Wikipedia:Campaign message user preference

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Poll ended at 00:00 on December 1, 2004. The result was: Yes 2 (13%), No 15 (87%). The proposal failed to garner enough support to pass.

The purpose of this proposal is to give all users the ability to control whether or not they receive campaign messages during Wikipedia election cycles.

Text of the proposal[edit]

The user preferences shall present a checkbox control with the label "Accept campaign messages on my user talk page".
This control shall be set to "off" by default, but a short message will be provided to all users explaining the existence of this feature and their ability to enable it.
Upon selection of this option, the corresponding user talk page will be marked with a non-editable {{AcceptCampaignMessages}} comment tag, on a discreet but standard location on the page, left to the discretion of the developers. The visual appearance of this tag shall be as minimal and un-intrusive as possible, its sole purpose being to notify potential message senders, and it shall not be decorative in any way (i.e. no special graphics - only text).
The enabling or disabling of this tag shall appear in the user talk history page, in order to establish time stamps that determine the acceptable period of time during which such user was willing to accept campaign messages. In the event of a dispute regarding whether a user was willing to accept a campaign message at a certain time, these timestamps shall be used to summarily rule on the matter.
Until the developers are able to provide a software solution for this feature, users will be free to manually add their own {{AcceptCampaignMessages}} tag to their user pages, which shall have the same weight of authority as a user preference, until such time that the developers announce that the software modifications are completed and ready to enable the user of the software preference.
Users who turn this option off and receive campaign messages in violation of this setting shall have cause to contact Administrators, who may freely block the offending sender for an initial period of 24 hours. Repeated violators of this tag shall be brought before the Arbitration Committee where appropriate sanctions may be devised by that body.

(Just to clarify, if you vote yes for this proposal, you are not voting to accept campaign messages - you are only voting to allow anyone to declare their willingness to accept such messages in a standard way.)

This poll will last for approximately one week, ending at 00:00 on December 1, 2004 (UTC), unless a clear consensus develops sooner, with at least 50 votes with a greater than 50% majority in favor, in which case the poll will end early.


I am endorsing and promoting this proposal, because I think that elections are an important part of civic life on Wikipedia. For all the benefits that Wikipedia provides to us, it's not too much to ask that community members participate in the elections that will select the leaders who will guide us. I have a deep personal belief that an informed voter is a smart voter, and that voters do not need to be shielded from campaign messages.

But in respect for those users who simply have no need or desire for election campaign messages, I endorse this exciting new feature that will allow users to control whether or not they receive campaign messages. --DV 10:26, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(P.S.: if it turns out to be too technically cumbersome to modify the software to support this feature, please feel free to copy the {{AcceptCampaignMessages}} tag onto your own user talk page.)

Vote Yes in this section:

  1. Yes. --DV 10:26, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  2. Yes. --Shawn K. Quinn 13:38, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)


You don't want anyone to even have the option to receive campaign messages?

Then vote No in this section:

  1. David Remahl 10:54, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC). I also object to the leading phrasing of the No alternative. I don't want to introduce additional complexity in the software, nor additional legalese in Wikipedia's talk page policies. Talk pages should remain an open forum. — David Remahl 10:54, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  2. I second David's comments. I also oppose campaign messages full stop. Politicising the process is not going to help things. Ambi 11:20, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  3. Seems to be unnecessary feature bloat for a problem that's not very pervasive. And I strongly object to the wording of this answer, which presumes the only reason one would object is because he/she opposes the dissemination of campaign messages. Johnleemk | Talk 12:19, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  4. I third David's comments (yes I know I can't do that, but it's fun to say :-). First, people already have the option to receive campaign messages by default: their talk pages are freely-editable. If they don't want the messages they can just ignore or delete them. Second, the election should of course be publicized, but I think linking to it from Wikipedia:Recentchanges is sufficient: that's probably the second most-viewed page in the Wikipedia after the Main Page, and it's largely watched by those who take some interest in the behind-the-scenes workings of Wikipedia—that is, the people who will be voting in this election. Third, the current format keeps the discussion and campaigning in one place, which is a good thing; see MeatBall:LessRedundancy and Ambi's comment above. —No-One Jones (m) 12:32, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC) (P.S. Tannin makes a very good point below. —No-One Jones (m) 12:37, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC))
    p.p.s.: DV has brought up the point that this is largely supposed to be about get-out-the-vote efforts rather than campaigns for or against any specific candidate. While I think every user who has a stake in this election should know about it, I still don't think that massive crossposting is the right way to go about it. Links from recent changes and the community portal will bring in those editors who take interest in the backstage goings-on, but as DV has pointed out, not all editors monitor those pages. Perhaps a link in the sidebar would be a good idea? —No-One Jones (m) 13:05, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  5. I don't think this is the right way of solving the problem. If we're going to make software changes, it should be to make pages for these types of messages (like village pump) more managable. Shane King
  6. Oppose. It is hard enough to campaign for any office, in the real world or here, and just automatically blocking speech bothers me. This proprosal is not unlike how many communities through their zoning laws ban campaign signs completely, the First Amendment notwithstanding. Now if someone is a persistent nuisance, wouldn't he already be subject to punishment under existing rules without making this change? I second Mirv's comments above and believe this is a solution in search of a problem. PedanticallySpeaking 15:29, Nov 23, 2004 (UTC)
  7. --Jimbo Wales 16:39, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC) This is a bad solution to a problem which doesn't exist.
  8. While DV's fundamental agenda of encouraging community participation in elections is laudable, the wording of this survey is severely slanted towards his personal view of how this should be done. He seems to be locked in on the equivalent of bulk mail tactics, in contrast to the practice of posting advertising in places where large numbers of people will see it, which seems a far more effective approach to me. There has already been considerable publicity of the latter type regarding the current election, including on Recentchanges, the Community Portal, the Village Pump, Goings-on, the announcements page, the mailing list, and I rather suspect there has been discussion on IRC as well. The proposal is unnecessary. --Michael Snow 17:04, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  9. I don't believe there is a problem that needs any solution let alone this one. I honestly think that users who do not visit either the village pump, recent changes, the mailing list, irc or the community portal are unlikely to be interested in voting. I am willing to support more advertising (from 29th Nov onwards) perhaps other busy voting pages such as votes for deletion, votes for adminship could have a banner on them, also perhaps the reference desk, COTW and Featured article candidates, could have a small banner added too - just to make sure. If a user never visits any of these places how are they going to get to know the candidates in order to judge if they would make good abiters or not? Theresa Knott (Tart, knees hot) 18:41, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    A sitewide notice would be the way to pull this off, methinks - although this has the drawback of confusing anonymous users who won't get the chance to vote. -- Grunt   ҈  19:13, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)
  10. Campaign messages posted to people's talk pages are entirely unnecessary. People are capable of reading the statement of the candidate and asking the candidate any questions they might have; how more informed could they be if they go through these simple measures? -- Grunt   ҈  19:12, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)
  11. Politics ... bleagh! Feature bloat ... bleagh! If you are interested in the politics of this site, then you will go and find out where the politicians hang out. Having politicians come and harangue you on your doorstep is a cause for a 24 hour ban for the spammer. Noisy | Talk 19:53, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  12. Cute idea, but come on, this is Wikipedia, not the U.S. Congress! BLANKFAZE | (что??) 22:14, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  13. Oppose Also, strongly negative regarding the attempt at slanting this vote option. Candidates are currently able to post messages to everyone's talk page, and bear the lashback for such spamming. - Amgine 22:29, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  14. Strongly oppose. Candidates can "campaign" on the election page and its talk page. Neither candidates nor anybody else should spam user pages with campaign messages. —AlanBarrett 19:50, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Other (neither yes nor no)[edit]

I have no objection to getting messages on my talk page (campaign or any other sort). Nor, I suspect, do most users. Look at it this way: if you deluge a user talk page with unwanted messages, chances are you will make pretty damn sure that the user in question will vote against you. Candidates, in other words, would be very well advised to think carefully before spaming user talk pages with campaign messages. Candidates too stupid to work this out for themselves will, in all probability, weed themselves out. This, in my view, is a Good Thing. Think of it as evolution in action.

However, I do object to making the software even more complicated than it is at present. Seriously, the task of learning your way around the 'pedia and the wiki software is already close to the limit of what we can realisticaly expect the average user to cope with, and figuring out how to install MediaWiki and get it working right is non-trivial. Galloping featuritis is a serous problem these days, and the last thing we want is to see the wonderful MediaWiki software fall victim to it. KISS.

If the above more-or-less expresses your views, please sign below:

  1. Tannin 12:32, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  2. I'm not sure if we're allowed to vote more than once, but I 100% agree with Tannin. Johnleemk | Talk 12:53, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  3. Ditto. Ambi 14:02, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  4. Michael Snow 17:04, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

If it is too difficult to modify the software[edit]

If it turns out to be too technically cumbersome to modify the software to support this feature, but you still support the general idea of indicating your willingness to accept campaign-related messages, please feel free to copy the {{AcceptCampaignMessages}} tag onto your own user talk page. --DV 13:51, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

And if you are still wondering what this is all about...[edit]

There are two separate issues here: pure, get-out-the-vote efforts, and candidate-specific messages:

I'm still on the fence about candidate-specific messages, because I happen to know from real-world experience that they work, and yet I understand the various folks who indicate they are turned off by them. So I'm not going down that path for now.

But there is a time-honored tradition of get-out-the-vote efforts, and my efforts so far have been met with a lot of hemming and hawing on the part of several Administrators when I asked if we could do more to publicize the election.

Keeping publicity about the elections to the portal and recent changes pages does not help increase voter turnout. And yet this lack of real publicity is what several administrators have said is "the way it's done around here".

I only became aware of the upcoming election because I saw an offhand reference to it on a user talk page. I very well could have continued editing articles and heard nothing about the election. I think many other editors are in this same boat. (Heck, I've known serious, but somewhat absent-minded authors who need to be reminded to change their clothes every day - how can such an individual be expected to visit the recent changes or other portal pages on a regular basis?)

My motivation is this - given the failure of the current administration to improve the editing environment, (many serious and very experienced editors have repeatedly expressed how stressful it is is to work on political or history articles), I insist that we need fresh faces with fresh ideas.

Elections really need to be publicized on many, many user talk pages (in a tasteful manner, of course), to bring in those fresh new faces, or the editing environment will continue to stagnate with very slow improvements.

Free and fair elections are a little messy. Get over it.

Please let me know if you have other ideas for how to improve the editing environment, but getting out the vote is a critical part of it. --DV 14:24, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for all the great suggestions![edit]

"The secret to success is to fail often." It looks like that is what will happen here, but all for the best.

Although this poll is receiving a resounding "no", I was greatly encouraged to see so many alternative ideas being floated by the participants.

If this proposal fails, but in doing so, it helps to drive forward alternative, better ideas, then it is still a success.

Thanks to all of the participants.

--DV 01:12, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Other No. 2[edit]

  1. A problem that doesn't exist. Talk pages are already open. Anyone who abuses them does so at his own risk. No need for technical changes. Maurreen 17:38, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Would like concerns addressed[edit]

Can't seem to vote either way until some nagging question is answered?

Please post your concerns in this section:

  1. Maybe I read it too fast, but is the software meant to stop the addition of "campaign messages" if the tag is set, and if so how does it distinguish such a message from any other message any user may add to someone's Talk page? (I suppose a list of candidates could be inserted in the things the software has to think about, but intelligent candidates would bypass that by getting their friends to post the messages.) Really, I tend to side with those of the above writers who suggested that candidates will harm mostly their own chances if they spam Talk pages and we don't want another software and mediawiki complication without very good reason. Robin Patterson 21:20, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)