Wikipedia:Requests for comment

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Requests for comment (RfC) is a process for requesting outside input concerning disputes, policies, guidelines or article content. RfCs are a way to attract more attention to a discussion about making changes to pages or procedures, including articles, essays, guidelines, policies, and many other kinds of pages. It uses a system of centralized noticeboards and random, bot-delivered invitations to advertise discussions to uninvolved editors. The normal talk page guidelines apply to these discussions.

RfC is one of several processes available within Wikipedia's dispute resolution system. Alternative processes include third opinion, administrator's incident noticeboard, reliable sources noticeboard, neutral point of view noticeboard, the dispute resolution noticeboard, and, for editors' behavior, binding arbitration.

Before starting the process

Before using the RfC process to get opinions from outside editors, it's often faster and more effective to thoroughly discuss the matter with any other parties on the related talk page. Editors are normally expected to make a reasonable attempt at working out their disputes before seeking help from others. If you are able to come to a consensus or have your questions answered through discussion with other editors, then there is no need to start an RfC.

If a local discussion does not answer your question or resolve the problem, then some other forums for resolution include:

  • If the article is complex or technical, it may be worthwhile to ask for help at the relevant WikiProject.
  • If an article content question is just between two editors, you can simply and quickly ask for a third opinion on the Third opinion page.
  • If more than two editors are involved or the issue is complex, dispute resolution is available through the Dispute resolution noticeboard or Formal mediation.
  • If you want general help in improving an article, such as achieving Featured status, then list it at Peer review.

For a more complete description of dispute resolution options, see the Dispute resolution policy and the list of noticeboards.

If you are not sure if an RfC is necessary, or about how best to frame it, ask on the talk page of this project.

About the conduct of another user

To report an offensive or confusing user name in violation of Wikipedia username policy, see subpage User names.
To report spam, page blanking, and other blatant vandalism, see Wikipedia:Vandalism.

The use of requests for comment on user conduct has been discontinued. In severe cases of misconduct, you may try Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. If the dispute cannot be resolved there, then arbitration may be warranted as a last resort.

Request comment on articles, policies, or other non-user issues

  1. Edit the talk page of the article or project page that you are interested in. Create a new section at the bottom of the talk page. It is a very good idea to let the section heading begin with "RfC" or "Request for comment", for example "RfC on beak length" or "Request for comments on past or present tense for television series".
  2. Choose a category and insert an RfC template at the top of the new talk page section. The categories and RfC templates are listed below; the category must be given in lower case.
    • Example: {{rfc|econ}}
    • See details below on the meanings of some of the categories. If no category seems to fit, pick the one that seems closest.
    • If the RfC is relevant to two categories, include them both. For example: {{rfc|econ|bio}}
  3. Include a brief, neutral statement of or question about the issue in the talk page section, immediately below the RfC template. Do not begin the statement with a wikilink, as this may cause formatting errors. Sign the statement with either ~~~~ (name and date) or ~~~~~ (just the date). Failing to provide a date will cause Legobot to remove your discussion from the pages that notify interested editors of RFCs.
  4. Save the talk page. Now you're done. Legobot will take care of the rest, including posting the RfC in the proper RfC lists. It may take Legobot up to a day to list the RfC, so be patient.

Categories

Issues by topic area
Article topics
Biographies (watch) {{rfc|bio}}
Economy, trade, and companies (watch) {{rfc|econ}}
History and geography (watch) {{rfc|hist}}
Language and linguistics (watch) {{rfc|lang}}
Maths, science, and technology (watch) {{rfc|sci}}
Media, the arts, and architecture (watch) {{rfc|media}}
Politics, government, and law (watch) {{rfc|pol}}
Religion and philosophy (watch) {{rfc|reli}}
Society, sports, and culture (watch) {{rfc|soc}}
Project-wide topics
Wikipedia style and naming (watch) {{rfc|style}}
Wikipedia policies and guidelines (watch) {{rfc|policy}}
WikiProjects and collaborations (watch) {{rfc|proj}}
Wikipedia technical issues and templates (watch) {{rfc|tech}}
Wikipedia proposals (watch) {{rfc|prop}}
Unsorted
Unsorted RFCs (watch) {{rfc}}

The list of RfC categories is in the adjacent table.

The "Wikipedia policies and guidelines" category is for discussing changes to the policies and guidelines themselves, not for discussing how to apply them to a specific case. The same applies to "style", "WikiProject", and the other non-article categories.

The "Language and linguistics" category is for requests related to a Wikipedia article (or part of one) about language and linguistics, not for requests concerning the language on a page. If you want comments on how an article should be worded, categorize your request according to the topic of the article.

Example

Below is an example of how a new RfC appears while you are editing the talk page. You can copy and paste this example, but be sure to change the wording to reflect your particular topic (for example, the "hist" category may need to be changed). A signature ("~~~~") or at least a date ("~~~~~") is required. After you have inserted text similar to this into the talk page, you must save the page.

== RfC about the photo in the history section ==
{{rfc|hist}}
Should the "History" section contain a photograph of the ship? ~~~~

Consider creating a subsection, after your signature, called (for example) "survey," where people can support or oppose, and a second called "threaded discussion," where people can discuss the issues in depth. This will make the RfC easier to close. It might look like this:

== RfC about the photo in the history section ==
{{rfc|hist}}
Should the "History" section contain a photograph of the ship? ~~~~

===Survey===
* '''Support''' inclusion of the photograph, which helps the reader. ~~~~
* '''Oppose''', it isn't relevant enough. ~~~~

===Threaded discussion===
* I have concerns about this photograph. ~~~~
** What kind of concerns? ~~~~


Other styles can be seen at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Example formatting.

Statement should be neutral and brief

Keep the RfC statement short and simple. Statements are often phrased as questions, for example: "Should this article say in the lead that John Smith was a contender for the Pulitzer Prize?" Legobot will copy your statement (from the end of the {{RFC}} template through the first date stamp) to the list of active RfCs. A long statement will make the list harder to read. For technical reasons, statements may not contain tables or complex formatting, although these may be added after the initial statement (i.e., after the first date stamp).

The statement should be self-contained, and should not assume that the section title is available (because the statement, but not the section title, will be copied to the RfC list pages).

If you have lots to say on the issue, give and sign a brief statement in the initial description and save the page, then edit the page again and place additional comments below your first statement and signature. If you feel that you cannot describe the issue neutrally, you may either ask someone else to write the question or summary, or simply do your best and leave a note asking others to improve it. It may be helpful to discuss your planned RfC question on the talk page before starting the RfC, to see whether other editors have ideas for making it clearer or more concise.

Placing an RfC in a page other than a talk page

Normally, RfCs are located in talk pages. But in some situations, an RfC may be placed on a subpage of this page or a subpage of a policy page (for example Wikipedia:Pending changes/Request for Comment 2012 or Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Categorization of persons).

Publicizing an RfC

After you create an RfC, it will be noticed by editors that watch the talk page, by editors that watch the RfC lists, and by some editors in the Feedback Request Service, who will be automatically notified by Legobot. However, there may not be enough editors to get sufficient input. To get more input, you may publicize the RfC by posting a notice at one or more of the following locations:

When posting a notice at those locations, provide a link to the RfC, and a brief statement, but do not argue the RfC. Take care to adhere to the canvassing guideline, which prohibits notifying a chosen group of editors who may be biased. When creating a new Wikipedia policy or suggesting major modifications to a policy, follow the instructions at WP:PROPOSAL. Centralized discussion may be used for policy-related RfCs but is not for publicizing any content disputes in articles. Further guidance is available at WP:Publicising discussions.

Suggestions for responding

All editors (including IP users) are welcome to respond to any RfC.

  • Responses may be submitted in a variety of formats. Some RfCs are structured as a series of distinct responses, one per editor. Others result in a threaded (indented) conversation involving multiple editors. Yet others offer one or more alternative proposals that are separately endorsed or opposed by editors using a polling process. Other RfCs combine polling with threaded discussions. See the example section above for a suggested format.
  • Edits to content under RfC discussion may be particularly controversial. Avoid making edits that others may view as unhelpful. Editing after others have raised objections may be viewed as disruptive editing or edit warring. Be patient; make your improvements in accord with consensus after the RFC is resolved.
  • Remember that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; all articles must follow the Neutral point of view, Verifiability, and No original research policies.
  • Try not to be confrontational. Be friendly and civil, and assume good faith of other editors' actions.
  • If you feel an RfC is improperly worded, ask the originator to improve the wording, or add an alternative unbiased statement immediately below the RfC question template. Do not close the RfC just because you think the wording is biased. An RfC tag generally remains on the page until removed by Legobot or the originator. A discussion can be closed only when the criteria at Ending RfCs are met.
  • Mediate where possible—identify common ground, and attempt to draw editors together rather than push them apart.
  • If necessary, educate users by referring to the appropriate Wikipedia policies or style page.

Ending RfCs

As an RfC is a discussion with accompanying solicitation of comment, ending an RfC consists of ending that solicitation. That means removing it from the RfC lists. This is distinct from the discussion ending, which just means people stop discussing, and closing the discussion, which means someone lists conclusions and discourages further discussion.

There are several ways in which RfCs end:

  1. The question may be withdrawn by the poster (e.g., if the community's response became obvious very quickly). In this situation, the editor who started the RfC should normally be the person who removes the {{rfc}} template.
  2. The RfC participants can agree to end it at any time, and one of them can remove the {{rfc}} template.
  3. The dispute may be moved to another dispute resolution forum, such as mediation.[1]
  4. The {{rfc}} tag can be removed and a formal closing summary of the discussion can be posted by any uninvolved editor.
  5. The discussion stops, and no one cares to restore the {{rfc}} tag after the bot removes it.

When an RfC is used to resolve a dispute, the resolution is determined the same way as for any other discussion: the participants in the discussion determine what they have agreed on and try to implement their agreement. Like other discussions, RfCs sometimes end without an agreement or clear resolution. Please remove {{rfc}} template when the dispute has been resolved, or when discussion has ended.

Anyone who wants an uninvolved editor to write a closing summary of the discussion (ideally with a determination of consensus) can formally request closure by posting at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Requests for closure. If the matter under discussion is not contentious and the consensus is obvious to the participants, then formal closure is neither necessary nor advisable. Written closing statements are not required. Editors are expected to be able to evaluate and agree upon the results of most RfCs without outside assistance.

An RfC should last until enough comment has been received that consensus is reached, or until it is apparent it won't be.

Legobot assumes an RfC has been forgotten and automatically ends it 30 days after it begins, to avoid a buildup of stale discussions cluttering the lists and wasting commenters' time. But editors should not wait for that; if one of the reasons listed above applies, someone should end it manually, as soon as it is clear the discussion has run its course. And if additional commenters are still desirable after 30 days, someone should delay Legobot's automatic closing.

Legobot's determination of age is based on the first timestamp following the {{rfc}} template.

To end an RfC, remove the RfC tag, {{rfc}}, from the talk page. Legobot will remove the discussion from the central lists on its next run. (When Legobot automatically ends an RfC because of its age, it removes the {{rfc}} tag). If you are also closing the discussion, you should do this in the same edit.

To prevent Legobot's automatic ending and extend the RfC up to another 30 days, insert a current timestamp after the RfC statement, but before its original timestamp.

To restart an RfC after Legobot has automatically removed the rfc template, reinsert the {{rfc}} tag and insert a current timestamp after the RfC statement, but before its original timestamp.

To alert readers that an RfC has ended, you may optionally enclose the talk page section in a box using a template such as {{Archive top}}. This is not required, and may be done with or without a closing statement about the discussions results. This example shows one way to do this:

== RfC about the photo in the History section ==
{{Archive top|result= Consensus was reached to keep the photo.  ~~~~  }}
.... here is the entire RfC discussion...
{{Archive bottom}}

Notes

  1. ^ For this to succeed, however, the {{rfc}} template must be remove and the discussion ended first, since most dispute resolution forums and processes will not accept a case while a RfC is pending.

See also