User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 82

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Emerging market contributors will get bored due to speedy deletions.

Hi Jim,

I don't know if this is the right place for comments. I have been a wikipedia editor for some years now, I am not geeky so don't know how to do all the "cool" things.

What I have observed is that whenever a new article coming from the emerging market nations is created, wiki deletionists speedily delete these articles usually based on western biases.

I created an article today on Nigeria's leading social online website (www.nairaland.com) and it was speedily deleted before I could even complete it. Nairaland.com has over 700,000 registered accounts/users (more than the entire population of Iceland). Nairaland is also the third most visited social website in Nigeria after Facebook and Twitter. It is the 10th most visited website in Nigeria according to Alexa. I added links to African sources showing the notability of Nairaland but still it was deleted.

My point is that wikipedia will struggle to grow with African articles if African contributors are continually frustrated by trigger happy editors. The body of articles will remain Western and wikipedia will eventually become a giant with clay feet. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Akinsope (talkcontribs) 21:46, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Excellent point, and good example. The notability guidelines need a major overhaul. There should be 3x as many guidelines for different situations, and also a reworking of alternative criteria that are appropriate for non-Western locations. Currently, deletionists have no good way to differentiate (aside from counting New York Times coverage) between Nairaland.com doing shameless publicity, and a valid article on a major social media system. Wxidea (talk) 22:13, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
I see the "Reliable Sources" guideline as one of the most misunderstood guidelines on Wikipedia. So many people assume that if the New York Times or ABC runs a story, it is automatically golden, while dismissing any critical review of what it actually says. (Even though the Reliable Sources page clearly states that there are 3 parts to determining the reliability of a source) -- Avanu (talk) 22:24, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
@Wxidea, there are already two notability guidelines that could cover this article: Wikipedia:Notability (web) and Wikipedia:Notability_(organizations_and_companies). This particular case shows no need for new guidelines. --Enric Naval (talk) 00:44, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
@EnricNaval, this seems like a notable web site to me; and Nairaland is currently used as a citation in several dozen existing articles. Your response that there are "already two notability guidelines" misses the point that sensible notability guidelines for western web sites or companies may not be appropriate for non-Western ones. The Nairaland site has been around for over a decade. Aside from a narrow interpretation of the existing guidelines, I don't see how a top-10 site in a country can possibly not be notable. It's more popular than Windows Live and LinkedIn in Nigeria. Here's old text (from bing.com) of the recently deleted page in dispute: Nairaland (www.nairaland.com) is an online, primarily Nigerian, community created by Seun Osewa in March 2005. Nairaland currently has over seven hundred thousand (over 700,000) registered accounts and ranks in the top 10 most visited sites in Nigeria according to Alexa.com. Nairaland content consists of posts and threads started by its users and often takes the form of debates and discussions. References; http://www.cp-africa.com/2011/03/17/cpafrica-interview-interview-seun-osewa-founder-nairaland-2/ http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/entrepreneur/entrepreneur-news/25980-small-enterprise-and-job-creation http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/NG http://afrinnovator.com/blog/2011/03/23/seun-osewa-founder-of-nigerias-biggest-website-nairaland-interviewed/ Wxidea (talk) 03:40, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Akinsope, I suggest that you post the same message at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Nigeria.
Wavelength (talk) 01:09, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
@Wavelength, regardless of the fate of Nairaland, the issue remains that non-western topics still have trouble getting coverage. This has been well covered, including the talk at Wikimania on the Oral Citations Project. But I see no progress on it. Wxidea (talk) 03:40, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Cheese and rice - the editor barely brought the discussion about CSD-deletion to my talkpage, and I didn't even have a chance to even see it before all hell apparently broke lose. Why on earth escalate something still in its early stages to the top of the food chain so quickly? I would think that I would have been given the courtesy of investigating and replying before bringing in the big guns, or indeed before the big guns even stepped in? Even in ANI we ask "have you tried fixing this with the other party" before acting in most cases. (talk→ BWilkins ←track) 10:26, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I recommend everyone read that Talk page discussion and make up your own mind. imo it's the poster child for the clash of views on what Wikipedia is about, as well as the clash of attitudes. This isn't limited to articles from emerging countries, nor to deletions. It's systemic with many active Admins, and not the occasional fluke. It's the "Shoot, aim, win!" meme - wrong sequence. 99.50.188.177 (talk) 14:08, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we need any more notability guidelines - what we need is to restore the primacy of WP:GNG - anything that passes it should be golden, no ifs ands or buts. Wnt (talk) 17:57, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
At least in the english wikipedia u don't need 50 edits to edit a semiprotected article, as in the Spanish wikipedia. 190.51.164.49 (talk) 01:04, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Jimmy, for helping us really improve Wikipedia's quality

Hi Jimmy, you may (or may not) recall volunteering for a copyediting backlog elimination drive almost a year ago, which I invited you to. I want you to know that when the Guild of Copy Editors started their series of backlog elimination drives (held every couple months), the copyediting queue had over 8,000 articles in it and stretched to 2007. Now it has 3,800 articles in it and the oldest article is from 2010. I feel this represents a significant improvement in the overall quality of the encyclopedia. I wanted to give you my heartfelt thanks for assisting us. Your involvement made that particular drive one of our most successful, and significantly raised the visibility of our project, making future drives successful as well. Our participation has waned a bit since then. Maybe you want to volunteer again? The next drive starts in September. Here's the link: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Guild_of_Copy_Editors/Backlog_elimination_drives/September_2011

With just a couple more drives, Wikipedia may actually be at a point where when an article gets tagged for copyediting, that editing happens in a matter of weeks, instead of months or years. Wouldn't that be something! ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 05:01, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

  • It would be something, and it's great that we're moving in this direction. I participated in a recent drive, and it was great fun (and I learned some new stuff, and got a barnstar too). I recommend it. Moving articles to "Featured" and "Good" status gets all the attention (and is important too!), but moving articles from "marginally acceptable" up to "reasonably decent" is also important. Kudos to the folks who have been running these drives! Herostratus (talk) 08:53, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, Jimbo, perhaps you could just encourage others to help the WP:GOCE Backlog Drive, because the actual copy-editing takes hours, on some days, which you probably cannot spare, in your schedule. -Wikid77 11:56, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

The way Jimmy helped us last time was by volunteering and copyediting a single article. And that was a huge help, because we got it mentioned in the Signpost that Jimmy was joining the drive, and that caused participation to jump significantly. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 08:59, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

FYI

User:LC, whose account had not edited since 2002 has recently asked at BN for the restoration of permissions removed due to inactivity. Our best guess is that they were granted sysop rights by you in March 2002 (hence, this courtesy note). At present, we are holding the request pending verification of their identity (in addition to discussing the implications of the long gap between edits). –xenotalk 14:15, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Fascinating. My primary concern here would be a compromised account. I certainly don't agree with any objection that has to do with policies changing since back then. Many of our current processes are simply pointless and arcane beyond all reason and should be blown up. If there is a thought that you can't be an admin without months of training, then that points to something having gone very wrong with the whole system.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:13, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the response, which I've noted at BN. –xenotalk 16:40, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Will Rogers -type needed

Can you imagine the fertle material one such would find in the ArbCom BLP case now? I find some of the positions to be quite interesting, to be sure. Cheers. Collect (talk) 22:10, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Link to the case?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:34, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Manipulation_of_BLPs/Workshop and Evidence. I trust you will either be amused or not <g>. Many thanks. Collect (talk) 23:43, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
"Fertile material"? You could grow mushrooms in some of that "evidence"! Delicious carbuncle (talk) 14:15, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Grawp is active still.

One of Grawp's accounts: "Zionist and Proud" is blocked as another sock-puppet, as requested by Wikipedian Jasper Deng at RFPP. I would like to ban Grawp from here, but now I can't; which means I have no other choices. StormContent (talk) 13:24, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

The problem is cite-links

I agree that style-tag markup adds much clutter to pages, but the real problem is those rambling, massive citation links, as in the "2011 Norway attacks" so we need to move to simpler cite-links. The following is a typical example, when editors try to put "2 sources" for each fact (imagine what a newcomer thinks seeing this):

==Suspected perpetrator==
Norwegian media groups said the suspected attacker was Anders Behring Breivik. He was arrested on Utøya for the shootings and also linked to the Oslo bombings.<ref>{{cite web| url = http://www.tv2.no/nyheter/innenriks/anders-32-i-oslo-ble-paagrepet-etter-bombe-og-massedrap-3544629.html |title= Anders (32) i Oslo ble pågrepet etter bombe og massedrap | work = Nyhetene |publisher= TV 2 | place = NO | date= | accessdate = 22 July 2011}}</ref><ref name=named-suspect>{{cite news| title= Named: The [[blond]] [[norwegian|Norwegian]], 32, arrested over 'holiday island massacre' and linked to Oslo bomb blasts, which killed 7 people and injured many more | url = http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2017851/Named-The-blond-Norwegian-32-arrested-holiday-island-massacre-linked-Oslo-bomb-blasts.html|accessdate=22 July 2011|newspaper=Daily Mail| location = UK | date=22 July 2011}}</ref><ref name= "VG-perp">{{cite web| language = Norwegian | url=http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php?artid=10080610 |title= Pågrepet 32-åring kalte seg selv nasjonalistisk |publisher= VG | work = Nett | location = NO |date=|accessdate= 22 July 2011}}</ref> He has been charged for both attacks.<ref name="BBC-1" />

That type of jumbled text is what newcomers see, and I think we should discuss simplifying cite-links and remind people the text should be "verifiable" not "footnoted to death". It is not really necessary to put 2 footnotes on every phrase in an article. As you know, the reports in crime events become out-dated so fast, that older sources actually become misinformation, defending wrong facts ("93 deaths" now 77), so it is better to leave most text unsourced (and simple to edit), and let it be updated without so many cite-links to be reviewed and removed. Only challenged or BLP text needs footnotes. At this point, I really think old sources are "locking disproven text" into articles, because some editors think they need to find and cite-link a new source for each of the current common-sense facts. -Wikid77 11:56, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

I tend to use {{Reflist|refs=<ref name="namedref" >dfdfasdfasf</ref>}}, which lets us reduce the code nightmare in the prose to <ref name="namedref" /> - that is a little more understandable to someone fiddling about, and having the reference list at the foot of the article text matches how it is displayed in the article too. --Errant (chat!) 12:18, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree with the problem. The first symptom is a result of having the cite code display inline. Having cites kept separately is a good solution, but the current system causes searching which is annoying and confusing, especially for new editors. For adding cites, put a cite symbol in the edit box. After adding a statement, click that instead of entering the cite. That would open a separate box with a list of all possible parameters (e.g., title, date, author, publisher) which the editor could fill it as applicable, no memorization of format or parameter names required. If a duplicate cite is found, let the software deal with it rather than the editor. The only thing which then appears in the article code view is a software-generated cite tag. The point is to allow adding cites at the same time as adding information, which is how people think, but to separate their later display and maintenance from that information (ErrantX's point). 99.50.188.177 (talk) 14:41, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the format is annoying, but dumping citations is not the answer. Even early news reports about an event give invaluable background, giving the reader a sense of the impact of the event at the time. An early source provides better context as to when and how something became known. For some current events I've actually used a Yahoo News search sorted by date to find the very first article about an event, because it's my feeling that the first source is often the best source. The mountains of stripped-down AP spam that follow it often leave off some of the telling details, and no one goes back and recovers them. Wnt (talk) 17:54, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree with having multiple citations, but if they were separated from the text they wouldn't be distracting and the number wouldn't matter. (imo a local report with local details combined with a BBC or other major, and permanently archived, source is an excellent combination.) 99.50.188.177 (talk) 19:35, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, this is a problem. As noted above, of course the answer can't be to have less information in cites, and so I'm afraid that unless there is something clever we can do with templates (is there?) to make a super-easy format that anyone can understand, this is really an advanced UI design issue. Here's one way to think about it: how would Facebook do it? Anything I want to do on facebook (which unfortunately, doesn't include making a citation) hides code that I don't need to know from me. Similarly, my idea/fantasy of a great Wikipedia UI would be that footnotes appear as they do in reading mode, even in editing mode, unless I click on them, and then I get a choice (while editing) to either edit the reference or visit the link. Something like that. The main thing is that I, a human being, should be spared things that only computers really need to know about.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:43, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

There's something like this at Wikispaces (http://www.wikispaces.com/), but personally I dislike the clunky interface and prefer the clean text editing of Wikipedia. Plus, I'd guess any way that a person could possibly think of to improve a Wiki, however obvious, must be covered by a patent or six. Wnt (talk) 23:30, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I doubt that. I don't think we should spend much time worrying about that, anyway.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:54, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. There are probably already at least 20 "patents" covering a wiki-like system anyway. The larger point being that unless it's something obviously stolen we probably shouldn't worry about patent violation. I'd love to see the above system implemented, but I'd prefer to preserve the cleantext editing wherever possible. ProveIt is a half-decent compromise for the above, but it's only for registered users, and it's opt-in at that. A system such as this, in addition to a more fully-featured wikitext editor, would probably go a long way towards that initial hurdle of learning Wiki syntax. elektrikSHOOS (talk) 00:34, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I could also see a "blog-style" two-tab editor, with a WYSIWYG-style editor in one tab and raw wikicode in another. This would probably be the best (and most usable) compromise between both camps. elektrikSHOOS (talk) 00:36, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
On the web, WYSIWYG editors are almost always the wrong solution, unless you have the budget to really put something solid together. The reason is that although it hides a level of complexity from the writer, it also tends to make it much much easier to make a mess of the Wiki-code. Take Wordpress; any power blogger will moan like hell at how often they have to switch to HTML mode to make lists work, or quotes, or images - or just to get rid of the annoying paragraph marker that WYSIWYG mode simply will not remove!
I think the hybrid mode we have where buttons enter the right formatting, but you're still viewing the "code" is very efficient - and basic Wiki-code (headings, bolding, etc.) is not all that hard to pick up for the vast majority of people.
The best solution, probably, is to write some javascript so that you can click a reference button, fill in some fields - and then the reference appears as a button on the edit window for you to click and insert in the normal way (as a named reference). Then when you click save some JS magic finds the {{Reflist}}, places the references you added, then carries on saving the content. Indeed; it could even load the current references when you click edit to make it even easier to reuse refs. --Errant (chat!) 09:09, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
You mean like this? Powers T 14:54, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Bottom Reflist/refs would reduce clutter:   Of today's current options, then using the Template:Reflist in the form as {{Reflist|refs=..}} seems to be the best solution. Reflist can reduce the clutter of footnotes in the prose (with each footnote as just "<ref name=xx/>"), so the edited text will look similar to the formatted article. The text can still have over 250 footnotes, as in a BLP bio-page. Also, when a newcomer clicks to edit "References" then the details of (most) references would actually be inside that "References" section. An example would be:
Suspect Breivik<ref name=r1/> was arrested<ref name=r2/> in Norway.<ref name=r3/>
==References==
{{Reflist|refs=<ref name="r1">Here is long note 1.
</ref><ref name="r2">Here is long note 2.
</ref><ref name="r3">Here is long note 3.</ref>}}
That example would appear when formatted, in an article page, as follows:
Suspect Breivik[1] was arrested[2] in Norway.[3]
References
  1.   ^ Here is long note 1.
  2.   ^ Here is long note 2.
  3.   ^ Here is long note 3.
Using that style of footnotes is probably the biggest improvement to helping newcomers to edit large articles, and will probably help the earlier editors as well. Finally, we have an example of a template, {{Reflist|refs=}} (other than infobox templates and {{Convert}}), which can reduce the clutter and simplify editing of complex article pages. -Wikid77 05:52, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
This may be redundant to what you have just said, but for the reasons mentioned in the thread, I chose the citation style shown in Chemical weapon to reduce clutter. This cheat sheet might be helpful for someone to consider as well. My76Strat (talk) 06:02, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for that live example, having the same concept of using {{Reflist|refs= }}, but as a simple case where article "Chemical weapon" often has only 1 footnote per paragraph (only 41 footnotes). However, the main issue is to encourage use where there are multiple footnotes per sentence, as in article "2011 Norway attacks" which has been flooded with many (226?) long, inline footnotes cluttering the prose. Thanks again for that live example. -Wikid77 17:01, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
There are two problems with bottom-reflists. First, if somebody removes the text that uses a ref, the ref will remain, with no indication to the editor that anything is wrong. Second, adding refs that way requires two section-edits rather than one. The first issue is probably fixable (with a bot, for example), but currently it's a problem. Looie496 (talk) 16:38, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
FIXED. Any unused "<ref name=xx>" will issue a message warning, now, to the user, stating the named footnote "xx" is not used in the prose of the page. As for 2 sections to edit, a paragraph+References, I remember that some editors often edit an article "13" times to change a few words (only 2 edits would be great). Also, an editor has the option to make one quick edit to the entire page, adding ref-tags to paragraphs & References in just 1 quick edit. -Wikid77 17:01, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't know if it's possible, but I wish we just had a way to colorize the text in the input box within pairs of delimiters like <ref></ref>, {{ }}, and [[ ]], with a characteristic color for each. That way we could read the plaintext in white while recognizing all the links and templates instantly. Wnt (talk) 19:53, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I think something like that is the way forward. Unfortunately, this is one area where I can be a cheerleader but have no ability to take it forward in any practical way. So I'm going to focus my efforts on our community processes, which I think are often absurdly arcane and use templates and bots for no actual practical benefit - and a huge cost in terms of complexity to smart people who are on their 2nd-99th edit.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:32, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
It is already possible. I know wikEd does it; however, I hate wikEd. Ryan Vesey Review me! 21:36, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
For a brief moment I thought you wrote: "I know Wikid77 does it". I was genuinely prepared to inquire as to your motives. To your actual regards, I only suggest not attaching such a strong emotion to an otherwise inanimate thing. And then if you must, loathe it completely. :p My76Strat (talk) 21:48, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Have you used it? Although it is meant to make editing easier, I think it helped create the most confusing 2 edits of my life. Ryan Vesey Review me! 21:50, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I have used it, and I have discontinued its use. But I wiki-love Wikid77, My76Strat (talk) 21:54, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
A method that works well is {{sfn}}, which is a Harvard-style reference template. Please see Ted Bundy for an example of an article that has been completely converted to this style. The goop in the text of the article is minimised, and the bibliography is tucked neatly down below. --Ninja Dianna (Talk) 05:21, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Some ideas to help new (1-100 edits) editors

Admins should be clearly identified. Every Admin should use the default signature, not some 'creative' version which can confuse new editors. An Admin signature should be required to match their User name exactly. There should be a clear 'Admin' field automatically added as a part of each Admin's signature, and this should link to WP:Administrators.

New editors (less than 100 edits) should also be clearly identified with a 'New Editor' field automatically added as a part of the signature. "Don't bite the newbies" works better if everyone knows who the newbies are without having to click on their contributions list. The field should link to something useful for them, as sooner or later they'll be curious and click on it.

Admins can do many things, but they don't have to do all of them. Some Admins are better than others in dealing with new editors. Some are abysmal, for whatever reason, and should be blocked from all contact with them as this is not something they appear to recognize in themselves. They may blame their own stress or lack of time. If that were true, they would apologize to the victim and try to correct the problem. If they don't, that's a clue. They may blame the victim entirely, even when edits show nothing but good intentions. Different people seek to become Admins for different reasons, and are better at different things. Embrace the differences, don't ignore them.

Admins may have to act like policemen at times, but policemen treat criminals differently from those in need of help, and part of their job is to be able to recognize the difference. It might help if Admins thought of themselves as teachers. Or firemen: When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember the professionals use water. The janitor analogy seems to encourage some to model themselves on Argus Filch, which is not helpful.

It takes multiple good experiences to make up for one bad experience, and the ratio changes based on length of time and edits. For a new editor, one bad experience can be one too many. Expecting them to register a complaint through the proper channels is like expecting a new employee to report their boss to Human Resources in their first few weeks. They don't. They either quit or keep quiet for fear of retribution.

Simple and straightforward is good. Being in denial over problems is not good. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 14:27, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment While I don't think that admins and new editors should all use the media wiki signature it could be good for an admin superscript to be added. This also shows an example of something I have thought for a while. Adminship kind of is a big deal. For relations in the community, an admin should not be held on a higher pedestal than a normal contributor, but to a new user admins are the "go-to guys". When I first started editing, and I had a question, I went to the list of admins and asked them. Admins should be held to some sort of high standard since they are the ones who new editors look to for guidance. Admins also need to be able to set an example, of behavior and editing quality. Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:32, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
There are numerous non-admins who work very hard to help newbies, who are open and accessible, and are a damn site better at it than most of us sysops - I think highlighting admins with the aim of encouraging newbies to go to them for help is counter productive. In addition we already have a "who put you in charge" problem with some newbies (not many, but still) and making a deal out of an admins signature will only exacerbate that.
On top of all that I would intensely dislike having to "tag" myself as admin in a conversation where I am doing nothing adminy. It feels superior when really I am just an editor. It potentially acts to stifle opposition (especially from newbies!) etc. --Errant (chat!) 14:41, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I know that non-admins work with newbies, I do a lot myself; however, I am just trying to point out that to a new editor admins are a big deal. Especially in the first 100 edits. Later, editors learn that admins are not such a big deal. Maybe there is a solution in the making. A new editor assistance group could be created of editors who enjoy helping new editors. A link to this could be added to welcome messages and new editors could know to go to these people instead of picking a random admin like I did. Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:48, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I see that there is a New contributors' help page, which is good. I would still like to see a list of contributors willing to be asked questions. Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:54, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Those lists are under WP:HAU, such as the list in WP:Highly_Active_Users/South_America. -Wikid77 19:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Join the noticeboards: Many of those ideas are in progress, but need more members:
The concept is simple: if we keep getting more volunteers to help answer questions on the noticeboards, then more newcomers will get direct feedback (plus quicker, multiple answers). Many newcomer questions wait 2 or 6 days (rather than hours) for answers. It would be great to get responses within 1 hour, and with 40,000 active editors, I think more would help if they knew the need. With a little study, we can predict the minimum size of a membership list which would indicate enough manpower for quick replies. For example, we know "50 copy-editors" is not enough to fix 500 articles in one month (perhaps we need 80 copy-editors to fix 500 pages/month). If less than 80 sign-up, then invite more (etc.). -Wikid77 16:21, revised 19:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I sometimes answer questions at the NC help page, but I don't recall seeing one sit there unanswered for 6 days. Do you have any evidence for such a claim? Several times I've been typing out a reply only to find an edit conflict because it's already been answered. This is doubly true for the help and reference desks Jebus989 18:19, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure which boards are the slowest, but perhaps because there are so many dozens of places to ask questions, then it is difficult for people to watch them all, and hence, some of the questions are slow to be answered. For NC questions, I just answered one from 20 August, to fix Tim McGraw album "Southern_Voice_(album)#Track_listing" for songwriter name as "Joseph Doyle" (was "Josh"), requested almost 5 days ago. That is a major album, not like the user asked to put coordinates on a remote village in Outer Mongolia, so that is why I think "1 hour" to fix a Tim McGraw album, not 4-5 days. -Wikid77 19:47, revised 20:39, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd say some of the longest waits are at requests for feedback. Ryan Vesey Review me! 21:08, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, with regards to your example, that wasn't a question, it was effectively an edit request to a non-protected page. Also it was 4 days, 3 hours old, not "almost 5" and certainly not 6, which was the number you stated initially. Furthermore, no source was supplied, given living people are involved, I trust you verified the name before making the change. It's really unfair of you to seek out this poor example and use it to imply a slow service, NCHP is pretty efficient, as you can see from the timestamps... take the three most recent Q+As as examples: 4 minutes, 8 minutes, 14 minutes Jebus989 22:46, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 15:27, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Climate Change Bias entering Wikipedia

WT:BLP discussion

Jimbo, I would be interested in your thoughts on this discussion on the BLP talk page. Cheers, --JN466 12:34, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

RfA decision

Mr. Wales, I find strength in your words when you express, without equivocation, your impression of a functional quagmire that exists in policy malformation. Will you speak boldly to the "horrible and broken process" that is RfA. Would you institute an alternative process that could produce adminship? Give prospects some reason to believe they can be considered entirely on their merits. Perhaps a panel, grounded in best practice and institutional interest, who can deliver the permission, based on a formatted request, and subsequent review. As far as consensus, it is more prudent that the community scrutinize the administrative actions of an active admin, than to imply that they are best suited to evaluate a candidate. I have observed participants at RfA comment on matters related to the mental competence of a candidate, when it is unlikely they are remotely qualified to make such a declaration. And if they were, it is certainly not advice that Wikipedia endeavors to propagate. It is past time for leadership to usurp this situation, there are many users who beseech that you get involved, and I have a sense that you are of stringent comprise, so as to get it done. Please comment on this thread, and if you like, shock me into euphoria by making a declaration. Respectfully submitted with the highest regard! My76Strat (talk) 23:04, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

You should be a speechwriter. ;P -- œ 23:48, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I favor the institution of a temporary time-limited trial, to be formally ratified after evidence is gathered, of a new parallel system of RfA to be given out to quiet good editors with great track records over a significant period of time, without having to go through the RfA gauntlet. The mere existence of that process deters quite a large number of good candidates, I believe, and I think we could easily select through some other process 5 or so excellent candidates per month. Such candidates could be given the admin bit conditionally, and with a strong requirement up front that they be willing to accept a sensible recall process. There's a certain amount of "institutional religion," I fear, around how we currently do it - and the process does work, in a way, but it misses a lot of good people too.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:57, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
But we're already averaging about 5 admins a month.. isn't the point of a new process to increase the amount of successful admins? -- œ 00:13, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
As a parallel process it is implied that both will function. Jimbo, you could directly appoint one failed candidate a year, kind of like an executive pardon. Heck, I'll be your thanksgiving turkey. Even something as simple as that gives hope to some who do not see reason for hope. And I think the things you have stated above are exactly prudent. I hope the community wouldn't find reason to call foul! And if they do, I hope you find reason to say, we are going to start doing some of these things. My76Strat (talk) 00:23, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, I am less concerned about candidates who fail the current process and more concerned about good candidates who don't bother standing for the current process because it is a nightmare and not worth the effort.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
That is reasonable, I understand and agree. I wish to strike that portion of my comment which went off track. My76Strat (talk) 02:52, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
My fear of the process you have just laid out is that the requirements to become an admin would be the opinions of whoever is on the panel. In addition, I believe that if adminship was granted based on a panel rather than approval of peers, it would become more of a cabal (assuming the panel consisted of all admins). If a panel didn't consist entirely of admins, a conflict of interest is created because the panel could elect one of its own members as an admin. Ryan Vesey Review me! 00:29, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
All of those objections seem easily dealt with. I think one strength of the proposal is that it allows for thoughtful and well-respected people (admins or not) to appoint thoughtful and well-respected people, without the absurd gauntlet of the current process. Elections are good for some things, and very very bad for other things.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
RfA is comprised of a self appointed panel who don't even have to affirm that their higher regard is Wikipedia. At least a comprised panel would be accountable for their conduct, and themselves subject to rotation, and confirmation. I think it is an idea worthy of trial implementation. My76Strat (talk) 00:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I think that's a valid point. Many people simply avoid the RfA process completely. I should add that I don't think RfA comes to the wrong answer all that often. (Like anyone, I might quibble with this or that, of course, but on the whole I think the process basically comes to the right answer. It's just a process that is inherently unpleasant for lots of reasons that are unnecessary and turn off plenty of good people.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Sign me up. I'd love to go through the process you described vs. RfA. I'd even be happy to agree to the recall process condition. As an editor, I usually tend to fade into the background and go relatively unnoticed despite a fair amount of work in admin areas, yet I highly dislike the thought of screwing half the RfA support votes I might get by self-nominating. While I'm not really in a rush to get adminship (honestly I can wait until the community thinks I'm ready, especially with the self-nomination thing I mentioned), it would be nice to have an alternate option that I could go through when the time comes versus the gauntlet of RfA that I will admit heavily deters me from actively seeking adminship into waiting until I'm noticed. Ks0stm If you reply here, please leave me a {{Talkback}} message on my talk page. 00:59, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't know your work well enough to know whether I would support your candidacy, but this statement alone is enough for me to support that some sensible and reasonably small group of people ought to be able to look at your work and surprise you with adminship one morning, without all the rigamarole, if your record warrants it. :-)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Have you seen Wikipedia:Request an RfA nomination? Ryan Vesey Review me! 01:09, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Whoa...no, I hadn't...that's exceptionally helpful though. Thank you for pointing this out to me. =) Ks0stm If you reply here, please leave me a {{Talkback}} message on my talk page. 01:15, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'll repeat my several-times-made proposal: that we have an AdminCom of about 10 members, elected in the same way as ArbCom, and given full power to op and de-op using whatever procedure they find appropriate. Looie496 (talk) 00:51, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'll just state FTR that these ideal solutions aren't going to be solved by the community. We may be able to somewhat improve the existing RfA process, but we simply couldn't rely on the community to adopt a parallel system (like anything regarding RfA changes). This would have to be implemented by yourself, Jimbo, and I hope you realize that. Swarm u | t 01:06, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

As a counter to the usual hand wringing I would like to point out Wikipedia:Requests_for_adminship/Fluffernutter. I'd suggest it supports the idea that RFA is not as broken as some say. Good candidates often sail through. The community knows what it wants and is more than willing to give good candidates the mop. As much as people don't want to admit it, with very very few exceptions failed RFA's are a good thing. They fail because the candidates will not be good admins.--Cube lurker (talk) 01:31, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

For the record, I agree with you on that point. The point is that the process is viewed by many as too difficult and focused too often on the wrong things. That great candidates get through is absolutely true. That really awful candidates don't make it is also absolutely true. That many great people refuse to candidate because the process is onerous is also true, though.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I think a lot of problems are the way members who fail treat the process. If everyone reacted like RobertMfromLI did here, I believe RFA would be considered a great process. Ryan Vesey Review me! 01:43, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Much thanks Ryan, but I must confess a lot of that is due to the editors who involved themselves in my RfA, and their contributions. I've followed a lot of RfAs, and yes, editors who are the subject of them should come into it with the right feelings... but on the other hand, the editors who respond and !vote on them also need to treat the process correctly. Sometimes, I see some turn into attacks and such. In my case, I got a ton of good feedback instead - not a single oppose was negative, not a single oppose was nasty. It's hard not to respond positively. That aside, perhaps some sort of suggested Admin Coaching beforehand may be handy to help judge expectations, abilities and readiness... suggested or otherwise, I know I plan on utilizing such before (if) my next RfA. Best, ROBERTMFROMLI | TK/CN 20:14, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
One last thought before I go off to bed. Take a look at House of Lords Appointments Commission. This is an alternative process in the UK for people joining the upper house of the Parliament. The usual process is political (appointments by the Prime Minister according to various considerations) and this one is intended to be designed to find a different sort of candidate. The analogy is inexact, of course, but the point I want people to consider is that a diversity of thoughtful processes to bring on board different kinds of candidates is likely a healthy thing. RfA has flaws - almost no one denies that. But it also has strengths, which are similarly widely recognized. Rather than replace it, which is quite difficult for a number of very good reasons, I think we should supplement it with a thoughtful alternative which is specifically tasked with seeking out quality people who aren't currently willing to go through the process.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 02:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Why not have a commission to identify, recruit and nominate good candidates, especially those who would increase diversity so that Wikipedia's editorship and adminship would eventually reflect the demographics of our readership more closely? RfA has it's problems, but good candidates will pass. Being an administrator requires one to stand up to withering criticism at times. RfA is like a test of what happens after people get sysop privileges and use them in a contentious situation. Jehochman Talk 02:45, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't agree that good candidates will always pass, and I don't agree that requiring people to stand up to withering criticism in this process is a valid criterion for determining who gets the bit. Indeed, it's precisely the wrong thing to ask good people to have to put up with, and many good people don't and won't. That doesn't mean they will not be good admins. But only a trial run, with evaluations after the fact, will prove it one way or the other.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 03:32, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Very astute! It is great to see you state the very things I have imagined, but been unable to enunciate. My76Strat (talk) 03:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
[Addendum] - Admins are in many ways like policemen. (An imperfect analogy, but it still has merits.) They don't make rules, but they do enforce them. They aren't allowed to do so capriciously as judge, jury, and executioner. They are subject to oversight by the community. And policemen are not elected by the community, but instead chosen and trained through a non-election process. And there are lots of good reasons for that. What I'm trying to do tonight is get people to think about this problem in new ways. I believe our current process is good in some ways, and bad in other ways. One of the ways that it is bad is that it too often filters out people who would be great admins. It is not hard to work with other models - by analogy perhaps to other social institutions - to demonstrate that good people, working under appropriate checks and balances, can be chosen by processes that are not about having a tiny subset of self-selected people show up to vote about it. There are more thoughtful ways that will work well.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 03:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I think I like the idea of an alternate, second path to adminship. If something like this were created, I think admins promoted by the non-traditional means must be open to recall and/or a mandatory reconfirmation RFA after 6 months. If an admin is using the tools correctly, they should have no problems passing. Any thoughts? Ryan Vesey Review me! 03:43, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I think a mandatory recall process is best - the point is to deprioritize RfA, so making them go through a normal RfA seems counterproductive. If they aren't doing anything bad, then why bother with that, as it will have been shown to be irrelevant. But yes, I think that particularly as this is intended to be experimental and transformative, it carries risks, and making sure that we can roll it back for particular wrong choices made, and making sure that it is easy enough to modify the whole thing radically if it isn't working on the first try, are both incredibly important.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 03:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I think the RFA is broken meme is over rated. Most of the issues revolve around nominations that should have never been taken in the first place, cases where it could have been easily seen that the nomination would fail. It's like clockwork, an RFA fails and a RFA is broken section gets created by one or more of the supporters. There's some work to be done filtering out some not ready for prime time nominations certainly but otherwise I don't see any clear evidence that RFA is failing many capable editors. And some sort of star chamber awarding the bit won't fly unless it was mandated from Jimbo, a process which doesn't seem to have worked out in the past. RxS (talk) 03:58, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
There are a couple of proposals being worked on which would modify sections of RFA to help avoid the candidates who really shouldn't be running. If something is implemented which would create an entirely new way to become an admin, I think it should wait until some of these proposals have been tested. Ryan Vesey Review me! 04:26, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I still think Wikipedia:Request an RfA nomination is just the thing RfA needs, for users to get over that 'fear'. It just needs more exposure, the process is still new, but I'm willing to bet that if all the able people who wanted to be admins but were afraid to self-nom knew about this process it'd be flooded with requests. -- œ 04:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Couldn't agree more (with RxS), let's not forget comments by the most recent RfA candidate (which did not pass), who described it as a "winning experience" and said "I don't think I've seen any RfA with so many opposes that have been so kind and so thoughtful!" Thus proving if a candidate enters the process with the right frame of mind, the process itself is then not so broken Jebus989 06:42, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
It would be great if we had more people who are open and receptive to those types of criticism brought up at an RFA. However, the reality is that does not happen – in fact, it's the opposite. How many unsuccessful RFA candidates we have seen completely fall to pieces after a failed nomination? I personally have seen plenty. –MuZemike 22:31, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

section break

Who are some of the good editors wo cannot become administrators? Are any of them willing to go on the record so we can attempt to debug the system? If you thnk RfA is a mess, just try recall! Simply saying the words reasonable and thoughtful does not make it so. The community is composed of people who care deeply about Wikipedia. You, Jimmy, cannot force a sudden change in social dynamics. I think a good path forward is to encourage more good candidates to become administrators, but first, let us try to gather specific facts, rather than arguing generalities. Let me suggest a few starting points. several years ago I tried to recruit User:Athaenara, unsuccessfully at first. She eventually stood for Adminship and has been doing an excellent job. You might also talk to User:Sarah who used to be active recruiting administrators. Jehochman Talk 05:07, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

We do have suggestions for improvement to RfA in the melting pot at the moment, but I also like the idea of some kind of parallel process. I totally agree that there are editors out here who would make excellent admins, but who just won't put themselves through the process as it currently stands. (For the record, I don't have any vested interest, as I just don't ever want to be an admin! It's not stuff that appeals to me.) Pesky (talkstalk!) 05:13, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Requests for comment/La goutte de pluie for a current case of admin recall working properly. As for good candidates unwiling to serve, I would like more data about why these people don't serve. We should not be designing solutions without first understanding the problem. Random testing is really slow and expensive. Jehochman Talk 05:21, 24 August 2011 (UTC)


A simple reading of many of the RfA's demonstrates the real and substantial problem. Many who would be great admins do not run the gantlet for good reason - the key to becoming an admin is to "polish up the apple by the big front door" and never actually take positions on anything controversial at all. And some admins do, indeed, make arbitrary and capricious decisions, meaning the current system does not help in that area all that much. As you are now under the influence of the UK <g>, why not have the WMF establish an "honours commission" to vet special admins? If I recall correctly, such is legally in their purview. I suspect such admins would be quite capable. Cheers. Collect (talk) 07:09, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I see that my RFA was referenced a bit above as evidence that RFA isn't broken. I have no particular position on RFA reform, but just as a point of information related to this discussion and my RFA, I had been contemplating an RFA for nearly a year before I got up the courage to do it. For a long time, I simply felt that my level of need for the tools was not enough to tip the scales in favor of going through the unpleasantness of an RFA. When I finally did open my RFA, I was almost positive that I would be savaged for various small errors I'd made or unpopular opinions I'd expressed over the past three years. I got lucky and wasn't opposed for those things, but even for someone who (eventually) "sailed through" as I did, RFA is a seriously intimidating experience which often, on balance, doesn't seem worth the pain. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 13:37, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I wholly endorse the sentiments of this statement as another recent administrator (early July). WormTT · (talk) 13:43, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
As the one who (i believe) first mentioned your RFA I disagree strongly with one key point. You say you "got lucky". 100% false. It's not luck that makes one person pass overwhelmingly and another snow close. You were afraid because of the propogated myth that good candidates get savaged. Good candidates do fine. Maybe what keeps good candidates out are those who promote this idea that RFA is hell, when it's only bad for those who shouldn't be there in the first place.--Cube lurker (talk) 13:51, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure I wholly agree with that. Yes, Fluffernutter is a great candidate, who should (and indeed did) pass overwhelmingly, but many candidates are not so lucky. Editors vote based on comments by other editors, and in my opinion, most RfAs snowball either way based on the first flurry (48h?) of voting. The fact is that no candidates should get "savaged". WormTT · (talk) 13:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
But many deserve to snow close if they show up on the RFA page. When one editor gives a solid reason why it's a bad idea to give them the tools it would be a horrible thing for everyone else to say "let's give them the tools anyway". For the record I also disagree with the charactarization of explaining good reasons for opposing as savaging.--Cube lurker (talk) 14:06, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree - people do start RfAs who are clearly not ready for adminship and that's the area I've focussed on in RfA reform. There should be a way of stopping candidates from having a harrowing ordeal. Oh, and savaged was your word, butOn "savaged" I can tell you that any opposes at an RfA do have an effect - and whilst you can view them as a positive experience, it's like all feedback and can be unpleasant. WormTT · (talk) 15:08, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
(To Clarify) Savaged was Fluffernutters word, and I refered to the savaging as a myth.--Cube lurker (talk) 15:13, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) "RfA is broken" is more a moniker for change than an actual condemnation of RfA. RfA reform is a great idea and I support positive steps to improve it. But this thread is about an alternative that would work in conjunction with RfA, not in lieu of. I think it's a great idea and frankly can't see reason to object such a trial. It's similar to a defendants right to waive a jury trial. Some would rather let the judge decide, but this does not hinder another persons right to choose a jury. It just says that there could be a class of editor who would prefer requesting the permission by a different means. IMO My76Strat (talk) 14:14, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Just FYI I haven't outright opposed anything here. Devil is in the details though. I do find many of the comments about the current process do not match what actually occurs.--Cube lurker (talk) 14:22, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree, when I started editing, I thought RFA was broken because everybody told me it was broken. In reality, I think RFA is fine, not great, but fine. I am hoping that some of the RFA reform work can help to create a better RFA, but I do not believe that it is "broken". Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:25, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
RFA was a highly positive experience for me, with a little useful feedback in the couple of opposes. I too did um and ah over submitting my RFA (especially as a self-nom), but I think in some respects that is an important part of feeling ready. Perhaps RFA is too scary (in fact, it probably is) but I think removing all the fear is not good. Similarly we have double standards which annoy me - admins regularly get away with behaviour that would have insta-failed any RFA (or acted as a major roadblock). I see nothing wrong with picking apart contributions and making criticism of candidates; except we do it too harshly, and we don't continue to do it after RFA. --Errant (chat!) 14:37, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I too think it could do with improvement (hence my work in reform) but doesn't need to be thrown out. As for an alternative, I think that's a great idea - though what form it should take, I do not know. I'd rather it was discussed further, I can see big problems with the "committee" idea - though most have been raised earlier and can be resolved. WormTT · (talk) 14:39, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd like to echo Jehochman's question, who are these editors that cannot become admins because RFA is broken? If we don't have some examples, there's not much to support the claim that RFA is broken. I think what's happened is those 3 words have been repeated so often people start just assuming it's true. Good candidates sail through for the most part. Bad candidates do not. We probably need a better way to treat bad candidates...so maybe a better slogan is RFA needs tuning. Not as flashy, but truer.
But for now, we need to see some examples of editors that cannot become admins because of problems with the process. Over and over I hear that good editors are not running out of fear of the process, but I never hear names. RxS (talk) 18:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps a simple change would help. Instead of voting "support" or "oppose" we could change the discussion to "now" or "later". It would be kinder to tell candidates they are not ready yet. Anybody who wants to be an administrator should have the opportunity once they are ready. If somebody runs, we can explain what more we'd like them to do to get ready. It would also help to stop bringing up old mistakes. Jehochman Talk 18:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Jehochman, that's got to be my favourite simple change that I've seen regarding RfA. Absolutely inspired. WormTT · (talk) 19:23, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I actually like that. It might just be a surface change, but it could be a meaningful one. Later !voters would then be more likely to focus on what the candidate could do to improve their editing rather than on what is wrong with the candidate. Ryan Vesey Review me! 19:46, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Personally I don't like being put in the position where i'm forced to lie.--Cube lurker (talk) 19:48, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
How are you forced to lie? Instead of saying what is wrong with the editor, say what they should do to become ready. Later, needs to avoid edit warring. Later, needs to get better at maintaining NPOV. This is much more constructive than, opose, edit warrior, or oppose, POV pusher. Jehochman Talk 21:29, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps "Now", "Not now", and "Neutral" would be a better fit. I don't intend to speak for Cube lurker, but perhaps a participant does not believe that "Later" will make a difference, hence the untruthful sentiment. Such a participant could however, align within "Not now" and still personally hold it to internally mean "Never". By the way, I too believe this is a valid improvement to the existing RfA, and would hope to see some form of it soon incorporated. My76Strat (talk) 22:15, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
My76Strat has the gist of my thoughts. Most of the opposes I've made I could say maybe later. However there are some candidates I could not say I might vote for them at a later date and be telling the truth. Most people need more experience, however some people have demonstrated that they're fundamentally unsuited for a position of trust.--Cube lurker (talk) 23:13, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
That's a really decent idea. With a little tuning it might really help. RxS (talk) 01:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Just wanted to point out that it is possible to take strong positions and still become an admin. I've certainly never been shy. That said, WP:Requests for adminship/Kww 3 was an example of nearly everything that can go wrong with an RFA going on at once, and undertaking WP:Requests for adminship/Kww 4 was not a decision I undertook lightly, and the timing was driven by taking advantage of a moment when the editors that had tanked my earlier RFA were both blocked at the same time.—Kww(talk) 23:02, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Interim summary

To my observation, the direct statements made by Mr. Wales, coupled with reasonable statements in response, show positive reasons to create this alternate process. Mr. Wales, what would be the most prudent next step? Is this a thing you would rather implement by executive authority, or would you prefer the community to hash out a process under a set of objectives? Answering these questions will prove immeasurably valuable, as we all anticipate our own allocatable time. My76Strat (talk) 01:39, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

In anticipation of an answer, I'd like to offer that I think it would be great if you jump-started the alternate process by executive means. This because I believe you could expeditiously deliver such a process, and who could argue that Wikipedia's best interest were not at core. Your input is integral to this discussion. It is necessary. My76Strat (talk) 22:45, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Since the drought began in early 2008 the longterm trend has been for a drop of about a third in the number of successful RFAs each year. Last year we had 75, this year we'll do well to get much more than fifty. I had thought that we had a fair bit of headroom before this started to cause problems, but we've already seen a transition from the most active hugglers being admins to the reverse. There are plenty of editors out there who could easily pass if they could be persuaded to run, as it is still possible for very good candidates to get through, though I suspect that the few who are willing to try often wait till they are so overqualified that it becomes an inauguration. My experience as a nominator, including nominating four of the last fifty successes is that persuading good candidates to stand is as much of a problem as the over inflated standards, and that it is the sometimes poisonous atmosphere at RFA that deters many good candidates. I think we could improve things by insisting on opposers furnishing diffs, as in my experience the least useful but nastiest opposes focus on the candidate rather than on a diff of an edit by the candidate. A real step change in the process would require us to do what we have done for Rollback and Autoreviewer - agree a criteria that prospective admins should be judged against. Once you have that then it is easier for potential candidates to decide whether they are ready yet, and arguments such as whether admins need to have DYKs, FAs, AIV experience or a particular tenure and edit count can be had on the talkpage of the RFA criteria page rather than in individual RFAs. That criteria could be used either by a panel of crats or by an existing RFA process, If we were to empower panels of crats to appoint admins in a parallel process then I think it would be important that the community had input into the criteria that the crat panel was judging against. An alternative option which I think would keep us going for quite some time would be to create a specific mop for vandalfighters that let them do the uncontentious stuff - blocking IPs and vandalism only accounts such as are reported to AIV. But which didn't let them delete pages or block editors who had more than 100 edits. This would allow us to give our most active hugglers the tools they need but avoid all the concerns about editors who don't write content being able to block those that do or delete their work. ϢereSpielChequers 10:59, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

As usual, your thoughtful comments are full of good insight. My76Strat (talk) 23:00, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
There was a useful start at developing criteria to judge candidates against at User:Mkativerata/Administrator capability statement. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:34, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

RfA reform 2011

RfA reform 2011 current progress

Changes to RfA

(Since 11 July)

  • A warning now shows when you try to create a new RfA, as well as on transclusion, with suggested reading material and pointing out that users should not undertake an RfA lightly. See the edit notice and WP:Requests for adminship/New message for examples.
  • To encourage those editors who would make good admins but who are unwilling to put themselves forward, a new process has been created WP:Request an RfA nomination. The editors there are willing to review candidates, and either write an RfA nomination for them, or explain to why they believe the candidate is currently unsuitable.
  • Kudpung's very helpful essay, WP:Advice for RfA candidates, has been moved to Wikipedia space.

Proposals put forward to the community

None as yet

Firm proposals

  • Clerks - a proposal for a new role to oversee the RfA process, similar to Arbcom clerks.
  • Minimum requirement - a (perennial) proposal to put in a minimum requirement to apply for adminship.

Other proposals

(See What this project is not about)

Still at the drawing board, these proposals need more work before they are presented to the community:

I should also point out that the WP:RfA reform 2011 task force are making some progress. Not only have we enacted some bold changes such as WP:Request an RfA nomination, we also have two proposals that are nearly ready to bring forward to the community. One is a new idea, whilst the other is a perennial suggestion which is backed up with a lot of statistical research. Jimbo, you yourself said that for too long, we have made emotive decisions - which are not necessarily based on fact but rather opinion. Well, members of the task force have been analysing years of successful and unsuccessful candidates, many essays written on RfA criteria and even what other wikipedias do. WormTT · (talk) 08:49, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I would just add that this entire thread, which contains extremely valuable comment and opinion, would have been better taking place on the appropriate section of WP:RFA2011, where it would haven enjoyed greater exposure, and where the task force could act on the suggestions. I am nevertheless extremely grateful for Jimbo's input here, and feel that we now have excellent material for further development in the project section at WP:RFA/RADICAL.
Any reforms that will improve the environment of the current process, or that can be implemented as a trial of an alternative process are more than welcome on the relevant project pages, and perhaps the WMF could fast-track Jimbo's suggestions for a trial without the need for traditional perennial discussions that always break down even before a consensus can be reached. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:27, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Enjoy greater exposure how? The main page of RFA2011 has 86 watchers, this page has nearly 2.5k Jebus989 09:33, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
And WT:RfA has just as many. What has ever been accomplished there? RFA2011, with its 86 watchers, has so far proven to be more dedicated, productive and accomplished than any other forum to improve RfA. Any discussion that takes place on Jimbo's talk page, no matter how complex, is going to yield no better results now than it ever has in the past. At least RFA2011 is doing something, rather than eternally discussing it. I would certainly argue that constitutes "greater exposure". Swarm u | t 19:26, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Well that's not really the definition of exposure, and I must be following a different RfA reform project! Jebus989 20:00, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I can hardly imagine a stronger dose of RfA reform, than to go from being the only path to adminship, to a path. And I believe RfA will then begin to reform, wanting to remain viable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by My76Strat (talkcontribs)
Note the use of the term "greater," which does not, as you imply, necessarily mean "numerically more." Furthermore, if you know of an RfA reform project that has accomplished more than the current one, please let us know. Swarm u | t 02:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, didn't RfA review at least trial a new RfA format? I can't remember whose... Jebus989 07:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC) edit: here you go. Though it's credited as coming from WT:RfA (the place that accomplishes nothing)
Given that it didn't catch on... I'd say WP:Request an RfA nomination and the stats that have been produced are more of an accomplishment. But this shouldn't be a case of one-upmanship, my point in this section is that RfA reform is making progress - and my feeling is that the community is ready for change. WormTT · (talk) 07:40, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

To answer Jehochman

This chart clearly shows that either good editors are not running for adminship, or the immense majority of us editors are not good editors - something I doubt very strongly. There has been a sharp drop in participation, even as failure/success rates remain more or less stable ~65% failure, unlike the ~25% failure rate of the first few years. The stabilization of failure rates at such a high percentage coupled with a decrease in participation, usually signifies (in political science) that a hivemind dominates the process - there is no set criteria, but the criteria that most people who vote on the RfA seems to be a shared one, and one that alienates the majority of editors, so they do not participate. The numbers are clear.

And you ask for an example of an editor who should be admin but who isn't an admin for the wrong reasons, I give you User:Soman. When I recently queried hims as to why he was not an admin, he told me he had been nominated but failed. I checked, that had been 4.5 years ago! The process was so discouraging, that 4.5 years have passed and he still is not interested: Wikipedia:Requests_for_adminship/Soman

Not even one hundred people participated all taken together. Makes you wish for an accountable but undemocratic electoral college, rather than a .001% sample deciding democratically.

Today, years later, I could think of dozens of admins that have the The Mop more as an merit badge and deserve it less than Soman because they never deploy it. Could you imagine how incredibly productive would someone like Soman, who has created over 3500 articles would be as an admin (and at his RfA, he had done over 2000 articles). Hypotheticals on the finer point of policy (things that can be learned on the job!) did him in. Our loss.

We are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

That he is not an admin is a sad testament of how broken the system is.

(taken from Wikipedia:WikiProject_Military_history/News/July_2011/Op-ed)

Successful requests for adminship on the English Wikipedia
Month\Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Totals
January 2 13 14 44 23 36 6 6 3
February 2 14 9 28 35 27 9 7 9
March 8 31 16 34 31 22 13 2 9
April 6 20 25 36 30 12 14 8 3
May 10 23 17 30 54 16 12 8 6
June [1] 24 13 28 28 35 18 12 6 4
July 3 11 17 31 26 31 16 10 7 4
August 4 9 12 39 26 18 12 11 13
September 0 17 29 32 22 34 6 8 6
October 0 10 16 67 27 27 16 7 7
November 3 9 27 41 33 56 11 13 4
December 1 15 25 68 19 34 9 6 1
Total promoted
44
123
240
387
353
408
201
121
75
38
2000
Total unsuccessful
n/a[2]
n/a
63
213
543
512
392
234
155
55
2167 [3]
Total RfAs including by email
44
123
303
600
896
920
593
355
230
93
4157[4]


Personally, I would trust the tools to any editor that meets a predetermined criteria (perhaps even including a pass/fail theoretical and technical competence test using third-party testing tools) and requests the tools, like we do with rights like filemover or rollbacker, and then create a process for removal of these tools only if they are misused or abused. I would then support an consensus process for supervisory admins that are responsible for monitoring and helping 'crats desysop as needed, and then use RfA only for immediate appeals of desysop or for re-sysop after some time to correct the problem has passed. There is nothing even a malicious admin can do that cannot be undone easily - I run MediaWiki professionally, I know this. Desperate times call for desperate measures.--Cerejota (talk) 13:51, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

These are not desperate times; Wikipedia is doing fine with less admins being promoted, thanks to the evolution of automated tools. There are backlogs in some areas, but blowing up RFA isn't the answer to that. And every system I've seen that relies on "predetermined criteria" leaves aside temperament, which is obviously a big factor for many RFA voters. Bottom line: if the community perceived a need for more, less-qualified admins, the community would promote them. Townlake (talk) 14:02, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
That chart mirrors the amount of new editors joining Wikipedia. We see stats like that a lot in this context, but no one connects the dots between the decrease in successful RFAs and the process being broken. We're in a period of declining participation, we should expect admins levels to mirror that. And anyone who says that admins can't damage Wikipedia hasn't been around AN/I enough. There's been a long line of disruptive admins that have chased new and experienced editors away and wasted a gigantic amount of time.
Have you nominated Soman or asked if he would like to be nominated? If editors won't ask for the tools, pushing them on them isn't a solution. I still don't see any evidence of a large pool of editors that would like to be admins but don't ask because of the process. RxS (talk) 14:50, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
You are seriously suggesting there has been a 93% drop on new auto-confirmed editors? Because that's the percentage of the drop from the peak of new admins to what we have today. Just look at any backlog here, any backlog. The other day it took me 30 minutes to find an admin to do a history merge to fix another user's copy-and-paste move on a high profile article linked to the main page! The only thing there is no backlog on is user blocks, which tells you where the priorities of most extant admins lie. I am very saddened by the unwillingness to recognize these issues, because they might kill the project as a going concern, kinda like some of the wikia wikis, all readers, no editors.--Cerejota (talk) 16:11, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course not, but the pattern is the same. There's an unmistakable trend there. I looked at CAT:ADMINBACKLOG and I don't see any raging fires that would provide a compelling reason to change the way RFA works. I'm not unwilling to recognize these issues but no one is doing a very good job pointing what they are exactly. RxS (talk) 20:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
30 minutes? I've been waiting 20 days for a reviewer at GAN, several other noms have been there much longer. There's plenty more active admins than there are good GAN/FAC reviewers! Jebus989 21:04, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
That is actually an excellent point. I wrote here a while ago that we need to create incentives for that. Right now having The Mop is seen as more awe-inspiring socially and than being a GAN/FAC reviewer and that is entirely the inverse of what it should be. That is another topic, however. I just wanted to say that I agree.--Cerejota (talk) 21:59, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I would, but I see no continuation/reply there, only an entirely different discussion.--Cerejota (talk) 16:11, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Moving on

Users who are in favour of changes to the way we select our admins, and who have something positive to offer, are invited to continue this discussion in the appropriate pages of the venue that has been created for the very purpose of discussing concrete suggestions for change - otherwise this thread risks becoming the kind of banter at WT:RfA where nothing much ever gets done by the 2,500+ posters except to archive the perennial threads. Many charts, tables, and extrapolations of data have already been provided by the task force, and will obviate the need to assume, surmise, and jump to conclusions. Here are already four excellent reasons for reform that do not need to be constantly repeated:

  1. I am less concerned about candidates who fail the current process and more concerned about good candidates who don't bother standing for the current process because it is a nightmare and not worth the effort.--Jimbo Wales
  2. Many people simply avoid the RfA process completely. I should add that I don't think RfA comes to the wrong answer all that often. (Like anyone, I might quibble with this or that, of course, but on the whole I think the process basically comes to the right answer. It's just a process that is inherently unpleasant for lots of reasons that are unnecessary and turn off plenty of good people.--Jimbo Wales
  3. That great candidates get through is absolutely true. That really awful candidates don't make it is also absolutely true. That many great people refuse to candidate because the process is onerous is also true, though.--Jimbo Wales
  4. I don't agree that good candidates will always pass, and I don't agree that requiring people to stand up to withering criticism in this process is a valid criterion for determining who gets the bit. Indeed, it's precisely the wrong thing to ask good people to have to put up with, and many good people don't and won't. That doesn't mean they will not be ghood admins. But only a trial run, with evaluations after the fact, will prove it one way or the other.--Jimbo Wales

The workshop with a task force of around 40 participants is here. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 00:22, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

More on respelled pronunciations

I just read article "Meme" for origin of the word, and I was stunned at the intricate IPA-symbolized pronunciation: /ˈmm/ - I have studied IPA rules, but the look is so counter-intuitive in many cases (how could a one-syllable utterance "meem" look so complex in IPA?). I am thinking to add the respelled pronunciation "meem" plus indicate a rhyme with "~", so the result could be:

  • The word "meme" (/ˈmm/[1], "meem", ~scheme) ....

In that format, the meaning of "~scheme" is "rhymes with 'scheme'" as another way to help pronounce the word. To introduce a respelled pronunciation, the abbreviation "pr." could be inserted as short link to article "Pronunciation". For example,

  • The term "siphon" (pr. "Sy-fun", ~hyphen) refers to ....

I know you have discussed this before, so this is just a reminder of some issues to consider, in this case, making Wikipedia easier for new readers of English (who haven't taken a college course in IPA-ology). -Wikid77 13:34, 24 August, revised to link "respelled pronunciation" 09:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Merriam Webster's pronunciation is \ˈmēm\. Ryan Vesey Review me! 13:42, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Wikid77, I like your suggestion. As is well known, I'm unhappy with IPA. I don't mind it being there, in case any linguists come by, I suppose, but it utterly fails at our primary task, which is to educate the general public. We should do better.
Now, the rhyming idea is interesting, although I'm not sure most people will understand '~', so why not just spell out "rhymes with"? Excess coding is always bad.
And there will be many cases where "rhymes with" won't work well (if the only rhyming words are equally obscure or hard to pronounce, or where American/British/Indian rhymes differ. In American English, tomato rhymes with potato. I'm not sure that's true in British English.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:51, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, “rhymes with” only ought to be used when the rhyme works in all major English accents; writing “Barack (rhymes with rock in North America, with park in England, Wales and Australia, and with rack in Scotland)” would be unwieldy. A. di M.plédréachtaí 21:52, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
It certainly isn't. "Toe-May-Toe Toe-Mar-Toe" is one of the best known differences in pronunciation here and often used as a example of the differences (and a good counter to pedants). Timrollpickering (talk) 21:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
But I think I have heard "potahto" as well once or twice, though I think that's old-fashioned. (Also, that might have been a non-Briton trying to use a British accent and hypercorrecting it.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 21:59, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
(You may have heard "potahto" from this.) elektrikSHOOS (talk) 22:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
There has been an ongoing war at meme regarding its pronunciation. Richard Dawkins invented the word and specifically wrote "It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'", but those who first hear "meme" in shock forums pronounce it as "me me", and they periodically insert their favored version. Also, many people like to change "rhyming with cream" to some variation: steam, scream, stream, beam, dream, and more (and some editors have felt that "cream" should be avoided because it carries a sexual innuendo—alas, where did the Internet go wrong?). All that is why I inserted the long footnote with a quote from The Selfish Gene where Dawkins describes the origin and pronunciation of the word that he created. Last February, this edit removed "rhyming with cream" from the lead with edit summary "IPA is sufficient for an encyclopedia". I talked myself into liking that edit because it stopped a lot of the nonsense changes the article had attracted, but I don't like the recent edit which inserted "meem" as the simple pronunciation—that would be fine in many articles, but in this specific case where a person wrote a book which introduced the word and its pronunciation, it seems inappropriate to use anything but the author's term. Johnuniq (talk) 22:49, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I vote against adding rhymes. Lots of people don't understand IPA, but that's why we also have respelling. Adding rhymes as well would just be unnecessary clutter in what can already be quite a pressurised space. In any case, rhymes are usually only available for single-syllable words, and even then they don't tell you how to pronounce the first sound. Respelling works reasonably well, and is reasonably intuitive, in a great majority of cases (and if people want more acurately nuanced pronunciations, say for non-English words, then let them learn IPA). 86.181.200.231 (talk) 00:51, 25 August 2011 (UTC) PS: Also, of course, IPA has mouseover help. I forgot that one. I don't know how long it's been implemented, but I only noticed it the other day. It's kind of cool....
Well, as noted, the rhymes help with the "nuanced pronunciations" as with "zinger" rhymes with "finger" but not with "ginger" (pr. "jihn-juhr"). -Wikid77 09:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
That's not what I would call a "nuanced pronunciation". That's a clear and obvious pronunciation difference. To me, "nuanced pronunciation" is more about accurately representing words from foreign languages (rather than just as the approximate nearest English sound), or distinguishing between different English accents -- things that respelling is not designed to cater for. 109.151.39.110 (talk) 11:08, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Lest anyone forget that despite our mission to educate, we are an encyclopaedia. One expects to find ways of pronouncing a word in a dictionary, which we are not. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 01:44, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Large numbers of Wikipedia article titles are proper names, most of which don't appear in dictionaries at all. 86.181.200.231 (talk) 02:01, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Just as a point of reference, I checked a World Book encyclopedia in my house. It included pronunciations, so I am going to have to disagree with you that one doesn't expect to find a pronunciation in an encyclopedia. On the same note, I like the way that the pronunciations were done. Galleon was given the pronunciation "Gal ee un". Something similar could be done by Wikipedia; however, I believe it would cause a lot of edit wars over pronunciation. Ryan Vesey Review me! 02:12, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
As an example, for actor Brendan Fraser, his last name is "Fray-zer" not "Fray-zhur" and Mila Kunis is "Me-la Koo-niss". -Wikid77 09:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

"Meme" is nothing, today I had occasion to look up Arrondissement. (Probably best not to ask why I had occasion.) Check out the IPA on that one. Completely unhelpful. Admittedly it is not an English word, but we do have article on it, so it would be nice if we gave people some meaningful assistance in pronouncing it. Neutron (talk) 02:49, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps as "ar-Rahn-dis-Smahn". -Wikid77 09:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
And let's not forget the colloquialisms and regional pronunciations - for a start it is sy-fun in certain areas of England, but the more correct version would be -fon. There is no best way to do this, though IPA is the adopted method it is not infallible. Even having people record "correct" pronunciations does not work, as we found out with the Kiev article. It is true that IPA is beyond the ken of most people.
What is needed is something that reads out IPA and so removes the need for the reader to get a degree in linguistics with a major in phonetics. Chaosdruid (talk) 03:45, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Holy crap, if I only saw the IPA on Arrondissement, and not the word, I would have pronounced it aye-ake-dis-ma. Again, I think we should follow Merriam Webster's pronunciation which is "ə-ˈrän-də-smənt". Ryan Vesey Review me! 03:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I have long been frustrated by WP's use of that IPA stuff. We need to agree on one system (there are many) to add to the current one and give the most common pronunciation and, when appropriate, one, or at the most two, variants. Both British and American pronunciations should be given--American first since "A" comes before "B" and because WP was founded by Americans in the US, except for articles dealing with specifically British topics. The IPA system is, of course, the best and most international, so we shouldn't do away with it. Yopienso (talk) 04:01, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... a little overly-nationalistic there, perhaps United Kingdom before United States? (and probably as the UK may well have been using the words first, long before the US) As you can see, there are always going to be two sides to every user-induced argument :¬) Best to leave that sort of thing out of it ... for example I am sure there would be many arguments that Aluminium is indeed the correct way to spell it, including Google searches and scholarly references and an endless six week argument causing several people to go on wikibreaks or retire... As I said, best to leave that sort of thing well alone until the non-problematic major points are sorted out ¦¬D Chaosdruid (talk) 05:03, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • As long as the pronunciations are linked to symbol keys, then a mix would be fine. The intent is to add a very simple alternative to IPA. Many webpages or books use the respelled pronunciations, with just the plain letters, so that form is easy to verify and add into articles. Also, there could be added "American" or "local" pronunciations, such as:
When a pronunciation has several variations, then the whole explanation can be placed into a footnote, listing each spoken form. -Wikid77 10:45, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't see a need for this "pr" link. The "Respell" template already has a link. Take a look at Saint Helena, to pick an example at random. IPA and human-readable, both with links, and the IPA with mouseover help. For me, this is sufficient. 109.151.39.110 (talk) 19:38, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

The claim that the IPA ˈmiːm for meme is obscure or overly complicated is just absurd. The apostrophe for stressed syllables is also used in many respelling systems. m and i have their usual meanings, and the fact that ː lengthens a vowel is learned very quickly with just a little exposure to IPA.

The real problem is that English is the only major language which has the following phenomenon: Major publishers of reference works are reluctant to switch to IPA, claiming that it's too complicated for their customers. As a result, the introduction of IPA in English reference works is about 10-20 years behind, i.e. only some use it but a lot don't. I wonder what makes German 5th form pupils learning English from school books that use IPA consistently so much more intelligent than the average English-speaking dictionary user... Hans Adler 12:41, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

  • IPA is also difficult to write: When using IPA, then extra time must be allotted for writing the special characters (perhaps copied from an IPA character page). It is also important, as noted above, to consider how some students can have an advantage, how any group of "German 5th form" pupils, with a professional teacher, are likely to be much more intelligent (as a group) than the "average English-speaking dictionary user" facing the cruel world alone. Many lone readers will have only limited knowlege of the 163 symbols in IPA, not counting the symbols for lisping or clicks. So, people who do not know IPA should be careful not to create jibberish pronunciations, and should, instead, put simple pronunciations, such as formatted in italics by Template:Respell. For example, to indicate Elmer Fudd's remark about a foolish rabbit, an editor could write, "Siwwy wabbit" (without knowing the 170 IPA symbols needed for an equivalent pronunciation). Leave the IPA-editing to users who are fluent in the vast, complex IPA character set, but get the simple pronunciations into articles where some readers have been waiting for years. -Wikid77 11:04, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Aren't you using the edit window drop down that has IPA on it? (Insert/Wiki markup/.../IPA (English/IPA...)
Also, one can always ask for IPA help - there are quite a few out there who, after debating the semantics of various slightly different gutteral i's for a day or two, usually come up with t pretty good rendering.
THe problem is not writing it though, it is finding a way for the general reader to understand it. Chaosdruid (talk) 22:13, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

How much unsourced material should be left in articles?

Hello Jimbo,

There's a discussion over at talk:Verifiability which could really use your input. Here's how I see the issues:

Wikipedia is full of obscure articles with unsourced content, much of which has been marked as unsourced for years. No one is ever likely to source it.

Some of the information is OR. Some is out-dated. Some is correct and some is incorrect.

Regular editors don't have time to sort through thousands or tens of thousands of these articles, and source them or try and figure out which parts are right- or even read through them, for example abandoned articles on individual high schools.

The choice is therefore whether, long term, we leave this information in or take it out. It's a choice between greater reliability versus honoring content which might be correct and might be of use (but which gets more and more out-dated). Here's an example (tons more).

I have suggested that WP:BURDEN be modified to read "You may remove any material lacking a reliable source that directly supports it. How quickly this should happen depends on the material and the overall state of the article. Editors might object if you remove material without giving them time to provide references. It has always been good practice to try to find and cite supporting sources yourself, but it is better to remove text which is uncited than to let it remain indefinitely."

Others feel that we should not try to draw this line as a matter of policy, or that we should err on the side of keeping material if we don't know it's wrong. "The fact that no citation has been given for something [which has been tagged] for a very long time is not in itself conclusive evidence that it is not good (i.e. potentially sourceable) information. It's quite destructive to the encyclopedia just to remove information...due to the lack of citations - you ought also to have some reason to expect, based on your own knowledge, research, common sense or something, that it really is wrong or unsourceable."

I think the discussion needs your perspective on the overall state, direction, and future needs of the encyclopedia as regards unsourced material. BeCritical__Talk 00:29, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I completely disagree with this. I think it is much more important to leave information in an article unless there is a valid reason to challenge it. The burden only lies on the person wanting inclusion if someone challenges the information. You wouldn't be in favor of deleting every unsourced article, would you? Ryan Vesey Review me! 01:41, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Ryan. If all unsourced information is removed from the encyclopedia, it becomes much less useful and much more difficult to edit in a collaborative environment. It will discourage new users from contributing as well. I don't know about other users, but I learned the basics of wikicode and how to add/edit basic content long before I learned how to cite sources. By requiring all information to have a source, you effectively bite all the newcomers. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:43, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Ryan you said "The key assumption to take when viewing unsourced information is WP:AGF. Assume that all information that was added was added in good faith. Deleting this information hints at an assumption of bad faith." This seems to me a basic conflict between good intellectual practice and good social practice. We need to balance both without sacrificing either. I do submit that nearly every section heading in WP needs a source, and that if it's been tagged for a long time it should be removed. "The only way you can show your edit is not original research is to cite a reliable published source that contains the same material."[1] We simply cannot pretend to be in the process of becoming a reliable encyclopedia while not requiring that information be sourced. And for practical reasons, it must be the responsibility of the authors to source material. Whatever valid caveats and objections, I don't think we will be able to get around the fact that if it's not sourced, it's not reliable, and if it's not reliable, it doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. That doesn't mean we have to cite every sentence, but we have to base an article on something, and that something must be stated. Once we accept that, it becomes only a matter of timing. And I submit that a few months or a year is sufficient. BeCritical__Talk 03:03, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
The solution has already been created. There are templates to mark a comment or an article as unsourced, dubious, or otherwise. This informs the reader of possible inaccuracies. In addition, Wikipedia offers a disclaimer "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here." I have no problem with unsourced information being removed if the person removing the content has reason to believe that the information is original research, or is false/misleading in some way. Haphazardly removing all unsourced information is not the solution though. It takes a bit of skill to realize what is bad and should be removed and what is good. Ryan Vesey Review me! 03:12, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Ryan. The first example BeCritical offers does not have controversial information in it. There is no reason to believe the assertions about a high school booster's club are false; who really cares if they're sourced? If you do, by all means tag them! That's what those tags are for. Yopienso (talk) 03:51, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I tend to agree with BeCritical. A lot of stuff like that should simply be removed. For good social practice, I would recommend first looking quickly for a source, then tagging it with a dated citation needed template. If no citation is forthcoming in 6 months time, though, I recommend simply deleting. In particular, the Booster club example is something I'm just going to remove right now as it is badly written and unencyclopedic and has no source. People really should remove such stuff. (Update: actually someone beat me to it.)
I also agree with Ryan Vesey on this point: haphazardly removing stuff is a bad idea. But I don't think anyone is suggesting doing it haphazardly. It should be done in a thoughtful and orderly way. But it should be done.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 05:32, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I wasn't considering doing it haphazardly. Could you give us your take on the context here? What I mean is, are we looking at sort of a gradual shift into a new era of Wikipedia, where we aren't focused on headlong expansion, and have to think more about long-term maintenance and shepherding of the material? I know that's a leading question. You work with the overall structure and I and a lot of people would be very interested if you put it in that context. BeCritical__Talk 05:47, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • WP:AGF, copyvio, and sample 5 facts to verify: The major point is "assume good faith" (WP:AGF), because it really seems to reflect reality. After spending years verifying hundreds of factual issues, I have found very few that were not correct. As noted above, there is no reason to believe someone will mislead about the size of a town, the names of churches, or what the tourists will see, and when facts go awry, there are typically enough people to correct those. The German Wikipedia, for years, has had almost no sources in articles. The bigger worry is someone inserting copyrighted text, or having no article (at all) for a major topic; hence, "Vincent Price Art Museum" has been deleted twice because of copyvio, and there is still no article, after 11 years, for that L.A. museum created by Vincent Price. In many cases, a copyvio can be spotted when searching to verify a phrase of, perhaps, 6 words, where the exact phrase matches within the exact sentences, and then a who-came-first check must be made to see if the match is a WP-mirror website parotting WP's article (or a real copyvio). If there are worries, then spot-verify a random sample of 5 facts, in an article. So, if 5 random facts all check as verified in sources, then what are the chances that other (unsourced) text is not WP:verifiable? Use statistical process control to assess article quality. Then, after checking for copyvio, the other big issues are lack of major facts, image-sizing, and next check the grammar or spelling issues. -Wikid77 05:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Oh dear. Leave as much 'information' as possible? So Wikipedia should be a like a water fountain gossip session? Is it so bad that no one here understands any longer that knowledge is transmitted both by stating opinion and verifiable praxis? Or that they need to be identified as such? Or that one Wikipedia article that is demonstrably wrong is not a valid support for another committing the same mistake?

[Note: comment has been edited by Jimbo to remove insulting remark. Peter, please.]

Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 07:20, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

The problem with removing all uncited information is this removal. Had it not been brought to this venue, the information would have been lost. Instead, notice the similarities between the new, cited version of Salmon High School and the old uncited version. Removing information when there is no reason to believe it may be false does more harm to an article than good in most cases. Ryan Vesey Review me! 07:28, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't agree. Nothing is ever really lost in Wikipedia - it would have been in the history. And we're a LOT better off deleting unsourced information (indeed, my view is that articles like this should be deleted, but that's a debate for another day) than in leaving in with a sort of naive hope that it'll be ok somehow.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:07, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
The problem here is that the 'information' you speak of is similar to me saying to someone: "Obama won the election by using twitter and getting Emmanuel to send a few dead fish to some senators". Should my personal version of what may or may not have happened trump verifiable facts? Should it take a direct challenge to a source or assertion to propose that some Wikipedia articles will report to the world, as a matter of fact, that some silly gossip is the 'truth' of the matter because no one has yet got around to disproving it?
Moreover, should Jim Wales's support for your proposition mean that something that is untrue suddenly becomes true? Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 07:40, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
What support for my proposition are you referring to? I have not proposed anything. If I saw your hypothetical post, I would have immediately removed it. It is unsourced and unlikely to be true. What occurred at Salmon High School was a mass deletion of unsourced material solely because it was unsourced. No thought was put into finding sources or whether or not a source could be found. Personally, I like to source every single sentence (outside of the lead of course). That doesn't mean every sentence on Wikipedia without a citation should be removed. Ryan Vesey Review me! 07:46, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
So my 'gossip' should be removed because somehow it is self-evidently gossip, but other gossip should remain because there is some invisible, unknowable mechanism that verifies it? That's a valid theory so long as it's called propaganda or PR. So when I say something for which there is actually plenty of sourced evidence, but I don't source the evidence, it should be deleted because it's outrageous (just like the episodes that make it so), but when uncontroversial claims that are unsourced are made they shouldn't be deleted just because no one says they are untrue? Why don't we just hang or burn witches again just because 'good' boys don't say they lied when they said they saw these girls fornicate with the devil? I despair about American solipsisms sometimes. Peter S Strempel | Talk 08:12, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
You hit the nail on the head. Controversial claims must be sourced while uncontroversial claims need not be sourced unless they are challenged. Which is what Wikipedia:Verifiability says when it states "This policy requires that all quotations and anything challenged or likely to be challenged be attributed in the form of an inline citation that directly supports the material." The fact that a school has a football team is highly unlikely to be challenged. In this instance, the information was challenged, so I produced a source. Ryan Vesey Review me! 08:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The only real issue was the text about the booster club, as being too verbose, and it could have been a short paragraph about raising funds to supplement the "Extracurricular activities". As people are verifying text, then most of the old text is being restored, and hence, the old text can be used as a guiding compass about what to state. The school week being 4 days (Mon-Thu) is a significant issue ("notable within topic"), and that is not similar to gossip. However, any time an article gets a total makeover, then it can be updated for the latest known facts, and in this case, the page can note there is no "school mascot" after the racial lawsuit, but the former mascot was the American Indian head. Formerly, high schools in the U.S. had mandatory sports classes for each year of school, but that has changed, and some schools have only academic subjects, in later years. Such facts are important to note, and could be mentioned for older schools which changed from 1-hour classes to 90-minute classes, and such. However, perhaps only school teachers would care to read about those details. -Wikid77 08:28, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
There are a lot of people saying that only controversial material needs to be sourced. That's not actually correct, all information needs to be sourced if challenged, which means that someone asked for the source. We're not talking here about removing information which hasn't been challenged. "Controversial" just means that it's not common knowledge. So anything that isn't common knowledge needs a source if challenged. Also, while it is nice for the challenging editor to try to source information, and the challenging editor might want to do so if they feel that the information is really important to the world, it's not incumbent on them to source it themselves- that was the original author's job.
As to (perpetual) templating being a solution, I don't think so: it's just a step in the direction of eliminating material which may not meet reliability standards. What we could do is to have a template which links to the information that was taken out, thus preserving the info for any editor who wishes to improve the article (nothing is ever lost, but a new editor might not know where to find it).
We're talking here about the future of the encyclopedia, which means that there are practical concerns: we can't be expected to take as much time to verify before we delete info as recommended above. It's just not going to happen, and it hasn't for years. If anyone has a means for us to get a few more thousand editors willing to do boring and repetitive work, then maybe so. It's nice that this one article out of hundreds of unsourced articles about high schools has been spruced up, but how many are you going to do? Are you going to get to the barbie dolls and the unreviewed books?
Reliability means that we know where any information that's not common knowledge is coming from. Anything -anything- that is not common knowledge ought to be challenged. And anything that doesn't meet the challenge ought to be removed eventually (I was giving it a year, Jimbo would give 6 months). Otherwise, we're not a reliable encyclopedia. Please, think of this as an encyclopedia. What standards do you expect in an encyclopedia? We're talking long-term maintenance here. BeCritical__Talk 17:05, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I would find it much easier to agree with you if your actions and your words said the same thing. I commented earlier on how you seem to be saying two things at the same time. That all unsourced material should be removed and only challenged unsourced material should be removed. Which is it? Because the content of your removal from Salmon High School had never been challenged. I am completely 100% against removing content without challenging it when there is no reason stated to believe it is false. Ryan Vesey Review me! 17:15, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course it had been challenged. The request for improved sources had been on there since 2008 [2] as I noted in my edit summary, as had most of the information. There was no need to have {{fact} tags on specific information if none of it was sourced. BeCritical__Talk 19:11, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
There is a big difference between challenging the content of an article and asking for additional references for the article. I guess deleting information is a heck of a lot easier than a google search. Ryan Vesey Review me! 19:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I believe it is only fair to say that I have occasionally brought an article to AFD without doing a thorough check for sources. Ryan Vesey Review me! 19:22, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for saying that (; Look at the content of the tag:
That looks like a challenge to me, and is very clear about the potential for deletion if the challenge isn't met. True, it's slightly ambiguous in that it could be interpreted that you have to add [citation needed] tags to make a challenge. But that doesn't make much common sense to me. The template itself is a challenge, and [citation needed] tags are for when you need to challenge specific text instead of a wholly unsourced article. BeCritical__Talk 19:31, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
My opinion on that is the tag is designed as a call for sources, not as a challenge. I guess that a challenge is in the eye of the beholder. Ryan Vesey Review me! 19:35, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Wait a second, I thought that was the meaning of "challenge." Because any challenge on WP is basically a request for or about sources (either for better sourcing, about WEIGHT or about proper representation of sources). What other type of challenge is there? The most basic and potent type of challenge is for sources. NPOV, of course, is just a call to properly represent sources (NPOV derives from NOR and V). Oh, there is copyright. BeCritical__Talk 19:55, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Nope. A challenge means "I believe this is wrong", not merely "I believe this is unsourced and/or not up to our sourcing expectations." That should really be clear by context, else nothing unsourced would be left in Wikipedia, which is nonsensical. Jclemens (talk) 23:24, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it's not nonsensical. Everything in WP should be verifiable, and "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth, that is not wrongness or rightness. If a challenge to that verification is unmet, then it may be removed. Since "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability" and "The only way you can show your edit is not original research is to cite a reliable published source that contains the same material" and "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material" therefore "You may remove any material lacking a reliable source that directly supports it. How quickly this should happen depends on the material and the overall state of the article." The exception is common knowledge. Policy really makes it very clear, but we're trying to find best practices here. BeCritical__Talk 23:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Once more, with feeling: Challenging something as unsourced is accomplished by adding an "unsourced" tag. Challenging something as false (the specific "challenge" referred to in WP:V) is different. The privilege of removing unsourced material does not extend to those who dispute material merely because it is unsourced, but only to those who have a good faith belief that the material to be removed is likely to be wrong. If we're talking burden of proof, I'd go with "reasonable suspicion", which would require an editor to have a specific articulable reason that such particular unsourced text is more likely to be inaccurate than accurate. Expansively, that could include the wording, poor grammar, age, unhelpful edits made by the same author elsewhere which cast suspicion on his or her good faith, the unlikelihood of the claim... a plethora of "challenges" exist that allow for material removal, but every last one of them boil down to "I think this is wrong" and never to "This is unsourced." Jclemens (talk) 05:51, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
There may be documentation to support what you're saying, but I haven't seen it. There is no way to create a reliable encyclopedia without sourcing. The sourcing itself increases your ability to rely on the content. Unsourced material is ipso facto less reliable. "Unsourced information may be challenged and removed, because on Wikipedia a lack of information is better than misleading or false information—Wikipedia's reputation as a trusted encyclopedia depends on the information in articles being verifiable and reliable." [3]. As I argue above, it's nice of us to try and fix other people's text, but in practice we don't have the resources. For the good of the encyclopedia, unreliable text needs to be removed eventually. And an essential element of reliability is sourcing. BeCritical__Talk 03:45, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
So if you believe it's wrong, remove it. If it's unsourced, tag it. If it's unsourced or tagged and you think it needs to be improved, try to source it and remove it if it cannot be sourced. It's a simple way to write a work in progress encyclopedia. Ideally, articles with more traffic should get fixed first, but since volunteers work on whatever they feel like, there may be perfectly accurate, unsourced material that languishes for years. The way you deal with the risk of unreliability is to tag things. I have no problem with unsourced, benign text being removed "eventually" for values of eventually that include someone actually spending a few minutes to try and find a source. The level of effort codified in WP:BEFORE is not an unreasonable burden for text that no one sees any problem with besides the fact that it's unsourced. Remember, someone took the time to write it in the first place, even if they haven't returned since; we should only discard donations when we've ascertained that they're not trivially fixable. Jclemens (talk) 03:59, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Right, I'm not talking about deleting articles here, just text, though some of the same principles would apply. If you have no problem with text being eventually removed, I guess we only would disagree about the level of effort that is sustainable. I simply feel that given the enormous amount of unsourced text in marginal articles like those on high schools, barbie dolls, movie rolls for barbie dolls, books etc., it actually is unreasonable to ask an editor with an itch to clean up to spend 5 minutes on each one- let alone the time it would take to actually read the text to see what needs to be sourced. Of course, if the text is on a socially important topic (science, major concepts, whatever), then one would do well to spend the time to try and source it. WP is losing editors, and the regulars usually don't do much in the way of article work. We have to consider whether we want to keep unsourced and usually out-dated text forever, or just remove it. In my belief, what we need to do is make a template saying "unsourced text was removed and here's a link to it in case you want to source or improve it." I'm not advocating utterly unthinking removal, just a lessening of the burden so that we can have a somewhat smaller, but more reliable encyclopedia. Policy pages and templates keep saying "unsourced text may be removed," but even though every new editor is informed of this, we're still asked to spend our time trying to find sources that the original author should have provided. Doing a careful job of sourcing takes hours of checking each claim, too, so we're either being asked to shoulder a very heavy burden, or else do a sloppy job. BeCritical__Talk 04:27, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

A barnstar for you!

Special Barnstar Hires.png The Special Barnstar
Thanks for creating Wikipedia. I don't have words for the same so please accept this Barnstar as a token of appreciation.  Abu Torsam  14:08, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

WP:NHS

I am shocked that you have made radical alterations to this essay without talk page discussion, particularly as your alterations are completely against consensus through many years of AfDs. TerriersFan (talk) 22:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

On that note, I am starting a new essay which should roughly reflect the opinions laid out in User talk:Jimbo Wales#Slight divergence from the overall topic, at Wikipedia:All High Schools can be notable. Ryan Vesey Review me! 22:55, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Indeed and that will simply establish systemic bias. Pretty well every public US high school can have an article that meets WP:GNG because of the importance of high school sports. However, the majority of high schools in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world will fail because they have no tradition of putting material on the Internet. Are we writing a world encyclopaedia or an Anglophone encyclopaedia? TerriersFan (talk) 23:08, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
We are writing an encyclopedia which is based on reliable, third-party sources. Ryan Vesey Review me! 23:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Personally, if the community chooses to say, similar to towns, that all High Schools are notable if their existence can be confirmed, I would not complain. In respone to your statement about other parts of the world not having a tradition of putting material on the internet, material does not need to be on the internet to be a source on Wikipedia (although it is desirable). Ryan Vesey Review me! 23:21, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec)::::Such would be unlikely. In most cases, I would suggest Jimbo is correct there - and that Wikipedia has no problem with mentioning the schools in a "notable" town or city, just not having separate articles on every single Franklin High School in the US, and the like. And the fact that WP has "too many articles" on non-notable schools does not mean that therefore every high school worldwide sould be entitale to a waiverof independent notability. Cheers. Collect (talk) 00:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
We have a whole host of subjects considered to be notable irrespective of meeting WP:GNG:
  1. Inhabited recognised settlements
  2. Named bridges
  3. Numbered highways
  4. Singers with a song in a chart in a major country
  5. Super-regional malls
  6. Airports
  7. Railway stations
  8. Porn stars who have won a recognised award
  9. Fauna and flora
  10. Association footballers who have played in a fully professional league
  11. Academic full professors
  12. High court judges
  13. Peers of the realms
And many more. If we are going to tear up all these customary standards and require every page to meet WP:GNG then fine but don't just pick on high schools.
On your other point, experience shows that all high schools can meet WP:GNG given enough time but for non-Anglophone countries, searches need to be carried out in, for example, local libraries and they should not be deleted until those searches have been carried out. TerriersFan (talk) 00:05, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I fully agree that there are many schools outside of North America and Europe where it can be almost impossible to find information in the time span of one week. In order to address that issue, I am going to suggest moving these articles (where information can almost certainly be found, but it will take a while) to either a user subpage or a subpage of WikiProject Schools. I would also recommend that a redirect be left behind from the school to the city/village it is located in. Since the essay is still developing, I am going to freely add the information. If anyone has another idea and/or opposes mine, please leave a remark on the talk page of the essay. Ryan Vesey Review me! 00:18, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Seems sensible here. Collect (talk) 00:24, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Ryan, why not simply suggest a sticky PROD for schools? Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 00:57, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
The last thing we need is another deletion process with another unique set of rules. Resolute 01:21, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Precisely. I'm glad you appreciated the irony in my comment. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 01:36, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I hadn't responded to your comment on a sticky PROD for schools because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the use of a sticky PROD would be. In fact, a sticky PROD runs contrary to the goal I had in moving such schools to a subpage. Rather than using a statement filled with irony to oppose the idea I had (if that is what you were doing), why don't you lay out your concerns at Wikipedia talk:All High Schools can be notable? Ryan Vesey Review me! 01:58, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
We need to move away from all "automatically-notable" classes of articles, including the ones listed above. We need sources that provide evidence of notability for all articles. That's a fundamental concept of article writing. ThemFromSpace 01:40, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────If that is the way that we wish to go then fine, lets move all the above classes from notability, and delete all subsidiary guidelines, eg Music, Porn, Sports, Books etc and test every page against WP:GNG. TerriersFan (talk) 01:52, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

These special guidelines have been controversial, for example there's the problem of the thousands of articles on professional athletes about whom little is know beyond their jersey numbers. Guidelines can be helpful in interpreting GNG, but they should not be used to allow articles for which there aren't sufficient sources.   Will Beback  talk  01:57, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
And most of the pages that are being misrepresented here as declaring subjects to be inherently notable directly say that this is a rule of thumb that lets you figure out whether independent sources are likely to exist, not a guarantee of notability, and that if nobody can actually find suitable sources to support the article, then it can and should be deleted (or, more commonly, merged into a larger topic). WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
There is a huge educational/social benefit of having every High School have a presence in Wikipedia, which will instill a sense of pride, and serve as a starting point for educators to teach students about encyclopedias and guide students in various lessons that involve contributing to Wikipedia based on verifiable resources in their libraries. Also, it's unclear how Jimbo's interpretation could possibly be less informed than yours.Wxidea (talk) 04:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Not if the amount of edits they get is any indication. You'd think one or two of those students would edit, but the articles get very few edits, and probably most of them get very very few views [4][5][6]. Compare a general article [7]. BeCritical__Talk 05:40, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
@Be, that's an invalid page comparison. The majority of Wikipedia pages are only read a few times a year. See (http://www.idea.org/blog/2011/08/09/reaching-the-public-via-wikipedia/). Wxidea (talk) 12:07, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
If WP:GNG is reasonably interpreted (despite, e.g., a strange reference to the infamously misused NOTNEWS), no ordinary high school should have trouble meeting it. Getting together two or more decent sources before starting the article isn't a bad thing. I think that the proliferation of special notability guidelines is one of Wikipedia's worst instances of instruction creep. Maybe we should have one sentence about allowing articles to slip past WP:GNG when primary sources document the subject and it is necessary to complete a group of articles about all members of a defined set - nothing more than that should ever have been started. Wnt (talk) 07:22, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

This page used to be a place where ideas originate that made wikipedia a better place now more and more it turns into a place tearing it down. Let us think for a moment - the reasoning that a High School is classed as notable was made made because for any project like this there are enough sources establishing notability ranging from independant sources covering construction/extention, comparative analysis, awards and championships. As mentioned somewhere recently the smaller the school the more likely it is it has drawn media attention due to parents fretting about the possible danger of closure. Those in themselves are sufficiant for inclusion. The question is can we just assume that these sources exist or do we have to have hard proof. Expecting that hard proof gives a strong systematic bias toward the western (English-speaking) world with a strong slant on recentism. Or do we have enaugh people in Liberia who can check the local newpaper archive and tree markings. There is good reason the foundation is sponsoring a audio sourcing programme somewhere in India. The content of the article is a totally different matter. Using non-notable as a synomyn for problematic is plain wrong. Deal with the content - stubbify - check if there is any outside indication that the school exists. Using presumed notablility has its drawbacks as I have seen footballers who played on international youth level garnering quite some attention (just not enaugh on the internet) deleted while totally unremarkable players get their article for a minutes play. While I would argue for the first to be included I would not argue for the second to be excluded as in order to get to that position of playing for one minute he must already have garnered attention. Maybe we need to through notablility out of the window alltogether and focus on importance /* sarcasm on */ which is totally quantifiable /* sarcasm off */. Agathoclea (talk) 07:29, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Eventualism is all good and well, but there has to be a starting point. What can we write about a school for which there are no reliable sources, or maybe just the school's website? If we're just repeating information off the official website then why bother having an article? Aside from small local papers may report graduations, awards and sports, almost the only time people write about schools is when there's a scandal or a crime. For most schools there are three alternatives: use just the school website, rely on perfunctory reporting from local sources about trivial topics, or write about shootings and seductions.   Will Beback  talk  09:31, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Seperate issues. Establishing notability (outside sources taking note) and content (Self-published sources and other published sources of dubious reliability may be used as sources in articles about themselves ... so long as the information is notable, not unduly self-aggrandizing, and not contradicted by other published sources). We have a few thousand articles about settlements/communities/municipalities and even towns whose content does not go beyond either the publications of the subject or a rehash of statistical data. Nothing wrong with that as at least the basic whats are covered. Agathoclea (talk) 10:05, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:PSTS, first line: Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources. We can use primary sources but we should not base articles upon them.
Settlements are a different matter from organizations, and best dealt with separately.   Will Beback  talk  10:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I'll add Wxidea's comment above to my personal list of most important statements made here, especially as the WMF's major focus is to recruit new editors, and TerriersFan's list of thirteen WP:ORG exceptions sheds a different light, so whether as a result of misinterpretation of a comment made by Jimbo in 2003 or whatever, we have some established precedent, so let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet, but let's not not try to re-invent the notability wheel across the site either. Maybe we can just get this issue of school notability sorted out once and for all on a RfC that will finally reach a consensus one way or another.
By providing us with a clear set of rules to work from we could avoid so many school articles from being utter confusion for the new page patrolers who are largely extremely inexperienced in such matters, and prevent school AfDs serving as a traditional battleground for the inclusionists and the deletionists to pit their wits . Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 10:23, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment All high schools are notable and belong in Wikipedia, not all high schools should have a separate article. Why is this a contentious point? This discussion started with the example of Salmon High School, a HS in a town of about 3,000 people. At one time, it would have been included as a paragraph or two under Education in the Salmon, Idaho article, along with some mention of the school district and whatever primary schools are in the town. Look at that town's article. Nothing about education, government, or various other topics covered in any good article about a town. Not even a link to the town's official website. The problem is determining where not if notable material belongs in Wikipedia. Instead, we have incessant demands and arguments about separate articles, no matter how thin and unlikely to be expanded. Why are so many so averse to making high schools redirects to their town's Education section? Sounds like an ego trip to me, some sort of "my high school's better than yours because it has a Wikipedia article." This is not meant as a criticism of Ryan Vesey and others who are justly proud of their alma maters, but a reminder that the concept of Undue Weight might well apply to articles themselves as well as sections within articles. Perhaps we need Notable for one place along with the current Notable for one event. Note: If the answer doesn't make sense, make certain you're asking the right question. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 12:58, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Just to clarify, prior to two days ago, I had never heard of Salmon, Idaho or Salmon High School Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:47, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the IP. It's a common sense solution. If we don't have enough secondary sources for a rounded article, it merits a peragraph in another article. BeCritical__Talk 14:51, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Can you please ready my essay Wikipedia:All high schools can be notable? You just summed up the entire essay in one sentence. I will actually be replacing the in a nutshell part of the essay with your phrase. Thanks, Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:54, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
There is one point where you and I may disagree. I believe that for most, if not all, high schools, it is possible to create a well-rounded article, similar to what I (and others) have done at Salmon High School and North Gwinnett High School. Articles like this and this are completely inappropriate for Wikipedia and should not have their own articles until they can be improved. Ryan Vesey Review me! 15:03, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Cool you like my phrase (: No actually I agree that most if not all high schools would merit their own articles if someone were to take the time to source them. Where we might disagree would be that I would put the responsibility for sourcing on the person who writes the article to begin with, and I think it's often (not always) okay to delete text which has been tagged as unsourced for a long time (merely for lack of sourcing). BeCritical__Talk 16:23, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I am glad this conversation has come up, and I hope that it will lead to a greater discussion regarding the status of school articles. I for one would like to see something more concrete, one way or the other. I don't know if school articles are among the worst categories of articles with consistency, but I do know that a lot of them are in bad shape.
I can see a lot of viewpoints here, all of which carry some validity, and all of which have issues. I understand the need for a rpofessional looking encyclopedia (we've all invested to various degrees, and want something we can all be proud of). Not that WP should reflect old paper encyclopedias, but old paper encyclopedias had articles of varying length. An article that is only a few sentences long isn't the end of the world, provided that it is referenced properly (which is a whole other problem) and well written. As far as I am aware, while validity is a strong reason for deletion, the overall condition/length of the article is not a valid reason to delete.
Another issue I see is in the whole concept of notability. An easy solution is to fall back on WP:N; if there are enough reliable secondary sources, it stays, if not, it doesn't. That could lead to mass deletions, which in and of itself I don't have a huge problem with. The problem is that I think we all know that in many, many of those cases, there are going to be issues with a lot of articles being recreated without sources, a lot of fighting over same, and some of those articles being recreated with enough sourcing to stay, with those editors screaming "Told you so!" Of course, this is hypothetical, and I'm not sure this constitutes anything but a weak excuse to keep articles.
The other issue I see with WP:N is that (and I beg apologies for beign American-centric) here ... if this is the sole threshold, I fear for a situation where there is an explosion of articles on elementary schools that undoubtedly can be reliably supported by referencing (I would think that a vast majority of current American elementary and iddle schools, with a good hunt through newspapers, could find more than enough sources to meet the notability threshold). While there are some lower schools that should be included here, I think they are at bset a minority. The idea of "high schools are all notable (and, unsaid, other schools are not)", has helped create a lot of substandard articles, but has also, I suspect, been helpful in deleting and keeping out a lot more similarly bad elementary/middle school articles. I don't think that is a reason to establish "all high schools are notable" as official policy. However, I think this has to be looked at more critically.
As far as condition of articles, while I appluad WP for not creating too many hard and fast editing rules, which allows editors to work on the fly, I think given that school articles are buglights for people who are trying to pound their chests, I would like to see the Schools Project work on developing more concrete ideas about what does belong in a good encyclopedia article, and what does not. I think it becomes easier to cleanout articles and talk to zealous editors when you have some written guidelines to back you up. Removing the lyrics to school songs is easy ... it is specifically listed in the article guidelines as something not to include. When editors fight me on it, I direct them there, and that usually ends the fight. Trying to explain why an exhaustive list of every single activity in the school can't be listed is more difficult, because it isn't specifically verboten ... even WP:NOTDIRECTORY can usualyl be countered by WP:BOLD, which draws the whole thing out.
I don't think there yet exists an easy fix on this ... but I am convinced that the community can reach consensus on this given enough tim to talk it over. LonelyBeacon (talk) 02:44, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your informative comment on the subject. It certainly gives me some more ideas on the topic. I'm going to make some changes in the essay I'm writing to address the topic of elementary/middle schools. I think the activities issue is a hard one. It is important for an article on a school to address the idea of activities, just as an article on a university addresses student groups and sports; however, for some large schools the list can become much too long. One solution is enforcing the fact that it should be in prose form. Ryan Vesey Review me! 03:01, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

A beer for you!

Export hell seidel steiner.png Nice to finally know who is the head honcho of this massive site. Cheers and bottoms up Andy_Howard (talk) 22:35, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

That is an exquisite looking beer. You must enlarge the pic for full effect. For a fuller effect, if you are so lucky, enjoy one. My76Strat (talk) 22:50, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

You left me hanging

So, I started an essay specifically because you helped reshape my beliefs on the notability of high schools. I haven't even received acknowledgement from you that you know the essay has been created. The essay has already become the subject of changes which completely reshape the point that the essay is getting across. Could you please drop by? Maybe an actual guideline could be created. The title is currently Wikipedia:All high schools can be notable; however, I am beginning to dislike the title and it seems like others are missing the point of the essay because of the title. Maybe at a minimum you could offer a new title? Ryan Vesey Review me! 00:15, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

You were not left hanging, you were left inspired. What you have done with that inspiration is remarkable. My76Strat (talk) 00:22, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, I have been a little wiki-depressed because the entire issue has been focused on changes to Wikipedia:Notability (high schools). I like to believe that my essay is a fairly accurate description of how things should be treated, but the only comments I have been getting are changes to the essay which, like I stated, alter the goals. Look at the history. I am having to fight to keep the essay on track. Ryan Vesey Review me! 00:27, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Hi, I'm sorry I haven't commented on your essay. I'll look at it in the next day or two if I can and comment. As far as I can tell, your views and mine are quite similar.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 07:14, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
It would be helpful to all involved if a) the two essays could be merged given their similarity so there can be no confusion, and b) if the whole topic could be wrapped up and the outcome communicated (e.g. posted on the schools wikiproject) so that we can move ahead with problem articles. --Simple Bob a.k.a. The Spaminator (Talk) 09:00, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Ryan Vesey, you added this section to the Salmon High School article. If that's supposed to be an example of the sort of thing high school articles are to include, I think a thorough discussion about the point of material being notable and well-sourced is in order. I have yet to see anything in that article which wouldn't be better placed in the town's article, including that supposed 'big controversy and lawsuit' about their mascot. Why this determination for every high school to have its own article? You still haven't answered the question as to why that should be a goal in the first place. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 12:38, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't recall being asked that question, if you did earlier, I apologize. I take the standpoint that if an article on a high school has substantial content, it is useful and should be included. I don't support creating articles on high schools on a massive scale. Someone should not be creating articles on every high school they know about which state

Jackson High School is a public school in Jackson, Ohio. It is the only high school in the Jackson City School District. Their mascot is the Ironman and their school colors are red and white. The Jackson Ironmen are part of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League. Jackson High School has a variety of sports programs including baseball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

In this specific example, the infobox improves the page somewhat, but much more content would be desirable. Ryan Vesey Review me! 12:59, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

interpretation of policy

Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard#WP:RFC question -

Hi Jimmy, this RFC has just been opened and as it develops over the next few days you may be interested to follow or comment. This is a repeat discussion, but in this case has arisen around the reporting of the claimed sexuality of new CEO of Apple Tim Cook - so this RFC is an attempt to assess the communities general position and interpretation of primarily WP:BLP in regards to .. - When should an encyclopedic project contain unconfirmed speculative sexual orientation reporting in relation to the living subjects of their articles? - Off2riorob (talk) 03:14, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Sexual preferences are not negative, but they are private. Unless the subject discloses, we should not speculate. I have removed the dubious content. Jehochman Talk 04:06, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
We should not speculate. But when there has been reporting should we omit it? Is there a special censorship on sexual orientation different from other personal issues?   Will Beback  talk  04:30, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Personal issues including religion, sexual orientation, health status, and similar matters should not be speculated upon. The subject will disclose what they want. The rest should be left out to respect their right to privacy and to avoid repeating rumor or innuendo. What sort of reliable reporting has there been? Rumor, bloggers repeating rumors and articles about rumor campaigns are not reliable information. Jehochman Talk 05:32, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
The issue here is that the subject was placed at the top of a list of the 50 most powerful gay or lesbian people. That fact isn't rumor or speculation, and has been widely reported. We can report that without identifying the subject as gay or lesbian. Just like we can report that the subject is listed among the top 50 cancer survivors, without otherwise identifying them in the Wikipedia voice as a cancer survivor.   Will Beback  talk  05:37, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
In a closely related issue, notice how much space is spent discussing speculation about the health of Steve Jobs#Health. Should we gut that section and limit it to Jobs' own self declarations?   Will Beback  talk  05:40, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
His health has direct relevance on the success of Apple, and has been widely reported on by reliable sources. We should not speculate at all, but if there is reporting based upon reliable public statements, that is relevant information. I haven't looked at that section so I don't know whether it is appropriate or not. Jehochman Talk 05:46, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Furthermore, it's a poor analogy because Apple/Jobs have written and spoken about the health issue. That's not the case with Cook. AV3000 (talk) 05:51, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
So if a person has mentioned they have a health problem, and are the CEO of a large corporation, then it's OK to report speculation about the person's health, but if they are not a CEO then it would not be allowed? That doesn't seem consistent.   Will Beback  talk  06:12, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Nobody said that. I am going to stop responding now because you seem to want to twist other people's statements to suit your agenda, rather than engage in meaningful dialog. Jehochman Talk 06:27, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
We're trying to set policy where any language can be twisted, so it's necessary to look at any suggestion based on all possible impacts.   Will Beback  talk  06:32, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Note that in another active BLPN thread, some editors seem to even want to remove Anderson Cooper's own comments about his sexuality.   Will Beback  talk  06:15, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Eh? As his article states, Cooper has made no comment whatsoever about his sexuality; he has declined to discuss the matter. AV3000 (talk) 06:38, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
There's a lengthy quote from him discussing why he won't disclose his sexuality.   Will Beback  talk  06:46, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Precisely the point: it's a statement that he won't comment about his sexuality, not a comment about his sexuality. (The reader has learned absolutely nothing about his sexuality from him.) AV3000 (talk) 06:59, 28 August 2011 (UTC)


E.g.: "John Doe has refused to discuss his alleged 'Gnarphist' personal beliefs." Is a "Have you stopped beating your wife?" issue. Where a person has specifically declined comment on a personal issue, and there is no fact-based reliable source on the issue, it is, in my opinion, quite improper to ascribe the personal issue to the person. Will and I differ substantially on this. Collect (talk) 11:40, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment The problem isn't so much how this one small facet of Tim Cook's biography is treated, but that the article treats his business career, which one presumes most readers are interested in learning about and why they came to his Wikipedia article, as trivial. AV3000 even refused to include the usual links to Forbes, the NYT and WSJ. What's next - a fully-sourced section focused on his sartorial tastes? His dog? His house? His hobbies? How about 'controversies and scandals', as so many Wikipedia articles about politicians focus on (that and their election campaigns and whether they won 'handily' or not), as opposed to what they actually do in their purported jobs? iow, why is Wikipedia so determined to focus on anything and everything but what people are actually notable for? It's way beyond Undue Weight, and I really don't understand the lack of concern about the evolution into Triviapedia. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 12:12, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Raphanin

One of those "how was this missing" type of articles. Can anybody scientific here help expand it with the chemical formula and scientific properties?♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:56, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

  • As an extract from radish seeds/leaves, "Raphanin" (aka sulforaphen) does seem to be a good article for medical topics, including the 2001 book Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Material Medical, and perhaps we can post messages to the medical discussions in Wikipedia. Perhaps it could be considered a type of sulfa drug or perhaps raphanin is too toxic for that term. -Wikid77 23:56, 28 August 2011 (UTC)


You've got mail

<insert annoying chime here> — Coren (talk) 15:14, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Opinion about an image (partially restored)

The user is a sockpuppet. People who have been closely watching this page and Jimmy's userpage for the last few days will probably be able to connect the dots, but I'm happy to discuss it privately if anybody needs further explanation. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 17:09, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

A barnstar for you!

Brilliant Idea Barnstar Hires.png The Brilliant Idea Barnstar
For founding a genial project of free encyclopedia, that anyone can edit! Alex discussion 18:29, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I'd give Jimbo ten of these if an Article of the Month scheme was introduced and we successfully attracted new editors in response and good content started being produced at a faster rate. I don't mean literally, but I really think its time it was introduced and at least given a trial to see if it increases good content coming in.♦ Dr. Blofeld 19:04, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Can you find out how article competitions are run in the German Wikipedia? I know these have been highly successful there.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 07:53, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Not a speaker of German I'm afraid. Perhaps User:Hans Adler or User:Bermicourt or another German speaker could inquire there. I think pretty much any competition scheme would produce results if there is something at stake. As you say it may not even be monetary but something of esteem, but it has to be something which will motivate people to contribute more than they would otherwise do. If we could publicize it I think we could attract many potential new contributors too. ♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:20, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I am not very active at the German Wikipedia and only moderately familiar with its culture, but here is what I found at de:Wikipedia:Schreibwettbewerb: Starting autumn 2004, there have been 2 "writing competitions" per year. There was an attempt to internationalise this competition in March 2005, see meta:International writing contest. For advice on how to write a candidate for the competition, they are simply pointing to de:Wikipedia:Wie schreibe ich gute Artikel. (This plays a much more central role than our "MOS supplement" Wikipedia:Writing better articles. Instead of a complicated MOS organised like a code of law, the German Wikipedia discusses all aspects of writing in a single document. E.g. very basic information on how to cite and how to create footnotes is located together in one section. Ditto for information on when to illustrate, when to put images on Commons, captions, and image copyright.)
Statistics for the previous (13th) competition can be found at de:Wikipedia:Schreibwettbewerb/Daten. Out of 70 candidates, 36 were ranked. 16 candidates became FAs and 6 became GAs. (FA and GA nominations are done after the competition so that jury members can participate.) Any article can be nominated. The jury evaluates how an article changed since its nomination, not its current state. There is a special review process in which authors participating in the competition can get advice from the community. (The authors als form a jury and give a prize to the best reviewer.) While any article can be nominated, there is a coarse classification into one of 4 topic areas, with separate specialist juries for each. There is also an audience prize.
There is a number of donated prizes. Rather than putting them into a fixed order, each winner can choose one of them according to rank. Hans Adler 14:00, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
WikiProject Military History is a good English WikiProject that does well at article competitions you may want to ask them as well. --Kumioko (talk) 16:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah I was going to say that, there is much to be learned about MOS, Article Creation, NPOV, and a number of other issues in the WikiProject Military History. They seem to have gotten their stuff together better than any other project in English Wikipedia - creating social incentives for quality editing rather than by small p politics.--Cerejota (talk) 18:11, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Granted Military project is by far the best on wikipedia and a shining example of collaboration and mutual support at times. I think the sooner we start such competitions to better wikipedia will become. If I'm proved wrong, then at least we would have tested it. I would ask for two compeitions to start with. One Article of the Month, and two, Core Contest of the Month. The first would be the best improved article in a month, the second the best improved "Core Article", articles where there is general agreement that they are our most important articles. We would need to draw up a bank of our Core articles by subject, those most needing expansion or even starting etc and then launch a monthly competition. I think this would definitely improve the quality of articles and number of editors producing it and would also place a priority on certain articles we greatly need improved and ar every important and gives a mechanism to get people to edit them. How does this sound Jimbo?♦ Dr. Blofeld 08:35, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Similar ideas to WP:The Core Contest and Core collab. of the Fortnight. the problem with core articles is, generally, after all these years they're in good/above average shape Jebus989 13:15, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You'd be surprised. Check out most articles on African regions/provinces which are core articles for their relative countries. Most of them are barely beyond a few lines. And check out the quality of some of the major Indian city articles. ♦ Dr. Blofeld 13:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I was refering to the "core articles" as defined by the ET however long ago Jebus989 13:31, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Stephanie Adams Page

What happened to the Stephanie Adams page and why is there so much animosity by these volunteer editors towards her biography? 12.184.15.242 (talk) 23:14, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

It's not animosity, it has to do with our rules on notability of living people. The article was deleted and redirected to a general list per the result of this deletion discussion. You'll need to look at the article history to see the result, but the closing summary was "The result was redirect to List of Playboy Playmates of 1992#November. This is looking very snowy. With a such a clear consensus and the concerns about the former content by the subject I'm deleting the history as well as there is clearly no need to keep it around and benefit from removing it." Note that 17 people commented that the article should be deleted or redirected; the only comments requesting it be kept came from sockpuppets of blocked users. Qwyrxian (talk) 23:30, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
It does appear to be animosity, actually. Stephanie Adams now redirects to List of Playboy Playmates of 1992 (as a result of the deletion discussion). Adams' entry in that list is the only one that consists of a single sentence. Attempts by an IP to add more were reverted as unsourced (by, among others, an editor who has been identified as having an off-wiki dispute with Adams, and is arguing on the talk page against including even sourced information). I thought that I might help settle this dispute by using the sources in the original article to add some uncontroversial information, but I discover that the article's history has been deleted prior to redirecting it. It appears that Adams is being punished for her conflict of interest editing. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 13:06, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I think the deletion was valid, and although you are correct that the edit you cite is outrageous, it was promptly rejected by others in the discussion. Overall, it seems that the rationales that people gave for deletion were perfectly fine and well within policy.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:42, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't questioning the AfD result, but the disposition was to redirect, not to delete. Deleting the history was unnecessary. A redirect would have been sufficient. Deletion has just made it more difficult for me to easily determine what other information should be added to that list so perhaps this dispute can be put to rest. I'm not suggesting anything be undone at this point, but I do think that this is a case of certain editors reacting emotionally rather than just following standard practice. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 14:52, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I see your point now. I doubt if it was emotion, per se. This has been an ongoing BLP problem for literally years.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
@DC: The OTRS tickets I mentioned in the AfD (see history) contain ample justification for deletion of the history, but what's contained in them is confidential. There might be a point in the future when having an article on this lady is not a tremendously bad idea, but it's not right now, and if or when that time comes, it would probably be better to start from scratch. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 18:32, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
The punishment opinion you highlignt is dead wrong IMO. There is no justification or guideline that allows for retribution. The issue is that information was being added to this redirect without an RS backing it up. Fasttimes68 (talk) 13:36, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia_talk:BLP#Editors_running_attack_pages_off-site, Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Stephanie_Adams_(2nd_nomination). My understanding is that Adams was in a feud with several bloggers (to the extent of filing lawsuits against them), and that some of them edited her Wikipedia biography. The situation continued unresolved for five years. --JN466 13:31, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
The best resolution to this matter, for now, is to set it at rest and move on. It can be easily revisted in the future (i.e. a couple of years) without detriment. But for now it was causing a lot of heat in various quarters where the sensible way to end the issue was to remove the fuel (i.e. the article). --Errant (chat!) 20:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I am more concerned about the underlying systemic issue, Errant. It took the project five years to get a proper grip on the problem. That's a long time. --JN466 00:58, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Ohio politicians

Facepalm3.svg Mega-puppetry and forum shopping? What we get to see for stalking Jimmy Wales' talk page...--Cerejota (talk) 23:12, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I wanted to voice my frustrations on pages surrounding Ohio state politics. As of late, it seems as if every page is blocked or protected from editing, and that many pages are being reverted by administrators due to issues surrounding a specific editor. Notably, the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio General Assembly, Tom Niehaus and William G. Batchelder have each been reverted to a very dated page and no longer exemplify a good article. Furthermore, over ten pages were recently deleted all together, damaging the ability for others to gather information, in my opinion. I tried to help and fix these pages in a way which would spur new edits, but was quickly blocked today after creating a username, and was unable to write on my talk page. Is there anything that can be done about this? I was forced to create a second account to let this be known. Thank you. AshleyFreeman1 (talk) 18:27, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

And you need 60 accounts, many of which you have used to wantonly violate copyright and flount policy, community consensus and blocks, to tell us this? This account has now also been blocked. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 18:39, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

What about WP:IAR?

I fully agree with your summation of verifiability verses not truth. Would you care to comment to your regards concerning "Ignore all rules" as in ignore? Besides the first issue, this is the second I found most difficulty understanding as a very new user. And it is a pillar which means wide assimilation. My76Strat (talk) 06:35, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Big topic. Can we turn to this another time? I'm still focused for now on the issues underway here, and won't have time this weekend to take on another. :)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 07:21, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Sounds fair. Thanks for the reply. My76Strat (talk) 07:30, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Removing wikibabble for non-truth phrase in WP:V

28-Aug-2011: You might not have the time (or bandwidth) to re-consider this issue now, so this is just a long-term reminder. I have noticed some policy phrases are generating endless "wikibabble" discussions (similar to "psychobabble"). As you know, the phrase in WP:V for "verifiability, not truth" has generated years of debate. Those exact words have been traced to 8 December 2004 as a header, in the bottom of SV's edit here. In the past ~7 years, people have noted many cases of weaseling which some have tried by quoting "not truth" as a reason to insert known false information. There is just no reason a policy needs to even hint at "not truth" to foment debate. Also, there are still people who actually think sources should be accepted "whether or not they are true" (aka sensationalist wording in tabloids?) defending "not truth" while (fortunately), several others have warned that there are typos or mistakes in good sources, and WP needs to correct those mistakes to reflect the true information (the intended text). Common example: typos in hurricane-advisory wind speeds. Bottomline, I think WP policies can be reworded to avoid shocking, controversial phrases such as "verifiability, not truth". As one editor noted: "policy statements don't want to be "rhetorically shocking" - they want to be clear". We just need to reword policies in a clear manner, such as:

  • "Text must be verifiable, to check whether it truly reflects what reliable sources state, and use current sources about retracted or updated information."

There is little harm in mentioning the words "truly reflects" in the middle of a longer phrase, but any short phrase of the nature "not truth" is bound to generate unhelpful debates, mislead quick readers, or be used as a magic phrase to justify inclusion of false information (the policy explicitly says "not truth"). Avoid other nebulous phrases, as the following would just generate more debates:

  • Wikipedia seeks accurate text, not accuracy.
  • Wikipedia articles should be pleasant, not pleasing.

Adding tricky phrases is just not helpful. If policies are changed to remove short misleading, nebulous phrases, and clearly state 3 or 4 down-to-earth situations, then there will be less wikibabble to warp or debate in numerous discussions. Examples of people twisting the phrase "not truth" (to insist on false information) can be found in archive discussions:

To see the current debates, return to page:

Anyway, the key issue is that nebulous wording has led to complex debates about policies. This is just another of things to ponder in simplifying Wikipedia efforts. -Wikid77 17:08, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I've made some minor changes that hopefully will clear up exactly what is meant by the phrase for the dull or stubborn folks out there in the Wiki-verse.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not Truth—whether readers and editors can independently or collaboratively check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether individual editors have a personal and subjective belief it is True.
How's that? -- Avanu (talk) 18:03, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Rather than refer to the many highly intelligent people who dislike the phrase "not truth" as being dull or stubborn, perhaps a better word would be "persistent" for their efforts to explain all the logical conflicts for months and years. -Wikid77 08:14, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I think the expression is bad, and I have never particularly liked it. I would be happy to see it vanish entirely because it gives people the wrong idea. In particular, I'd like the core idea to be expressed but the expression itself removed. I would recommend something like this: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, i.e. whether readers and editors can independently or collaboratively check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether individual editors have a personal and subjective belief it is true."
There are many places where this matters, and getting rid of that expression gets rid of a silly mantra that confuses many debates.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:48, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for this very clear statement. I have bookmarked the diff for future use when someone insists that Wikipedia must claim something which according to a strong consensus of editors is false. Personally I think that the emerging consensus in some recent debates together with your statement is probably enough to make the "verifiability not truth" mantra harmless in our internal debates, as we now have something to point to when we need to clear up the misunderstanding. But I guess from a PR POV it's still a problem. Hans Adler 07:51, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Agree. The value of verifiability is that it maximizes the chances of getting truth. Saying verifiability, not truth unnecessarily obscures that point. Looie496 (talk) 05:55, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
There are plenty of issues where what we consider as RS say the opposite of the truth. Case in point: the benevolet dictator's date of birth. Personally I hve a friend that if he ever should become notable you would have a RS disussing him and an issue he was involved in and getting all the details (age/profession) bar the name wrong. A sysop friend recently installed software that accourding to RS he should never be able to install in that particular software (He just did not bother to read those sources beforehand). The prounciation of a placename as mentioned in a RS might be totally different to its actual pronaunciation (even BBC radio can make you shudder sometimes). People with access to primary source maybe within organisations know things that are not in RS even contradict them. Someone was accused and convicted of paedophilia (how much more RS can you get than a court decision) it was only years later that he was release as it became apparent that the accusation was made as part of an orchestrated attack on the man. The statement verifiability not truth will continue to be used in these cases. We just don't know in these cases if it is true, if it is fake, a misunderstanding ("he believes it is true") but we AGF and say sorry truth has no place here until you can verify it. Agathoclea (talk) 06:49, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
No, truth does have a place in Wikipedia. We don't knowingly include false information, even if it is reported by a thousand reliable sources. But obviously in such a situation, we would need some way to object to the false information, and that requires something, whether it is simple logic, or a source, hence our Verifiability standard. -- Avanu (talk) 06:56, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for giving the perfect example why we need verifiability, not truth", and why verifiability alone isn't enough. If a thousand reliable sources say A, then you should never state B in an article instead based on "simple logic". "Simple logic" means something completely different from one person to another, and the simple logic of creationists, conspiracy theorists, political extremists, racists, ... should be excluded, and that message must be included in our policy. (Note: I am not dumping you or most editors in these groups, but we need good policies to deal with those as well, and the "not truth" is an essential part to remove all such "logical" nonsense like the Apollo Moon hoax stuff). Fram (talk) 07:50, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
None of the examples would have been different if "not truth" was excluded from the policy though. People would still argue that the "false" information should be inserted because, you know, it is verifiable. The policy, without the "not truth", would still generate the exact same discussions you refer to, and more, because it would only encourage people who want to insert the truth (whatever that is). But why are we even discussing this here when we already have had so many discussions, including an RfC? Fram (talk) 07:50, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't see the harm in trying to improve the wording, even if previous outcomes would be unchanged. -- Avanu (talk) 07:54, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree. The wording has always been awkward and misleading.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:21, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Misleading in what way? It seems to me to be the purest expression of what Wikipedia should be, a representation of what is currently the generally accepted knowledge from reliable sources (or a representation of the different main theories if no such generally accepted version exists), without any claim of this being the truth. If you want truth, you need WP:OR. We don't research the truth, we summarize sources. Verifiability, not truth. We hope that this insistence on verifiability, on reliable independent sources, will lead to maximal truth, but in the end we don't care whether evolution is correct, whether the big bang really started it all, etcetera. Until June 2011, our Archaeopteryx articles started with "is the earliest and most primitive bird known."[8]. This was verifiable, but now we know that it may not have been the truth, and that statement has been replaced by a much longer "some say, others disagree" one[9]. This is "verifiability, not truth" at its best. Fram (talk) 08:35, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec)You are giving earlier discussions as an example of the reasons why the wording need to be changed. However, these discussions wouldn't have been any different with the new wording. So, your argument for change is invalid, or you haven't provided any examples where the removal of "not truth" would have made an actual difference for the better. What you seem to be asking for is "verifiability AND truth" instead of "Verifiability, NOT truth", which would lead to many more acrimonious debates, but not to better articles. Fram (talk) 08:35, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
  • We are discussing this, here, because the general concept of removing nebulous phrases from guidelines/policies is an effort to simplify for newcomers (and others), which is an issue Jimbo has discussed. Imagine the confusion of science students or scientists coming to WP, and reading the "not truth" phrase, when their professions have developed from extensive experiments for "objective truth". It reads like, "WP is based on whatever people write, rather than the truth". It sounds much worse than the reality. As Jimbo wrote above, "[I]t gives people the wrong idea....". That is why some have rung the storm bell to announce the alarming dangers: we do not want people to read the words "not truth" and imagine any known falsehood is allowed. There is no real reason to state "not truth" at that point in the text, rather than simply explain the concept later. People could still debate other issues, but no longer chime "not truth" as their reason for inserting known false text. Plus, of course, when gone, then the numerous debates to remove "not truth" will also end. And there will be "Peace in the Valley" some day, about the phrase. -Wikid77 08:57, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
    • No reason why Jimbo can't discuss it with everyone else on the policy talk page (or subpage) though, one would suppose that he would have the main policies on his watchlist. Starting yet another discussion about this, in another place, is not helpful (to newcomers or veterans). As for "the numerous debates to remove "not truth" will also end", I suppose that was meant tongue-in-cheek? I have still seen no evidence whatsoever of the "alarming dangers" of these two words, which have stood for 7 years, so long before the fall in new editors became a fashionable topic of discussion. "Not truth" doesn't mean "let's insert falshoods", it means "allow uncertainty, approximation, debate, conflicting views, updates, new insights, ..." into our articles, as long as they are supported by the best sources available. "Truth" is fixed, rigid, absolute: Wikipedia is flexible, open, adaptive. Fram (talk) 09:51, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I like the opening of WP:V as it is. I think by far most editors get what it means straight off. The insertion of "known false text" would be nothing more than disruption, so there's no need to skive it down for the disruptive few. Meanwhile, any encyclopedia is not about truth, but only about what sources happen to say about a topic at a given time. There may only be one truth, but there will always be tight bounds to our understanding of what it is. So, most published sources have sundry flaws and hence en.WP is awash with flaws. Hopefully, a WP article gives the reader a handy overview of what the flawed sources have to say. The pith here is good faith. We do what we can. Gwen Gale (talk) 09:15, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
For a counterexample, see Talk:Bože pravde#God, give us justice (the whole section please). I spent kilobytes unsuccessfully arguing why a version supported by one, albeit important, reliable source is incorrect and should be omitted. In return, the best argument I got was the "not truth" mantra. Most frustrating. No such user (talk) 11:20, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
And what if, apart from the president's office, people would also present the BBC "God give us justice" and the NY Times "God give us justice", and the Serbian Orthodox Church "Lord, Give Us Justice"? Yep, "not truth" is the correct mantra yet again: both versions should be included, no matter how much you are certain that one of them is incorrect. Fram (talk) 13:29, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Fram, I don't agree with you. There are a ton of sources showing the translation "God of Justice" and a handful showing "God give us justice" but the latter are clearly wrong, just plain wrong. We could safely omit the latter or, perhaps, include it with a footnote saying that although some sources give this translation, it is not correct.
The position taken by Avala during that debate is clearly wrong in that Avala wanted to reject several reliable sources, including the Parliament and 16 published sources, mostly academic publications, on the grounds that the President is Supreme and the comment on his website trumps all the rest. My guess is that this was and is a minor error on the Presidential website which was then picked up (perhaps from Wikipedia?) by the New York Times and the Serbian Orthodox Church. This is a classic example of contradictory information in reliable sources where we can and should make a thoughtful editorial judgment that one version is just wrong.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:19, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
The NY Times can hardly have picked it up from Wikipedia, since the NY Times article is from 1996... The BBC one is from 2000 as well. Any evidence, instead of will guesses, that the "minor error" was on the presidential website in 1996 already? It wasn't even the official anthem back then (nor in 2000). It seems to me as if this "minor error" which is "clearly wrong" has been made by three or four very reliable sources, some of them the kind of sources that should know better. It is not for us to decide which one is correct and which one isn't unless in the case of very clear errors (typos and so on, true one-off errors): we should present it according to the sources, so in this case we should give both translations.
I am not claiming that the other translation isn't given, or isn't the more usual one, or is better (or worse): but how did you decide that the other one is right and this one is wrong? E.g. the United States. Foreign Broadcast Information Service in 1996 also gave "God give us justice" as the translation[10]. Translations often aren't one-on-one correct, there may be different possible ones, and we shouldn't ignore the less-common one on the say-so of some editors (who may be right, but who are not reliable sources). There are now 5 reliable to very reliable sources using this "wrong" translation, over a period of some 15 years, and without a clear link between them (i.e. it isn't obvious that this "error" has one common source). The article currently states ""Bože pravde" (Serbian Cyrillic: „Боже правде”, meaning "God of Justice"[1] or "Lord, Give Us Justice"[2])". It would be perfectly appropriate to change this to ""Bože pravde" (Serbian Cyrillic: „Боже правде”, translated as "God of Justice"[1] or less commonly as "Lord, Give Us Justice"[2])" or something similar. It would be highly inappropriate to remove the alternative completely though. Fram (talk) 07:20, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment Facts (true and untrue) are found along the way to our intended destination of Truth. Of course we must address untrue facts which have become widespread and commonly assumed to be true. To do this we must repeat the rumor or falsehood, then explain the true facts of the matter. That's one reason why people come to Wikipedia. If we ignore these things completely, those readers often jump to the conclusion we're unaware of 'the facts', are trying to cover up 'the truth', or some such other nonsense. If we are to usefully enlighten people on a subject, we must provide the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts - remembering that not all facts are the 'true facts'. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 14:42, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

"Verifiability" is not in opposition to "truth", after all the "veri-" comes from the Latin verus for "true". A formulation I once saw, and which I liked was "truth through verifiability". I think some of the dispute hinges on what constitutes a reliable source. If an otherwise reliable source states something incorrect, then the source obviously wasn't reliable in that particular instance. Therefore it shouldn't be used to cite that particular (incorrect) statement. In the wake of the atrocities in Norway last month, our article on the attacks stated widespread disruption to Oslo's public transportation network, and cited it to a "reliable source", even when the disruption to the transport network was minimal. (The resolution to this one was finding a source closer to the subject, which was therefore more reliable, and that contained the correct version of events.) The only problem is that editors may have a hard time uncovering mistakes in otherwise reliable sources, and accepting that the statements are indeed erroneous, so this is more of a philosophical reconciliation of the "truth" and "verifiability" concepts, and not always a practical solution. Sjakkalle (Check!) 15:42, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Jimbo, would you comment on what connections (if any) you see between the "Verifiability, not truth" statement in WP:V and the concept of NPOV? Are there not situations where, to maintain a NPOV, our articles must include material that we think untrue? Blueboar (talk) 17:54, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Am not Jimbo, but the classic example would be Flat Earth. We know the earth not to be flat, but we include information because it is verifiable and well-sourced. More controversially, different religions have different beliefs, often contradictory, and it is not the role of an NPOV encyclopedia to "prove" one belief correct and the other wrong - but to report what verifiable, reliable sources are saying about these beliefs in support and in criticism. "Verifiability, not truth" establishes this in an elegant fashion, because it forces us not to evaluate if a belief is true or not, just if it is verifiable. It's really that simple. If we eliminate that basis, that sentence, we will severely compromise the elegant clarity of this formulation, and as a consequence the severe battleground issue that already affect many topic areas will become much more severe to the point of becoming non-functional, instead of simply dysfunctional. "Verifiability, not truth" is a scary thing that keeps those not able to stomach the "other side" away, and that is a good thing, IMHO. --Cerejota (talk) 18:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree... but I would like to hear Jimbo's take on this (as his comments, above, are now being quoted at WT:V, it is important that he make his views on this issue be as clear as possible). Blueboar (talk) 18:18, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I would also like to hear Jimbo's take, but meanwhile: You are wrong, and the problem appears to be that you are approaching even simple, easily settled matters of right or wrong as matters of belief. Reliable sources are full of small, inconsequential mistakes. It's the job of an encyclopedia to filter them out as much as possible, along with all that is not noteworthy, and to report only the rest. And in case of major, widespread mistakes, maybe to mention that they are around and explain why they are mistakes. WP:NPOV was never meant for these straightforward cases. NPOV is a method for getting reasonable articles written on topics where we can't agree, not because a dogmatic editor with no knowledge of the topic is trying to block the informed consensus of a bunch of expert editors, but because the topic is subject to considerable disagreement in the real world.
Our policies and guidelines are not perfect, descriptive texts that have fallen from the sky so that we follow them to the letter. They all arose in specific contexts, to solve specific problems. Applying them far outside the original use case is asking for trouble, and that's what you are doing here. Hans Adler 18:29, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
When two sources each say something different, how are we to know which is right and which is wrong?... other than belief? Blueboar (talk) 18:39, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
What's wrong with a consensus of well informed, intelligent editors? The vast majority of articles is routinely handled in this way. NPOV is only for those cases where this doesn't work. They are relatvely rare in terms of article counts, but as they are the ones that attract disputes, they dominate project space and are what our policies are written for.
Allow me to repeat it in different words because it's so important: Policies are written to settle the disputes at our most contentious articles. The vast majority of our articles are not contentious at all. But if you unthinkingly and inflexibly apply our policies to them, you create completely unnecessary disputes and reduce our credibility and reliability. Hans Adler 19:01, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
A consensus of well informed, intelligent editors... And how is that different than belief? Let's be honest here... when we talk about consensus we are still talking about belief... it's just the common belief of a group as opposed to that of an individual. Blueboar (talk) 20:09, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
No amount of verbal cosmetics is going to change the fact that a bunch of Wikipedia editors who all agree that something is clearly not the case putting it in an article as if it was a fact is an instance of lying. This is unethical, and it's shameless to argue for a policy interpretation that would require this. It takes some chutzpah to promote lying for such a ludicrous reason as dogmatically sticking to a misinterpretation of one of Wikipedia's technical rules that were set up to keep the encyclopedia accurate. Hans Adler 23:03, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
We're building a ForestFire here, ladies and gentlemen. Please don't: discussions are a lot more intelligible, more manageable, and more likely to reach a conclusion if they all happen in one place. I do hope Jimbo will consider pasting this discussion to WT:V/First, whether or not he chooses to reply further.—S Marshall T/C 23:50, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Section break

Up above, we have a prime example of the confusion that the phrase causes. "We know the earth not to be flat, but we include information because it is verifiable and well-sourced." That's actually a nice example of confusion. What is described in that sentence is not actually the case. We know the earth not to be flat, and we say so, uncontroversially. We do not say that the earth is flat, even if sources can be found for it. We use editorial judgment. We are not transcription monkeys, merely writing down what sources say. We want to only write true things in Wikipedia, and we want to verify them.

If there are sources that contradict each other (and there often are) then we use judgment to sift among them, with a variety of possible outcomes. Sometimes we have to report on different views as plausible alternatives, because very often there are plausible alternatives. Sometimes we come to the sane judgment that a particular matter is settled. Sometimes different people will disagree on how settled a matter is, and this leads to conflict. But "verifiability, not truth" does nothing to soothe those conflicts.

The earth is not flat. If someone went to the article Earth and inserted a claim that the earth is flat, and cited some crackpot to the effect that it is flat, or cited an otherwise respected ancient tome, we'd quite rightly revert it. In Flat earth we report on the phenomenon, but we don't take the actual underlying claim seriously at all. The New York Times could print a dead-serious story tomorrow claiming that the world is flat, and we would assume that their printing processes were hacked, or that they are making some kind of joke, or... well there are many alternatives, but none of the serious alternatives would involve the earth being actually flat, and we all know that, so we wouldn't write it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:49, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Although WP is not a journal, not a topics-of-the-day blog, I think the common term "journalistic truth" (missing article 30Aug11) is a similar idea, as in objective journalism (possible source: http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles). Certainly, with scientific matters, too much waffling about the word "truth" is likely to cause extreme stress and frustration. The science-oriented writers should feel that "objective truth" is a basis for technical articles. Of course, there are numerous people who would be willing to debate the meanings of "truth" but not in the first sentence of a policy: it is just too confusing and disquieting, as if saying
     · What is Wikipedia? What is Truth? Who knows?
    I think those kinds of concerns should be avoided, but if needed, say Wikipedia faces a triage: known facts, versus debated beliefs, versus disproven ideas. Based on all the debate, I think we will need to write some type of foundation-text page, which values truth as an issue in Wikipedia, while acknowledging the limits. We have some frustrated editors proposing "Wikipedia strives for truth" and similar. -Wikid77 10:55, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... is this essentially nothing more than a dispute between science-oriented editors and humanities-oriented editors? ... I can understand science editors wanting the ability to omit material that is not in line with accepted scientific knowledge (ie to omit or limit things that are scientifically untrue), and humanities editors wanting a far more nuanced approach approach that allows for situations where "truth" is essentially just a matter of opinion. Blueboar (talk) 11:59, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, Blueboar, I think that is another possible area to explore, later in policy texts, as noting how some subjects have numerous conflicting ideas, and Wikipedia should truly reflect those ideas from reliable sources, without trying to sway the decisions in any particular direction. There are also many debated areas in science, such as the rules in quantum physics being unable to predict/explain the structure of the whole universe, as compared to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Hence, the uncertainties are not just in the Humanities, but the truth-aspect for WP is like a truth-in-reporting requirement, where editors should not be seeing a phrase like "not truth" to think false ideas or mere opinions are given a green-light acceptance in WP articles. It's not so much the truth of the ideas, but the truth in reporting those ideas, as a 2-level process, and so stating untrue ideas as if being true is a real danger. -Wikid77 13:02, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
The two most blatant cases that I remember (whether arbitrator and Labour Party member Sam Blacketer defaced David Cameron's article during an election season, and whether the Santa Claus article must be neutral as to whether the guy exists) don't confirm this. But it is true that in science articles we routinely decide what to say or not based on an evaluation of truth in which reliable sources on one hand and logic and editors' expertise on the other hand play roughly equal roles. Hans Adler 12:55, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
No one has ever argued that "verifiability, not truth" is invariably a sufficient condition for inclusion. But having good sources is a necessary condition (hence: the threshold for inclusion) and is often a sufficient condition too, where there aren't lots of sources competing for inclusion. What editors believe about those sources is irrelevant. The key is to offer our readers an educated overview of the relevant literature. Editors shouldn't be picking and choosing which bits of that literature to leave out, except where it's clear the author has made a simple error. But otherwise we read the literature ourselves, then summarize it for our readers, including the bits we disagree with.
We don't say to our readers: "I, exalted Wikipedian, have read reliable source X, but you, lowly peon, are too stupid to place it in context, so I've decided not to let you judge for yourself." That's precisely the world Wikipedia is helping to overthrow, or I thought it was. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 21:25, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I am not aware that you have ever commented about Sam Blacketer controversy (excuse me if you did and I just missed or forgot it). What's your take on The Register's claim that by reverting from a photo of David Cameron with a halo back to a "less saintly" official photo released by his office, Sam Blacketer vandalised the biography of an opponent during an election campaign? It turned out impossible to balance this with the actual facts, as they were consistently shot down for OR and primary sourcing concerns. How can we offer an "educated overview of the relevant literature", when all there is one report that gets almost everything wrong, copied by news media worldwide? Was it irrelevant in this situation what editors (based on our server logs) believed about the truth of the claims?
As to "I, exalted Wikipedian, have read reliable source X, but you, lowly peon, are too stupid to place it in context, so I've decided not to let you judge for yourself." I don't think that's an accurate description of the decision process that leads to taking a tiny minority of the reliable sources that write about Santa Claus seriously, and treating the rest as fiction even if they are presented as fact (e.g. see NORAD Tracks Santa). How would you deal with this? Should we add to the Santa Claus article the information that according to numerous reliable sources there is an annual effort by NATO to "track" Santa, resulting in spectacular footage, but that other reliable sources choose not to report this? (The second part would be challenged as original research, of course.) Do we have an obligation to be agnostic on whether Santa Claus is just a legendary figure (as Britannica says) or whether he really exists, because we are not allowed to use our judgement and determine that a lot of what reliable sources write about Santa Claus is meant in a 'Christmas spirit' rather than seriously? Hans Adler 08:44, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I just don't get what's so difficult to understand about a concept like "verifiable truth". Whoops, that's the gallows, now... XD 98.224.27.52 (talk) 11:28, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Truth is alive and well in WP, maybe

With all the debate about the not-truth mantra, there might be a backlash in Wikipedia to suppress articles about truth, because the importance of truth, as a general concept has been stongly questioned, and in some cases, derided. So, I have noticed there are several WP articles about the typical mainstream notions with the word "truth" and not all topics about truth are missing from Wikipedia. However, it is curious that some articles are missing:

I suppose some of those article titles could be considered Wiktionary entries, but when other enclyopedias cover such topics, then it just seems curious. -Wikid77 15:49, 29 August 2011, revised 10:15, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, let's get rid of them in the name of WP:TRUTH, WP:JUSTICE and the WP:AMERICANWAY. Seriously though, I think the problem is that from the early days of Wikipedia we have had POV pushers claiming to bear the "truth". (the best example is "911 cranks" being referred to as "truthers", a more recent example is in the recent history of this article) This has led to us needing to hammer home the point that verifiability is what's important and truth has become a dirty word to the detriment of those who use it to mean "accuracy". --Ron Ritzman (talk) 13:01, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
The best summary, er paraody, of what you describe can be found at WP:ROUGE. Kaldari (talk) 01:39, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Of div boxes and tables

Hi Jimbo, table coding on Wikipedia is a PITA. If you really want to make things easier for editors (newbies or otherwise) it would make more sense to focus on things that could make editing article space - you know, the heart of the project - easier to edit rather than worrying so much about user space. LadyofShalott 14:30, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Well, I'm not worrying so much about user space! And I totally agree with you about tables. Our table editing situation is disastrous. But I don't work in the programming world these days, so I can mainly be useful by advocating for us choosing simpler coding in article space and table space... but tables are extremely useful and not something it makes sense to campaign against per se.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm absolutely not saying get rid of them - they are definitely needed in certain places. I'm saying they need to be easier to make and modify. LadyofShalott 14:44, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I don't think she's against tables on Wikipedia, just against how, um, "fun" they are to code and place into an article. :-) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 14:45, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I understood. I'm just saying that I can't personally do anything about making tables easier to use, which is why I'm not campaigning about them at the moment. :)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:56, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually I think you can do something -- as a former programmer I know that developers are usually very sensitive to guidance from above about priorities, much more than to guidance from users, which tends to be contradictory and often misguided. But getting the developers to do something to make references easier should be a much higher priority than facilitating table-editing. Regards, Looie496 (talk) 15:28, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Second that. I was pushing the idea about six months ago, that there should be some kind of very obvious invitation to edit on every article, and when you click on the invitation, you're taken to a simple brief tutorial covering the policy essentials and practicalities of editing. I got disheartened. I couldn't make it short and simple, explaining how to do citations took up half the tutorial. It's a real disincentive to editing. And I agree the tables need to be made easier. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 16:45, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
While a discussion about tables is what led to my posting today, I agree it is far from the only thing in article space that needs improving, and I do think you could do something about it if you really wanted to do so, Jimbo. You have the ability to make things higher or lower priority for those working on them. LadyofShalott 20:00, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
LadyofShalott, why don't you provide an example of what you think the process should resemble? Keep in mind this has to handle both creating a new table and adding a column to a fully filled-out existing table. Would it resemble creating a table in MS Word? Something else you've used? (Disclaimer: imo the easiest thing is to find a table I like, then copy the code and change the field values. I don't want to look up color codes or how to make a column sortable or anything else. I just want an example I can cut and paste aka kindergarten skillset.) 75.59.226.225 (talk) 20:15, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Something more like what is in Word would certainly be an improvement. I don't know that it's necessarily the way to go. I'm not a programmer though. LadyofShalott 20:32, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
The problem there is that it is is really the only way to go. It is also an incredibly difficult option to get working well. Although perhaps just focusing on tables could work... WYSIWYG tends to be very very hard to implement on the web - and a bad implementation will just confuse people further. --Errant (chat!) 21:00, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
LadyofShalott, this isn't about how to program anything, but writing specifications. If you want it to be easier, then you must have some idea of what and how you would like to enter the information. Programmers can then translate that into code, but they can't read your mind. Do you want an interactive Wizard experience, in which you're asked questions and given choices? I've found those easy to use to create a table, but not to modify an existing one. Or do you just not like the current symbols and codes (which have to be 'odd' or they might be confused with actual field values)? Would it help to have a sidelist of the codes to remind you what each is, and what it's for? I'm not trying to pick on you, just pointing out that this is the usual circular discussion that happens when a non-geek asks a geek to improve something. What's easy, straightforward and an obvious improvement to a geek isn't necessarily what you want. Memorizing huge number of esoteric codes and formatting isn't what most non-geeks look forward to, while many geeks think all that's needed is more education on your part and you'll enjoy this sort of thing (see list of UNIX codes and/or baseball statistics) as much as they do. I've never found that to be the case when working with non-geek users, who yearn for a user-intuitive (hence the name) experience, with no memorization involved, particularly for something they rarely use. If they absolutely have to learn something, they only want to learn it once (such as MS Word) and then do exactly the same thing in every other application they have to use (hence the popularity of MS Office). And so it goes. Fortunately, that isn't the absolutely only option. Being a collaborative project, with geeks who enjoy doing geeky things, you always have the option of setting up the most basic table possible and asking a geek for help. For example, there could be a template Template:Help table which would signal legions of geeks eager to help a Lady (or a gentleman, but you are a Lady by your name) in distress. Let them create the terrific-looking table which uses all the appropriate gadgets and colors. It's what they do best. Think of it as outsourcing your non-core competencies. Or being an enabler for their addiction. In a good way, of course. ;-) 75.59.226.225 (talk) 21:33, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Yet another possibility: Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, allow tables created in MS Word to be inserted into Wikipedia via a conversion program. Have geeks, will convert. 75.59.226.225 (talk) 22:04, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
To respond to several remarks here. No, actually, I don't really have the power to put things directly onto the tech agenda, and it would be foolhardy for me to try. The last thing the staff needs is for me to start acting like a quasi-manager, interfering with their work directly. At the board level, and as an influential person, yes I can continue to push for tech investment and also as a community member, I can help let the tech staff know what we consider priorities. But I'm not the direct decision-maker (nor do I want to be) about specific tech priorities. :)
So, yes yes yes yes to the suggestions here. But I'm not the best forum for making them.
What I'm most interested in doing is helping to drive forward an agenda of simplification of processes and procedures that are directly under our control here. That's where we can have high impact, and quickly.
Can someone find and post a link to my Wikimania speech? I think it'll clarify what I mean.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Standard tables are as easy as copy-paste. Tables with merged cells can take a few minutes. Formatting different rows, columns or cells differently is a nightmare. Zuggernaut (talk) 07:02, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
This stuff is already in the works, but it's a long term project. First we have to complete the new parser and the new visual editor. Those will allow us to build better interfaces for things like tables and templates. In the meantime, building enhancements for user pages is comparatively easy and thus more likely to be released sooner. Kaldari (talk) 01:46, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Kaldari. Is there somewhere online that describes the principles and priorities guiding the development of the parser and visual editor? And does "long term" mean months or years? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:40, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Still banning paid editors?

Hi Jimmy,

Are you still banning editors who are paid to write Wikipedia articles? I'm unclear because I've seen a quote attributed to you announcing that everyone can consider it policy that paid editors will be banned, but I know there have been two failed proposals to that effect, and this "policy" doesn't seem to appear anywhere on the site. Can you please reiterate your stance, actual policy, and if/how they differ please? Thank you. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 05:14, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

I think this is entirely uncontroversial. My stance is unchanged, and I'm unaware of any serious disagreement on this issue. The difficulties are around the margins. It's important not to use the overly broad and vague phrase "paid editing" and instead focus more precisely on what is actually problematic: paid advocacy.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:22, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad its uncontroversial. While I appreciate that your stance is unchanged, I'm trying to ascertain what the rules are (does your stance = policy?). There have been two attempts to formulate policy that prohibits editors from being paid (outside the reward board, that is), with no consensus being the result both times. However, as I understand it, you have stated that you'll ban editors that you become aware are writing or editing for compensation by outside paid interests. The reason I'm asking the questions is because I've been offered a job by a PR firm. We've discussed the possibility of writing articles for clients. However, I am a respected member of the Wikipedia community, and I have demonstrably followed the rules and guidelines (inasmuch as I am aware of them...sometimes I run into a new one, then have to adjust, but that hasn't happened in a while). I told the firm that writing articles for clients would be construed by many in the community as a conflict of interest. I told them that according to the guidelines, editors are "strongly encouraged" not to engage in COI editing. I told them that if I did write articles, that they would have to meet community standards, would not be able to be promotional, etc. And that I would refuse to write articles about subjects that were not qualified for inclusion. If a client that meets standards for inclusion wants to pay to have an article written, allows the editor full editorial control over the content, and the editor follows community standards, is there a policy against that editor doing the work? It doesn't seem to me to be that different from offering a reward on the reward board. I'm making a good faith attempt to figure out what the rules are here. Please teach me. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 09:47, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I think you should tell them that it is impossible. PR firms should never edit Wikipedia on behalf of clients, other than posting to the talk pages. I think that's obvious. That's precisely the kind of thing that is uncontroversially banned. Asking questions about "what if I did a really good job of it" really misses the point, I'm afraid. It is wrong and a serious violation of the trust of the community to do something like that. It could seriously embarrass Wikipedia and undermine the public view of Wikipedia. Please don't do that.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:03, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd like to add that I'm writing you from a developing country, where there are still many, many places, organizations, and people that meet the standards for inclusion but have not yet had articles written about them, especially in the English language. Thank you for your time and consideration. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 10:08, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Its not paid editing as such which is the issue. Rather it is the reason behind it and the potential consequences of paid editing which can often be problematic. Although highly unlikely, the Brazilian government for instance could pay me to write a neutral featured article on their economy or tourism for instance which adheres to all guidelines and is perfectly acceptable and of quality benefit to wikipedia. On the other hand a French businessman or something could pay me to write a biography about him or his company and ask for it to be full of promotional material and cherry picking material or could pay me to write a untrue/derogatory article about his rival for instance. The articles which potentially are full of POV, untruths, promotional content are where paid editing is unacceptable. ♦ Dr. Blofeld 12:21, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
But if the Brazilian government paid you to write a neutral featured article on their economy that adheres to all guidelines (as unlikely as it is) would that be okay? That's what I'm trying to ascertain. Because if I go to work for this PR firm, and the hypothetical French businessman was a client of the firm and wanted a biography full of hype, I'd explain to him that if I wrote him such an article, that it would quickly be deleted, and then he would have wasted his money as well as the time of the editors that reviewed it at AfD, and for that reason, I can't write an article that I know does not meet community standards. Any paid editing that I might do would have to benefit the encyclopedia, and I have already made that clear to the firm: if it doesn't benefit the encyclopedia, then I can't take the assignment. I've written featured articles. I've even had a featured article on the main page, one I wrote from scratch, so I'm well aware of (and committed to) community standards for inclusion. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 13:46, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
While Jimbo's stance against paid editing has long been consistent, I don't think it actually matches community consensus. As far as I know, WP:COI is the closest thing that we have to a related policy, and it doesn't even forbid editing with a conflict of interest--merely recommends against it. Of course, you may want to check what I say versus other editors, because I think there is no problem with paid editing, so long as the editing is done in full compliance with our other rules (especially WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:BLP). Since we don't forbid employees at Company X from writing about Company X, why would we forbid someone who works independently of Company X but is paid by them? As someone else said, we all get "paid" for editing, it's just that most of us get paid some sort of "warm fuzzy feeling" or the feeling that we're important or that we're contributing to a noble cause or whatever. Of course, any paid (or unpaid) editor who consistently creates bad articles should be blocked, and then it will be up to them to explain to their "employers" why they couldn't accomplish the job they were paid to do. Qwyrxian (talk) 13:58, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
If the French businessman paid you to write his biography and it was perfectly neutral using multiple reliable sources, with no agenda or request for puffery then there is no official rule against it providing it meets WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:BLP. And if he paid you to write a featured article, the article like any other would undergo vigorous scrutiny so any "issues" would be detected, so in the end wikipedia would have a featured article better off regardless of how it got there. ♦ Dr. Blofeld 14:20, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
The community's approach to this is consistently "if there is no problem caused, there is no problem". There are plenty of PR firms that successfully edit Wikipedia, in line with policy, and we have some good content because of it (wow, PR firms that understand the internet? Scary stuff! :)). If someone wants to pay you to write about an undernourished topic then excellent, so long as it does not cause a problem, and the issues of COI are kept in minf. Of course; the major problem for any "paid editor" is that in situations where content does get disputed, or an article ends up with content that the client dislikes, the editor either has to cause a problem (i.e. disrupt Wikipedia) or face down an angry client. Which is why it is most strongly discouraged, I think, because it is in those situations that problems start to occur. As a paid editor it can also be very hard to write objectively (no matter how hard you try!) or see issues with the content. --Errant (chat!) 15:16, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
This catches my interest because I have a long term goal that may relate. In Mexico, in order to get one's university degree, it is necessary to complete a social service requirement of a considerable number of hours with a non-profit organization. While compensation is not required, many do offer small stipends. Im still investigating the marvelous bureaucracy behind this, but if it is possible to set up some kind of Wikimedia related program with government and/or NGO funding and if there is no COI objection, we could get graduating students in a number of fields, especially in the humanities and languages to work with WP for sustained periods. After starting Club Wikipedia on campus only a few weeks ago, there is great interest among students to do projects for class related to WP and I find myself partially mentoring these students (on how to work with WP). I am quite amazed by the possibilities if there is indeed no (insurmountable) COI problems.
Also, how does this relate to the general practice among GLAM projects for those Wikipedians not employed by the institution barred from editing the institution's WP page? After all, as Dr. Blofeld says, if it meets all of the requirements of a WP article, why does it matter who wrote it?Thelmadatter (talk) 14:31, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Thelmadatter indirectly raises a good point: our Ambassador program (which, if I remember, is a Foundation supported program) is specifically recruiting "paid" editors, in that students are "paid" with course credit. Yes, we work with professors to try to teach students how to edit Wikipedia, but some student articles/additions have had the same types of POV, OR, etc. problems that we find in other articles. Qwyrxian (talk) 14:35, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
If those editors edit as paid advocates (whether paid by money or course credit), then that's wrong, and banned. If they edit articles about which they have no conflict of interest, then of course that's fine.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:05, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
So what about the Wikipedia in Residence schemes - where an employee is assigned with the aim of improving content related to X establishment. These have been pretty successful, but fall exactly in the sort of class of editors you appear to be against. --Errant (chat!) 15:20, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
This is now related to my above suggestion of introduction an Article of the Month system in which there is an incentive or prize, if not monetary something of esteem, such as being "paid" with a course credit or something which is academically honorable. That sort of thing would work. ♦ Dr. Blofeld 14:38, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I think it would be helpful to introduce a policy on paid editing. As someone mentioned, COI doesn't seem to address the subject. There should be clear rules on what constitutes paid editing, and what is the penalty.
Personally I think COI rules need to be strengthened. In one instance some months ago, a New York politician placed disparaging text in an article on the pol who defeated him for the New York Assembly. He eventually was indefinitely blocked, not for that but for socking. ScottyBerg (talk) 15:19, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I can see articles with possible COI needing extra scrutiny, including those written by paid editors. If possible COI is declared voluntarily, we can tag it for review by third parties rather than banning it outright. This would allow members of GLAM projects to work on articles related to their partner institutions without problems.Thelmadatter (talk) 15:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure how anyone hopes to identify paid editors. I spend much of my time reverting paid and unpaid spamming. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.97.55.83 (talk) 15:40, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I just noticed what Jimmy said above about acceptance of course credit and I think that needs to be clarified. Wikipedia is currently aggressively pursing cooperatives with several colleges and paid institutions like the Smithsonian Museum and others that seem to violate this policy. There are quite a few University courses that require students to write or improve a Wikipedia article as part of the course and until now seemed to be ok with Wikipedia. If its now not ok then that is a serious deviation from what has been publicly advocated through the Wikipedian in Residence programs and other venues. --Kumioko (talk) 15:45, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You are mistaken. There is no deviation from anything like that. Perhaps you misunderstood my remarks. It is perfectly ok for people to receive course credit for improving a Wikipedia article. It is never ok to edit Wikipedia as a paid advocate.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:54, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
A grey area, which may have to remain gray, is when an employee of an organization edits articles about his or her employer in a consistently positive manner. Removing negative material and adding positive material, year after year, in agreement with other employees and members of the organization who are also editing. No one can say that the employee is specifically paid to advocate for the organization, and they might even do it for free if they had to because they agree with the organization's cause.   Will Beback  talk  22:20, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't see a gray area there. That's bad behavior and a blockable offense. I'm not saying we need to be draconian about it. Vandalism is a blockable offense, but we work with people to give them second chances. But if you work for a company and you behave as you outlined above, repeatedly, you will be blocked. I think that's uncontroversial.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 05:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Tell that to the ArbCom.   Will Beback  talk  05:54, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Ok Glad to hear I was wrong. When I read the statement you made saying If those editors edit as paid advocates (whether paid by money or course credit), then that's wrong, and banned I got a little nervous. --Kumioko (talk) 23:27, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I am still unclear on what you are trying to say. I 100% stand behind the statement If those editors edit as paid advocates (whether paid by money or course credit), then that's wrong, and banned. People who are participating in outreach programs of that type must not act as paid advocates. It's one thing for people to participate in a school program which involves course credit to improve public policy articles in Wikipedia (for example), and quite a different thing to participate in a program to promote the school.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 05:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Jimbo, if by "paid advocate" you mean someone participating against Wikipedia:NOTADVOCATE, then I agree. But if you're implying Noraft shouldn't take their job offer, even if they continue to edit here well, then I think something is wrong. WP:COI says one "is an incompatibility between the aim of Wikipedia, which is to produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia, and the aims of an individual editor." Noraft has already told the employer he can only edit without a COI, so if they take their offer, who are we to say no, unless their edits prove otherwise? Jesanj (talk) 00:13, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Jimbo, I have to say that you badly misunderstand education if you don't believe that receiving a grade is getting paid. Getting a grade is part of receiving formal credentials; these credentials translate, in many direct and indirect ways, into better earning opportunities; it's a little unclear in the US where most (maybe all) of our Ambassadorships, but in many other countries there is an undeniable connection between receiving a college degree and attaining a higher income. Now, you might say that theoretically students have no vested interest in the actual subject that they edit...but in the group I handled last semester, while the students didn't have a vested interest, their professor certainly did, and this had an impact in how the article was shaped. And, separate from that, I've experienced basically the same problems with students as I have seen with monetarily paid editors: attempting to defend their edits and even edit war to keep their additions to articles because they have to or they'll have negative consequences (no credit or no paycheck).
But this is getting far afield. I want to come back to my original point: if you go to WP:Paid editing, you'll see that we have a failed proposal, a failed guideline, an essay (which takes a middle ground), and an RfC that ended with no consensus. That is, though Jimbo appears to firmly believes that all paid editing should be prohibited, his opinion does not currently match community consensus. I would consider it extremely inappropriate, for instance, for an admin to block someone simply because they were a paid editor, and would consider such a block valid only if the editors contributions violate actual policy/guidelines. As always, Jimbo Wales or anyone else is welcome to start a new centralized discussion to try to gain consensus to stop paid editing (or, more accurately, stop delcared paid editing, since even if we block those who admit it, there will always be secretly paid editors, especially those who edit for PR departments, politicians, etc.); until then, there is no actual prohibition, as far as I am aware. Qwyrxian (talk) 00:43, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
This entire remark is completely irrelevant, as I didn't say that I don't think course credit is not getting paid, and indeed said the exact opposite. You can pretend there is no consensus by misrepresenting my position and the position of others, but you're just plain wrong.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 05:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Don't mean to stalk (you are a TA?), but the concerns you raised really depend on how this whole collaboration works and what topics are available. For example:
  1. Topics in math and science (except commercialized science like pharmaceutical agents) are much harder to be affected by vested interest than topics in social science and humanities.
  2. Rules can be set up s.t. edit-warring and other violations will result in censorship of the student
  3. Marks can be allocated based on quality instead of quantity
  4. 3rd party volunteer from relevant projects can be recruited to actively monitor the quality of content
With that said, I'd be more concerned about competence than bad faith in this case, since not every student is going to be an enthusiastic participant and that would mean there's bound to be a lot of low-quality work to be cleaned up after.
My two cents. Apologies for stalking :) --Bobthefish2 (talk) 02:15, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
  • So this prompts the question: Does Jimbo's opinion = policy? Or is there some sort of precedent for what happens when Jimbo's opinion diverges from community consensus? 206.53.148.176 (talk) 01:51, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
As for "diverges from community consensus", that isn't necessarily the case. Bielle (talk) 02:53, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
That was a case of someone who lied about editing for pay, and several of the commenters stated they were more concerned about that than they were about the paid editing itself. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 04:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Noraft. If you're going to write an article, it has to be balanced. If it's a person and in your research you find that he had youthful ties to the Nazi party, or was credibly accused of fraud, or whatever, you have include that if its germane. If it's a company and they were fined for violating anti-pollution laws or whatever, same thing. Not only that, if someone else puts this information in the article you have to defend keeping it in, if its accurate and referenced and germane. If you client is screaming at you that he now wants the damn article deleted, you have to vote to keep it (after all, you wouldn't have created or worked on the article if you didn't think the subject was notable). You're honor-bound to do all this. But if you do, not only will you lose your job (and not have a usable reference) but if word gets around your entire career in the PR industry will be finished. Why on Earth would you want to put yourself in that position?

And not only that. Unless you're superhuman, you won't be able to make a fair determination of what belongs. "Well, let's see. I think this material belongs, but I'm not sure. If I don't add it, no one will know. If I do, my career is over, I'll probably lose my house and my dog will leave me and I'll end up destitute. But a Wikipedia article will be a little bit improved!" Why would you want to leave yourself open to such an unpassable test of your good faith and honor? Smart people don't put themselves in these kind of positions, I don't think. Just tell them you can't do it. Herostratus (talk) 03:59, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree that any article I write has to be balanced. If in my research I find he had youthful ties to the Nazi party, or was credibly accused of fraud, I'd tell him that this information needed to go into the article, and even if I don't included, doubtless someone else would, so I'd tell him that it was in his best interests for the article not to be written at all. In terms of making a fair determination of what belongs in the article, Wikipedia guidelines are pretty clear about that. A big part of doing this right is good expectations management with the client in the first place. Sitting him/her down and saying "This is how Wikipedia works. If you've got negative, verifiable information documented anywhere, it could end up in your article, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop that from happening." Regarding me being put in a position where I have a boss making me do things I don't want to do, I'm coming in at a high enough level that this is not an issue. I tell them what can and can't be done regarding Wikipedia, because among that group, I'm the most knowledgeable about it.
PR firms are already editing Wikipedia under the radar. And thereby you have no control. I may be one of the first people that truly understands Wikipedia's culture, is aligned with it, and is trying to find a way to do this in the open, under due scrutiny. I think I can demonstrate that I can write neutral articles that improve the encyclopedia, even though I'm being compensated. And because I'm "on the radar," the community can monitor for COI.
COI is when interests conflict. Lets say there's a Vietnamese rock star who has won awards and had a ton of press there, and is now attempting to go international, so he hires a firm to write his English Wikipedia entry. It is factual, verifiable, he is notable, and all guidelines and community standards were observed during its creation. He CC licensed a couple nice professional photos to be used in it. The interests (his and Wikipedia's) do not conflict; they actually converge (albeit for different goals). Wikipedia's goal is to be the sum of human knowledge, and this rock star, by helping contribute to that, increases his international visibility with the press, who will find good solid information on him when they look him up on Wikipedia. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 04:34, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
This is a short-sighted analysis. We might as well argue for privately funded vigilante justice and prisons. Let me explain.
Suppose a group of merchants got together and decided to build a prison and private police force and private court system specifically for the prosecution of crimes of shoplifting. For the sake of argument, let's assume they are putting forward as well the argument that they will do everything the "right way" meaning that they will hold fair trials, mete out just punishments, etc. But "follow the money" - it's highly unlikely that such courts would actually function in a just way, because the structure of incentives is dead set against it. So we don't allow that in society, for good reasons.
Similarly, we can certainly imagine a happy hypothetical and pretend that it represents reality, but a thoughtful assessment of the incentive structure reveals what a bad idea it is. Wikipedia is better off without the random rare article on a Vietnamese pop star, if the cost is to allow for an extremely dangerous and plainly corrupt means of getting it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 05:30, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
If any paid editors are reading this, the message is, make sure you abide by Wikipedia's policies and make doubly sure you don't tell anyone you are being paid to edit. You should be fine. Also, if any WMF staff edit Wikipedia from their office during business hours, block them and link to this discussion for the rationale. Cla68 (talk) 06:02, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Wow, I don't think you could have misrepresented this discussion any more inaccurately if you had tried. I said nothing remotely similar to that. If any WMF staff are making promotional/advocacy edits about Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation, then that's wrong. Don't misrepresent what I've said in order to push your agenda, please.
As for the first part, it's also just bizarro logic. It's as if you might oppose a law against shoplifting by sarcastically saying: "If any shoplifters are reading this, the message is, make sure you behave properly in the store, and make doubly sure that you don't let anyone see you are shoplifting." And then to propose making shoplifting legal, so long as it is done under certain parameters. Nonsense.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:28, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate the analogy, Jimmy. (I also notice the inherent bias against PR, which I don't understand) To continue with your analogy, you've already got plenty of private prisons/cops/courts here on Wikipedia. You only catch and ban the bad ones. The mediocre ones get good faith, so their articles just get edited or deleted. And the skillful ones you can't see, and thus can't scrutinize. And your response to the issue supports this status quo. I see better possibilities. If there was a mechanism for PR firms to edit under the watchful eye of the community, they'd likely start policing each other, training their writers better, and enforcing community standards and ethics. I don't think that has to be a happy hypothetical, and to prove it, I'm offering myself as a test case. If you think I'm going to be somehow corrupted by writing for a PR firm, I'll declare every article I write for a client on the talk page, RfC it, and let the community independently determine whether or not my work benefits the encyclopedia or not. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 06:24, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I have no bias against PR. I have bias against unethical PR. There is a mechanism for PR firms to get involved in Wikipedia, and it's really super easy to do: edit the talk page with full disclosure. Talk to the community and let others decide. Simple. The idea that we are missing out on something important by banning article space edits by paid advocates is not remotely persuasive. It is really quite simple to not edit the actual article itself. So, no, don't do that.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:30, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I think that's something I can work with. However, there's no article talk page for a new article that hasn't been written yet, so I guess I could use my sandbox for that, and then say "Hey, there's a ready made article here written by our firm," and maybe offer something on the bounty board for someone to review it, and if they agree that it meets community standards, move it to article space. Would that be acceptable? ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 06:46, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not comfortable with that kind of use of the bounty board, but otherwise yes. It's not good to use the bounty board in a way that might be construed as inducing in someone a conflict of interest.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:52, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
That's an easy fix: We can just make the bounty payable upon review, regardless of outcome. You pass it, the bounty is paid. You decline to publish it (and say why), the bounty is paid. You publish an edited version of it, the bounty is paid. For stuff that's super time sensitive (i.e. short deadlines) we can offer larger bounties. Would that be acceptable? ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 07:18, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
No, that's not ok at all. You would be acting as a paid advocate and paying people on Wikipedia to do things you want them to do. That's never going to be ok. As a paid advocate, you are strictly limited to stating your case in non-article space, and if the community agrees, then something useful will happen. I don't see why you are having a hard time understanding this.--10:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Still a bad idea to abuse the bounty board for that. If you write a decent new article, you will have no trouble at all finding editors who are willing to evaluate it for potential mainspace use. Or if you do have trouble, then it's because for some reason it's complicated (e.g. all reliable sources used can only be found in a handful of libraries located in Africa), and a bounty is not going to change this. And in such a case a strong extrinsic motivation such as a bounty can encourage sub-standard reviews. Hans Adler 08:56, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Hans, that's exactly right.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Again though Jimbo, it comes down to incentives. The motivation factor has to be there to write certain articles. Not every human being is willing to work hard with no compensation and indeed this is why we are missing out on millions of editors who could write for us. But if a British businessman or MP or something paid an editor to write a featured article about him, how it got there really should not matter providing it meets all requirements and::::::::::: is neutral and indeed correct. If an editor is compelled to develop an article to featured quality there is usually something driving them, if not monetary it is a strong passion for that subject or keen interest. There will always be some motivating aspect behind any article. Ideally it would have been written by an innocent hard-working individual for free of course. To the regular wikipedia reader a featured quality article which is well researched and written is what matters and the readers do not care what motivated the editor to write it but are just grateful that the information is there at face value. The fact would be that wikipedia would be one featured article better off and would likely not be but for the incentive for the editor to write about that businessman. The problem with paid editing occurs when the donor actually pays an editor to advocate something, present lies and mistruths or to intentionally vandalize the reputation of a rival or something. You must surely recognize the difference between this Jimbo? There is a major difference between paid neutral quality writing and intentional disruption. I'm guessing Jimbo that your real concern about all paid editing is the idea that the encyclopedia is being manipulated for someone's gain when it is supposed to be an honest act of public good will. If that is your real concern then I can completely understand your viewpoint. Technically an encyclopedia should most certainly not be compiled with such corruption but given that wikipedia writing is unpaid, unlike the old Britannic book writers who were paid to write those articles, then this is going to pose a problem for the site.♦ Dr. Blofeld 10:01, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Again, I repeat that this sort of analysis is short-sighted. We need to make it very clear that paying people to advocate by editing Wikipedia directly is always wrong, and it confuses the issue to fantasize about cases where it might work out ok.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Jimbo, what do you think motivates people to write featured articles for free? Almost always because they are a fan or very passionate about that subject. Is it right to you that wikipedia articles are written by fans? I wrote the Clint Eastwood article as a die hard fan. Is it right that an encyclopedia article is written by a fan? Absolutely not in the same way with paid editing. In principle it is wrong but until you acknowledge the way most people think and what motivates them to write articles. Incentives are what drive people if not monetary an incentive to write because of passion for the subject. You see to fail to understand what actually gets editors to produce great content.♦ Dr. Blofeld 10:47, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
To the contrary, I have a very good understanding of what actually gets editors to produce great content. Thank you for your work on Clint Eastwood, and I'm glad you enjoyed doing it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:58, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Thankyou. Don't get me wrong, I do agree with you that the thought of the encyclopedia being manipulated and abused for someone's gain when it is supposed to be an honest act of public good will is most certainly wrong. But I do kind of see what actually motivates some people in some areas of the project. I'm not saying paid editing is right, but I am saying that all editors have something driving them and I think that featured articles are more important than any. If the article has undergone scrutiny for neutrality and meets requirements by a team of editors at FAC and an FA is produced I think most editors would be grateful to have that FA article regardless of how it got there. Most wikipedia readers of course aren't concerned about why the article was written but are clearly visiting the article for a reason, to learn. I just think certain aspects of the issue, such as paying editors to intentionally cause disruption and insert mistruths about their rivals is the real crime and far worse than genuinely constructive, neutral content. Fair enough, I can see why you are against it entirely and I respect that.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:17, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

We should also acknowledge the fact that writing in Wikipedia is hard. There's no way that it can be called anything else. Its easy to make 1 or 2 edits here and there but with all the beauracracy, rules, guidelines and requirements, good and bad, it takes a long time to learn and is a significant investment of time and effort. I am not at all advocating that we should start letting PR firm start editing topics but I think if we all put our heads together we can generate some guidelines to do several things:

  1. Improve some content
  2. Generate some additional interest
  3. Acknowledge a problem that exists in the shadows secretly anyway.

Again Im not saying that we should be advocating a for profit environment and maybe one of the caveats would be that the bounty cannot go towards the editor that did the work but to a charity of some kind (perhaps related to the topic at hand) and the guidelines would specify what is and isn't acceptable and the bountys could have an approval vetting process. Maybe we could even create a "Bounty tab" similar to the Wikilove or Twinkle tabs that allows a user to put a bounty on the article for various things (add an image, get to FA, cleanup, etc). Maybe this could be done to raise money for events in the world like disaster relief. If you edit X article with X message that someone (named or unnamed) will donate X amount of money or other goods to Hurricane Irene relief. That would generate a ton of positive interest and press over Wikipedia I would think even if only done sporatically for specific topics for a specific length of time. I dunno, Im just brainstorming here, but there should be a way to make this work within reasonable guidelines and without jeopardizing the good name of Wikipedia. Especially since we all know that its happening through college course credits, actual monetary payments or otherwise whether we choose to act on it or not these are all forms of payment.

With all that said I do certainly understand that its not just that easy and could affect other things like the tax free status of the company. I just think that there should be a way to find some middle ground and get the best of both worlds. --Kumioko (talk) 15:19, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

See the A story from the early days of the web section. I've suggested an Article of the Month and a Core Contest of the Month scheme in which there would be a reward at stake, perhaps Amazon vouchers or something academic which would motivate people. So far it seems as if I'm not getting anywhere ....♦ Dr. Blofeld 16:01, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
    • ^ 33 had been appointed in early 2002
    • ^ Early RFAs were done by Email and only the successes are known
    • ^ 2004–2011
    • ^ unsuccessful for 2002 to 2003 are not available