Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab)

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The idea lab section of the village pump is a place where new ideas or suggestions on general Wikipedia issues can be incubated, for later submission for consensus discussion at Village pump (proposals). Try to be creative and positive when commenting on ideas.
Before creating a new section, please note:

Before commenting, note:

  • This page is not for consensus polling. Stalwart "Oppose" and "Support" comments generally have no place here. Instead, discuss ideas and suggest variations on them.
  • Wondering whether someone already had this idea? Search the archives below, and look through Wikipedia:Perennial proposals.
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Expert review[edit]

Moved from WP:Village pump (miscellaneous): --Pipetricker (talk) 08:06, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

I'd appreciate feedback on an idea. I'm thinking of establishing a free expert review service for Wikipedia featured articles on academic topics - topics well-covered by reliable journals, such as medicine and astronomy. Once an article meets the FA criteria, the world's leading experts on the topic would fact-check it and tell you what they think of its comprehensiveness and neutrality.

I can only offer this service if I'm allowed to put two prominent links at the top of the current article version, one linking the reader to the version that passed review, and the other linking to a simple diff between the current version and the fact-checked version.

The world's topic experts aren't going to review an article if the version they endorse disappears into the article's history in a day or a month. They will if we link to the reviewed version. And the "simple diff" is a service to the reader: it shows them at a glance how the article (and topic) has evolved since the expert-review.

I've thought deeply on this for a long time. I asked BMJ, the publisher of The BMJ, to recruit experts to review Parkinsons disease, and they obliged. One of the reviewers was a main author of the current PD diagnostic criteria and another is the most-published author on the illness. This was a very high quality review. That's the standard of review I intend to maintain.

Do you think rigorous independent expert-review of featured articles is a good thing, and would you support prominently linking to the reviewed version and the diff? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 13:34, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

  • I'd be in favour of this, for what would inevitably be a rather limited number of articles, with some kind of simple control/approval process. In line with WP:MEDRS principles, I think there should a time-limit of up to 5 years set on the links, unless there's some kind of re-review. Johnbod (talk) 13:58, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Not sure who will recall, but there were 2 similar proposals offered back in 2016: User:Atsme/WikiProject_Accuracy, which was presented at meta:Grants:IdeaLab, and a similar project was presented at the same time by another editor: Academic Reviewers. There's also Proposal:Expert review which is along the same lines. Atsme📞📧 14:08, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
    How do you feel about those two prominent links at the top of the current version, Atsme? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 16:48, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
    I'm fine with it. When I was researching for Project Accuracy, I spoke to quite a few academics (various teaching levels) and explained the significance of the GA & FA symbols on articles. Their responses are what inspired me to design the Seal. I still believe that once an FA goes through the drill of expert/academic review, they should be afforded some protection which makes that "seal" worth something. Atsme📞📧 16:59, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
    • Thank you, Atsme. I'm not sure where I stand on universal automatic protection for articles that have passed expert review. I think I'm against it but need to do more thinking about it. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:14, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
    • You're quite welcome, AHC - and if I may briefly explain why I feel some level of protection is needed...once an article has been reviewed to top level, any additions that follow will not have been reviewed; therefore, any newly introduced inaccuracies may be read/cited before the err is caught. The onus will fall on the promoting reviewers (presumably whose links are at the top). At least with some level of protection, it will allow the time needed to review & clear the new material. It is not that we are changing "the encyclopedia anyone can edit", it's simply a brief delay from time of edit to time of publication, but only for those promoted articles. Atsme📞📧 19:45, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
    • I think Dengue fever has been semi-protected since it was published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2014 and that hasn't ruffled any feathers. I see your point about protection. It may further encourage expert collaboration, too. As I say, I'm still making up my mind on this. But it's something for later, anyway. It's by no means a deal-breaker for me. Before I start spending my time and money on this, though, I need to know whether the community will let me do it. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 02:53, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
      Semi-protection, perhaps even autoconfirmed protection, is reasonable, but articles cannot be totally locked down from non-admin edits, or basic maintenance is impeded. The highest tolerable protection level might be WP:Template editor, since at least people already doing "dangerous" tech work would still be able to implement markup corrections, category renames, and other "gnome" edits at such articles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:06, 30 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Hmm, the prominent links could be a hatnote, like the one we have linking to introduction articles, e.g like on General relativity. I think that at-least would be accepted by the community, and having a reviewed version does seem good; I'm just thinking - if we're not using the reviewed version as the default, we're sort of un-endorsing it; at the same time the fact that the reviewed versions would get out of date +general principles means we can't keep articles fixed on that. Not precisely related to this, but looking at the Project Accuracy pitch; most readers are not really critically looking at Wikipedia, and thus I don't think having reviewed versions would somehow make Wikipedia more reliable in the eyes of people Galobtter (pingó mió) 17:29, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
  • We have the WikiJournals which offer precisely this: WikiJournal of Medicine; WikiJournal of Science. --Jens Lallensack (talk) 05:56, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
    I agree; isn't this what the WikiJournals do? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:33, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
    Agreed. Pull up, say, Rotavirus; you'll see a book icon next to the Featured Article star. - Dank (push to talk) 14:15, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
    Was also here to say this, we already have Wikijournal where people can send FAs to get peer reviewed by professionals. Having one more similar process would drain the reviewer man-power. FunkMonk (talk) 14:16, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
    It doesn't have to be separate - it can be coordinated in those topic areas. There's more to WP than just meds and science. Atsme📞📧 14:24, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
    I've added more info lower down, but I thought I'd note here that I like the idea of coordinated mechanisms. I think that scholarly journals are an efficient way of incentivising expert engagement (whether WikiJournals or other journals), but I think that multiple mechanisms can work. E.g. an article gets written via WikiEdu, then undergoes GA, then expert review, then journal publication, then FA... etc. NB, There is also a WikiJournal of Humanities in the works. T.Shafee(Evo&Evo)talk 03:20, 15 June 2018 (UTC)
    Agreed with Atsme; having a process already extant that hardly anyone knows about or uses doesn't preclude us from doing more and integrating with the extant process, not competing against it. The final proposal on this will just need to be written to make this clear.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:06, 30 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Jens, Mike, Dank and FunkMonk, I've been watching the development of Wikijournal of Medicine since its inception. My model differs in several important ways from Wikijournal of Medicine. The quality of the reviewers I'm offering is the highest possible. That's not the case with Wikijournal of Medicine. I won't be using the same pool of reviewers as Wikijournal of Medicine so I won't be draining that resource. I'm proposing we offer the Wikipedia reader a link to a simple diff showing them clearly the difference between the last reviewed version and the current version; Wikijournal of Medicine doesn't have anything like this in its model. My proposal includes a prominent link to the "reliable" version. The Wikijournal of Medicine model uses a tiny, essentially meaningless little book icon that no readers will understand without clicking and few will click. The names of all my reviewers will be published and prominently displayed on the reliable version; in the WikiJournal model the reviewers may remain anonymous. I'm not proposing to start a new journal to host the reliable version - the reliable version of an article that has passed review simply sits in the history of the article, available to readers who click the prominent link. There are other important differences too but this list should make it plain these are not the same product.
Let me emphasise this important distinction: The traditional academic publishing model relies on the reputation of the publisher, whom the reader trusts to run a high quality review by anonymous peers/experts, and the reputation of the authors, whose names are all disclosed. Both elements - the reputations of the publisher and the authors - are essential to rigorous science publishing. Wikipedia permits authors to remain anonymous and Wikijournal of medicine allows the reviewers to remain anonymous - leaving only the reputation of the publisher as a guarantee of reliability. That's not enough. WikiJournal has no reputation to speak of yet; in my model we use highly esteemed journal editorial boards with an already-established strong reputation for reliability to select only the very best reviewers. But even if WikiJournal were to develop a reputation rivalling Lancet and BMJ the WikiJournal model would still be inadequate. Humans - with careers and personal reputations and egos to protect - need to put their name behind the article. In my model the experts stake their reputations on the reliability of the reviewed article. I can't stress enough how important this particular difference between the two models is. (Although several of the other differences are very significant too, in terms of epistemology.) ---Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:45, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
I'm not saying that WikiJournal of Science meets all our needs and we don't have to consider other journals. I'm saying that there's already precedent for putting a special symbol (the book symbol) at the top of an article to notify readers that there's been some external form of review, and the symbol serves to send them to that paper. - Dank (push to talk) 16:28, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Would this idea only be for featured articles?Vorbee (talk) 10:15, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
    Yep. I only want to submit our very best work to experts (they're busy people) and the FA process is the best system we have for assessing quality. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 11:39, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Both the concept of the expert review process as well as the inclusion of a link to the reviewed version. I see a suggestion that it can be done with a hatnote. I agree that it should be something akin to a hatnote but there may be a legitimate argument for making it look a little different than a hatnote as the concepts aren't exactly the same. (Generally, a hatnote is going to direct you to a completely different article, and if I'm looking at an article and it seems to be the right subject, I might not pay attention to a hat note, even though in this case it might be the one I'd prefer to see.)--S Philbrick(Talk) 20:11, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
    Thank you, Sphilbrick. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 16:39, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Question – How many articles would this actually affect, in practice? I count 52 FAs in the Health and medicine category, which isn't that many when you think about it. I haven't counted FAs in other "academic" categories like astronomy, but let's be generous and say there are 250 of them. Is it really worth it to create a whole new system for the benefit of 300 articles, many of which figure to be in less need of expert help than B- and C-class articles? It's not like the medical WikiProject is cranking out FAs like crazy; most of the time we don't see any medical articles coming through FAC. Never mind that the vast majority of readers aren't going to bother clicking on a small icon that goes to a potentially years-out-of-date version of an article (they don't do it often for the talk page links to the version that passed a given process), or that experts might propose edits that would damage an article (not knowing our norms for a given topic). Without enough work on relevant articles, I fear that such an idea wouldn't be worth the effort. There's no point in pushing for experts to sign up for a review service if they won't have anything to do. Giants2008 (Talk) 00:49, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
    Thanks, Giants2008, for your thoughtful response. As Johnbod suggested above, there'll be very few - at least to begin with. There are relatively few medical FAs and very few new ones rolling out.
    There's no system or infrastructure required to implement this service - it piggy-backs on the peer-review process already in place at all the top journals. It will take a bit of my time to commission each review, and I'll supervise the review to make sure the reviewers aren't proposing off-policy changes (like adding dose information to drug articles). Scan the right hand column of this review, where you'll see this happening. I'm more than willing to put that time in.
    You mention "... the vast majority of readers aren't going to click on a small icon ...". That's the point of this thread. It won't be a small icon. It'll be a prominent link of some kind. Galobtter, above, suggested a hatnote and Sphilbrck supported a hatnote or something like that. I'm not wedded to any particular format for the links, as long as it's not ugly, fits our style and is obvious to the reader. The hatnote (or whatever it ends up being) will only go up if a version of the article has passed the experts' review. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:08, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Mixed Support encouraging such reviews, oppose fossilizing the reviewed version with a diff anywhere, especially in the article space itself. There should be no marker on the article text, and I'm leery of even a talk page notice, which would tend to encourage WP:OWN-type issues and fossilization of articles. I like that experts want to help review our articles, I don't like that someone will use this to prevent future improvement. --Jayron32 01:50, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
  • We're already linking readers to a peer-reviewed version of our articles, where one exists, Jayron23. See Dengue fever. Click the little book icon in the top right hand corner. This proposal is to make that link prominent and obvious when named experts perform the review and the review is managed by an established, highly regarded publisher with a strong reputation for reliability (a publisher who publishes highest quality reliable sources).
  • Experts of the calibre I'm talking about won't be interested in reviewing an article if the reviewed version is going to disappear forever into the article's history the moment another editor saves a revision.
  • Regarding "someone will use this to prevent future improvement", experience does not bear this out. Take Dengue fever, for example. It passed peer-review in 2014. I made this simple diff in 2016. The topic evolved over that time and the article kept up. None of those editors seem to have been remotely concerned about offending the reviewers or messing with a sacred cow. Even if someone does feel that way, Wikipedia's policies and guidelines prevail.
  • As for the reviewed version getting stale: above, Johnbod recommended a time limit on how long we should leave the link up, and I agree with him. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:54, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
If they're not interested in reviewing articles that will later get improved, that's what Wikipedia is'. If you want to have some permanent, unchanging encyclopedia written by experts, find somewhere else to do it. --Jayron32 11:55, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
Could you expand on that a little for me please Jayron32? I'm not proposing an unchanging encyclopedia. Editors will still edit the public-facing article. It will evolve just as Dengue fever did after its review. I can see you're strongly opposed to this but can't yet see what your objection is. What's the down side you're seeing that I'm not? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 02:42, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: I think that there is room for several models of trying to engage expert review of articles. I agree that attracting high-quality reviewers is essential and collaborating with an established journal such as BMJ is a good way to achieve this. I think a hatnote and category would work well, or possibly a note at the top of the references section (e.g. Rotavirus#References). I agree that just the symbol alone is insufficient (most readers are similarly unaware of the FA star). As well as simple diffs in markup, the visual diffs viewer is pretty good these days or even lust a link to the version after review (same as done with GAs and FAs).
I think that locking or any sort should be handled in the same way as it would for any FA. For example, Circular_permutation_in_proteins has undergone several changes since its publication in PLOS CompBiol. Of course, thew ideal in my point of view would be for BMJ to publish the article if it passes their peer review standards, but that would of course rely on them being happy to publish CC-BY-SA and comfortable with large group authorship attribution, which is uncommon in many journals.[1]
Some possibly relevant links:
I don't think that there will be any great need to lock the pages after expert review (or at least, no more than for FAR). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Evolution and evolvability (talkcontribs) 03:13, 15 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose, with an emphasis on my conflict of interest as creator of Wikiversity:WikiJournal of Medicine, where the WikiJournals can be regarded as competitors to this idea. I do think the WikiJournals serve the main purpose of this proposal already. It is already aiming at having the quality of the reviewers to be "the highest possible". If the problem is that the WikiJournal review symbol is too tiny, I think a better solution would be to make that one more prominent. As for having a latest version and a last reviewed version, I think we already have this mechanism in the form of Wikipedia:Pending changes. And as for a system for reviewers to clearly mark their contributions to articles, we already have Template:External peer review (its usage can be seen on its WhatLinksHere). Regardless, I support having experts review Wikipedia articles, I just don't think we need yet another system for it. Mikael Häggström (talk) 04:45, 16 June 2018 (UTC)
    Mike, I won't support putting a prominent link at the top of a Wikipedia medicine article, linking the reader to a version that has passed review organised by WikiJournal. As discussed recently, here, WikiJournal is not a reliable publisher and its journals are not reliable sources by the standards of WP:MEDRS. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:01, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
    I accept that, and by the same reason I don't see why this proposal should be allowed to have even more prominent links at the top of mainspace articles. Is there anything making these reviews more reliable than those of WikiJournal? Mikael Häggström (talk) 10:10, 3 July 2018 (UTC)
    Here, I see support for prominent links to the reviewed version when the review is conducted under the model described above. If you want to put prominent links at the top of articles, linking to WikiJournal, open a discussion like this one and get input from others. I'll elaborate on my opposition there, if you like, Mikael. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 09:13, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: Expert peer review in Wikipedia is currently a marginal practice, and it would be good to test various mechanisms. If there were several mechanisms, they would probably not compete with one another, but rather help one another by making the practice more mainstream. And I do not see what harm would be done by linking to the reviewed version and the diff. This said, I fail to understand precisely what is the aim of the proposal. If it is to improve the quality of science articles in Wikipedia, why start with the ones that a priori need it the least, i.e. the featured articles? (In contrast, the rationale for WikiJournals is straightforward: incite academics to contribute more to Wikipedia, by making Wikipedia-style articles count in publication lists. This is why I am participating in WikiJSci.) Sylvain Ribault (talk) 19:41, 16 June 2018
    A key element of this proposed service is the involvement of the editorial boards of the most prestigious science and medicine journals in reviewer recruitment, and the selection of field leaders and other recognised experts as reviewers.
    They simply won't take on the review of an article that needs a lot of work, any more than they would accept such an article for review and publication in their journals. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 03:36, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Hi Anthony, I have two questions. First, is this proposal for science articles only? Second (the perennial problem), how are you going to persuade the reviewers to do it? SarahSV (talk) 04:03, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
    Personally, Sarah, I'm not taking this any further than medicine. Medicine is a fairly "hard" (as opposed to soft) topic that's underpinned by a great deal of rigorous publishing and robust systems for consensus-building. If it works and is useful in medicine, then it might work and be useful in the hard sciences, too, but I won't be taking it there. I don't know if it will work in softer topics like the social sciences, history and literature, and it won't work for the vast majority of Wikipedia topics that aren't well-supported by academic publishing.
    It's the editor-in-chief of the relevant journal/s who needs persuading. Then their managing editor goes through her Rolodex and offers the gig to the relevant experts.
    The editorial teams at the top relevant journals have the expertise, experience and relationships to do this well.
    IF we begin with and stick with only the most highly-regarded journals, and IF they consistently come through with stellar review panels, I hope experts will soon become proud to be asked to review Wikipedia articles, and it will be something they'll put in their resume. IF that's how it unfolds then, as the reputation of expert-reviewed Wikipedia articles grows, the managing editors may find it easier to recruit the best reviewers. We'll see. It's early days. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:08, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
    Anthony, what do you see as the benefit for the editors of the journals? They will have to reward the reviewers in some way. It used to be easier to get academics to do reviews. But the more we grew, and the more money the Foundation became associated with, the less eager reviewers have been to volunteer their time. I can imagine that someone might pay reviewers (e.g. some charitable medical foundation), although there's a risk that the payer would interfere editorially, and we would face the unfairness of reviewers being paid while writers are not. SarahSV (talk) 01:29, 23 June 2018 (UTC)
    Sarah, many of the top journals are published by scholarly societies and professional associations that have, as a part of their mission, education and the dissemination of knowledge about their specialism. If we present the reader with a prominent link to the fact-checked version, it'll be fairly easy to convince those journals it is worth the effort to manage a review, I think. The reward for the reviewers is (1) altruism, like you and me, and (2) prestige, per my last paragraph above. This latter isn't an afterthought. It's a key element of the model. I expect a Wikipedia medical article reviewed under this model to be regarded as the most reliable source on the topic, period. And I expect scholars and experts to see an invitation to review as a very visible public acknowledgement of their standing in their field.
    As for money:
    • There is a role for a very experienced Wikipedian in each review, liaising between the experts and the writers: (1) ensuring the expert suggestions are compliant with our policies, (2) finding reliable sources that support proposed changes, (3) updating the article in collaboration with other editors in response to the review, (4) re-presenting the updated article to the reviewers for endorsement and (5) formatting the "reliable version" with relevant templates, etc. This is pretty onerous, tedious, exacting work and I can see it becoming a paid role at some point.
    • I would be very disappointed and a bit surprised if it turned out the reviewers needed paying. I think, I'm pretty confident actually, it can be avoided.
    • Any money supporting this effort can't come from the WMF because of perceived (at least) conflict of interest. There are a number of non-profits out there with education in their remit. Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 09:39, 23 June 2018 (UTC)
  • I'm thinking about the consequences of Google linking searchers directly to the fact-checked version. That could cost us a lot of editors, like me, who love clicking publish. I'd lose interest in editing if my edits took months or years to appear. A few years ago, Google committed to privileging reliability over popularity in its search results. If this journal-driven expert review service becomes a thing, I'll make sure Google knows the harm direct-linking would do. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:49, 25 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. Only expert reviewers who spend many hours every week doing research in their field of expertise, who read vast numbers of papers can have a good judgment to weed out subtle problems with review articles written by non-experts. A review article written by scientists is always based on a huge amount of literature research, this is obviously not the way we go about writing articles here. We cruise on autopilot by summarizing the contents of review articles, but this can lead to inaccuracies. The main problem here is caused by our reliance on the top journals like e.g. the BMJ, the Lancet etc., while these journals only publish a small percentage of the research results. A lot more is going on behind the scenes, the vast majority of the relevant research for any particular topic is published in technical journals that we cannot possibly keep track of. While our articles will end up presenting most of the relevant information, things tend to go wrong with giving the right weight to different ideas. Different ideas that are not considered to be equally likely to be true, tend to get presented in a more equal way in the top journals, because one wants to see what the most rigorous evidence tells us and not be biased based on the previously known less rigorous evidence. That's a good way to eventually get to the rigorously verified truth, but it may sometimes mislead lay people about how researchers in the field think about the different ideas. Count Iblis (talk) 15:42, 25 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Strong support — Per proposal/idea, an expert's experience and knowledge would be much appreciated in technical/non-technical articles written and/or edited by non-experts. This is a no-brainer and is easy to support, in all honesty.
    Regards, SshibumXZ (Talk) (Contributions). 19:44, 22 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Support, with integration with WikiJournals, so we combine the related efforts. It's unfortunate that the proposal wording didn't make it clear this is not a competing/replacement idea. Anyway, this would clearly be a boon to the quality of certain kinds of articles and thus a service to readers, with a secondary benefit of reputability of Wikipedia with regard to certain topics. After some "practice" on stable stuff, it could even be used to shut down pointless WP:FRINGE dispute in the long run (e.g. push articles on vaccination, electronic cigarettes, etc., to FA quality, then peer review them and protect them from typical drive-by PoV edits that swarm around these topics. As I noted above, I don't support the idea of protecting the reviewed articles beyond auto-confirmed or maybe template-editor protection at most, or it'll interfere with routine maintenance. Semi-protection to auto-confirmed protection at least would be well-justified.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:23, 30 July 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Sorry, I don’t think this is a good idea at all. I have never met an expert who didn’t want to promote their own views; particularly experts in the fields of medicine and science where making a name for oneself is so important. And I suggest that those willing to undertake the task are going to be precisely the sort with an agenda, who are less likely to tolerate the inclusion of alternative viewpoints. In short they can’t be relied upon to be neutral. And you are asking to highlight it as something better or more accurate.
No, far better to have an article that has been reviewed (through the usual WP:BRD process) by a multitude of reasonably well-informed amateurs than a single partisan expert. Nor do I think it ought to be protected. We have too much protection as it is without locking down more articles.
And lastly, because this isn’t feasible for all articles (who are we going to get to give an expert opinion on Halo 3? Some 14 year-old gamer?), it will create a two-tier encyclopaedia where only a few topics are able to attain a level of "better than featured article".— Preceding unsigned comment added by Ykraps (talkcontribs) 12:17, 9 August 2018 (UTC)


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Draft RfC on upper/lower-case for standardized breeds[edit]

This has been on my mind for a long time. The short version is that MOS:LIFE accounts for every kind of categorization of life forms, except standardized breeds. This is by temporary design, to let tempers cool after the contentious WP:BIRDCON RfC. Shortly after it, I discouraged 4 potential RfCs on the breed question due to the community's patience about such questions being thin at the time.

Four years have now gone by. It's probably long past time this was cleared up, since lack of resolution has led to several problems. However, given the potential for WP:DRAMA, I think it would be best if this RfC were given some collaborative examination and editing before being opened for real.

I've been neutral on the question for years, and have collected pro and con arguments relating to it, which I've included in the RfC as background material

Below is my draft. Feel free to just copyedit directly in it, or suggest changes, or whatever. It'll likely be most effective to edit this in-place one way or another than to produce stacked up versions of it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:22, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

RfC: Names of standardized breeds of animals – capitalized or lower-case


Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Animals, plants, and other organisms (MOS:LIFE) covers all collective terms for organisms, except standardized breeds of livestock and pet animals, which were excluded "temporarily" several years ago pending resolution of another dispute, about species names, resolved in 2014.

Proposal: Update MOS:LIFE to include names of standardized breeds of animals, in (only) one of these ways:

Usage in reliable sources is in conflict. "Follow the sources" is not actually an answer.


Background and rationales, pro and con

Current guidelines (and lack thereof), practice on WP, and practice in sources

MOS:LIFE presently recommends lower-case for all groups of animals (except were they contain a proper name, like "German" or "Flemish"). Omitted from mention in the guideline are standardized breeds (breeds for which published breed standards from breed registries exist – essentially official names according to the standards-issuing organizations). There are reasonable rationales for both capitalizing and lower-casing breed names (see collapsed background material, below).

The present status quo is that most of them are capitalized on Wikipedia, at least in articles about the breeds. Reliable sources in general are not consistent in this approach – lower-case is frequently used in news articles and other general-audience material, including dictionaries – but sources specifically about breeds almost uniformly capitalize them. Doing them lower-case looks "wrong" to most people familiar with breeds, but capitalizing them looks "wrong" to some who are not.

Issue history

In 2014, a lengthy RfC finally resolved a decade-running conflict about capitalization of common (vernacular) names of non-domesticated species (in favor of lower-case), along with the other groups-of-animals terminology already covered by the MOS:LIFE guidelines.

Breeds were intentionally left as something to sort out "later", rather than double the then-current disputation. It is now markedly later. Lack of resolution of this matter has led to some problems, including article-by-article title disputation, and stalling of the extended MOS:ORGANISMS guideline in perpetual draft state, pending resolution of the breeds question.

In the interim, various WP:Requested moves discussions have moved lower-case examples to capitalized, on the principle of WP:CONSISTENCY within each category; about 75% of them were already capitalized at the time these RMs began. This has come at the expense of a broader consistency across categories (i.e., breed names are being treated differently from non-breed groups of animals). This is neither wrong nor right, just one of our fairly common conflicts between different sorts of consistency.


There are strong arguments both for and against capitalization of standardized breed names:

Arguments for capitalization of standard breeds:
  • Capitalization has already been applied to standardized breeds' names, site-wide. Undoing it now would be like a WP:MEATBOT action, would be against MOS:STYLEVAR, and would not objectively improve the encyclopedia, just favor one form of consistency over another.
  • Virtually all specialist sources for/by breeders and fanciers capitalize breed names [though not always consistently with each other, especially after a hyphen].
  • A large proportion of breeds are capitalized no matter what (in English) because they are or include adjectival proper names ("Pekingese", "Australian", etc.); the comparatively small number that are not could be confusing (at least to editors) as exceptions.
  • A few breeds are proper names no matter what because they're trademarks (mostly in livestock and lab animals, but see also the Ragdoll cat).
  • A standardized breed name as a whole can be considered a proper name, like "Europeans" and "the Weather Underground", because it uniquely names a clearly identifiable group.
    • In other terms: This approach to capitalization marks a noun phrase as being a name for something specific, rather than a descriptive phrase, and in this context it is a very helpful distinction. We have done it in a few other areas, such as Category:Chess openings, following the sources.
  • A significant number [though a minority] of general-audience publications capitalize breed names even where they do not contain a proper name; the style is not jarring to readers, so it is not a specialized-style fallacy.
    • There's a comprehension issue: If I write "American shorthair cat" or "Lithuanian white pig", I could be talking about the breeds or about any cat in the US with short hair and any white pig from Lithuania. "American Shorthair cat" and "Lithuanian White pig" make it clear I mean the breeds.
  • Breeds/cultivars are a human creation, not naturally evolved ones, and thus are like works of art or models of automobile, and thus should be treated as proper names.
  • Standardized breeds are, in effect, publications (the standards themselves, issued by a breed registry or the like); at very least they're a special designation or title that is earned through proven pedigree and conformation. An argument can thus be made that they're proper names.
    • Standardized breeds are, by their nature, also directly comparable to awards of recognition to successful breeding programs. [This argument does not apply to landraces, historical breeds before the advent of breed standards, and other informal "breeds".] Two points in favor of this argument for standardized breeds are:
    • In some breed registries, an individual animal with a pedigree entirely within a breed may fail to qualify as member of the breed due to failing to fit the conformation specification in the standard.
    • In some registries, individual animals with no pedigree may be accepted as members of certain breeds based on nothing but visual conformation and geographical origin (e.g. a Manx cat either has a pedigree as one, or came from the Isle of Man and upon examination conforms to the standard).
  • Many breed names that do not include proper names are German, and in that language are always capitalized as as nouns or noun phrases; purists may thus object to lower-casing them in English, even for names assimilated into English.
  • Cultivars and trade designations (plant breeds) are uniformly capitalized in virtually all sources.
    • Animal breeds should arguably receive the same consideration just for consistency, despite no uniform system of orthography for them in scientific literature. I.e., do not assume that our editors are nomenclature experts; just give them a simple rule to follow.
    • It is better to treat breeds and cultivars exactly the same way, despite any rationale differences for capitalizing one but not the other, because only experts are liable to know or even understand those differences, and the result would be confusingly inconsistent.
    • Lower-casing animal breeds would inspire an attempt to lower-case cultivars, which would lead to an even worse dispute than that which surrounded lower-casing of species names.
  • Lower-case just looks wrong, beyond WP:IDONTLIKEIT. Wikipedia is brought into disrepute when it writes in ways that defy the best practices established in a field, to dumb-down content for non-specialist readers.
    • We regularly follow norms established in particular fields, where these do not present a "principle of least astonishment" problem for a general audience. For example, we use italics and a capitalized genus name in binomial nomenclature: Notophthalmus viridescens. Much of MOS:NUM is derived from SI, ISO, BIPM, and other standards, despite not matching how everyone writes.
    • If the ICZN finally covered breeds, it would almost certainly do so in capitalized form to match standard usage in breed sources and to mirror treatment of cultivars in the ICNCP. If we lower-cased breeds on Wikipedia, we could be setting ourselves up for a massive re-capitalization later.
Arguments against capitalization of standard breeds:
  • WP:CONTENTAGE is an "argument to avoid" (and see also WP:FAITACCOMPLI). WP has plenty of times undone a site-wide decision because it was a bad idea (date auto-formatting and auto-linking, spoiler templates in plot summaries, species capitalization, etc.).
  • English-language dictionaries do not capitalize breed names except where they contain a proper name. Other non-specialist sources (newspapers, non-fiction books) generally do not capitalize. [This majority is not as large as it is for non-specialist sources that do not capitalize species common names, however.] Specialized sources are more reliable for facts about a topic but not for how to best write general-audience English about the topic.
  • Breeds that are trademarks or placenames can be capitalized without extending that proper name privilege to all other breed names. This is exactly the same as with any other topic, and treating breeds differently is a specialized-style fallacy.
  • What's going on here is a confusion between Proper name (linguistics) (a.k.a. proper-noun phrases, which are capitalized), and the Proper name (philosophy) concept (which has no relationship to capitalization). Breeds are not proper names in the linguistic sense, any more than "mountain lion", "chief operating officers in the banking industry", and "indigenous peoples of the Americas" are – despite referring to clearly identifiable, unique groups. They're common-noun classifications and labels. (This would not lead to cultivars being lower-cased in scientific names, where a 'Cultivar Name'-formatted name is a symbol in a formally standardized construction, like the orthography of measurement units or chemical symbols in other technical material.)
    • Using capitalization to "signify" a noun phrase as a label for something specific rather than a descriptive phrase, is a form of emphasis against MOS:EMPHCAPS. The idea that it's useful in the encyclopedia is commonly offered for capitalizing specialized terms, and almost always rejected – including in the similar consensus debate about species names. (What is being signified may be unclear to non-specialists, and the style is disused in general-audience publications.) Why would this be different for breeds? Exceptions, like Category:Chess openings, are made here for things that are usually also capitalized in non-specialized works, but breeds are not.
  • There's no evidence readers are confused when breed names are lower-case (aside from capitalized proper names); the opposite is more likely. Otherwise, newspapers and the like would not use lower-case. We rewrite to avoid ambiguous constructions, just as we do with species vernacular names. It is the "job" of WP editors to properly research what they are writing about, including the origin and meaning of its name.
    • There is no comprehension issue, unless one simply is a terrible writer. For any case in which "Lithuanian white pig" could be ambiguous, just write "the Lithuanian white pig breed" or the like. And "American shorthair" cannot be anything but a breed, since "shorthair" isn't a real word but only used in a breed names (and only cat ones); a random cat with short hair is short-haired or shorthaired). "Lithuanian White" would not make it clear to readers one meant the breed, since using capitals this way is not a convention in everyday English; the average reader will not understand the special breeder-jargon "signification capitals".
  • All human labels, including for genetic and phenotypic abstractions, are artificial, so the "human not natural" argument for capitals is baseless. There is thus no difference for WP style purposes between a species and a breed. Since we do not capitalize the English-language common names of species (or subspecies), we should not do so for breeds (whether we do or not for cultivars, due to an international standard; see below).
    • An analogy of standardized breeds to human awards is dubious, since many other such analogies can be made that do not argue for capitalization, e.g. that acceptance into a standardized breed is comparable to citizenship (it's not "I am a Citizen of Botswana" or "She is a Tongan National"), to occupation (wrong: "I am a Dental Hygienist", despite this requiring the award of a certification), to diagnosis ("He is on the Autism Spectrum" is wrong), etc. And no one is arguing against capitalization of the titles of breed standards documents in citations, which would be done per MOS:TITLES. Our articles are about the animals, not the paperwork.
    • Also, the fact that breeds are usually treated as something automatically a matter of pedigree tells us that the exceptions are simply unusual deviations for rare contexts, not that they are meaningful to our general question.
  • Taxonomic ranks below subspecies are not formal in zoology (they aren't taxa under the ICZN), but certainly informally include breeds; we know this because a) zoological literature about domesticated animals often refers to breeds as such and by name; b) all breeds are within (or a hybrid between) species or subspecies which have been taxonomically and genetically identified; and c) in botany (particularly horticulture), the lower taxa are formally catalogued, including forms, varieties, and cultivars, the last of which is synonymous with domestic plant breeds (some botanical literature does in fact refer to cultivars as breeds, and cultivar itself is a comparatively recent neologism).
    • Thus, any rule WP adopts (like do not capitalize) that applies to taxa below genus applies to breeds, except the specific consensus to honor the ICNCP's standard to capitalize plant cultivars (and put them in single quotes) in a scientific name (example, for an apple cultivar: Malus pumila 'Red Delicious'); that exception does not cover animal breeds.
    • A near-universal convention for capitalization of horticultural cultivars in formal horticultural nomenclature does not generalize to a convention to always capitalize them outside that context, thus also could not logically lead us to capitalize all similar things, including domestic animal breeds.
  • Capitalization just looks wrong, beyond WP:IDONTLIKEIT. Wikipedia is brought into disrepute when it writes in ways that violate the "principle of least astonishment" by doing things stylistically that look like errors to non-specialist readers. This is the very reason that capitalizing common names of species led to a decade of dispute: many readers and editors interpreted it as a typo, as against English-language norms.
    • We follow ICZN, ICN, ICNCP and other standards like SI, ISO, and BIPM specifically because they are widely accepted, international, formal standards. That just doesn't apply to breed naming.
    • The ICZN has had a very long time (since 1889) to include breeds and still does not. There is no reason to think this will change.
  • Capitalization of all breed names leads to incorrect capitalization of foreign-language words and phrases in the names of breeds, in languages that do not capitalize this way; see, e.g., a large number of entries at List of chicken breeds. MOS (at MOS:TITLES, etc.) is clear that we should not impose English capitalization rules on names in other languages. [For noun-capitalizing German, a stronger anti-caps argument is that MOS:CAPS says not to capitalize unless necessary, and since English sources are not consistent about capitalizing German-derived breed names assimilated into English, WP should not do it. I.e., English reliable sources trump defaulting to German style; see also WP:NCCAPS#Capitalization of expressions borrowed from other languages, with a similar but reverse example about Art Nouveau, assimilated as capitalized, versus the original French art nouveau.]

What this RfC would not affect

This RfC would not change in any way the treatment of: names of domestic animal populations that are not standardized breeds; vernacular names of species; names of plant cultivars ("breeds"); or foreign terms not used as breed names in English.


"Standardized breeds" does not include:

  • Subjects that fall under any extended definitions of the term "breed"; they are already covered by MOS:LIFE as to be given in lower-case, as common-noun phrases not proper nouns. This includes: landraces; feral populations; breed groups; dog and horse "types"; ancient varieties mentioned in manuscript sources, such as the Roman war dogs; and other informal classifications.
  • Scientific or vernacular names of species or subspecies, which are governed by the formal ICZN standard (and given in the form "domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris"). This RfC is about English-language (or assimilated) names for standardized breeds of domesticated animals, only.
  • Capitalization of a species common name used as a natural disambiguator; i.e. "Siamese Cat" and "Capuchine Chicken" are not contemplated, except in the very rare case that the breed standard includes such a word because the name by itself is too ambiguous without it, as in American Quarter Horse, Bernese Mountain Dog, Norwegian Forest Cat; in over 99% of cases, "horse", "dog", "cat", etc. would remain lower case under all approaches, and only included in titles as natural disambiguation when necessary.
  • The names of plant cultivars or trade designations (roughly the plant equivalents of breeds), which are capitalized following the formal ICNCP standard. There is not any comparable standard for domesticated animals, which is why this issue has arisen in the first place.
  • MOS:FOREIGN and WP:USEENGLISH will continue to apply: A non-English term for a standardized breed will follow the capitalization rules of the native language. However, this caps vs. lower-case RfC would apply to a non-English loanword name that has become de facto name of the breed in English or an official one used by a particular registry's breed standard. I.e.: if capitalization is favored, then the Donek pigeon would be capitalized despite being lower-case in Turkish; if lower-case is the result, then dachshund would be lower-case here despite being capitalized in German.

Some previous discussions of breed capitalization, and external sources on the question, are listed at WP:BREEDCAPS.

RfC materials prepared by ~~~ (feel free to neutrally edit them without substantively changing the question, e.g. to insert additional rationales into the blocks for those) ~~~~~

Comments on the breeds RfC

{{Not a vote}}

Extended discussions of the breeds RfC

Discussion of the draft breeds RfC[edit]

I'm trying to present this as neutrally as possible, while not obfuscating anything about current de facto WP usage (at least in article titles, and in text at actual breed articles), nor treatment in sources; and with sufficient background material that initial knee-jerk assumptions in either direction can be at least somewhat dissuaded. If there's too much background material, we can axe some of it.

The drama potential is that at least three editors quit Wikipedia over the outcome of the WP:BIRDCAPS RfC (more or less; one had actually quit a year earlier, came back for it, and quit again). I get the impression that editors in general don't care about capitalization of breeds, but a few MoS regulars oppose it, while those in favor of it often feel very strongly about it. I thus do not want to bias this proceeding against the latter (which happens almost automatically, given what the rest of MOS:LIFE says), but at the time time, "I'm gonna quit if I don't get what I want" has long been viewed as an unacceptable debate technique. This needs to be as calm and reasoned a discussion as possible. Toward that end, I've listed the pro-caps material first and made it clear that it's already the de facto standard, for balance.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:22, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

I've long been of the opinion that we make far too little use of capitalisation in article titles. This practice goes back to the very first version of WP:AT remaining in the database: I (Larry Sanger) am strongly in favor of leaving as many things uncapitalized as is appropriate. [1] As far as I can see this has never been seriously questioned as a principle, and the words as appropriate have been overlooked. But I (Andrew Alder) am strongly in favour of capitalisation whenever this will help readers to identify the article they want, or to understand the meaning of a term in running text. Not all English speakers are native speakers. So it is confusing that the article on bald eagle is not about all bald eagles, or only about bald eagles. It's about the Bald Eagle, and most of them are not bald. And this capitalisation is perfectly correct grammatically, despite what you may remember your primary school teacher saying about proper nouns. It marks Bald Eagle as being a name for something specific, rather than a descriptive phrase, and in the context this is a very helpful distinction. Andrewa (talk) 03:04, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
This comment makes clear why this RfC will be problematic, however carefully SMcCandlish phrases it – and he's done an excellent job. There is a clear connection between capitalizing breed names and capitalizing the English names of species, for example, and many of the arguments on either side are the same for both cases. The core reason for capitalizing in modern English orthography for those that support it, is precisely that it marks [a noun phrase] as being a name for something specific, rather than a descriptive phrase, and in .. context this is a very helpful distinction. I note that this argument has not been included in the list of arguments for capitalizing, yet it's precisely the one I consider most powerful; I guess one reason not to include it is that it was not accepted in the debate about capitalizing the English names of taxa. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:05, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
Agree. But consensus can change. So let us consider the arguments on their merits. Andrewa (talk) 10:47, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
If so, then this argument should be added to the list. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:17, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
I added both pro and con arguments about this to the list. The idea that it's "never been seriously questioned as a principle" indicates unawareness of how frequently it has been debated; in one wording or another, it's a feature of nearly all debates about "specialist caps", and is very common both at the MoS and NC talk pages and in RM discussions. We really do go over it very frequently. The argument in favor of it almost never wins out; it only does when non-specialist sources largely also follow the upper-casing style for the topic in question. Definitely worth cataloguing among the arguments though; I had hints of in there before, and have merged them into more cohesive arguments.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:00, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
Agree that We really do go over it very frequently. I've been part of many of those discussions, and have long been watching others and deliberately abstaining in order to gather evidence of consensus in which I was uninvolved. But Larry Sanger's opinion on the overall principle has not been challenged in any of these (except occasionally by myself), rather it has been argued that some particular area (such as breeds) should be an exception. And that's a very different thing. Andrewa (talk) 20:41, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
I see what you mean now, but it's not very relevant. No one remembers who first proposed what or why, with regard to virtually anything on WP; our WP:P&G are not a precedent- and fiat-based system of laws, but a diffuse system of organically evolving rules (if we even want to call them that). [There are some rare exceptions, e.g. where Jimbo is quoted in footnotes at WP:BLP.] That is, MOS:CAPS doesn't say what it does because of Larry Sanger's opinion, but because it's what the editorship at large wants. Given that we have ~30,000 active editors per month, but "gimme capitalization or else" antics arise from maybe a dozen editors (usually the same ones over and over again) in that same span, there's no evidence at all that the community would delete the central principle of MOS:CAPS, much less on the basis that WP's co-founder who later quit just made it up and that it's wrong. He didn't, and it's not; he got it from mainstream style guides. The WP community independently re-implemented it at MOS, later split into MOS:CAPS, from the same sourcing and expectations background – after what is now WP:AT stopped saying anything about style (other than cross-references to the later MoS materials), because style doesn't rise to a policy level.

What this particular meta-case is likely to come down to is a combination of: a) Do enough non-specialized sources also capitalize breed names? We know they don't among dictionaries, but they might well among newspapers, books, journals, etc. And nearly all the specialized ones do it. b) Will lower-casing – under the MOS:STYLEVAR principle – cause more trouble than it's worth? This is a good question, especially given that no firm WP:CONSISTENCY argument can be made (it's a conflict between two warring approaches to consistency – otherwise I'm sure you know which side of this fence I would jump to), and we're already capitalizing these names anyway. (Whether that constitutes a de facto consensus or WP:FAITACCOMPLI is an open question, exactly as it was in WP:BIRDCON.)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:11, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

It's only relevant if there is some hope of overturning it! But the more evidence I gather, the more it seems that the reader would benefit from doing exactly that. The authorities in specific subject areas who do adopt capitalisation do so for good reasons, and for that reason the issue will never go away. But it can be fixed, perhaps.
The arguments against changing our MOS to use capitalisation as I'm suggesting have been often and strongly repeated, but they boil down to just two.
Firstly, we have what is sometimes called folk linguistics. It's often expressed as "it looks wrong", and seems to be based on what generations of primary school teachers have taught their students, some of whom went on to teach the next generation. I'm afraid their notions of "proper nouns" and similar technical terms, and of "correct English grammar", are not all that helpful.
And secondly, we have appeals to our current and long-standing policies, guidelines and practices. It's in addressing these that I think that understanding how we got where we are could be helpful. Andrewa (talk) 23:53, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
You're free to start another RfC, on undoing MOS:CAPS, I suppose. The "it looks wrong" arguments come from both sides. I already integrated that, along with the actual non-WP:JDLI rationales usually offered in support of such a sentiment, to both the con and pro sections, as applicable to this particular question. Signification-capping is adopted for reasons that are good in specialist-to-specialist communication, but which are rationales that rapidly break down in encyclopedia-to-general-audience communication. This is where the debate goes every single time. The "breed-caps" case is so borderline because the capitalization is maybe just common enough outside of specialist sources that this failure point is not triggered. I'll address the rest of this below, since a "MOSCAPS is all a big mistake" viewpoint is off-topic for this RfC draft. (This is about whether something is an exception to a rule, not whether the rule system should exist.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:36, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for your permission to start another RfC (;-> but I think it's better to see how this one goes. But I also think it's good to put this one in context. It is making a case for an exception to a long-standing convention. If that's upheld, than that is a reason for reviewing the convention itself. Conversely, if the convention is a good and important one, then that's a reason for rejecting the RfC.
Signification-capping is adopted for reasons that are good in specialist-to-specialist communication, but which are rationales that rapidly break down in encyclopedia-to-general-audience communication... I'm not sure I understand the point exactly. Signification-capping is a completely different issue IMO, but these reasons that are good in specialist-to-specialist communication sound relevant... what exactly are they? And why do they break down in encyclopedia-to-general-audience communication... that's very relevant if true, but it would mean that we should give less emphasis to more scholarly sources, and we tend to do the opposite. Andrewa (talk) 17:21, 5 August 2018 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish: "resolution of another disputes" - did this mean to say "another dispute", or "other disputes", i.e. how many disputes were there? Chris857 (talk) 14:32, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

So many, so many. :-) Typo fixed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:34, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
  • @SMcCandlish: going back to the original purpose of the discussion at this stage, namely to consider how to present the RfC, my problem is to see what exactly remains if all arguments that support capitalizing other kinds of noun phrase are removed. What's left is, as you note above and below, the argument that although capitalizing breed names is a "specialist style", it's a more common specialist style than, say, capitalizing the English names of taxa, and so is acceptable in a MoS otherwise committed to de-capitalizing. It's difficult to count capitalization vs. non-capitalization in sources, because of the way that search engines ignore capitalization, and because it's impossible to restrict the search to sources of the right kind. I can certainly easily find sources that de-capitalize both the English names of species and breed names (e.g. National Geographic). I think you will be asked for more evidence of sources other than those specializing in breeds that capitalize and de-capitalize. Do you have any lists? Peter coxhead (talk) 19:05, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
    @Peter coxhead: WP:BREEDCAPS supplies some, but it's very scattershot and much of it's ca. 2015. It doesn't trawl Google Scholar, and do other stuff yet, including a wider range of N-gram results (sculpted to weed out a lot of false positives for title-case headings and such). With news and books hits, you literally have to just manually count (e.g. see which of the hits in the first 5 or 10 or whatever pages of search results capitalize in mid-sentence). I could probably do that (using a variety of common breed names that aren't all-proper-name like "Alsatian" or "Siamese"), but I'm not sure that personally researching it from every angle is necessary; it wouldn't give RfC commenters much to do but "vote", and my own approach to trying to figure out the trends outside of specialized sources might be faulty, or at least challenged as faulty despite being sound. I did recently add dictionary results to BREEDCAPS, and they were uniformly lower-case. So, some more indications of upper-case usage might be good for balance. It's not my goal to present an anti-caps case while posing as neutral. I really don't care either way on this, other than that the open question about it be closed, with a minimum of drama.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:18, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

On the much broader idea of changing WP's approach to capital letters[edit]

Above, Andrewa makes a case that, site-wide, our capitalization guidelines are based uncritically on something Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger wrote in 2001 in the early discussions that eventually lead to WP:AT (and later to WP:MOS). Andrewa writes: 'we have what is sometimes called folk linguistics. It's often expressed as "it looks wrong"', and (among other material): 'we have appeals to our current and long-standing policies, guidelines and practices. It's in addressing these that I think that understanding how we got where we are could be helpful.'. I'm not sure this is how Andrewa would best summarize his view, though.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:37, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

What Andrewa wants to address is much, much larger than this particular RfC question, and I think that dwelling on this distracts from the purpose of this VPIL thread, which is constructing a neutral and balanced RfC to close off a lingering debate that is holding up real work and also permitting various tooth-grinding (between "MoS people" and "breeds people") to continue to build up. So, I'm addressing it in a subtopic.

"[U]nderstanding how we got where we are could be helpful" is true, for that larger debate, provided the "understanding" is actually there. A "Larry Sanger did it" theory is not understanding but a major misunderstanding. It's what you could call folk history, specifically a highly localized version of the big man hypothesis (our own article on it is poor, giving the origins of it without any discussion of the fact that modern anthropology treats it as completely faulty, much like the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is treated in linguistics today). It's basically a Sanger variant of WP:Argumentum ad jimbonem, when we all know that even Jimbo's viewpoint no longer has much of an effect on how WP operates or why (and Sanger's hasn't in over a decade).

There's an accidental correlation between Sanger's initial views on article titles and what MoS says about capitalization in general today (including article titles incidentally), but it's not causative. The causal chain is that The Chicago Manual of Style, New Hart's Rules / Oxford Style Manual, Garner's Modern English Usage, Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Scientific Style and Format, and The Elements of Style (i.e., the most influential style guides on our own) are all against use of unnecessary capital letters, and have become more so with each succeeding edition. This is why early commenters on title policy were against over-capitalization, and – severably – why MoS is today. It's also why re-re-re-hash of the matter (almost always on a topical basis, i.e. "do as specialists in my field do") continue to concludes in favor of lower-case with almost total uniformity.

My usual inclination is to declare something like capitalizations of breeds to be just another specialized-style fallacy and to oppose it, but I've come to see it as an edge case, much like capitalization of chess openings (something which I also used to vehemently oppose). There's just enough capitalization of these things in non-specialized sources to argue either way. And it cannot be put down to something like "most newspapers follow the AP Stylebook" (which is the direct cause of attempts to over-capitalize things like "with" and "from" in titles of movies and songs), since that work doesn't address chess at all and says to use lower-case for breed names (i.e., many news publishers are uncharacteristically defying AP to capitalize breeds). This case is genuinely unusual.

Anyway, Andrewa's central theme isn't really on-topic for this RfC drafting process, and is a major policy-change proposal: That the use of signification capitals in specialist works is something Wikipedia should adopt on a topic-by-topic basis as helpful for readers, and that our not doing it is some kind of terrible mistake on Sanger's part that should be overturned. The last part is historically counter-factual, but the argument might still be made without name-dropping Sanger. (I would oppose at such an RfC, because the results to would be to capitalize virtually everything that is the subject of any speciality, because you will find works in that speciality capitalizing such terms, ergo people from those fields would persist in arguing for capitalization until they got what they wanted, if we permitted that style on such a "follow the specialist sources, only, on style" idea.)
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:36, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

There's a lot there! Thanks for taking so much time on it.
Just one clarification for a start... I'm not saying that Sanger made a terrible mistake, on two counts. Firstly, from what little evidence we have, he didn't see it as a big issue (despite him saying strongly, as the rest of the quote dilutes that significantly). Secondly, I'm not accusing anyone of any mistake at all.
What I am suggesting is that this particular long-standing convention is, on the evidence we now have, ripe for review. Over the years it has become a big issue, and the justification for keeping this particular convention is not obvious. But the arguments for keeping it deserve an answer, and part of that answer is in the history of this convention. Andrewa (talk) 17:24, 5 August 2018 (UTC)

Timelines In Wikipedia[edit]

This is a proposal for placing timelines into Wikipedia to allow users the ability to better understand history over time.



This is a website that allows any user to place any number of Wikipedia articles on an attractive timeline for contemporaneous analysis.


By our last count as of February 2018, there are somewhere in the range of 38 million dates in the English Wikipedia. What makes a task like this even possible is that our friends at Wikipedia enforce (to a great extent) standard date nomenclature as laid out in:,_months_and_years

There are actually 9304 different ways to write a standard date or date range in Wikipedia, conforming to the manual of style. There are also hundreds of non-standard dates. An example of this would be when a persons birth year is speculated but his date of passing is known. That might look like this:

“c. 1567 - December 3, 1615”

Regardless of the complexity of this task, we believe we have gotten a +95% success rate on finding dates in the text of Wikipedia articles. This excludes lists and info boxes because we want the dates that are put on timelines to tell a story and the dates in the paragraphs in Wikipedia afford us just this.

Here is a discussion of our findings:

We believe there are nearly 10,000 different ways of writing a date or a date range in Wikipedia. Our table used to disambiguate standard dates and date range formats can be found here:

Although we are happy with the results of our extraction algorithms, we continue to improve our methods.


If we don’t run into any cross domain or other security issues, we could see presenting a test timeline, in a Wikipedia article, created directly from any article, in a couple of hours. We obviously understand Wikipedia from a technical standpoint.

In order to implement a timeline on a Wikipedia article, one would have to include a <div> tag, as in:

<div id="TheTimelinePlace"></div>

Presumably this would be in a collapsible toggle widget area in the article.

Upon the expansion of the collapsible widget the following call to a server would look something like this:


And of course it wont be this simple, but, quite frankly, it should not be that much more complicated.


On our website any user can, with just a mouse (little or no typing necessary):

1) Create/delete a timeline

2) Add/delete any article on any timeline

3) Add/delete any date from any article on any timeline

A short video showing an example of this simple procedure can be seen here:


The current website does not include all the features we have developed for it. We are introducing many new ideas, concepts and nomenclature. We don’t want to negatively confuse initial users with too much “feature bloat”. As we get eventual feedback we will introduce timeline and annotated article sharing and many other “bells and whistles”. We are just currently interested in getting reactions to this potential new feature, from Wikipedians, like you.

Of course this is a very complex topic and we could probably produce a 100 page proposal. Hopefully 3 pages will need to suffice on this forum, at this time.

Therefore we are available to answer any questions, here or via email, at any time.


Jeff Roehl

Lead developer

[e-mail address redacted]

Jroehl (talk) 17:40, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

A Wikidata query can produce the same information. Reference Timeline of early aviators who died in an accident. Perhaps the data you have collected would make valuable additions to Wikidata, if you are willing to license an upload of that data CC0. I am sure they would welcome it. (See d:WD:PC to discuss there with that community.) --Izno (talk) 18:01, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
Wow, well that is interesting, Izno. This is very much like what is doing. Our system lets the user pick through the actual articles and select their dates and timeline labels for clarity. But the Wikidata timeline system is very impressive. Thanks for showing us this. Jroehl (talk) 20:04, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
It also violates our software security policy and our HTML no-reflow after pageload policies. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 18:45, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
As for security, our website is for demonstration purposes, TheDJ. We are not purposing running on our server. We would be more than happy to run this on a Wikipedia authenticated system. Please point us to "HTML no-reflow after pageload policies". We do not know what this means and cannot find a source explaining this. Jroehl (talk) 20:04, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
It means that all elements on the page should be fixed in position and size and not make the page jump around due to changing sizes etc because of the async loaded javascript changes. For software to be added to the platform, they need to be integrated from a MediaWiki extension. See also MediaWiki:Developer hub. Once there is an extension, then the communities have to want it and site administrators need to review and deploy it. (ill warn you in advance, the road is long, hard, winding, confusing and many more adjectives). —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 18:19, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
See also our account policies. Your "we" suggests your account is being used by multiple people.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:29, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish:, the "we" in my message includes Andrei from Budapest, Romainia and Anjali from Thiruvananthapuram, India. This is being posted under my personal login that is probably close to 10 years old. We are trying to make a contribution to Wikipedia. What ever happened to the Wikipedia policy of being welcoming and showing good will? We are attempting to show good will. Jroehl (talk) 18:07, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
There's no "will" involved. I made a neutral statement of fact about our policy, nothing more. Your posts seemed to indicate multiple people using the account (and your reply doesn't actually dispel that notion).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:41, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish:, I am unaware that anybody else has access to my many years old personal Wikipedia account. Unless you know something that I am not aware of. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jroehl (talkcontribs) 18:56, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Fine. If you've been here that long, then you understand our policies and thus understand why "we" language is apt to raise such a concern. WP accounts do not represent group voices, only individual ones. Perhaps ask Anjali to participate in this discussion independently.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:22, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish:, I will no longer use the pronoun "we" in communication on Wikipedia forums. Even though it is the correct rhetorical and respectful thing to do. Jroehl (talk) 19:49, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Whatever you say.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  20:01, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Non-developer here and I might be digressing from the original idea a bit but an interactive timeline (mediawiki extension or template) for use within articles could be very useful. Currently many articles rely solely on text to describe sequence of events linearly but visual nesting is something that describes concurrent events better in my opinion. Here is an example of such timeline from an external site. Ohsin 21:22, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish:, yes, our version of timelines would look fantastic in any complex historical article in a "collapsible toggle widget". Then you could overlay timeline data from any other Wikipedia article. It is like a time based "theater of the mind" that adds to the understanding of history that is really unparalleled. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like anybody other than you are interested in addressing this most useful innovation. Our kids need to better understand history like this. It is a "no brainer" education tool. I had to turn our server off, because I cant afford to run it if nobody bothers to visit the website. If you would like me to turn the server back on, drop me a message here or drop me an email at jroehl2 (at) (please do not redact my email, just because you have power to do something and make somebodies life more difficult does not mean you should). Jroehl (talk) 17:10, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

It does sound interesting, as long as it's not collapsed by default (accessibility problem). PS: It's standard operating procedure to redact e-mail addresses. If you want people to e-mail you, turn the feature on in Preferences, and we can do it from your userpage.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:41, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
Just found out about few implementations. Ohsin 21:44, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

Scrapping of SockMasters' !Votes[edit]

So per an ongoing AfD a small discussion has commenced over, when both a Sockmaster (SM) and a Sock have !voted on an AfD, the SM's !vote should be scrapped at the same time as the Socks. WP:SOCKSTRIKE advises doing so, but obviously it isn't a formal guideline.

If I have missed an actual specific guideline on it, please link me and I'll conclude the section.

There seemed various things to consider before even trying to put together a proper RfC on it. A few thoughts come to mind:

  1. Normally, when editors cast a !vote and are later blocked, the !vote stands.
  2. In the case of !votes, Socking are distinct attempts to subvert the consensus process (as opposed to other block causes), should those endeavouring to do so have their involvement removed as being inherently inimical to the process
  3. Presumably there would only be any purpose in retaining the SM !vote if it actually contributed to debate (as opposed to just being disruptive etc). Should a beneficial edit be removed (as there are other circumstances where they would be)
  4. Logically any guideline on the issue could apply to any situation where a !vote discussion was occurring

I was wondering what some early views are, as well as important things to consider that I've missed out. Nosebagbear (talk) 19:48, 4 August 2018 (UTC)

I think the standard approach would be to just strike the sock if the sockmaster was not at that time subject to a block or ban. That said, I would support something along the lines of what you're proposing. Socking in an AfD (or any !vote) is so clearly bad faith that the time of the block coming afterwards really shouldn't matter much. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 16:10, 5 August 2018 (UTC)
The problem is that this proposal tries to address a behavioral problem (socking) with a nondiscretionary content/editorial solution (striking the AfD comment the SM was entitled to make without socking). If the sockmaster was an SPA anyway (98% of the time, they are), the closing admin will take that into account. If the SM's comment was not rooted in policy (it almost never is, in the promo type socking we usually see), the closing admin will take that into account. But if the sockmaster both (a) was an established user who (b) made a policy-based, useful !vote, then why should we strike the comment? I don't think we need to amend policy – we already have useful tools to deal with the vast majority of the time this comes up, and for the tiny sliver of useful, policy-based arguments from established users who were blocked for socking after !voting in the AfD, we should keep the comment that they would be entitled to make anyway had they not socked. Best, Kevin (aka L235 · t · c) 04:04, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
I think there's another point that needs to be teased out here. If a sockmaster and their sock both !vote at an AfD, it doesn't matter if the SM was "entitled" to !vote or not if their intention was to unduly influence an AfD to push whatever agenda they're trying to push or make whatever point they're trying to make. By flouting the rules in this way they're sticking two fingers up at the community in general and consensus in particular. Do we really want to include the SM's opinion into consensus based on that? I know I don't. Leaving it up to the closing admin isn't a bad idea but it essentially *rewards* the SM by including their opinion into the very consensus that their behaviour was rejecting in the first place. It is a better idea to strike the !votes. If the point raised at AfD was a good one, some other editor will probably have already made that point by the time the AfD closes. HighKing++ 10:21, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Just clarifying: we're talking about a user who has one account, comments in an AfD, then creates more accounts to also comment in the same AfD? The response would be to block the first account probably temporarily (admin discretion) and the socks indefinitely, then strike only the new accounts' !votes. All users are entitled to participate in deletion discussions (excepting those who are blocked or topic banned from doing so) but it is against the multiple accounts policy to participate in any discussion with more than one account. Then, what Kevin said: the closing admin will consider the arguments of the original account, which if the user is socking are almost always crap. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 12:25, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
Also: do not strike any comment of a user who is not confirmed to be a sockpuppet (WP:TPO), but if you suspect sockpuppetry or canvassing you can flag comments with {{spa}} or {{canvassed}}. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 12:27, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
I wonder about not striking both !votes in the case of a good-hand, bad-hand sockmaster, since those are usually opposing !votes, and so we can't be sure what the sockmaster's opinion actually is. --Izno (talk) 12:28, 8 August 2018 (UTC)
  • The standard approach is to trust the admins to understand how to assess consensus; since admins aren't counting votes anyways, they will ignore comments made in bad faith anyways and we don't need to set any rules, guidelines, or instructions on how to strike the "votes" of bad actors. If they are bad actors, admins will ignore their comments in the discussions regardless of what you do to them. If you ignore something and it has the same effect as doing something, save your time and energy and go do something else. Don't worry about whose votes you have to strike and whose you don't. The admins would have closed any such discussion the same way even if you had done nothing, and for that reason, whatever you do is a waste of time you could have spent being useful elsewhere. --Jayron32 00:42, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • I think that anyone who has spent a lot of time at XfD knows that this is the ideal, but doesn't always happen in practice (and is extremely difficult to rectify when it does happen given the amount of latitude granted and interpretation involved). That said, I'm not looking to turn this into a "how good of a job are XfD closers doing". The answer, in general, is pretty good. Regardless, I don't know why it's preferable to put all of the responsibility in the judgment of one person rather than to standardize in such important matters.
Here's what I want to focus on, though: We should be discouraging socking as strongly as possible. If people see that they can sock all they want and their main account's comments will remain unaffected, the downside is limited -- especially for relatively new users or serial sockers who might get a main to stick once in a while. I'm not saying their comments should be struck everywhere, but in threads where they used multiple accounts to get their way, then yes, both accounts were violating policy in making those edits, not just the second one. Wikipedia works because there are more editors who want it to succeed than those who want to push an agenda or otherwise violate policy to get their way, and flagrant socking is among the worst things you can do in that setup. So yes, I think it should be clear that if you sock to win an argument, your comments/votes will be struck -- not just the second, because, after all, you're only one person so both comments were in violation regardless of which account was created first. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:16, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
So you say. Can you bring up an existing AFD which was never resolved correctly because the admin didn't take into account bad-faith editors? That is, not just that the admin missed something, but that all subsequent appeals and processes knew about the bad-faith editing and still did nothing. I am seeking for the existing problem this proposed practice is going to correct for. I've never seen it, but perhaps you have, which is why it should be trivial for you to bring up some evidence that it is needed. If you can present convincing evidence this proposal is needed, I'm willing to see it as useful. But absent that evidence, we're just inventing windmills to tilt at here. --Jayron32 14:07, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

Narrow the types of edits that count toward the 500 needed to quickly gain WP:extended confirmed editor status[edit]

Stimulated by an ANI thread

Now and then we see a new editor making piles of trivial edits in order to gain the 500 needed (along with 30 days) for extended confirmed status. There's no way to completely prevent that, but here are some common-sense proposals to help make sure that at least a portion of an editor's edits get at least some scrutiny before he/she receives x-confirmed status:

Proposal 1: Edits to User and User_talk spaces don't count toward the 500
Proposal 2: Only edits to article space and article Talk space count toward the 500
Proposal 3: The 500 edits must touch at least 20 distinct pages. A page and its talk (Article X and Talk:X, or WP:X and WP talk:X, count as one.)
Proposal 4: In page histories, edits by editors not x-confirmed are identified as such.

Proposal 3 (acknowledged to probably overdoing it) could be combined with 1 or 2. Thoughts? EEng 14:03, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

  • Good plan, this tactic of quick editing is also used on other websites and is seen as an end-around the policy. Could this be codeable though? The 20 distinct pages (10?), is that codeable? You must have had your thinking cap on. Randy Kryn (talk) 14:10, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) I'll pretty much support any proposal to cut down on confirmation gaming. The three modes I see most often (for both auto- and extended- gaming) are
    1. user creates a sockpuppet and does nothing for [4|30] days, then creates a userspace sandbox, makes an edit with just a period, then reverts that edit, then repeats [5|250] times, then edits a protected article.
    2. user creates a sockpuppet and does nothing for [4|30] days, then wikilinks common terms across a variety of articles and self reverts, also [5|250] times, then edits a protected article.
    3. user creates a sockpuppet and does nothing for [4|30] days, then rapidly adds a nonsense category to [10|500] different pages, then edits a protected article.
The patterns are so reliable that I think someone should be able to code a filter (I know this doesn't work with edit filters but some kind of code, a bot, I don't know) to detect it. To throw a really big wrench into the works, I suggest that for extended-confirmed, the account must make edits on some percentage of the days in the 30 day period. For example, instead of just measuring 30 days from the account's creation date, the account must have actually made an edit on, say, 10 out of the 30 days. Or just require that the account has made edits (maybe an edit of at least 10 bytes) on 30 (or some number of) different days before granting extended-confirmed status, and get rid of the edit count requirement altogether. It will really slow down the persistent sockpuppeteers if instead of just making some number of minor mass edits once and then waiting, they have to come back to do something without being detected on 30 different days. Of course, I have no idea how we would code such a thing, I just have the ideas. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 14:26, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I really like the distinct-days idea. Listen, guys and gals, I'm just throwing this idea out for the community to do with what it will. I doubt I'll be participating much more. EEng 17:24, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I have suggested that an edit filter bot be implemented on this wiki at the AN/I thread mentioned above. SemiHypercube 21:30, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • @Ivanvector: No need of bot or inefficient edit filter. Upping EC promotion based on the pattern you just described seems easily configurable in MediaWiki and not without precedent. It is even trivial when compared with this currently working and more intricate criteria for automatic promotion to reviewer group on Wikibooks; it contains all the niceties in your comment and even more. Albeit I know setting this up will require wider RfC which may not necessarily found consensus to do so, as there is more to the social aspect of suitability of this than on the technical feasibility. –Ammarpad (talk) 21:19, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
@Ammarpad: thank you! I'm going to follow up on this further down the thread. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 21:33, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
  • From a technical perspective, I do not think this is presently possible. From a non-technical perspective, seeing these kinds of edits makes it trivial to identify editors who clearly are gaming the system; OTOH, someone contributing to 20 articles, adding some whitespace or changing a letter (possibly with minor vandalism), would not obviously be gaming the system. And I think that would be a loss. --Izno (talk) 14:43, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • (e/c) Noting that currently the auto promotion technology cannot distinguish between any type of edit. See mw:Manual:$wgAutopromote#Possible_conditions. Not sure what the impact is if that needs to be added (there might be performance problems, since the number being asked to test against, is not currently tracked anywhere and thus would have to be calculated upon every edit) —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:46, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
    Yeah, I wouldn't think that what I suggested can be done with current code, it would be a feature request. It is apparently possible to gather that info, though: using this tool (it's slow to load) I can see that Izno has edited on 2,965 different days, or if I limit the number of edits it checks I can see that I've edited on 19 out of the last 21 days (oof). I'm sure that's the external site pulling edit info from Wikipedia and doing the math itself, but demonstrates that it can be calculated. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 14:59, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
    There izno reason to single out a particular editor for scrutiny.[FBDB] EEng 17:33, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
    Well, now I know edited on nearly 80% of the days that I've had an account. That's something. --Izno (talk) 17:56, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • It is easy to detect these trivial userspace edits. OTOH if a cheating user does trivial rapid fire whitespace/spelling/formatting to hundreds of articles - it is much more difficult to detect. The EC bit can be (and has been) stripped from users caught gaming.Icewhiz (talk) 17:27, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • May be we just need a manual grant. But that would require a way to request, and then admins looking at the queue and granting the permission. Perhaps a bot could detect the suitable users based on the rules we make up. How many new grants per day are there? Would this be burdensome to implement? Graeme Bartlett (talk) 22:25, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Has anyone quantified how big a problem this is? I.E. How many badfaith accounts have snuck through to extended confirmed status before doing something dodgy? I'm not convinced we should complicate things further unless we actually have a problem. ϢereSpielChequers 22:43, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I doubt it's a big problem, just a problem. I'm suggesting a (conceptually) simple change to cut off at least the most ridiculous way to game the system i.e. making a lot of edits in your own userspace. But if it's not easy to do it's not worth bothering with. And it may be that others' suggestions for an edit filter, or database report, that flags rapid blocks of certain types of edits (or editors that rarely get out of their user space, or ...) might be easier, just as effective, and more flexible. EEng 23:25, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
In my experience (I'm an SPI clerk so my experience is skewed) there are about as many instances of users gaming extendedconfirmation as there are gaming regular confirmation, in terms of numbers of sockmasters - obviously we pick out more socks at the autoconfirmed level because you can create them faster, but the additional problem with extended is that it's more natural to have sleeper accounts older than the CheckUser data retention window, so they're more likely to go undetected. The larger problem is that users who are persistent enough to have the patience to game autoconfirmation (it takes 30 days ffs) often end up causing articles to be protected at a very high bar for a very long period of time (i.e. ec-protecting an article for less than a month is silly), making the encyclopedia more difficult to edit for thousands of other users. And we've talked here about the ones who make 500 junk edits to a single page in their userspace, but there are also those that have made their 500 junk edits on 500 different articles over a month ago, with intervening edits, which makes everything much more difficult to clean up.
I recall asking about an edit filter for this some time ago, and remember having it explained that edit filters are for detecting issues with single edits, but aren't suited to detecting editing patterns involving multiple edits (courtesy ping MusikAnimal who I think explained it better). Some kind of semi-automated tool to detect the pattern would be fine, say an edit tag ("new user rapidly reverting" comes to mind) but still involves human intervention to do anything about it, plus we already have WP:SPI for that, perpetually backlogged though it is.
The idea behind my suggestion (and I think EEng's) is not really to make confirmation a higher bar, but to make it more difficult and labour-intensive to cheat it. A good-faith user would still meet the bar after some time of gaining experience, but a user who only wants to break things will need to put a lot more effort into it. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 13:44, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose all as unneeded. Admins and NPP (yeah you know me) have no trouble spotting even the 10 dummy edits to game the system for standard auto confirm. 500 is even easier to spot. This isn't needed.--Jayron32 00:01, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
    This is just the idea lab, where editors kick around ideas, develop and modify them. It's way too early for boldface supports and opposes, because the proposals are still evolving. Why don't you just wait to see where the discussion takes things? For example, right now the idea is evolving that an edit filter might be better. EEng 00:30, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
    My idea for developing and modifying this idea is to abandon the effort because, at its core, it's a bad idea that serves no useful purpose. You can't polish a turd. --Jayron32 13:28, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • I think the current policy is fine (500 edits and 30 days tenure. Do not game this.). That said, tools that help Admins identify when gaming has occurred should be welcomed, and used as appropriate. Tazerdadog (talk) 02:57, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Proposal 1 is good, I am not convinced with the others. Proposal 3 sounds like an epic faff, proposal 2 means ignoring edits that significantly add to the guide's quality. Before I'd gathered 500 mainspace edits, I had participated in AfD etc, and that should certainly count towards the total. Proposal 4 sounds like it would extend the reduced status that is often given towards IP edits. As to effort/benefit analysis, I leave that to those who can tell us how much a namespace filter would be. Nosebagbear (talk) 10:54, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Agree with 1 off the bat based off all my readings of ANI and personal experience, not so sure about the others. Thanks, L3X1 ◊distænt write◊ 17:52, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • I could see myself supporting proposal 1, but as I am mainly an editor of the Current Events portal, I'd certainly be opposed to the others. I have seen more than one user do a great deal of good work in portal space without touching other areas much. Icarosaurvus (talk) 22:40, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Support the thrust of
proposal 1 (edits to User and User_talk spaces don't count)—completely in the spirit of extended confirmed
proposal 2 (only edits to article space and article talk space count)—why extended confirmed is needed as that's where contention, POV pushing, etc. occur, in the main
proposal 3 (must touch at least 20 distinct pages)—also completely in the spirit of requiring a minimum familarity with Wikipedia to edit contentious articles
  • Agnostic as to
proposal 4 (mark of newby)—if necessary could be a component of ORES (and probably already is).
Neonorange (Phil) 22:32, 11 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Just make it reportable and auto-blocking infraction to do so, their is no need to modify the requirements for gaining extended confirmed protection, the limited privileges granted by the status also make it easy to investigate users suspected of abusing it as their are only a limited number of places it can be used. Zubin12 (talk) 06:34, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
  • I think it'd still be too easy to game the system even if the 500 were restricted to mainspace, since it's still possible for any user to e.g. install Cat-a-lot using their common.js and quickly categorize a few dozen articles that no one looks at. Jc86035 (talk) 07:48, 12 August 2018 (UTC)
  • An idea - a user with some technical expertise, Ammarpad, suggested that the technical framework to implement an "edits on a certain number of days" type automatic permission condition, based on the system currently in use for Wikibooks reviewers (see here), is at least technically configurable in the current mediawiki software. So, a pretty wild idea I know, but what if we:
    • mostly scrap the "confirmed" automatic permission levels, and the protection levels based on them,
    • keep a 4/10 [auto]confirmed level only for the purposes of WP:ACPERM (i.e. you must be confirmed to create an article; many new users do decide to create accounts just because they have an idea for an article),
    • create a "trusted user" (just a working title) permission level, wherein a user must make (numbers are suggestions):
      • 100 edits
      • on at least 15 different days (to avoid rapidly making 100 edits and then waiting)
      • on at least 10 different pages they did not create (to avoid User:NewAccount/sandbox1, User:NewAccount/sandbox2, etc)
      • with non-canned edit summaries on at least 20 of those edits (to avoid fixed typo, fixed typo, fixed typo, and to teach new users to use edit summaries)
      • and must not have been blocked before automatic granting of the permission ("trusted user" may be granted by [admins|capable users] upon request and review in cases where users have been blocked, and it would not be automatically revoked if users are blocked subsequently),
    • change semiprotection so that users must be "trusted" to edit, and scrap extended-confirmed protection altogether (pages where semiprotection is not effective will simply be full-protected, plus we still have pending changes available)
Thoughts? Keep in mind that these are just ideas. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 21:58, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
My first thought is "why did FlaggedRevs implement its own autopromotion system?" I don't know if it's usable for things other than FlaggedRevs. Anomie 23:36, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
I think it's a bit complicated - it risks confusing those working towards it. I'm not sure of the where those who still cause disruption on semi-protect (and thus currently warrant extended protection) lie in terms of edits. Are they in the 10-150 edit range, or do they have a wider spread towards the 500? As my third and final point, I think this makes editing on SP too hard. Frequently it is implemented just to stop IPs and <24hr old accounts, and to significantly expand the limitations I think risks discouraging a fair few newbies from participating on articles (which includes many of the more active pages). Nosebagbear (talk) 13:20, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia already has a problem attracting new editors and a hostile overly bureacrtic enviorment, this will only worsen the problem by creating even more complication with attracting them to the project.Zubin12 (talk) 10:58, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
I also think modifying the requirements for being extended confirmed would be confusing and maybe a bit WP:BITEy towards newcomers. Also, if the requirements were to change, what would happen to those who are already x-confirmed, particularly if they didn't fit the new requirements? SemiHypercube 01:08, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Input requested[edit]

See the proposed idea here in the Signpost Op-Ed discussion for the article The last leg of the Admin Ship's current cruise. Need editor input to either help make it happen, or kill it. Please comment there. Thanks in advance! Atsme📞📧 21:38, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

An amendment to the way in which topic bans are issued out by Wikipedia Administrators[edit]

It is no secret that I was recently topic banned on Wikipedia (see Incident 989). My personal view is that the ban was too harsh, although I will not challenge the ban until at least six-months have expired, when, hopefully, I will then submit an appeal to have the topic ban removed.

What has mostly struck me is the way I was attacked by so many people, each one trying to find some fault with me (which I'm sure no one is without), and whenever they found something on which they could possibly hold to my discredit, they railed on me - while willfully overlooking the preponderance of good edits by this editor to point out only the bad. Sigh. I am the first to admit that no man is unassailable, and that I have my own shortcomings and faults, and perhaps even cannot see my own disabilities. However, does this warrant a topic ban on a subject that is close to my heart? Only God knows. I have thought about my actions, and have even apologized for any wrong that I may have caused, but this was all to no avail. The topic ban was issued against me, and I have only to accept it and perhaps learn from it how to deal more courteously with my fellow co-editors.

With that said, I have also thought about our current Wikipedia policy outlined under Wikipedia:Banning policy. I noticed something there that struck me as unusual. It says in the second paragraph: "Bans are a possible outcome of dispute resolution. They may be imposed by community consensus, by the Arbitration Committee, or by administrators (in certain topic areas)" [END QUOTE]. It puts power into the hands of the community to decide who should be punished or meted out disciplinary measures for alleged wrong-doing. Unfortunately, some of our community members are themselves inexperienced editors, or who may have issues with levity, or else those who lack jurisprudence. I raised the idea that perhaps the Wikipedia:Banning policy needs amending. My suggestion was to amend the second paragraph, so that it reads: "Bans are a possible outcome of dispute resolution. They may be imposed by community consensus after an unequal number of non-involved administrators (acting as judges) have read the deliberations made by an equal number of advocates and prosecutors - either for or against disciplinary actions being taken, or by the Arbitration Committee, or by administrators (in certain topic areas)." In talking with my fellow co-editors, some thought that the idea was too far-fetched, thinking it would not gain much traction here. My view is that what have I got to lose? We can try. If it fails, it fails.

The reasons stated by me to them were as follows:

It is my view that when incidents are brought before the Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard for a decision, due to the overwhelming number of incidents, that some minor incidents may occasionally be brought, haphazardly, before the board without prior consideration or thorough inspection of the edit history of the person in question against whom the complaint is made. By the nature of the Administrators' noticeboard's set-up and arrangement (based on current standing-laws governing its conduct), arriving at a fair and equitable (impartial) decision/verdict by means of "community consensus" may, in fact, be sometimes compromised if, let's say, those editors attracted to the site and who comment on the particular case are either inexperienced, or display toxic tendencies towards their fellow-editors because of their preconceived notions about that editor. Wherefore, the best way to handle incidents brought before the Administrators' noticeboard is to have an equal number of advocates and prosecutors (arguing for and against the editor), while the administrators rendering the verdict will be made-up of an unequal number of three or five, and their decision - based on the arguments heard from the advocates and the prosecutors - made by a majority vote of 2 to 1 (in the case of there being only 3 administrators). In this manner, we can avoid miscalculation of an editor's behavior or intent. Of course, this will require setting up a team of editors who will agree to work in the capacity of advocates (working to highlight the editor's good qualities), and another team who works solely as prosecutors (looking for the editor's bad qualities). Perhaps Wikipedia can compile a list of willing editors who will take in these roles, and when they are summoned to respond to a specific incident, will be given 48-hours to respond.

Perhaps, too, it can be left-up to the Arbitration Committee to decide which direction they wish to take in each case brought before them for resolution, since, obviously, some editors are clearly problematic. Administrators should also be given the opportunity to forego such a panel of advocates and prosecutors, if it's clear from the outset that the editor has been very disruptive. I humbly submit this for your review, wishing us all the best.Davidbena (talk) 00:54, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

You should remember that at WP:ANI one mistake is no mistake (except for obvious WP:NLT). It takes a pattern of mistakes to ban anyone. If it becomes too tedious to ban editors, Wikipedia will suffer: administrators are not that many, many of them are busy in real life and usually they only ban someone when the need for it becomes fairly obvious. You should know that the meek will inherit Wikipedia. I am so blunt that many see me as offensive, yet I would never start WP:ANI actions against anyone would has not clearly violated WP:RULES, wrote WP:CB in articles or has expressed appalling viewpoints. So, I am quite meek, unless provoked. I advise you to avoid all quarrels unless they are quite necessary. And, yes, Israel/Palestine matters are covered by discretionary sanctions, so bans will be imposed quite easily for violations which would otherwise be unimportant. Admins have to deal with plenty of disruption in that area, so they are biased for precautionary banning. Also, you should never leave the impression that your excuses are just formal and that you will thus persist in the behavior which you have excused for. Always require lifting your ban as having been caused by your own actions, instead of blaming others for your ban. As for having brought you before WP:ANI, I have no grudge against you: the best way to get along with me is obeying WP:RULES. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:52, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
  • There's probably good cause to reign in ANI somewhat. It can be a disorganized free for all. It can be disorganized and chaotic. However what you propose is cumbersome and it seems to be an off the cuff reaction to what to you. Not exactly focused on improving anything. One might suggest a more organized format standard for discussion at ANI (note that arbcom use a specific format for organization.) One might also suggest excluding matters related to any active arbitration case from ANI (ARBCOM is brute force on wikipedia there to break the back of issues that the community has been unable to resolve by some other means. So let them handle matters that were under arbitration.) These are two generic ideas. One to generically improve ANI. The other would meet your goal with out sanctioning actually wikilawyers and making ANI to cumbersome to be useful.-Serialjoepsycho- (talk) 08:24, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks, User:Serialjoepsycho and User:Tgeorgescu. I appreciate your feedback. I agree that whatever the outcome, we should not make dealing with complaints more cumbersome upon ARBCOM than what it already is. Frankly, I know very little about how the system works, but what I've seen in my own case, it does seem to be wanting. There is room for improvement on ANI. I have done my utmost best to follow by the rules set by Wikipedia, and still, look at what has happened to me. Anyway, the matter has certainly given me time to reflect on my overall actions and how I should be more humble and meek before our fellow co-editors, since what we do here is a collaborative effort. We are all interested in the well-being and success of our online encyclopedia.Davidbena (talk) 20:14, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
I think you're still missing something: WP:AN and WP:AN/I are not ArbCom territory -- they have nothing to do with the arbitration process, except that reports and behavior there (like everything else on Wikipedia) can be used as evidence in an arbitration case. Arbitration is the very last step in dispute resolution, while the Administrators' noticeboards are a middle step. ArbCom doesn't control the Administrators' noticeboards, the community does -- which is why your request at ARCA was denied and I suggested that you take it here, to a community discussion board.
I understand that changing the way AN/I works is your goal, but you need to get rid of the idea that doing so has anything to do with ArbCom. Beyond My Ken (talk) 21:08, 18 August 2018 (UTC)

Doing something about Twitter[edit]

I've seen a couple of heated situations over this week Naomi Wu and Sarah Jeong come to mind where the debate ultimately boils down to "should Wikipedia comment on somebody's tweets?" Considering the ephemeral nature of Twitter and the tendency of Twitter to produce drama my tendency is to say, we should not be commenting on tweets at all until such time as they become real-world news such as in the case of James Gunn or Canada-Saudi Arabia relations and even then we should only be commenting inasfar as those tweets had an impact on anything relevant.

Of course, WP:DUE exists. So does WP:BLP and those are supposed to provide some cover. But it would appear those policies are not working; this is especially the case when we have canvassing going on off-site and end up with a host of new accounts who want to make sure that a person's 3AM rage-tweet becomes a matter of permanent encyclopedic record. I think a clear and unambiguous policy on when a tweet can be considered notable, with very strict delineation is necessary. However right now my idea is only half-baked, which is why I brought it here to thresh it out. Thoughts? Simonm223 (talk) 19:16, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Concur. Twitter is a bane to Wikipedia's reliable source policy also. If someone notable wants to discredit a report or finding, they don't need to use facts, just twitter bash it. There is no journalist providing context or counter-views, no report explaining their position, a factless simplification of complex issues - pure rhetoric. It bypasses the journalists. Wikipedia is founded on using reliable secondary sources of which Twitter is neither. Maybe all we need is a good essay that draws on the various policies. -- GreenC 20:26, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
I think at the very least, Wikipedia should have a policy that states that Wikipedia doesn't comment on Twitter drama until such time as the drama has independently sourced and long-term consequences. Simonm223 (talk) 17:21, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
There is already wp:twitter (ie. wp:socialmedia) is the policy. Also a guideline WP:Twitter-EL. It might help to have an essay that expands on these things in more detail with examples. -- GreenC 17:55, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
I think we should strengthen the policy towards Twitter, Facebook etc. The Web 2.0 public forum nature of these sites tends to lead to an even worse mess than the old (static) vanity websites. DaßWölf 21:11, 18 August 2018 (UTC)

GNG and Biographies of Minors[edit]

I'm not convinced that the GNG is the proper threshold for creating biographies of minors. We have some rules already (WP:YOUNGATH) that exclude certain coverage and articles. I think this should be stronger.

My initial thought is to exclude all biographies of people under the age of 13, but that would have some problems; Prince George of Cambridge being the most obvious one. Perhaps that could be perhaps merged to a semi-bio Family of William, Duke of Cambridge. I'd also like to have a rule that simply meeting the GNG is insufficient for a person under the age of 18 to be a suitable encyclopedic topic; they must have a credible claim of importance or significance (such as meeting WP:ENT, being in the Olympics, winning a Nobel Prize, etc.). Some language regarding whether being the youngest person to do XYZ would be necessary, and there are almost certainly multiple other corner cases.

Is it feasible to create such a proposal? And, if created, is there a chance there would be consensus to implement such a proposal? power~enwiki (π, ν) 02:28, 19 August 2018 (UTC)