Wikipedia:Adjectives in your recommendations
This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
Some editors choose to put adjectives in their recommendations (sometimes described as votes or !votes); there is disagreement on if this is a good practice or not. Examples of placing an adjective in a recommendations could be placing Strong support in a request for adminship (RfA) or Weak delete in an articles for deletion (AfD) debate.
Arguments against putting adjectives in your recommendations
The inspiration for this position comes from Dev920, who, on the subpage User:Dev920/Absolutely and completely, totally and utterly devastating says:
|“||Looks stupid, don't it? It also does every time you add a fucking stupid and worthless adjective to your votes. There are four words that should be in bold:
It doesn't matter whatever else you want to add, be it strong, weak, very strong, extremely strong, or absolutely and completely, totally and utterly devastating: your vote will still only count as one vote. So stop it. Thank you.
Why do users do this?
There is no policy or phrase in a policy that encourages or even suggests this practice. So why is it done? The most obvious reason is that users feel that their comments will gain a different level of support. By saying "Strong" for instance, maybe they believe that their recommendations will contribute more to the consensus; by saying "Weak" maybe they feel that their recommendations will count for less.
Another idea is that a lot of users put the terms in their recommendation simply to express the opinion. Again, not the place for it. Saying "Strong" or "Weak" in your actual recommendation is not good because it makes it appear like your recommendation is different; it's not. Your opinion is different. And, because it's your opinion, it goes in the opinion area of your comment, not in the recommendation area.
So what is being said?
Don't put adjectives in your recommendations. It has absolutely, utterly, no effect whatsoever on the recommendation and is just an annoying drain on editors' eyes to have to look at. If you think it'll make your recommendation count for anything different, the point is; it doesn't. No matter what adjective you add, it will not affect your recommendation. Two "Strong Supports" counts the same as two "Supports". If you want to make an opinion, your opinion is different from your recommendation. And, because it's your opinion, it goes in the opinion area of your comment, not in the recommendation area.
If you haven't gotten the point by now, my point is; stop putting adjectives in your recommendations. If you do so, you:
- Exasperate other users.
- Make yourself seem foolish and unaware of policy.
- Give others the impression that you think you have some kind of special power different from them. You don't.
And that, as they say, is that.
Arguments on why it doesn't matter if you put adjectives in your recommendations
Wikipedia has policies against users carrying out certain practices such as being incivil or making personal attacks. These exist because there is clear evidence of harm from these practices; no such evidence exists for users placing adjectives in their recommendations however. This is essentially a harmless and trivial practice, and even if it deviates from standard practice in discussions, Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, so excessive restrictions on what users can and can't do should be avoided.
Alternative viewpoint on why users do this
A lot of the practice that occurs in discussions is through convention rather than policy, with the deletion policy for instance not going into detail on how to comment in deletion discussions. Wikipedia:Articles for deletion#How to discuss an AfD is not policy but reviews convention, and includes the recommendation that editors put their recommended course of action in bold text (e.g. Delete), however it does not say to put those at the beginning of a comment, as is common practice, or that adjectives cannot be appended to such recommendations. The advice given at RfA also contains no recommendation for editors to put their recommended cause of action at the start of a comment, but it is common practice there as well. There is no formal separation between a "recommendation area" and an "opinion area" in policy, so it makes no difference if users put adjectives next to their recommended course of action (e.g. Strong delete), or as part of their rationale (e.g. I strongly believe that this article should be deleted because...).
Multiple users place adjectives in their recommendations, so no one can speak for all of them, as there are probably many reasons why users choose to carry out this practice. Editors may choose to carry out practices at AfD simply because they see another user doing it, and think it makes sense for them to do it also. Another reason could be the need of an editor to summarise their underlying feelings on an issue at the time, particularly for future reference when they look back at the discussion.
Potential to cause offence
It has been suggested that placing adjectives in recommendations may be offensive. Only in some cases is this possible, for instance stating that you strongly support a candidate at RfA, or admitting your position is weak at AfD, is clearly not likely to cause offence. Even in other cases, it requires significant inference to interpret an adjective in a recommendation to be a statement that it is superior or "counts more" than another. Drawing such negative conclusions on the meaning of other user's comments where it is not necessary is not a healthy practice on Wikipedia. It is more productive if editors assume that comments placed in discussions are not intended to be offensive, and should not be treated as such.
If the aim of discouraging placing adjectives in recommendations is to avoid offence, then the best course of action is probably to simply ignore them. Excessive challenging of users who place adjectives in their recommendations is likely to cause more problems than it solves, as many users will undoubtedly take offence for being criticised on such a trivial issue.
Adjectives have been placed in recommendations since the early days of Wikipedia. The historical page Wikipedia:Votes for deletion phrases once recorded what they were used for:
|“||Strong.../Weak... : Modifier sometimes used with a vote (usually keep or delete). Generally the strong modifier is used when someone feels that fundamental Wikipedia policy clearly supports inclusion or deletion of the article. A strong vote is not an attack on the authors or other voters, merely a statement that the voter stands firmly behind the vote. Generally the weak modifier means that the voter is only somewhat sure that their suggested action should be taken, or could be convinced otherwise.||”|
|— Siroxo, Wikipedia:Votes for deletion phrases|
The overall impact of putting adjectives in your recommendations is trivial, but an action is not necessarily a statement that the editor carrying it out believes it will make a huge difference. For instance, does it make a difference if users put a dash between their recommended cause of action and opinion (e.g. Delete – ...)? Probably not, but many users do it anyway. The same principle applies with putting adjectives in your recommendations.
And that, as they say, is that.