User talk:SilkTork/Rkitko - Rotational Discussion

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Initial communications[edit]

Initial communications indicating agreement to discussion:


And in response to your message regarding my conflict with Rotational, I really would appreciate mediation. It's drawn on too long and we've proven that we can't come to an agreement on our own. I had tried a WP:THIRD once (here), but I don't think it was very helpful. Of course the MoS is only a guideline and it is stated that exceptions are allowed, but I still don't see how Rotational's preferences (for images, infoboxes, and headings) are an improvement. It seems more to me like an editor trying to protect his articles to maintain his style preferences, not to mention his POINTy edits reported in the last AN/I. I would welcome mediation for this if you're up to the challenge. How would you do this? Set up a user subpage for this? Hopefully Rotational will agree to discuss our disagreements and maybe we can finally put this to rest. I won't have much time in the near future to dedicate to the discussions, so I don't promise swift responses, but I'm dedicated to a resolution or at the very least civil discussion. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 23:10, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Civil discussion is certainly the way forward. I'll get in touch with Rotational. Regards SilkTork *YES! 04:44, 5 November 2008 (UTC)


Hi Rotational. After discussions at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Headings_-_input_needed, and my offer to mediate the conflict between yourself and User:Rkitko, Rkitko has accepted. I can see there has been a long-running disagreement between the two of you which is potentially harmful to the project as a whole, and would be distressing to both of you. The intention of the mediation would be to allow both of you to continue contributing positively to the project without conflict. Would you be interested? SilkTork *YES! 04:58, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Hi SilkTork, Reading through your comments you seem to be one of those rare birds on WP having an even-handed approach. The friction between Rkitko and myself has taken up an inordinate amount of time and energy, both of which could have been used more productively elsewhere. Your kind offer to mediate is gladly accepted. ciao Rotational (talk) 05:35, 5 November 2008 (UTC)


This is the page where we can talk things through. I think it's important to point out that it doesn't appear that either of you have done anything "wrong". Also, that your experiences are not unusual. Differences of opinion are the bread and butter of Wikipedia. Such differences can be very stressful; however, if handled appropriately - which both of you are now doing - can often result in a benefit to the project by pointing out areas that need attention, and which - through discussion and debate - can be improved or ammended. Our aim here would be to:

A) achieve an agreement that conflict between you two will cease,

B) to examine rationally the issues behind the conflict

C) to see if there is something that can be ammended in Wikipedia in regards to those issues

We can set up this page in any way we like, and I'm happy for eitehr or both of you to make any ammendments to the layout at any time if you feel that will aid our discussion. SilkTork *YES! 12:00, 5 November 2008 (UTC)


I have an initial question for each of you. I am not interested in past user behaviour, and would not appreciate comments on messages sent or actions taken. I understand the personalisation that takes place in conflicts, and there is a tendency for people to point to difs of things said in the past, and edit reverts, etc because they hurt - pride and self-respect has been damaged, etc. But we are starting afresh here, and simply looking at the issues.

Rotational: What is the rationale behind your non-standard use of headings?

Hi again. Perhaps I should kick off by making a policy statement. I enjoy contributing to WP and most of my contact with other editors has been positive; nonetheless, any destructive feedback does tend to leave a bitter aftertaste. Despite Rkitko's convictions that I rabidly display ownership symptoms, it is simply not true and I think a close inspection of the history of pages I have started will bear that out. A major concern of mine, which I have aired repeatedly in exchanges with Rkitko and others, is the offhand response to any mention of aesthetics or good taste in layout. For a long time I've felt that WP needs a patrolling band of editors who have a background in layout or design, and can rapidly deal with the excruciatingly common departures from good taste. In a very small way I've tried to do my bit - I have a knee-jerk reaction to straight lines criss-crossing articles when their only justification is that they seem to be inseparably attached to headings, templates, infoboxes and the like, and I have often compared them to a schoolboy's first essay after having just learnt the use of a ruler. A way forward would obviously be to make the lines optional. I have to say that the strange thing about my preferences in article layouts is that they don't seem to bother editors other than Rkitko, so that perhaps one has to conclude that his love of straight lines is as passionate as is my aversion to them. Enough for now, ciao Rotational (talk) 12:38, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

In summary - you find the lines across the page to be distracting and not aesthetically pleasing, and you'd like to raise the issue with the community. That seems fair enough. We can do that, and I can show you how to involve the community and get the issue discussed quite widely. I would, however, ask that in future communications you press "Show preview" and read slowly through what you have written and remove any comments that are not directly related to the issue at hand. I have, as an example, struck out comments in your policy statement that were personal and not helpful to the matter at hand.
When I have been closely involved in issues I know the temptation to snap back at others for the hurt they have caused, and to let people know how I feel; and to want to explain my actions. But it doesn't help. It just makes the matter worse, and holds up progress. It's understandable. Many people do it. You are not a bad person for doing it. It will be hard for both of you to stop doing it. But please try as hard as you can, because it will help you both, and me, and the project in general if we simply concentrate on the important issues. The matter is being resolved right here, right now. Snapping at each other will only delay and possibly derail the process. In my case when discussing issues close to my heart in which I am involved I write out my angry, emotional response. The one I really, really, really want to write. Then I go through it and careful take out the bits that are not helpful. The act of writing out the full response is cathartic - it's what I emotionally need to do. The act of then editing out the potentially damaging remarks makes me feel better, and allows civil communication and progress to be made.
Before going to the community, you could experiment with a different skin. The Classic skin uses a different method of presenting sections, that doesn't involve using lines. Click on "my preferences" at the top of every page. Click on Skin. Click on Classic or one of the others - most will give you a design that doesn't involve using lines across the page. Click Save. Try it. If you don't like it, find Preferences in the new version, and select another. If you want to get back to this version, select MonoBook. Have fun! SilkTork *YES! 21:21, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

One of the problems that crops up with a typed response is the lack of voice, facial cues etc that indicate the mood of the typist. My 'policy statement' above was written in a calm frame of mind with no anger, sarcasm or intent to be hurtful. I'm aware of the preferences option in a layout and have been using the image-handling aspect of it for some time. However, what that does is simply change MY view to a rose-tinted one, which obviously doesn't address the problem between Rkitko and myself, since he could equally well have applied preferences to HIS view of my lineless layouts. I think the answer lies in a WP policy which shows a more flexible attitude to layouts, with more options available to editors. Rotational (talk) 06:31, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Flexibility is inherent in our system. However, as you have discovered, with that flexibility comes conflict as the community drifts toward a preferred way of doing things, underscores the preferred way as guidance which becomes standard, and then a maverick moves away from the standard. When encountering maverick/non-standard activity some people get disturbed. We embrace non-standard activity up till the point that people start complaining. At that point we listen to the complaints.
People complain, not necessarily because they prefer to see the lines, but because they wish to have consistency across the project as far as possible. Even if Rkitko shrugs his shoulders, say "So what - do it your way" and moves on, you haven't achieved anything, because it is inevitable that someone else will revert your layout and get het up, and you'll have to go through another edit war and more conflict.
I don't think you'll get wide acceptance for a MoS guidance which says "Be flexible - do what you think is best". However, it is possible to get support for a change in the software so that H2 doesn't produce a line, or at least that not viewing lines can become an easy to apply option in user preferences. It would have to be a developer change though, not simply a change of wording in the MoS guidance, so this proposal would need wide consensus. To get wide consensus you would need to word your proposal very carefully. And you would need to be prepared to accept that the proposal might fail. You'd need to consider very carefully how you are to behave after failure. If you proposed this, and it gets turned down, you will have raised the profile of your activity, and people will note if you continue with using non-standard layouts, and you will certainly get more flack if you did. However, having a proposal turned down first time doesn't mean you can't try again later. There are a good many positive changes to our layout that took years of struggle. You could talk to Tony about this. I was involved in that one. Boy it took a long time! It was only because Tony kept it up for years that a change was finally made. SilkTork *YES! 08:33, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm not trying to restructure the MoS - not even trying to dispense with lines, but simply wanting to have the option of creating a lineless article without excessive opposition from vigilantes. If flexibility IS inherent then that SHOULD be possible. WP is full of such options that don't undermine its basic consistency. As for raising the profile of my activity, that has already been done on a number of occasions and the overall reaction has been one of indifference, which probably portrays the average Wikipedian quite accurately - all wanting to get on with their main interests and only taking note if a change impacts on their way of doing things. And that is normal and human - we all follow that practical philosophy, otherwise we'll never get things done. At the same time one has to remember that WP teems with powerful guardians of the law, a few wise, but a far greater number blindly applying what they interpret as WP policy and bludgeoning anyone getting in the way. Quite often the pharisees' contribution in terms of substance is minimal, but their friction input is enormous.

Where do you think this mediation is headed and how do you foresee its ending? ciao Rotational (talk) 06:07, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
We are still waiting for Rkitko. The mediation can only really happen when you two start talking. However, I am impressed so far that you are willing to discuss this at length, and to listen to what others have to say. There are many aspects of Obama's acceptance speech that people are applauding - this line: "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree" has attracted particular praise.
I was having a conversation in the office yesterday, and we talked about Freedom of Speech, and it was felt that Freedom of Speech by itself can be of little value unless the person speaking is also listening, so it should be Freedom of Discussion. It's good to talk. SilkTork *YES! 08:25, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
The guidelines that suggest starting with a right-aligned image don't stipulate that such an image should not be a right-facing image; elsewhere the guidelines were clear that images should face into the text, a proviso which has been removed by some editor from MoS/Images. The image at John Edward Gray is just such an image. I placed it further down so that it would not interfere with the opening paragraph, even though there is nothing aesthetically wrong with placing it in the top left corner. The tampering with guidelines is symptomatic of the problems that bedevil editors - guidelines that should be in place are not - guidelines that haven't been reached by consensus are foisted on everyone, despite the fact that the majority of editors affected are neither informed nor consulted, and are blissfully unaware that important decisions are being made in their absence. An example of this type of hit-or-miss approach, was a proposal to modify the botanist template, which was posted in the correct forum and, if my memory serves me, had no response whatever. Not that editors didn't have definite opinions on the matter, but rather that there was/is no way to inform them of the proposal. ciao Rotational (talk) 19:09, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
It appears, though, that there is significant disagreement with your position. Several people have mentioned it to your or reverted your image placement edits. An older discussion at the MOS talk page had several editors agreeing that such images should be placed on the right if it's a lead image. The prevailing opinion appears to be in opposition to your aesthetic opinion. If you want to work toward consensus, you need to make the proposal and convince people. Edit wars win very few supporters. And as SilkTork has mentioned, continuing edits that may not have the support of consensus will lead to further conflicts in the future, something I'm sure you'd like to avoid.
As for the botanist template, there was little input because there was little notification. I had mentioned at least once that the people at the WikiProject Biography science group might have appreciated notification and would have joined in the discussion.
I, too, am perplexed by the removal of the provision that dealt with portrait images and how to deal with them. I'll see if I can search through the history of the page and find out when it was removed. That editor might be able to shed some light on why it was removed. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 03:01, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Found it. User:Kotniski moved the guideline on portraits from its own bullet point to another here, but the text still exists similar to what it once said: "It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text." --Rkitko (talk) 03:21, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Does that indicate there should be a discussion at MoS about the placement of images? There seems a lack of clarity about the situation. I see the sense in having images of faces placed so the eyes look toward the text. And I see the sense in having the image at the top of the article on the right hand side. There needs to be some clarity as to what people would prefer - a top image of a face placed on the left if the eyes look right, or placed on the left with the eyes looking off the page. Which is the greater evil? SilkTork *YES! 09:22, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

"Images of faces should be placed so that the face or eyes look toward the text, on the grounds that the reader's eyes will tend to follow their direction. Therefore, portraits of a face looking to the reader's right should be left-aligned, looking into the main text." replaced with "It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text." These two versions deal with the same subject, but have vastly different implications - the first is explicit and commanding, the second is a watered-down version which leaves it to the discretion of the user to judge when it is "preferable". "Start an article with a right-aligned lead image. This image is often resized to about 300px." The term lead image is not defined anywhere so that one is left with the impression that a lead image is an image anywhere near the start of the article. There is also no compelling reason given for a "lead image"'s having to be right-aligned. The 300px guideline is another puzzle - I have been involved in many discussions with long-standing editors, who pointed out that one's view of images in an article is determined by the settings of one's personal preferences, so that images should all be of thumbnail size in the absence of a compelling reason to do otherwise. ciao Rotational (talk) 11:52, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

One further point - the guideline about right-facing and left-facing images confines itself to portraits despite the fact that the same aesthetic reasoning applies to animals, cars, horses and carts, and any object with a clearly identifiable front and back. Go well Rotational (talk) 11:57, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Some further thoughts - If one looks closely at the revision history of the Manual of Style, it becomes very obvious that the vast majority of changes to the guidelines and indeed the guidelines themselves, were/are not arrived at through careful deliberation, discussion and consensus, but rather by self-appointed reformers ("I waste a lot of time trying (usually unsuccessfully) to make Wikipedia's policies and guidelines sane and rational") and "no need to overemphaisze this thing about faces." I'm sure that their intentions are good and that they too have become frustrated by the ponderous and undemocratic procedures of Wikipedia.
I wonder whether infoboxes could be seen as lead images - they are rectangular and intrusive, are right-aligned for no discernible reason and are often an excuse for affording protection to an image facing away from the text and which would not normally be tolerated in that position. ciao Rotational (talk) 03:36, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

I have worked on guidelines, and the quality of the work varies from guideline to guideline, much as it varies from article to article. One of the tightest guidelines is Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, which has become official policy. That particular page is looked after by some very experienced and knowledgeable Wikipedians. However, some of the less important guidelines are hardly watched at all, and some less informed opinion can creep in. Most guidelines fall somewhere between. The way forward is to get involved in the issue. Get onto the talkpage and put forward the points you are making here. I'm always keen to get clarity on guidelines, so I'll help out. I'll make a start later today. SilkTork *YES! 08:32, 19 November 2008 (UTC)


Rkitko: What is it about Rotational's use of the headings that is problematic to you?

Let's start! SilkTork *YES! 12:00, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Apologies for the delay; it's been a busy week so far. I will set aside some time this evening to reply here. Thanks again for agreeing to put so much effort into helping us, SilkTork. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 13:16, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I finally got time to sit down and write out my thoughts. First off, to reiterate what I've said in past discussions, I think Rotational's use of subheadings as the primary heading in articles, long or short, is in opposition to the currently written guideline. Yes, exceptions can be made. Even the MOS says at the very top: "Editors should follow it, except where common sense and the occasional exception will improve an article." I suppose the crux of my disagreement with Rotational on headings is that I don't think maintaining an alternate style on just his articles improves those articles. The horizontal lines in the H2 heading are important for demarcation in long articles and maintaining stylistic consistency across all articles, which is helpful to those who expect certain reading cues. And I believe from past discussions with other editors that the majority agreed that the MOS guideline on headings is interpreted correctly, while some acknowledged that in a few instances the lower level headings might be more appropriate. --Rkitko (talk) 17:17, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

SilkTork: A question for you... I know above you mention that you're not interested in past editor behavior, but I believe this disagreement between Rotational and I cannot be solved by limiting our conversation to just a discussion of our guideline disagreements. I believe we can objectively discuss our past actions as I'm sure Rotational would appreciate an explanation of my behavior as I would of his. This long-standing disagreement and several rounds of edit wars also involves more than just headings. Might we also delve into the guidelines on images? From your comment above about diffs, I'd also like to be able to point to examples as I write (say, to give an example of the particular style or page layout I'm discussing) - would that be permissible? Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 17:17, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

My experience with moderation has been that discussion about behaviour can become painful for those concerned, and can escalate alarmingly so that no progress is made on the central issue which caused the behaviour in the first place. Oft times people just snipe at each other - sometimes at tedious length to no advantage to anyone. However, if Rotational also feels that this issue cannot be resolved without discussion of past behaviour, and if both of you accept that if I feel it is interfering with the progress of the issue and I call a halt that you both halt immediately, then we can see where such talk takes us. SilkTork *YES! 19:30, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
I understand your hesitancy. If Rotational agrees, we could shelve that discussion until if and when we hit a wall with the guideline discussions above. I would have preferred to write a bit more in my response to your question, but I excluded what I found most problematic because it would have violated your discussion criteria. This, in fact, is why I've been so persistent (to a fault). So it may be necessary if we can't resolve the disagreement otherwise. And in regard to the image guidelines? --Rkitko (talk) 23:57, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
I was wondering if it might also be prudent to encourage us both to cease the edit war. Rotational's recent edits today are of concern, reinstating his preferences and removing clean-up tags from articles that still need attention. I'm sure you can understand how that would make me less inclined to believe we can resolve this. --Rkitko (talk) 13:44, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
It's certainly normal for editors in conflict to cease editing in those areas that are in conflict during a mediation process. Would you direct me both to the articles where edit wars are taking place, and also to the instances of image edits that don't follow guidelines. SilkTork *YES! 22:37, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Certainly. Reinstating headings preference: diff, diff, diff; Placing lead images on left if portrait faces right: diff, diff, diff; and removing infoboxes: diff, diff. The image guidelines, as I read them and others have mentioned to Rotational (here), state that lead images should be placed on the right. I believe the provision for right-facing images is a sound one, but that it doesn't apply to lead images. As for the infoboxes, the goal of them is not to provide a lot of information, but provide access to the important details of the article, whether it be a biography infobox or a taxobox, so I don't agree with the argument that infoboxes with too little information should be removed. Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 01:37, 10 November 2008 (UTC)


My apologies for being absent from this page for quite a while. The past month had gotten a bit crazy, but I had a bit of time and was wondering if there were any conclusions we can draw from this discussion. I must say I did notice this string of edits when one of Rotational's articles made it to the DYK section of the front page: PFHLai makes the headings using MOS suggestions diff, Rotational reverts that several days later diff, Mrh30 reverts that less than two hours later diff, Rotational reverts again diff, BorgQueen alters the headings citing WP:LAYOUT diff, Rotational reverts again diff and there it has stayed. I suppose this supports the general conclusion that the style Rotational employs in the articles he creates is seen by all those editors as being in opposition to style guidelines. Any other thoughts? Are we done here for the time being? Cheers, Rkitko (talk) 04:17, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Things have been marvellously peaceful for a while..... Of course DYKs or FAs always bring a swarm of editors - good and bad - hotfooting it to make their mark on something which for a short time is in the public eye, and then quietly go away to look for a new target. Some edits were left in place and some too hideous for words were reverted. This did not result in an edit war, confirming that most editors are either indifferent to the supposed issues or fairly evenly divided in their views. Have a happy Christmas! ciao Rotational (talk) 08:48, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi again folks! My observation here hasn't really changed since we opened this discussion. Rotational is not harming the project, and Rotational's intentions are positive, and some of the non-conforming edits do appear to be beneficial. However, Rotational's methods are not helpful and do disturb people, and this has been pointed out and suggestions made for how Rotational should go about getting consensus for the edit changes. I would strongly urge Rotational to consider the project as a whole, and the reasons we have guidelines, and to seek consensus for making contentious edits. I would be willing to help out in this area. SilkTork *YES! 08:40, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Hello again, and thank you for taking time out to mediate an issue that must be irksome in the extreme. It would seem that there are four main areas of my editing that discomfit Rkitko:

  • Headings that have no lines attached
  • Right-facing images placed on the left
  • The removal of infoboxes that contain scant information
  • The removal of right-facing images from the protection of right-aligned infoboxes

In discussions that I have experienced, opinions have been clearly divided on all three points with no discernible consensus. In the discussion that SilkTork initiated on forcing image sizes and the lack of compelling reasons for starting an article with a right-aligned image, it soon became apparent that there were vociferous supporters on both sides, and that a number of the most strident voices understood neither the issues nor the suggested solutions, and were not going to be swayed by any reasonable argument. You will understand that my faith in using a public forum to resolve even the simplest of issues, has been dealt a severe blow. I look forward to your reassurance that the procedures, ponderous and haphazard as they are, will eventually grind out a solution equitable to all. ciao Rotational (talk) 13:32, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

I cannot reassure you that the process will be quick or painless. Sometimes matters are resolved quickly, many times they are not. Certainly the forcing image size has been an issue for some time, and people keep returning to it. That is a known issue with advocates on both sides. It could happen that one of your suggestions will suffer the same fate. On the other hand, one of your suggestions may be taken up and carried forward with approval. Whatever - the Wiki way is that when there is an editing issue, we make the attempt to seek consensus. We do not always get that consensus. Or we may get the consensus, but it takes a stunningly long time to get it. However - tiresome though it may be, that is the way we like to do things on Wikipedia, and for various very good reasons.
Anyway - If there are flaws in the system, then those who have the interest, commitment and energy should step forward and make an effort to improve the system. You have noted that the central discussions do not always get the attention of other editors. You made a suggestion for how to improve that. Your suggestion was misread (people thought you meant ALL talkpages, rather than just Wikipedia Project talkpages), and so didn't carry forward, but it did generate some interest. There are others who also feel that some matters do not get discussed properly. At some point the process of electing Admins, and the discussions around keeping or deleting pages, etc, were formulated by Wikipedia editors into processes we now take for granted. You might be interested in looking into a formal process for Matters for Discussion along the lines of an AfD. Whatever.
Of the proposals you list above, I suspect the one that just might fly is the one regarding not having lines attached to headers. I would support you on that one. For those times (not sure when, but lets suppose there is, for the sake of argument) when a line across the page is needed, it might be more helpful to have a wiki markup just for that purpose. Let me know if you want to propose this, and we'll discuss it, and the best ways forward to get support.
I'm less convinced of the other ideas. Personally I dislike infoboxes, and there was some discussion about not placing them in the lead section. There was support from a good number of Wikipedians who concern themselves with layout. But we eventually recognised that the main body of Wiki editors liked infoboxes, and that any proposal to diminish them in any way was doomed. However, that's not to say that you shouldn't try, because in the process of discussing the matter with other wikipedians you discover the reasons that things are the way they are. And you yourself may decide to leave the infobox situation as it is!
Get in touch with me directly about helping get consensus for any of your ideas. Regards SilkTork *YES! 17:07, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Closing the page[edit]

There have been no edits here, so I am closing this page and taking it off my watchlist. SilkTork *YES! 21:48, 15 March 2009 (UTC)