. We will never resolve these issues by pretending they don't exist. The motives of these enablers will vary - some won't realize the role they are playing, and therefore are being used. Some just like fucking with the system. A few are malicious, and use the person they are enabling like an attack dog. Most are actually acting honestly, thinking they are doing right. But you know what they say about good intentions and the path it can lead one down. Regardless, any solution has to consider more than just the oppressed/oppressor point of view. Because Wikipedia has editors who are basically professional victims. They will abuse the system, cry out for support, and paralyze the community. They become a drain on volunteer time, morale and resources. But you are right that Wikipedia has legitimate victims - on both sides. The amount of abuse some at all levels put up with - including arbitrators - is ridiculous. Consequently, I would argue an important first step is to separate the truly abused from those that only act the part. Resolute 05:08, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Term Limits would certainly make for a very different governance of our community, and if we only had a limited number of mops then they might be useful. But there are drawbacks to term limits, especially when you consider that we want unpaid volunteer admins between them to be around 24/7 365 days of the year. With our existing setup we are beginning to get worrying gaps, and that is with circa 700 admins. A much smaller group of admins would struggle to avoid having the occasional hour long gap at AIV. By contrast if our existing active admins drop another 10% a year then we could be some time before we have to look at options such as pure wiki deletion (though the AIV gaps will get worse). With term limits there would also be a huge loss of experience, and a smaller newer admin cadre will almost by definition be making more mistakes of inexperience. But there is also the issue of specialism, at the moment we get by with a large number of admins many of whom only get involved in areas of adminship that they feel comfortable in. The fewer admins we have the more psychological pressure there will be for all our remaining admins to be able to do any admin task, consequently we can expect a higher error rate from our reduced number of admins. But the most serious argument against term limits for admins is that it will exacerbate the existing divide caused by the scarcity factor, and the lack of mainspace editing by specialist admins. We are already seeing all sorts of signs of tension between admins and other editors, and some misjudgements by Arbcom that I can only put down to Arbcom members having no time to edit and thereby losing touch with the community; The fewer admins we have and the more mistakes they make the worse that will get. What we really need is to replace RFA with some sort of process that appoints all experienced clueful editors as admins. If everyone is an admin or could be in a few months then the admin/nonadmin tensions will melt away, and the admin who only does admin type stuff will thankfully be very much an exception. ϢereSpielChequers 19:20, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Section break

Yup, that's the really difficult bit! However, I think we could look at ways of trying to reduce the instances of heavy-handedness, where the punishment (OK, OK, I know stuff is supposed to be "preventative, not punitive") is OTT for the crime, and possibly consider retributive/vengeful "OK, I'll find something else to block you for, not related to my argument with you" workarounds for WP:INVOLVED. 'Nother thing to consider ... how about putting some kind of a limit on the number of times any one admin can block any one other individual? I know that it wouldn't get over the "Oh, he just asked one of his friends to block me instead!" response (which could be applicable either to a perfectly good block on a genuine offender, or to an atrocious one), but after a while a genuinely abusive admin would possibly run out of "friends" because they'd all exceeded the limit as well, whereas in the case of genuinely blockable offences the pool of available admins to do the blocking should never run out. The other thing this might get over is the feeling, from the blockee, that a particular admin is responsible for too great a number of their blocks and is hounding them. What about some more possibilities like that? Pesky (talk) 12:09, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

OK Pesky. You find half a dozen instances over the past year of an admin repeatedly blocking the same user.
  • It must be the same account - you can't count blocking a basket of socks as 'repeatedly blocking'
  • fiddling around with the block log eg to remove or permit talkpage access doesn't count as reblocking,
  • and it must be more than twice, to allow for the admin raising a block on condition that the editor doesn't....(edit war or whatever), and reblocking when the editor does it again.
And then we'll all look and decide whether this is an actual problem that happens all the time on the pedia, and needs rules to stop those dreadful admins beating up the poor users without any redress at all. Or not. --Elen of the Roads (talk) 14:41, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Admins don't repeatedly block the same user , they know they would not be able to get away with that - however they also don't need to - it would be naive to think that there are not groups of admins working together. - Pesky has made a couple of perceptive comments as to how the current admin model is disaffecting a lot of contributors Youreallycan 15:29, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Agreed - cliques are a phenomenon found in pretty much every group of humans, so it would be pretty odd if we didn't have 'em here. But to achieve anything, the focus needs to be on what the actual problems are, not on proposing solutions for things which manifestly aren't problems in the format expressed. Pesky is a good editor to ask these questions, because she's never been blocked, so no-one can say (as they would to you or Keifer) "oh you're just complaining because you keep getting blocked" (subtext, you keep getting blocked, you must deserve it). And I agree that a lot of Pesky's observations are good. But we've been round this course a few times now, and suggested solutions that don't get anywhere near the core problems just cause the discussion to dissipate.--Elen of the Roads (talk) 17:27, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Administrator abuse is a problem. Jimbo and ArbCom have already discussed the difficulty of taking action against administrators who are protected by fellow administrators. Kiefer.Wolfowitz 16:00, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
That would actually go back to my commentary about enablers. But then, despite best efforts to pretend otherwise, that is not a problem associated with administrators. It is, in fact associated with any long-term popular editor who just happens to get on the bad side of any other long term popular editor. Resolute 16:11, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
An administrator left this personal attack on my talk page:
"I really don't know what type of social adjustment problems you may have in real life, so I'm not going to assume too much. However, it is clear to me that not only are you an unsuitable person to be part of the Wikipedia community, you are quite possibly so incapable of self-reflection that you shouldn't be using any online forum at all. I can normally take your trolling as part of the rough and tumble of Wikipedia - that's fine and part of what happens here."
Guess which user, the abusive administrator or myself, received a block warning, from an uninvolved administrator setting an example of civility, AGF, and NPA. Kiefer.Wolfowitz 16:39, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I like how you quote out of context, failing to note that that began when you made a posting that one editor found highly offensive, and he told you so. Was his commentary polite? No, I'll grant you that. But then, who are you to speak? You seem quick to attack others for perceived slights ("Two-faced arbs without the honesty or integrity to make a ruling on incompetent/dishonest/uncivil arb behavior") but as is typical, you are even quicker to complain when you get back what you give. Perhaps you should take a long look in a mirror before complaining about how others disregard civility, AGF and NPA, eh? You're no victim, Kiefer. Resolute 17:45, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
@Resolute, you are apologizing for administrator abuse. Again, I complain about one-sided enforcement of civility and NPA. Scott MacDonald made a severe personal attack, and has suffered not even an admonishment. I was threatened with a block. That disparity is the inequity.
I provided the diffs so that others can see the context. What was quoted out of context? An administrator derailing a discussion with nonsense about male breasts? The administrator going bananas when informed about effects of cancer, etc.?
You are quoting me out of context. My statement was about the arbitrators not dealing with the recent Civility Enforcement fiasco. It was not about Scott MacDonald, who did not like my discussing prostate cancer, etc.
Kiefer.Wolfowitz 17:59, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Nah, I am just a fan of irony. Such as: I was once threatened with a civility block by one of the admins linked to in this thread for a rather apt description of a non-admin's behaviour on Wikipedia. The warning was bullshit, of course, but trust me, the shit and abuse isn't unidirectional. I just don't hold grudges, and I don't run around a dozen different forums complaining about it. Resolute 18:34, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
The point is that a warning should also have been given to the administrator who left the personal attacks.
A warning to me was not bullshit (that is, it passes a laugh test among blocking heads at ANI, for example), although it would have been better below something I had written that was arguably uncivil (and would have been credible if it noted incivilities to which I had responded).
Placing a nasty block warning below the other administrator's abuse was a display of power---not the first (as ArbCom and Jimbo discussions have shown) and alas likely not the last.... Kiefer.Wolfowitz 14:24, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

We need a bigger ArbCom that can look into more cases and more community control of that ArbCom. That's one of the points in the platform of the ArbCom Reform party. Once that's in place, discussions like this can happen on one of the ArbCom pages; if something can be done to address the situation, you can implement that much faster. Count Iblis (talk) 17:03, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

First you should determine what exactly is the Wikipedia community. Is this thousands of editors who create content and never or almost never voice their opinion in the community discussions, or it is a bunch of trolls who hardly create any content, but happily support community bans of content contributors. (talk) 17:28, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
Excellent point. We don't hear from a lot of the community, because they keep their heads down and just create content, gnome away or whatever. There are admins whose name never appear at ANI, who beaver away doing stuff with images, blocking penis vandals or deleting spam pages. We rarely hear from any of these people, but they are a large part of what makes this encyclopaedia keep running. --Elen of the Roads (talk) 17:38, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Admin abuse is and has been rampant for years. Admin's can do nearly anything including violate policy and get away with it. This is determinatal to the health of the project and causes a lot of users to leave. Of course nothing will ever be done because its impossible to get a consensus so the problems continue, admins see they can get away with nerly anything and its nearly as hard to get someone desysopped as remove them from Civil service for the US government. The only thing at this point that will change it is for the foundation to finally show an interest in the project, quite the benign neglect and quite turning their back to the problem. What we need is a couple folks at the foundation to ride herd over the Admin cadre. To keep them inline, make sure things are happening the way they should and when necessary put them back in their place. This will not only help to solve the admin problem but will also give them some credibility which I'm sorry to say has been lacking and getting worse. Having said all that I know thats not going to happen, most readers of this will probably just think I am ranting and will ignore it and nothing will continue to happen. Whatwe do not need though is a larger stronger Arbcom that is no better than the Admins they would be supporting. Kumioko (talk) 17:17, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
So you're saying the WMF could replace Arbcom with a couple of staffers, like what happened at Livejournal. Get rid of the ability of the community to govern itself. Do you want to run for Arbcom on that platform? Elen of the Roads (talk) 17:32, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
But this Admin Abuse can only exist because you do have problem editors who need to be dealt with. If you have a system that is not so efficient, what happens is that good editors who do have some problems end up getting banned/blocked even if better solutions were available because "it takes too much community effort to find a better solution". The real reason is that with an overworked and burned out ArbCom, ArbCom only accepts a limited number of cases and will not be able to do a good job ineven those cases. Admins have then free reign in other cases, and then it's a Wild West like situation where you can have some Admin abuse that goes on unchecked. So, we do need a much larger ArbCom that will exert a much tighter control of the Adminstrative aspects of Wikipedia. Count Iblis (talk) 17:37, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to ask you the same question as Pesky - point to instances. There are one or two, but the truth is that the number of cases presented has gone down drastically, and the number of cases that need to be taken have gone down drastically, because the community prefers to deal with these problems itself. This results in blocks and bans enacted by admins at noticeboards, in much higher numbers than in earlier years, and actually much less these days for Arbcom to do. We've desysopped a few admins in my time - oddly some of the parties to this discussion crying about admin abuse, cried and cried that we were unfair to desysop them for....admin abuse. Elen of the Roads (talk) 17:44, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
@Ellen, Let me address the first question first. I do not like the existing Arbcom environment and of that I have been pretty clear I think. As much as some might think otherwise I do not have a problem with most of the individual members and have actually met several of them in person and have a lot of respect for them. What I do not like or agree with is the atmosphere that has generated that if they accept a case, then nothing good will come out of it. If its a user, they will be banned, desysopped or restricted because they won't accept a case unless they think the user is guilty and that itself generates a predetermination of the outcome. If they accept a case regarding something else, they have a much much better process and I think that with the exception of 1 I have agreed with the decision or could at least accept and understand it. But the cases weren't chosen based on guilt as is the case of editor related cases. Leading to the second comment, I believe this is why the cases have gone down. Because there is a general lack of faith in the decisions and most users who are familiar with Arbcom generally think that the end result isn't going to be good for either side.
@Count Iblist, Admin abuse exists for multile reasons including burnout, a general atmosphere of the admin is always right and others. Regardless of the number of people with the admin permission set its the same 5 - 75 admins doing all the work. If it wasn't for the editors without the tools helping out, many of which, myself including who can't get or don't want the tools, the admins would hve been overwhelmed long ago. I do not think that the foundation should, could or needs to override Arbcom, but, Arbcom isn't currently capable to manage the Admin cadre, probably wouldn't want to mix that with their judicial role and shouldn't because of that judicial role. The foundation keeps saying they are trying to help to make things better but they keep leaving it to the community and frankly (and I know this will hurt some feelings but oh well) we (including myself) have failed miserably at fixing it. We can't do something without consensus and can't get a consensus to do something. If the foundation isn't willing to step up to make some of these decisions to try and turn things around, they may as well shut the servers down and call this noble effort a social failure. Kumioko (talk) 18:09, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
It will be a failure as a social experiment if you replace the volunteers with staffers. Seriously - go over to VPP, suggest that, and see how long you live (metaphorically). And I'm sure this will madly tickle you - from Mbizance on AGK's talkpage my concern that Arbcom is far too lenient on parties to cases by assuming that those brought before it are acting in good-faith. By the time a dispute reaches Arbcom, there has usually been a failure on the part of someone. It may have been that the accused is guilty of violating policy or it may be that the filer is guilty of escalating a matter beyond reason or it may be that one of the parties has such poor communication skills that they cannot resolve a dispute on their own. Arbcom seems unwilling to recognize that most requests involves someone messing something up and is willing to entertain lengthy screeds of argument, let everyone speak their mind, and then tailor the narrowest sanction it thinks will address the precise problem. Broader sanctions (topic bans instead of interaction ban, site bans instead of interaction bans, etc.) instead of the most narrow sanction and severe sanctions for disruptive (overly long, IDHT, uncivil) conduct in Arbcom proceedings (the person should be on their best behavior, they know their behavior is being reviewed by the final body on Wikipedia) should be the norm, not the present outlier. Lets face it, if everyone was as beastly as you say they are, you'd still be blocked for socking. Elen of the Roads (talk) 21:34, 8 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not talking about replacing anyone, I am talking about adding. This wouldn't replace Arbcom, admins or editors. What it would do would create a connection between the foundation and the Admin cadre/Arbcom. But with that said. Paid staffers do the development, paid staffers are maintaining the servers, paid staffers are doing other things, why not making sure that we aren't running around doing something stupid just because we are admins and can get away with it.
I know you are a member of Arbcom and I know that there is a movement to make Arbcom bigger, to expand their powers and increase their workload. Aside from my personal feelings on that, Arbcom does not and probably will never have the bandwidth to monitor the Admin community and as the judge, jury and executioner role they already have I don't think they also need to be the hall monitor. I'm not even saying that it needs to be a full time job. I do think it needs to be someone who doesn't actively edit, who doesn't have strong ties to the community and who can determine if an Admin is acting in error in a nonbiased way. They don't need to remove the tools or ban them or block them. Just float by and mention to said admin that they have or may have acted in such a way that is not appropriate. If it happens too many times then they can act. I believe that just knowing that someone is watching will stop a lot of the ongoing admin abuses and big ego's. In regards to that comment that is kinda funny, and in utter contrast to my opinions, which isn't in itself surprising about the place. That's why we can never get a consensus on anything here. There are always groups on opposite poles and not enough in the middle. In the end though we need to do whats best for the project and the Pedia. Whatever we are doing currently isn't working and a blind man (or woman) can see that. We need to do something and try it for a while, if it doesn't work we can adjust fire and try something else. But just sitting here arguing that everything won't work and trying nothing is absolutely not going to help. If someone has a better idea, great lets try it.
IRT my history, your right I have made mistakes (like Iron Man largely public) and thanks for bringing that up to decrease my credibility. I appreciate that. :-) I am not trying to indicate the place is full of monsters, but there are some monsters here, some are hiding in the shadows, some are hiding in plain sight and have admin tools they are there and they pop up from time to time. Going back to my block though its all good now because I am done editing. I may make a comment here and there on a talk page or levy a vote in the upcoming Arbcom elections but with all the content being protected and not being an admin I got tired of waiting a week for my edits to be implemented only to have to explain to the admin how to do it because they don't know template programming. I stopped vandal fighting a couple years ago because I couldn't block them and I couldn't protect the pages. I'm simply not the basic editor anymore and I am not allowed to do the more advanced things so there is no sense in staying. I can't grow and continue to learn and help out so its time to retire. Kumioko (talk) 02:56, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

─────────────────────────I don't have, stored in my fast-access memory, a huge list of particular cases of one admin performing multiple blocks on one editor. That almost certainly doesn't mean that there aren't any. Also, in most respects, I'd actually much prefer to leave individual names and so on out of discussions like this, as, as soon as names are mentioned, it tends to derail the discussion into almost-strawman arguments about the ins and outs of that particular case, to the great detriment of thinking wholly about the bigger picture. I think that happened, to a lesser extent, right up at the top of this conversation, when I stuck to "big picture" wording, and it was immediately decided that this was definitely only about Penyulap, which it definitely wasn't. I do think people should avoid stating something as fact when it's only an assumption!

I can, for example, think of one instance when an admin took an action which, although not technically involved, was done after a long (and evident) history of personality clash with another editor, going back for many months. I left a note on the admin's talk, and my view was backed up by another admin who saw it. We do have some really good admins, with integrity and honour and big hearts (and sound minds). But we also have some of the other sort, who don't see a problem with abusing the power that they have been given.

I really don't have the time (Real Life stuff) to go hunting through enough block logs to try and find particular instances where an individual user may have been the subject of too much focus from one admin, or a small clique of admins. But something else occurred to me as a possibility that we should maybe consider, and that's the "weeding out" of block logs; finding a way of separating the genuinely good blocks from the highly-debatable or even atrocious ones, and displaying them in some kind of different log. I think this would require something along the lines of a "jury of admins / editors in good standing" (combination, ideally) to look at particular block logs and make a rational and fair decision about what should stay in the main log as a sound and good and deserved block, and what should go into the secondary log. I know that something along these lines is already on someone's to-do list as a thing to think about, so it may eventually happen.

This would be a great proactive move to make, as in many, many instances editors look just at the length of the block log, the number of blocks, without considering in any way the quality of the blocks. (This is one of those instances where size does matter ... that's what people notice.)

I'm really not trying to get up anyone's noses here, just trying to come up with ways of improving what we have. A lot of people have lost faith in the current situation, and it's not just the people with lists of blocks, sanctions, reprimands, and so on. Pesky (talk) 07:45, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I would dispute that last sentence - as the 67 IP observed above, the majority of editors (and even the majority of admins) never appear at handwringing sessions, so neither you nor I have any means of judging their mood. Be that as it may, your notion about block logs is on sounder ground than your notion about admins reblocking users. I recently accidentally blocked an innocent user (didn't untick a box in a script) and spent the next week apologising. Worse, when I looked into it, it's not possible to remove the entry, all you can do is blank the reason for the block (and you're not supposed to do that because it makes it look even worse than it was to start with). Some means of oversighting blocks made in error would be worth looking into further. If you have that (which is a technical solution), then you could see if the community wants some means of being able to oversight blocks that it doesn't agree with. Elen of the Roads (talk) 11:39, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
I've heard that several times before. And your one of the more competent admins, it happens more often than it should. I have even seen editors at things like RFA trying to contest it when someone brings it up and they get comments like Oppose - User is unwilling to admit they made a mistake and they end up losing the RFA. That is just one of many examples. Currently if a user doesn't agree with an admin, they have to try and figure out the right venue to go to, then try and figure out how to properly submit something, then have the endurance to spend the next several weeks in discussion. If we had some hall monitors that periodically reviewed admin actions whether through the logs, floating about the site or in other ways, we would soon find that although we would lose a few admins undoubtedly because their shenanigans are discovered and dealt with, the admin abuses would stop, the general mood would lighten and things on this one small niche piece of Wiki life would start to improve. Now I Arbcom is willing and capable to perform this function its worth discussing but I don't think they should because of reasons I already mentioned. I think at this point the community has shown that we are unwilling and incapable of competently completing this task. We talk a good talk but at the end of the day we are incapable of any real significant change because there is never a consensus. We need someone to show some leadership, grow a spine and try something. If it doesn't work, as I said before we can adjust and try something else but we cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand on these issues. Kumioko (talk) 12:17, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Any community is going to have bad eggs and game players; they exist here within the admin corps and amongst the remainder of the editing pool as well. I don't think we have a particularly large proportion of those people when the editorship is viewed as a whole, but we do tend to have large chunks within smaller parts of the the 'pedia. One of the larger chunks is amongst those that hand out around the admin/policy/arbcom pages and as these are the most active and influential users it can take its toll.
The solution isn't to expand or improve arbcom IMO but requires a social change. It is to reduce the power of individual adminstrators, and admins as a whole. We should remove the requirement for admins to close certain discussions; a simple way to do this would be to say that anyone with X edits over Y months, and without community sanctions, is "trusted" and given powers to close and implement discussions. Admins should be relegated to "tool users" merely there to press the delete/protect/block buttons as required, and not arbiters of anything. We need proper content abitration, so that admins are not called on to break up content disputes. We need to make adminship more accessible and easier to take away. However, these social changes have been tried before and not got anywhere. --Errant (chat!) 12:58, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
It has been a growing opinion of mine that as the community has taken on more of the role of dealing with unruly users, the cases coming to Arbcom are - leaving aside the ones dealing with administrators - frequently ones where there is an unresolvable content dispute. I've even joked on this page that Jimbo should set up a coin-toss policy to resolve the most intractable disputes. I have thought that there might be a place for an established, binding, content dispute resolution process, to handle the ones where the two sides are utterly entrenched. Elen of the Roads (talk) 13:18, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
@ Errant, I would largely agree with that except for the last sentence. Changes have been "discussed" but not tried. We can never get a consensus (and probably never will) about doing any changes related to RFA.
@ Ellen, as I mentioned before I don't think its so much that the community has taken over the role as the community is shrinking, editors are leaving en masse and the general communities notice that if it goes to Arbcom, the editor is going to be blocked or banned but only after spending the next several weeks in endurance tests and discussion just to have the outcome be a Ban, desysop, edit restriction because Arbcom wouldn't take the case if they didn't think the editor was guilty. So why even bother. IF your going to submit it to Arbcom, you may as well block them because that's what the result would be anyway. Kumioko (talk) 14:29, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Kumioko, your personal demons are your problems, not mine. Your continued belief in the great myth of editors leaving en masse because of Arbcom is your problem, not mine. That you have created a situation in your own head where Arbcom can never legitimately take a case, because you cannot comprehend the difference between taking a case on prima facie evidence, and making a decision based on an investigation which has hopefully revealed the whole truth of the matter, is your problem, not mine. Ask User:Wikid77 for some data on the actual size of the community - you will be surprised. Check out how many sanctions are handed down at AN and ANI - you'll be surprised. I can also recommending spending some time at WP:AE observing all the editors who in many cases have already been sanctioned by Arbcom, and in all the others have been warned that they will be sanctioned, going at it like Kilkenny Cats to get sanctioned again. You really will be surprised. Elen of the Roads (talk) 15:19, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Your right that is a perception on my part based on longterm experience in both AN, ANI and Arcom cases. I may not be an admin but it won't take a data analyst to see that I have spent a large amount of time in these discussions. You may not agree with my viewpoints or hypothesis but I do actually have some idea what I'm talking about and am familiar with the policies and the forums. I just choose to side with the editor when Admins use tactics like a certain one I won't mention did recently to get their way. Which no one seems to care about by the way which I find highly annoying. I also agree that Wikid presents some interesting numbers. I do not think they are particularly accurate though and here's why. Rich did a massive amount of edits a month, including his bots even more so but the numbers Wikid displays shows no measurable difference. You cannot tell me that we suddenly got enough new editors doing more edits to pick up the slack. But the numbers reflect no noticible increase or decrease. How is that? Kumioko (talk) 18:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Elen wrote " the number of cases that need to be taken have gone down drastically, because the community prefers to deal with these problems itself. This results in blocks and bans enacted by admins at noticeboards, in much higher numbers than in earlier years, and actually much less these days for Arbcom to do." I think this is a step in the wrong direction. Compare Wikipedia to real world society. We started in the Stone Age, ArbCom can be compared with the elders of the tribe. As society gets more complex we need to move in the direction of the analogue of a modern justice system. Instead what has happened is that we moved toward a larger tribal system where the elders are letting local warlords deal with problems. The elders make sure that there is no infighting between the warlords. Count Iblis (talk) 17:22, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I completely agree. Here are a few of the utterly stupid things we are doing as a community that shows potential editors that Wikipedia is really not the encyclopedia anyone can edit and we really don't trust you so don't bother that needs to stop. Mostly by our "trusted" admins.
  1. We have range IP blocks in place now that essentially exclude about 2% of the entire worlds internet from contributing. This incudes libraries, iuniversities, high schools, etc. Yes there was vandalism at these sites but there was a lot of good edits too and some admins blocked them simply for their own convenience rather than any meaningful purpose.These IMO need to be reviewed and most restored.
  2. Certain admins have been going on a mass protecting spree protecting templates and articles at an unprecedented rate because they are trying to "prevent" vandalism. Most of these have never been vandalized, ever. But they are protected so no one except the aforementioned "trusted" admins can edit them.
  3. Wikipedia's rules are hard to learn. There are a lot of them, some are not intuitive and a lot disagree with each other. But new editors that make a stupid mistake because they don't understand are blocked indefinately. Sometimes this is necessary but frequently its not. There are currently thousands of editors indefinately blocked. Many for good reason, a lot for not so good of a reason.
These are just a few. Kumioko (talk) 18:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)@Count Iblis: You have a rare gift for coming up with ridiculously flawed metaphors. Of course it was barely two days ago you were trying to instigate a coup to remove the current ArbCom at AN, I fail to see how that reflects your vision of a "law and order society" on Wikipedia. Admins are not warlords. ArbCom is not a government. We don't need political parties in ArbCom elections. Wake up and smell the coffee. Your ideas are not, have not been, and in all likelihood will not be supported by the community. You managed to fool a few users for a minute there with the ArbCom reform party but it seems they have all seen the light now, I note not a single one of them has come to your defense over yesterday's "recruitment RFC" disaster. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:36, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually, although Iblis' idea is probably unworkable, you can at least see the logic in it. Elen of the Roads (talk) 02:16, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Semi arbitrary section break

Wowsers, I was gonna read this whole thread. But then I realized, the folks in Florida will have their state's votes counted before then. GoodDay (talk) 06:43, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

I'm absolutely sure that, if we tasked ourselves to come up with a whole flotilla of ideas which might change the atmosphere for the better, around this issue, then we could actually do something. There are probably some ways of scripting a few things to flag up situations which might want to be double-checked. The weeding of block logs, I'm sure, could be done and would be beneficial. What about some way of checking the number of blocks made by individual admins, to suss out if there are a few who are more trigger-happy on the block button than others? (Would probably have to exclude blocks of IPs as for the most part those are likely to be vandalism blocks; yes, I know IPs are human too, but still ....) Could someone work up a script which checks things like this? Then at least a small panel of auditors could have a look to see if the blocks were all good, and justified. Of course there will be some admins who a script might flag as "possible trigger-happies" who aren't, at all, worthy of the flag, but it might help to highlight instances where a trigger-happy admin could do with a warning, or just a chat (or maybe a break from adminship if they're burned out?) Pesky (talk) 08:04, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
The problem with that idea is that the admins making the most blocks probably are not the ones making the most problematic blocks. It's more likely the top results from such a script would be checkusers and/or admins dealing with WP:LTA. Checkusers often find "sleeper" socks that have never even edited and long term abuse trolls tend to create throwaway accounts by the dozens. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:32, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
I'd go further. The admins who do loads of blocks are the ones who watch AIV and block loads of vandals, either indef blocks on accounts or short term blocks on individual IPs. Can anyone remember the last time that sort of block got contentious? Contentious blocks are invariably not for vandalism, and are blocks of IP ranges or longterm editors not new throwaway accounts. Watch for the blocks of editors with more than 1,000 edits, that's where we get contentious blocks. As the blocking of an established editor is almost never for vandalism it would be sensible to upbundle this to the crats. They are already trusted to block and the very few blocks involved would not be that much of a workload. I suspect that quite a few editors would be much more relaxed about admins if we lost the ability to block them, so it might even take some of the tension out of RFA. ϢereSpielChequers 18:16, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Hence the challenge to Pesky to come up with any evidence at all that admins repeatedly blocking users who don't deserve it is a problem, rather than a fantasy of Pesky's. Iblis's idea of 'lower courts' on the other hand is, in my opinion, actually starting to emerge naturally (as long as you remember not to think of them as legal processes). WP:DRN has emerged; contentious RfCs are being closed by troikas rather than by single users; AN is handling bans and topic bans. I think there's scope for splitting up the melange of tasks that fall to Arbcom - and indeed merging some of them. The whole AE area to my mind doesn't work good at the moment, and pushing some of the responsibility for managing these sanctions back to an elected committee that rotates, rather than half a dozen admins that just burn out, should be considered. On the other hand, BASC should be separated off, and have a much more clearly defined scope and working practice, particularly now UTRS is available.
Much of this is just rearranging the deckchairs though (but not necessarily on the Titanic). What seems to bother most editors (although see notes above on the silent majority) is being able to edit in peace, without being molested by other editors (hence the challenge to Kumioko to come up with any kind of evidence that editors are leaving in droves because of concern over being sanctioned by an insane Arbcom). It is our dispute resolution procedures (the lower courts) that still need improvement, and Wikipedia's legendary tolerance of trolls, pov pushers, internecine warriors etc that is still the more major problem for most editors. Elen of the Roads (talk) 18:22, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
@SpielChequers - I don't think the crats idea would fly - that's not what they are there for. However, the idea of a 'lower court' which would actually make a decision as to whether a senior editor warranted a sanction is a possibility. The WMF themselves might however oppose it, as their focus is almost exclusively on new editors, and they are not minded to support what they might see as discrimination against new editors. Elen of the Roads (talk) 18:25, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Currently all admins can block any editor. Changing the code so that only Crats can block accounts with over 1,000 edits is technically easy, and it isn't giving the crats any more powers than they have, just taking away some power from other admins. But if the crats don't like this it would be quite practical to have a separate group of editors who had the block anyone userright. As for the WMF, the important thing is to present this as a way to reduce tensions between admins and the community, not some sort of newby biting process. ϢereSpielChequers 18:50, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
This is a terrible idea. For starters, people with over 1,000 edits get blocked all the time for edit warring. Even very experienced users sometimes have a lapse in judgement and partake in edit warring. Why should we have to appeal to a higher power to block for something as obvious as 3RR? Practically everyone blocked at WP:AE is also very experienced. And why should a user with 900 edits be subject to stricter standards of behavior than users who have been here for years and ought to know better already? On top of that, there are not very many active crats, it's not a job a lot of admins even want, and the community is rarely in a mood to promote new ones anymore. And, as if that weren't enough, crats are generally expected not to act decisively but rather to act only when there is a clear consensus (as in RFA) or a very specific policy (as in CHU) that supports a specific course of action. That is not going to mesh well with the realities of blocking problematic users. this would create a massive class of unblockable users, including every single admin. I do agree that blocks on very experienced users are a problem area, but this is not the solution. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:25, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
The actual number of blocks we'd be talking about is really quite small, and yes edit warring would probably be the most common cause. IMHO we are too free with blocks re edit warring, and it would be much better if we were warning people each time they approached being blocked. But sometimes it really is necessary to block active editors, and I think that crats would be the right people to do these blocks because we should only be blocking where there is a clear case - so with this change some of our sillier blocks just wouldn't happen. But with the power to block also comes the power to unblock - and if a vested contributor was blocked then only a fellow crat could reverse it. So I would hope that some of our dramas would get resolved without use of blocks, and those completely unblockable characters would have to remember that if they did merit a block they could no longer rely on their friends to undo it. ϢereSpielChequers 19:54, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
It's not the crats job to block people, and they never signed up to block people in the crat role. They would turn you down flat.Elen of the Roads (talk) 20:01, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
All the current crats are already admins, so upbundling an admin function to them isn't giving them an extra right, just increasing the number of times they are likely to need to exercise that right. However if the existing crats would prefer that we appoint some additional crats or a new user group for this then either is doable. The important part of this suggestion is that by taking that one tool away from admins we reduce the tension between the admin cadre and other editors, and we enforce a move away from blocks and the threat of blocks as an early resort for the enforcement of policy. Think of it a bit like guns and Police forces. Here in the UK only a tiny minority of the Police carry guns, there are armed police available for when guns are really needed, but if the Police actually kill someone it is national news. Policing with consent is much easier if the Police are no better armed than the populace. ϢereSpielChequers 06:22, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

As a general matter, I've long since felt that when good-faith editors lapse into edit-warring, they often should first be warned and then blocked from the page or from the topic area for a couple of days, rather than blocked outright, which simply deprives us of their ability to contribute in other areas. I also agree with Elen that the current group of bureaucrats neither signed up for the responsibility of handing out specific kinds of blocks nor were they necessarily selected with that role in mind. Newyorkbrad (talk) 20:05, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

I love the idea of "protect against editing by users X, Y and Z." I think this should be entirely possible at the page level - topic level would require some more complex programming and would have lots of loopholes - including the risk that other editors could then extend the topic ban by adding the topic tag to other pages. ϢereSpielChequers 06:22, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I also really like this idea. Blocking someone for editing warring on one particular article is dropping an elephant on them when a tap on the shoulder would usually do. If they're only disrupting Page X, let's try separating them from Page X before we hurry off to separate them from zomg everywhere, ever. I wonder if it would be possible to get a dev to just give us five minutes of brainstorming on such an idea, as far as quick answers for "Is this feasible software-side? What parts of it do you think would be low-cost? What parts high-cost? What parts are hell-no-never-gona-happen?" A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 22:28, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I am going to hazard a guess that if something that awesome could easily be done they would have done it already, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to ask. Who wants to ask? I've already bent enough of their ears this year. Beeblebrox (talk) 02:31, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't see why a software change would be needed in order to use this idea in appropriate situations. A few times over the years, I've said to an editor caught up in an edit-war "in lieu of my deciding whether to block you, will you agree not to edit Article X or Topic Y for 24-48-72 hours" and they've said yes and kept the promise. And if (for example) an AN3 report were closed with "Editor A instructed not to edit Article A for 24 hours" in lieu of "Editor A blocked for 24 hours," and then Editor A disgarded the instruction and edited A again, the other party to the AN3 report would be complaining about back on AN3 so quickly it would make one's head spin, and a block would follow. If the editor seems out of control and unlikely to follow the instruction, then the administrator could block in the ordinary way, but most editors would comply with a 24/48 hour ban from a given article or topic in lieu of a full block. I certainly think the idea is worth trying more widely. Newyorkbrad (talk) 02:37, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Doesn't the capability already exist anyway, with WP:Edit filter, or can it not be used for this purpose? Unless I'm misunderstanding (I often do), a nice front end to create an edit filter rule could be all that's needed? Begoontalk 02:41, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm not an expert, but I believe an edit filter applies to a given type of edit from all editors; I don't think it's set up to be customized to permit one editor to edit an article but not another. Newyorkbrad (talk) 02:42, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
You could well be correct. WP:Edit filter doesn't list "account name" as one of the User criteria you can fling a regex at, although it is in this list, intriguingly. Possibly it won't work without software changes, then - I was really just trying to find a "no work" or "little work" solution. As you said, it's usually spotted quickly when editors "break" topic bans, and this idea does nothing where "socking" is involved.Begoontalk 02:51, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
  • addendum: Special:AbuseFilter/148 seems to indicate the filter here can act based on 'user_name' regexps (filter log). I'm not an expert, either, and I can't see the "private" filters which may also use this variable - but it at least still seems as if it could be possible. Begoontalk 04:04, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

─────────────────────────For investigative purposes, to answer questions which can't easily be answered in an unbiased and representative way by individual editors, would it be possible for some intellismart individual(s) to work up a script? ... which would pick up on which admins have been / are most likely to block editors with (say, for starters) over 5,000 edits (that will rule out all of the vandalism and sock blocks, I expect). Following on, could I make a suggestion that either a radio-button or checkbox list ("tick all that apply") for blocks, to make for easy searching for type of block. Obvious suggestions for checkboxes would be edit-warring, civility, etc. etc. I have no idea how easy or otherwise it might be for a script to go through existing block logs to pick up on wording and mark each block on said checkboxes appropriately, but it could be considered. Ditto kind of input for blocking user talk-page access, protecting user talk pages, and so on. If we really want to get to the bottom of exactly what is happening around blocks, we need some data-handling tools. Another thing I think we could really do with is a piss-easy way of viewing blocks-per-thousand edits and blocks-per-years-of-service, so that when less-than-analytical people are looking at block logs, they have a way of comparing like with like. If we can combine those two with weeding-out of block logs to remove bad blocks (as above) it would be possible to make a start of getting more objective viewing of individual block logs and less knee-jerk reactions from the general public (thinking particularly of pile-ons affecting consensus).

Adding: I think another one which might be useful is a script which will pull up (for human checking) blocks which have followed within n-amount of time (pick your number) of interactions in unrelated areas between blockee and blocking admin. That could well highlight some possibly-problematic interactions. Pesky (talk) 11:27, 15 November 2012 (UTC) Ummm ... it seems to have gone deathly quiet, here. The above was kinda the answer to the "come up with examples, woman!" thing. As I mentioned above, I feel it better not to bring individual cases up, because any individual cases brought up by any individual editor will be subject to all kinds of (probably subconscious) bias-effect stuff, and always just invite strawman-type arguments responding to each individual case rather than addressing the bigger picture. It's all too easy (and species-normal for H. sapiens) to lose sight of the wood while looking at the trees. We need, not individual examples from individual editors, but some really decent data-mining and data-handling tools. (Which can't be suspected of being participants in any kind of fan club, enablers, supporters, buddies, and so on.) I know darned well that we have people in here who can produce those types of tools as easily as I can produce a roast dinner. That is what we need; it helps us towards transparency and genuinely objective analysis. Those things steer us in the direction of tweaks and solutions. Any clever volunteers to come up with some decent stuff? Pesky (talk) 21:48, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

The main problem with the site

It seems like quite a few people of late are popping up here noting concerns about the site. Having worked on one aspect of the site for a while, I'm realizing that a lack of firepower there is the biggest issue facing the site. The issue is one of copyright, or more accurately the utter lack of fighters. The number of semi-regulars I see tackling that I could probably count on one hand, the copyright problems page has a two month backlog, and there are over 75,000 possible violations in contributor investigations to look through. All the back and forth on content issues means nothing with all the copyright problems that we need to be tackling first. The years-old violations I have found hurt the site far more than Beatles nonsense or AfD discussions could. It's part of a systemic problem, in a sense; we will always have new article writers popping up from time to time; it's when we lose the maintenance people who handle stuff like this that causes the most trouble. Wizardman 00:56, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Best way to deal with this is to either duplicate or expand the feedback request service to incorporate maintenance requests and distribute them to active users. Speaking for myself, I would be happy to volunteer for random maintenance tasks distributed to my talk page, and it would be great if users could see a record of their work on a subpage devoted to user statistics (I previously argued for this on village pump). Users want to be involved and they want to see their work measured. This has nothing to do with trophy hunting but with being able to view active tasks from start to completion and to measure what users are doing with their time. Viriditas (talk) 03:08, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
There's a related proposal in the early stages: User:Sphilbrick/Tour_of_Duty Gigs (talk) 15:21, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Feedback's a possibility. I've been considering doing targeting CCIs myself, if anyone is interested then based on their articles/topic choices I could find good ones for them. Haven't seen the Tour of Duty link before, but it's interesting, will have to look in more detail. Wizardman 23:17, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
There is a mismatch between the amount of volunteer time available and the amount of stuff that needs doing. Overall the pedia is improving, but not as fast as some would like, and in some areas we may even be regressing. Unfortunately the WMF has not been helping here, the latest big development is the Article Feedback Tool, and as was obvious to some of us this has been a net cost in volunteer time. As evidence that those of us who thought AFT was a mistake were right, I now have a plea on my user page to spend more time on the clean up squad going through Article feedback.... As a community we need to make time to keep the AFT comments patrolled, but it would be much better for the pedia if we'd simply canned the AFT, or when it was tested against a call to action we'd gone with the call to action. Highlighting the edit button or trying various different options to remind people that they are welcome to edit would be a far more constructive use of WMF money than AFT was. We need developments that enable editors to use their time more efficiently, or that save editor time. The software for handling edit conflicts could easily be improved so that more edits take and fewer are lost to edit conflicts. Of course it isn't just the WMF, we need the community to agree to adopt some form of flagged revisions so as to make sure that every newbie edit is actually checked, but to reduce the ridiculous waste of volunteer time in the current system whereby some edits are checked many times and others slip through completely unchecked. ϢereSpielChequers 18:41, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
+1. --Andreas JN466 07:15, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Remember 9,500 editors change over 25 articles per month: Never let temporary backlogs seem hopeless. That figure of 9,500 active editors omits the thousands who make only 24 edits. It is just a matter of time to contact enough people who are willing to help. The general rule is that 3% of people will volunteer, and if contacted, 3% of 9,500 would mean about 285 potential helpers. Perhaps not all speak English clearly, nor edit every day, but working together, the backlogs can be reduced. -Wikid77 (talk) 15:25, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Hello! Have a nice day.

Hello Jimbo. Just stopped by to say "hi".


by Kevin12cd Talk to me This was posted at 01:41, 18 November 2012 (UTC)