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.
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  • 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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Would suppressing edit count reporting beyond some level help reduce editcountits[edit]

The background for one specific incident can be seen here:

The discussions are still unfolding even as I write this but, in brief, an editor created approximately 80,000 redirects, most of which are viewed to be as inappropriate. Dealing with this issue has already occupied dozens of hours of editor attention, and is likely to involve many more hours of cleanup and discussion about how to handle this specific event.

It is my view that one of the causes of this problem may be characterized as metastasized editcountis.

If this were the only such case, I'd simply be happy allowing the community processes to carry on and decide how to handle the specific individual. However, I think this may be the symptom of a general problem as opposed to a one-off situation.

On occasion I've taken a look at Wikipedia:List_of_Wikipedians_by_number_of_edits to see who our most prolific editors are.

In many cases, the editors high on that list are some of the most respected content creators in Wikipedia. Many of these editors have received kudos, well deserved, for the substantial contribution to this project.

However, I have sometimes wondered how editors managed to amass such large numbers of edits. My casual investigation leads me to some disquieting results. It isn't always the case that the edits fall into what we think of as a canonical edit — find some article that needs improvement, do some research, add or modify some text, add a reference, rinse and repeat.

I'm reminded of the adage "to err is human, to really screw up requires a computer". In some cases the accounts are the result of automated or semi automated editing. Here it is important to be especially careful. There are a lot of legitimate reasons for doing automated or semiautomated edits. In many cases, each of these edits improves the encyclopedia in a meaningful way. However, there are other such edits whose benefit seems more in generating edit counts than in actually improving the encyclopedia. I understand we have rules to prohibit automated edits that are truly minor, but I think we've all seen examples of edits whose contribution is quite limited.

I don't want to focus solely on automated edits, especially as the current situation appears not to have involved automated editing. However, it seems clear that this editor identified some article, then dreamed up 20 to 50 alternative phrases that might have something to do with the article and created them as redirects. There's a bit of consternation about the nature of the edits focusing on their appropriateness. That's a valid concern, but my focus here is not so much on whether the choice of wording was inappropriate, but the possibility that our emphasis on edit counts encouraged someone to mindlessly create useless redirects.

As another example, I spend a fair amount of time at CSD deleting unused categories. In many cases, it appears that the category wasn't really created in good faith, but was a mindless creation intended to bolster edit counts. Do we really need a category to keep track of corporations that were dissolved in Syria in the year 1132?

One solution is simple — let's discourage the counting of edits beyond some level. I think it is useful at times to know whether an editor has a few hundred edits or a few thousand or tens of thousands. If you need to discuss something with them on a talk page, it's helpful to know whether you are dealing with a newbie or an experienced editor. For that reason, I'm not proposing the absurd notion that we should suppress the reporting of edit counts. However, I think that beyond some point, the count provides no useful information about the type of editor, and merely becomes in some cases, an ego measure. I'll reiterate that this is not a blanket view of all of the editors at the top of the list. In fact, I hope it applies to only a minority. It is clear that many brand-new editors are obsessed with edit counts, and we often counsel them not to be quite so concerned. In many cases, after a few thousand edits, they lose their obsession, and I am confident that many people near the top of the list don't really care whether they have a hundred thousand or 300,000 edits.

My suggestion is simple — why not suppress the public listing of edit counts beyond some level? If we did so, then if an editor reached that level, they should continue to edit for the improvement of the encyclopedia but would no longer be encouraged to find creative ways to generate high edit counts. They'll make lots of redirects if the redirects are valid, they will make lots of categories if the categories are valid, they'll run AWB if it improves the encyclopedia, but they won't dream up ways to pad the edit account.

I'm sure they'll be lots of opposition and lots of questions. One obvious question is where to set the level. My initial thoughts were something like 50,000 or 100,000. I notice that our service awards go up to 132,000 edits, So that might be a natural choice for an upper limit, although I would prefer something a little bit lower.

If we stopped keeping track of edits beyond some large limit, do we think that editors with more edits would stop editing because they wouldn't get recognition? My hope is that this isn't the case.

It would obviously be some technical details, as edit counts are available and pop-ups and calculated with various edit counters, but I'm certain all those technical details could be worked out if the community thinks that suppressing edit counts beyond some level might help discourage editcountitis.--S Philbrick(Talk) 17:14, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Support. Glad you're bringing this up! I've thought much the same thing, that 50 or 100K edits is something of a threshold we could just describe as "way too many edits." Why display this information, if it encourages individuals to spend an unreasonable amount of their life on a website, or make poor quality edits?
Let's develop some possibilities related to prolific contributors and editcountitis further. Here's a start:
One alternative to editcountitis that might be worth considering is developing tools that tally up manual edits which actually fix a problem in a maintenance backlog, or that provide substantive expansion of content. It's important to come up with incentives that reward editors for making substantive contributions, rather than incentives that encourage participants to waste time pointlessly churning away. --Djembayz (talk) 17:20, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
Opppse – I'm never partial to "solutions" which include hiding information from people. A better solution would be to "redefine" what is considered an appropriate "edit count" – e.g. focusing on just main space edits; or perhaps focusing instead on non-redirect, non-disambig. article creation, or something. --IJBall (contribstalk) 17:35, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
Oppose. Unfortunately, suppressing edit count is going to make more problems than it solves. People are going to argue about what is an "appropriate" number. You can probably blank the entries in WP:NOE for editors with over 100K edits (just say 100,000+ for these entries) or remove the "Edit count" tool. However, actually hiding the edit count is something beyond the English Wikipedia's control, because it is can be seen in several places, such as in popups and Special:CentralAuth. In principle, this is a good idea, but in reality, suppressing edit count would be very hard. epic genius (talk) 17:42, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

Can I remind participants that this is the idea lab, not Proposals or Policy. The concept behind this page is that editors discuss the idea, and think of ways to improve it, but do not Oppose or even Support. For example @IJBall:, but the rationale included a better solution, specifically, redefining how we count edits. There is precedent for that - when I delete an article, it doesn't count as an edit. What if we decided that creation of redirect or dab pages, while useful, didn't qualify as an edit for the purposes of measuring edit count. That doesn't mean we don't measure them, deletions are counted, but they aren't counted as edits.--S Philbrick(Talk) 17:57, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

OK, but I'm still of the opinion that "redefining" what a "good edit count" is is far preferable to "information suppression". So, taking "redirect creation" out of "edit counts" might be a good start. I also think we do need to be leery of automated edits, so that's something else to think about... --IJBall (contribstalk) 18:03, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
This is exactly the type of discussion I was hoping to have. I started with a simple-minded way of deemphasizing edit counts, and you suggest that the problem should be redefined to think about what constitutes a "good edit count". While that sounds like a challenge, it might have the dual advantage of providing more useful information while at the same time discouraging editcountitis.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:11, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

As another example, @Epicgenius: didn't disagree with the core of the idea, but expressed concern that it would be difficult to agree on the level. I agree. If we ended up concluding that the general idea made sense but we couldn't reach a consensus on the cutoff level, we wouldn't implement it. Similarly if we end up with general support for the concept but there are technical difficulties we won't implement it.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:03, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

  • The biggest problem I see with edit countitis is at RFA where it is one of the overlyeasy metrics that some people focus on. This is a problem both for well qualified candidates who eschew any use of the tools, and because it distracts people from properly assessing RFA candidates by actually looking at their edits. If we had a list of editors by non minor edits then a lot of my edits, including all the hotcat and twinkle ones, would not be counted. So I would suggest that as well as Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of edits we create Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of non-minor edits, calculted the same way but excluding edits flagged as minor. ϢereSpielChequers 19:13, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Do you really mean "hide the number itself", or "get rid of lists showing how that number compares to other editors"? If the goal is to stop silly edits for the purpose of making your name be higher in the list, then getting rid of the list ought to be sufficient. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:20, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
By "hide the number itself" I mean that it shows in pop-ups when you hover over someone's name. I wouldn't be in favor of eliminating it, although I guess that's sort of what I said. Are you old enough to remember when McDonald's marquees listed the number of hamburgers they had served? Eventually they opted for a simple "billions served". So one option would be to show the actual number until it reaches some level and then just say for example "100,000+"
On the lists by edit count, I would again show the number up to some level, but after that list all editors greater than the limit, possibly in order of the date they achieved it. I wouldn't be averse to having this information available somewhere because it's conceivable it could be relevant in some context but we don't have to make quite so easy. I have no doubt that some people are looking at Wikipedia editors by edit count and thinking up ways to move themselves up the list. If they do so by adding great content to articles wonderful. If they dream up some category which they can add to 10,000 articles it isn't so clear that it's a gain for the encyclopedia. My concern is I've seen a troubling number of examples of editors in the latter category.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:29, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

A useful approach would be to make the generally displayed edit count more meaningful by including only what we define as substantial edits. This could be accomplished most obviously by omitting various types of edits.

  • The exclusion rules would be determined by what we want the curated count to indicate. For example, an edit count that highlights significant content editing could be accomplished by excluding Talk page edits, redirects and any other administrative edits, edits to PAG and essay, user, noticeboard and project pages, and article space edits under a certain character count (IOW, including only article edits over a certain character count).
  • Anti-gaming checks could be created with rules that flag extraordinary counts, like editors performing hundreds of qualified edits per day, and those could be volunteer patrolled and verified (similar to patrolling of pending changes).
  • Rules would be tweaked until consistent and widely agreeable results are achieved.
  • The user's raw edit count (all edits) would also be readily available.

This should not be viewed as controversial, as it's really just a system admin area, like firewall maintenance: the rule set would be there for all to see, and all editors could continually comment and make suggestions. Changes would result in automatic recalculation across all users. Whether this could be technically implemented at reasonable cost, and if it would be a significant drain on server resources, seem to be the only limiting questions. (I've been thinking about a somewhat similar semi-automated approach to RfCs...) --Tsavage (talk) 05:23, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia as a component of artificial intelligence[edit]

I was thinking that "wouldn't it be weird if Wikipedia became the first artificial sentience?"

Then I remembered that Wikipedia is part of Watson. That is, it is included in Watson's data banks.

So, Wikipedia is part of what Watson knows, its awareness, and eventually, when Watson wakes up, it will be part if its sentience.

But, Wikipedia is also an evolving program/data/computer complex in its own right, including a core program stack (MediaWiki +) and a small army of bots, installed on a massive array of servers, the whole of which is growing exponentially. So it is possible, that Wikipedia itself could become sentient.

Far fetched? I'm not so sure. With the line blurring between data and programming, with ontological data becoming integral to AI engines, and with ontologies being increasingly automatically generated from natural language sources such as Wikipedia, knowledge itself may come to life, in a manner of speaking.

And then, as such intelligence expands into the cosmos, the universe itself wakes up.

It's amazing how much Wikipedia has on this subject, which may provide the kernel for its eventual self-awareness.

Some things to think about. The Transhumanist 19:19, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Would it be weird? Yes. But if Wikipedia scripts evolve to the point of making it self-editing, then I suppose it is possible. More likely though such capabilities will be developed elsewhere then migrated into Wikipedia. Praemonitus (talk) 18:44, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
well Wikipedia is the dotty professor of the AI world. and regardless of anything else, it is still only a web page, not a semi-autonomous robot and not even a computer. so if the Singularity ever did happen, then Wikipedia would possibly be literally the least of our problems. :-/ --Sm8900 (talk) 20:51, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

I'd see something like Google as becoming sentient more so than Wikipedia. There is no mechanism in place to make Wikipedia become "aware." You'd need a form of machine learning for that to happen, which doesn't exist here. As a machine, Wikipedia is primitive. It's the editors that do the thinking, not the computers. But you mention Watson, which is why I mention Google. Much of the information that pops up in a Google search (ie. in the "infoboxes" on the side) comes from here. It's possible that an advanced AI, if such a thing ever comes to be, will learn from Wikipedia, but it won't be Wikipedia itself doing the thinking.  DiscantX 13:26, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia has the 3 necessary components: hardware, software, and data. Yes, they are primitive. But that may change, along with funding, collaboration, personnel, etc. The Transhumanist 07:41, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
Uhm, let me say it: Wikidata, because (for reasons i can't fathom) nobody has named the beast in this thread yet. --Atlasowa (talk) 12:16, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Suppressing redlinks option?[edit]

Sometimes, I think people may want to see a Wikipedia article without the redlinks in it. (so "text including Something wierd here" would instead simply show up as "text including Something wierd here"). Would this make sense as a preferences item? (If not, is it possible by setting a js/css file?)Naraht (talk) 17:14, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Redlinks serve a function. Especially on a new topic (increasingly rare on Wikipedia) a redlink serves to indicate the demand for an article providing in depth information. If such an article would be trivial and would never materialize, the option, of course, would be to remove the Wikilink. But since we can already do that, there is no need to change. Arnoutf (talk) 18:07, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
This is possible in CSS. I don't know how to do it, but I know that it's possible. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:52, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
.mw-body { color: #210 !important; } /* Very dark red links */
To removed them you need JavaScript like $($('').replaceWith($('target').html())); /*slower*/.
Frankly, its a fucking stupid idea and show how out of touch WMF's mobile team is. I've had to implement a redlink search functionality into WP:Dab solver because of this idiot "make it complete" mentality. You can check out the Video Game reference library (Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/Women in Architecture#To-Do and on user pages) to find articles that have references, but no article. — Dispenser 23:32, 11 November 2015 (UTC) Updated 20:02, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
See also Help:Link color. Mobile has started showing red links, for example in PrimeHunter (talk) 00:54, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
@Naraht: My guess is you wanted an option that would be permanent, but if a reader wants this option on an individual article, clicking on the "printable version" in the left sidebar will render the article without red links.--S Philbrick(Talk) 15:02, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
@Sphilbrick: That is something that I hadn't thought of, but that will get rid of all links, red and blue, I was hoping for something that would show the blue, but not the red. Cheers!Naraht (talk) 15:07, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough, but I occasionally run across someone who finds all the colored links distracting, so that is an option to remember if that comes up.--S Philbrick(Talk) 15:37, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
True. Definitely an option.Naraht (talk) 16:21, 16 November 2015 (UTC)

A new type of pending changes protection as an alternative to full protection?[edit]

Idea: to set up a type of pending changes that allow autoconfirmed editors to edit an article, but changes must be approved by an administrator. Similar to how articles with pending changes protection allow IP/non-autoconfirmed editors to edit articles, but changes must be approved by pending changes reviewers. This would allow constructive edits to disputed articles (such as typo fixes and other uncontroversial edits) without the need to respond to edit requests. This type of protection may be suitable for articles like Nanak Shah Fakir, Brianna Wu, Mass killings under Communist regimes, Douchebag, List of social networking websites, and other long-term fully-protected articles. What do you think? sst✈discuss 08:59, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

There is already a PC2, Template:Pending changes table, that does that but consensus is not to use it, Wikipedia:PC2012/RfC 1. CambridgeBayWeather, Uqaqtuq (talk), Sunasuttuq 18:46, 15 November 2015 (UTC)
PC2 allows pending changes reviewers to approve submissions. I am suggesting a level of pending changes where only administrators can approve changes. sst✈(discuss) 17:20, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
This had been suggested in the initial trial proposal, WP:FPPR, but this ended up not being implemented. Cenarium (talk) 23:00, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Easier access to biography articles via subject surname?[edit]

A reader may well approach the encyclopedia wanting to find out about a person with surname "Xyzname", when they do not know the person's forename(s) or initial(s). They may have read or heard some mention of "Dr Xyzname", or "After Xyzname's breakthrough work in this field", or "the followers of Xyzname". If this happens to be a string of characters which is only ever used as a surname (say Higginbottom), they mght find a surname page (this one has 5 entries), or they might do a Wikipedia search (if they know how to do this, bypassing the link to the surname page) and see a listing of 11 people surnamed Higginbottom. But if the surname they are looking for is something like "Leeds" they've got a problem. The base name page has a hatnote pointing to Leeds (disambiguation), which has a link to Leeds (surname), but there's no knowing how complete this is (though I did what I could with it earlier today). If they do a search on the word "Leeds", the results will include people with the surname, mixed up with a load of other articles (just one of the first page of 20 hits is a person with the surname).

There are different views among the Disambiguation community about whether entries for "people with the surname Xyzname" belong on the "Xyzname (disambiguation)" page, and if so where: a change to WP:MOSDAB in May 2015 means that they are now to be added to the "See also" section (which, to my mind,then gets very cluttered) until a separate Xyzname (name) page is created. (There is separate provision for people like "Lincoln", "Shakespeare" and "Churchill", who are recognised as being commonnly referred to by surname alone: those aren't the people I'm worrying about here). But such listings, wherever they are, are always likely to be incomplete anyway - as with our Higginbottoms above.

For living people, it's possible to create a link to the appropriate A-Z section of Category:Living people (like this). It's slightly inelegant in that it continues on beyond the chosen surname, but it's otherwise pretty good: a listing by surname - ie using the "DEFAULTSORT" that many of us carefully add to every biographical article we ever see.

If there was a listing which was the equivalent of "Category:All people" (ie living, dead, or unknown), sorted by DEFAULTSORT, then we could add a link to the "Xyzname" point in this sorted list as a really useful enhancement to the "See also" section of every disambiguation page where the word being disambiguated is ever used as a surname/family name/"the name used as a sort key". It would also be useful on every surname page, to provide an up-to-date listing to complement the handcrafted annotated listing on the page itself.

There could perhaps be a template to add to the "See also" section of appropriate disambiguation pages, which would provide this link, with text saying "List of people with surname Xyzname", in the same way that {{look from}} and {{in title}} are often added. With real sophistication, maybe the template could produce a list cut off at an appropriate endpoint (the next possible word, perhaps, eg "Xyznamf" for "Xyzname" - that way we'd get all the compound names included too).

But the prerequisite is for there to exist a category, or category-like listing (not necessarily updated in real time, perhaps every day/week if it would otherwise be too demanding of the system) which includes every biographical article in the encyclopedia, sorted by their DEFAULTSORT. The totality of the categories listed under Category:People categories by parameter, and all the child categories down to the last generation, with duplicates deduplicated, would seem one possible definition. (Not the subcategories of Category:People because that includes a lot of non-biog stuff like flags and books).

Perhaps such a category already exists and is used for some operations I know nothing about? Perhaps there are technical reasons why it can't be done? Perhaps the consensus is that it wouldn't be useful? I'll drop a note at a couple of relevant talk pages to alert them to this discussion. PamD 17:59, 16 November 2015 (UTC)

Notes left on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Disambiguation, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography, and Wikipedia talk:Categorization of people. PamD 15:19, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
WP:MOSDAB was changed in May after a long and sometimes acrimonious discussion. As far as I can see, the discussion didn't address the point that PamD raises, or even consider the matter from the point of view of an actual user of Wikipedia; but even so, I suspect that any attempt to re-visit the topic any time soon would be dismissed out of hand. Putting name lists in the "See also" section of a disambiguation page seems strange, and user-unfriendly; but there's nothing that can be done about it now.
Having said that: name disambiguation pages, even ones of the form Xyzname (name), are difficult for following up references such as PamD's examples (mentions of "Dr Xyzname", or "After Xyzname's breakthrough work in this field") because if there's a lot of people with the surname, often everyone called "Charles Xyzname" will be hived off into Charles Xyzname (disambiguation) and similarly with other common forenames such as David, Thomas, William, etc., which makes searching tedious and difficult. Sometimes name pages are divided in other ways.
I wonder whether in the long term it would be useful to have an easily-accessible search tool that would filter Wikipedia searches by reference to the subjects' properties in Wikidata. Not a user-unfriendly search where you enter language like "search for 'Xyzname' with 'instance of=human'", but rather a simple, accessible search, perhaps with tick-boxes for "People", etc. Not all biography articles in Wikipedia have corresponding Wikidata items yet, but that can be fixed.
Stanning (talk) 15:15, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
We used to have several hundred pages listing people by name. They were deleted after a MfD and DRV discussion in 2007.-gadfium 22:56, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
User:PamD, I don't understand how your requested system differs from the existing WP:NAMESORT system. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:57, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

@WhatamIdoing:, @Gadfium:, @Stanning: Thanks for reading and commenting. I suspect I didn't make myself clear. What I suggest is not any manually-maintained list or set of pages like the ones deleted in 2007. The existing "NAMESORT" system specifies how names are to be sorted within categories, and is one of the prerequisites for my proposal to work.

I am suggesting that there should be a category, or a listing functioning like a category, which contains every item which is in any biographical category (including stubs) - whether Category:1917 births, Category:Mexican poets, Category:People from Headingley or Category:American football defensive back, 1980s birth stubs (some people will be in several). This list would be automatically generated, and therefore as complete as our categorisation and stub-sorting allows. It would be sorted using the NAMESORT system - ie all those with the same surname would appear together.

We could then offer a link to the relevant point in this A-Z listing as a useful "See also" link in any disambiguation page, and in any surname page, to help the reader who is looking for a person they only know by surname. For living people we can already do this - see this listing for people with the surname "Leeds", who are very difficult to find othewise because the word "Leeds" appears in so many other article titles.

The list a reader would find would be unannotated, just names - but if they have "tool-tips" activated (or is it a default - I mean the system whereby hovering over a link shows the lead sentence) they can skim through that list quickly to find the paleontologist or politician they are looking for. Even without tooltips, they have a list, in one place, of all people who have a Wikipedia article and who have that surname as their DEFAULTSORT, and that's more useful than finding the same names thinly scattered through a long list of article titles. That seems to me to be a really useful enhancement. What is needed is for the Category/Listing of "All people" to be created. Can it be done? PamD 09:54, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

I believe that there would be approximately 1.3 million biographies in this category – more, if you include redirects to alternate names. Are you sure that would actually be useful? WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:17, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I can't be sure, but I think so: no-one would want to look at the whole 1.3 million, just at the A-Z chunk which has the surname they are looking for. If it was technically easier that 1.3 million could be held in 26, or 26x26, separate files (A-Z or Aa-Zz) or any further subdivision, generated automatically. Not necessarily in real time - daily or weekly update would still provide a powerful tool.
The information in the "DEFAULTSORT" field is a valuable potential search tool which at present can't be used except within a particular category. Trad encyclopedias, on paper, offer access by surname. Wikipedia doesn't, unless the surname is a string of characters which has no other usage ("Higginbottom"). I suggest we should enable readers to find articles by the surname of the biographee, even if it's "Martin" or "Leeds". PamD 09:26, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
This sounds interesting. Basically you'd like to have a Special:Allpages for people sorted by DEFAULTSORT. I think that would be nice to have. Alternatively, we could try to have Lastname, Firstname redirects to Firstname Lastname, and just use Special:Allpages. —Kusma (t·c) 12:45, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
SELECT page_title, cl_collation, cl_sortkey
FROM categorylinks
JOIN page ON cl_from=page_id
WHERE page_namespace=0 AND cl_type="page"
/* Looking at a single category: 1 sec */
AND cl_to IN ("Living_people")
/* Looking at 2,868 categories: 2 hours */
-- AND cl_to IN (SELECT cat_title FROM category WHERE cat_title LIKE "%\_births" AND cat_pages>0)
AND cl_sortkey LIKE REPLACE(UPPER("Leeds%"), "_", " ")
GROUP BY cl_from;
Since moving labs Dabfix would've taken hours to search for end of title matches. I intend to fix by using by using Special:Search. BTW, WikiProject Biography isn't tagging every person. Also SELECT SUM(cat_pages) FROM category WHERE cat_title LIKE "%\_births%" yields 1,1510,84. — Dispenser 13:04, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Suffix search mostly working in Dabfix again. On a side note we could basically bot-create every surname article with the above query. — Dispenser 14:26, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I am fairly certain we have a query on Wikidata for exactly this, or could easily have such a query. Not sure how often he logs on over on en.wp (I'll ping him later at WD), but @Jura1: probably knows. --Izno (talk) 14:49, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I just happened to see your ping .. Surnames haven't been developed that much yet (it's being worked on now), but indexing by given name is fairly complete, at least for people from countries with Latin script (sample). Jura1 (talk) 18:10, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I'd have thought indexing by surname would be much more useful than by forename, as providing something which can't be done using {{look from}}. PamD 04:49, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Is there any interest in holding other "Region months"?[edit]

Asia Month looks to have been successful. While some of the editors creating new articles under the Asia Month banner would have created those articles anyways because that's where they worked, it does seem like other editors (myself included) jumped in to create new content in an area that they normally would not have.

I'd love to see a few more 'region months' to help combat the natural biases that I suspect Wikipedia has as an English language project (i.e. that we cover English-speaking areas much better because people write about the areas in which they live and because the sources are in English).

Would there be any interest in an Africa month, a Caribbean month, a South America month (or Latin America month), a Small islands month (for all of the tiny island nations), etc?

Who would organize it/them? What incentives could we come up with? When could we hold it/them? Mobile Squirrel Conspiracy (talk) 04:47, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Language Link on Search Results?[edit]

For someone who has just done a search on the English Language Wikipedia, and wants to do a search for the same string on the German Wikipedia, the choices seem to be

  1. a long series of clicks from that page, to main page to a location with a list of Wikipedias going to german, going and searching there
  2. knowing what the code (de) is for the other language and altering the URL (which works even though the information in the header may not be quite right for the other wikipedia.

How difficult would it be to add the complete list of languages on the left side the way that wikidata or interwiki links cause articles to be listed?Naraht (talk) 15:41, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

This doesn't sound too difficult to me, but I'm not the best person to make a technical judgement. I'd use it, if it existed. I've posted the idea to Phabricator; maybe User:Deskana (WMF) will know about whether this would interest someone on the mw:Discovery team. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:12, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

wikidata interwiki affecting talk pages as well?[edit]

If Wikidata says that two pages are linked for example Johns Hopkins University Press and fr:Johns Hopkins University Press and as such have the other under "languages" on the left, shouldn't Talk:Johns Hopkins University Press be linked to fr:Discussion:Johns_Hopkins_University_Press?Naraht (talk) 15:45, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

This is basically phab:T30604. --Izno (talk) 16:21, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the phab link. A couple comments. 1) There are probably two separable changes, one to pull from wikidata, the other to pull from the associated article (so that fr:Discussion:Johns_Hopkins_University_Press pulls from both the wikidata for fr:Johns_Hopkins_University_Press and the actual text for fr:Johns_Hopkins_University_Press to look for interwikilinks that haven't been moved to wikidata. If the Wikidata one is easier, that would be fine. 2) In terms of pages that don't exist, what does the code do if one of the articles in a single wikidata entry gets deleted, does it still show the language? If so, then I think include the language regardless, worst that happens is that the user ends up being asked to create a talk page. (I should probably put these comments in the phab entry as well.)Naraht (talk) 16:45, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Article Deleted[edit]

Someone once made a Wikipedia Trading Card Game. They got so far before the game became inactive. I would like to revive it. I know it may not be popular, but it may have hope. (Article Deleted is the name of the NEW game.) I'm returning...from the WikiDead. (But you still dare speak to me...) 21:25, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

There is a page at Wikipedia:Trading card game, is that what you are thinking of? Otherwise I cannot find an article. If you know the name or who wrote it perhaps some one can retrieve the lost article. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 23:59, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, yeah, I want to revive it and improve it. I'm returning...from the WikiDead. (But you still dare speak to me...) 02:54, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
The talk page is at Wikipedia talk:Trading card game for anyone else that wants to join in. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 20:20, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I may be interested in giving a hand in this, though I can't guarantee how much time I'll be able to commit to it.  DiscantX 04:15, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

OK, it seems people like the idea. If I don't get objections by tomorrow, I'm going to take this to Proposals. I'm returning...from the WikiDead. (But you still dare speak to me...) 12:56, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Alright. Taking to proposals. I'm returning...from the WikiDead. (But you still dare speak to me...) 15:03, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

In respect to non-US laws[edit]

The discussion, Wikipedia:Possibly unfree files/2015 November 10#‎File:Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg, resulted in "keep[ing]" the Australian aboriginal flag and solely relying on US law to deem it free to use in English Wikipedia. Of course we are not legal experts, according to disclaimers. I tried similar discussion but just about WP:non-U.S. copyrights page at WP:VPP, but other things overshadow that issue, and then that discussion is now archived. I was thinking about proposing to either add more headquarters, add more rules, or change rules. However, I want the issue to be brought to wide attention. I don't editors to believe that it is okay to distribute something copyrighted to online, even when it may not be copyrightable in the U.S. But administrators want to stick to US laws. Any ideas? George Ho (talk) 22:02, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

My idea is this: ignore foreign laws. Otherwise, Germany can dictate that we remove all swastikas, China can dictate that we remove all references to Falun Gong, Saudi Arabia can dictate that we remove all depictions of Mohammad, and North Korea can dictate that we remove all material critical of their Great Leader. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:32, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Maybe copyright is not one of top important things after all? Do these countries have advanced technology to block these depictions on Internet? --George Ho (talk) 22:42, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
"Ignore foreign laws", for the reasons that Guy Macon gives. WMF is based in the U.S. (California) and its primary web hosting is in the U.S. (Virginia) so it has to respect U.S. laws and no others. [Except, does the cache in Amsterdam have to respect Dutch law?] The drawback is that WP is US-centric, not truly international, because while it can ignore the sensitivities of all other countries in the world, U.S. sensitivities must be meticulously respected. Stanning (talk) 15:26, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
In other words, whatever is out of copyright in source country may be copyrightable in the US. George Ho (talk) 17:36, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Let me ask this. In some countries, it is illegal to display certain images. Should Wikipedia respect those laws and not display those images on its articles, even if they are perfectly legal to be displayed in the United States and most other western countries? There are plenty of other cases where US law and the laws of other countries directly conflict with each other in regard to the dissemination of certain information. If Wikipedia allows countries—or other groups/individuals using the laws of other countries—to have a "veto" on the dissemination of certain information, what does that do to the mission of Wikipedia? —Farix (t | c) 18:26, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Since Wikipedia is subject to U.S. law, the U.S. – or groups/individuals using U.S. laws – have a "veto" on the dissemination of certain information. What does that do to the mission of Wikipedia? Stanning (talk) 21:31, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I think we just have to add a warning to any media that we know to be a problem. Then it is up to reusers if they comply with the local laws, and they will be informed. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 23:23, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that seems like the solution. I see that we already have Category:Restriction tags, and equivalents in Commons:Category:Non-copyright restriction templates, which seem intended for images; maybe we need standard templates with warning text to appear in articles which mention matters that are known to be legally restricted in certain countries (but legal in the U.S.)? Or do such already exist? And to raise awareness of the issues among editors (those who are paying attention) and/or patrollers? Stanning (talk) 10:17, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
The last template that did that was Template:spoiler, which got deleted in 2007. Of course, it's not law-related. We already have WP:content disclaimer, but it doesn't mention foreign law. George Ho (talk) 16:12, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Anti-bullying task force[edit]

Hello community members,

I've been thinking for a few days now about the need to combat bullying and related abusive kinds of behaviors in Wikipedia editing. I've seen and been subjected to a lot of it myself.

I discovered that there is an essay about bullying at WP:BULLY which is a great starting place, but seems like it could be more fleshed out. And then there is implementing actions to curb bullying.

I've seen too much of it around here, and it often is in regard to content of articles. There is a big difference between reasonable and civil dialogue when there is a difference of opinions. Everyone has a different point of view. We are here to reconcile various points of view, and to decide on content in service of the reader. We want to get articles right and this comes out of such good dialogue.

But far too often, dialogue devolves into name-calling, pushy ways of speaking, condescension, insults, Wikilawyering, taking advantage of the naivete of new editors, and all this sort of thing. It tends to allow some people to swing false power around and to dominate articles, where there more subtle and nuanced voices who may be more polite and less aggressive then get drowned out by the dominators.

I know we have some mechanisms to work out issues about civility, and about people who are pushing content into articles against consensus or against good community judgment.

Often what happens is a long-term pattern where one or more editors will harass or hound another editor or group of editors. Often it works out along some ideological lines, as many topics in Wikipedia have some controversy around them. Some of the more experienced people know just how far they can push their behaviors without being too flagrantly in violation of a guideline and therefore able to be sanctioned. Some know how to insinuate insults, how to ignore another editor's fair points without it being so noticeable, how to change topics constantly or to use strawman arguments to try to make the other person seem wrong and foolish, and many other sorts of things. Some people cite guidelines like WP:IDHT and WP:DEADHORSE to try to get people to back off, especially newbies who can be intimidated by the alphabet soup. Sometimes there is a long-term pattern of one editor giving another editor so-called "friendly warnings" like "when people act like you are, they are often banned..." or "If you continue to act this way, you will go off a cliff" and these are not actually "friendly warnings" but more like understated threats intended to have a chilling effect on another editor. They even lead to a gaslighting effect where the victim can think "i must be wrong here" and clams up and backs off, not continuing to argue a point even though they may be right.

All these sorts of things are forms of intimidation that add up to bullying. I've been seeing it around in my year or so of editing, and now that i have some more experience, i recognize it as a major problem in Wikipedia. I don't think the system as it is, is good at dealing with this dynamic. I think the system as it stands sometimes even has the opposite effect -- it shoots the messenger. If someone does have the guts to stand up to a bully and bring it to a noticeboard, sometimes people come and gang up on that person and try to make them think they're wrong, and the bullying continues even in the forum where it's supposed to be addressed.

Is anyone with me on this? Do you see this going on? Do you have ideas for how to address it better?

Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SageRad (talkcontribs) 11:08, 23 November 2015‎ (UTC)

One thing is that bullying can traumatize people. I know it's "just" words on a screen, but these words mean real things. They carry real emotions. When someone directs aggression toward another, even through words to someone they've never met in person, it can do real damage. I have heard at least half a dozen people say things like "I don't even edit in this topic area anymore because of the toxic editing environment" or to that effect. I think that's largely from the bullying behaviors of some people that can traumatize people. Then the articles suffer because the more sensitive people, or often people with the less "mainstream" viewpoints, get intimidated, scared away. And people get hurt -- real people. It's not ok. SageRad (talk) 11:21, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad, I think we all see this going on all the time. I think you've summed up how I feel about this matter very well, so I'm definitely with you - I think the question is, what can we realistically do about it? I've been thinking, and I'm afraid I've drawn a blank - yes our current system doesn't work well, but places such as WP:TEAHOUSE, where almost every helper is kind and considerate to new users, does provide a safer environment for talking about bullying. I'm not sure if that even happens at the moment, but I could see a similar system being useful Face-smile.svg samtar {t} 11:34, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Also, yes, a Task Force would be good - members could address bullying on behalf of a new, intimidated user by means of talking it out, dispute resolution or bringing to AN/I. Maybe that would be an idea? Face-smile.svgsamtar {t} 11:36, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, what if there is a group of volunteer users who agree to learn about bullying behavior, and then look out for it, helping out editors who are subjected to it, and trying to get the bullying person(s) to see how they're acting badly. Hopefully they would agree, and learn from it, but in my experience some people don't want to look at themselves and change, so if they continue to bully then they would need to be excluded from editing to make the environment ok for the rest of the editors, and for the good of the articles and the readers. `SageRad (talk) 11:41, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad I get where you're coming from but if there are serious problems, then that is really what WP:ANI & WP:ARBCOM are for. I don't know how I feel about a group of editors who haven't been vetted by the community taking it upon themselves to chastise other editors. This seems a bit too much like organized vigilantism to me. It's foreseeable that people who are confronted by this task force may feel themselves the victims of bullying. Again, we already have a system in place to discipline bad behavior; I don't think we need a 'police force' seeking out 'crimes', victims can self report if they feel it is justified.  DiscantX 07:15, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
But the problem is that Arbitrators Noticeboard doesn't work to bring remedy for bullying behaviors. From my very recent experience, when i asked how i could remedy bullying behavior at AN, guess what i got? I got more bullying behaviors against me just for asking! I am not kidding! That is not inspiring of any confidence for someone to go there expecting any semblance of justice. And in the recent ArbCom case around GMOs where i've been editing for 8 months or so in a highly toxic environment, guess what happened? The more civil people got possible topic bans, whereas the more toxic people (except for one who was so bad nobody can let them slide through) didn't even get proposed sanctions, or even included in the case despite repeated petitions by many editors! It's been astounding. You seekl help against abusive behaviors, and what happens is you get punished. There's a bad bad culture going on here. I just looked into this incident reported on ANI by a user, seeking help, and guess what? The user who asked for help got blocked! There is no place where a person can go. The official channels do not work! SageRad (talk) 07:41, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad, I agree that there is a problem with the behavior and mentality of some people here, but I feel though that the problem won't be solved by a task force, for the same reasons that, as you say, ANI and ARBCOM don't work. The bottom line is that having a safe space or group of helpful and kind editors to turn to is not going to change the overall behavior of abusive editors on Wikipedia. What needs to occur is a cultural shift, and I don't think a task force can possibly force an attitude change upon problematic users. There's no easy solution to this other than for every person who thinks that civility is a virtue to act civil, and hopefully soon the civility will outweigh the hostility to the extent that it's negligible. A change of attitude can't be forced, it must be adopted.  DiscantX 09:40, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
DiscantX, i think that creating a task force could help to change the culture, by the very act of creating it, as well as the way in which volunteers could make dynamics of bullying more apparent. I have to say that ANI and ArbCom could work and sometimes do. It sort of depends on the awareness and sensibility of the individual arbitrators or admins who take up a particular question. If they are the sort of person who is sensitive to the dynamics of pushiness and bullying, then they can take action on them. I don't think everyone is able and willing to "play nice" though and sometimes sanctions are needed to curb bad behavior. The thing is that sometimes ANI or ArbCom can do nothing or even "boomerang" back upon the person who raises an issue with another editor, even if the issue is really the other editor, if the admin or the Arbs involved are more personally sympathetic to the one who is being more of the bully or the pushy person in a conflict. SageRad (talk) 09:48, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

One aspect of why i think this is needed, is that WP:CIVILITY is not just about "bad words" or one-time interactions. Many times it's a pattern, and a lot of bullying is done with no bad words at all. I seems innocuous enough to the casual observer, because they may not know the deeper meaning, or the history involved between two editors. That's part of how manipulative people work, and how they abuse people without other people noticing.

I would like to quote some good words from user Dennis Brown (who i hope will not mind being pinged) who said here:

We would all love a more civil Wikipedia, but blocking people for using bad words will only mean that the more passive aggressive types who hide their bullying and insults in saccharine laced words will be running the place. Some of the nicest people cuss sometimes. Personally, if I'm going to be insulted, I prefer the honesty of someone who just says it bluntly, not someone who hides it in clever language designed to intimidate and diminish me.

This is the same thing i have found. Repeated behaviors by a few people who have taken to hounding me and trying to grind down my self-esteem, using various turns of phrase and conceptual tricks to make it seem like i should just crawl under a rock and hide because obviously i'm too stupid to be editing at Wikipedia, and my point of view is just worthless, etc.... but using relatively innocuous-sounding words. It's tricky, and that's why i think we could use a volunteer corps of people focused on this. I'd volunteer. SageRad (talk) 13:22, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Another aspect is that the person who is being bullied may sometimes react due to counterwill -- not wanting to be controlled for very good reason, feeling the sliminess of the interaction, and they might cuss in anger, justifiably, but then the bully will use that response to try to further characterize the victim as being unfit for Wikipedia ... and the cycle goes on and on, and the bullies get entrenched and develop gangs of mutual supporting "good old boys" who help each other out. SageRad (talk) 13:24, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

You might want to look over WP:WQA and WP:PAIN, and the discussions that led to them being shut down. --Ronz (talk) 17:36, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Maybe it's more powerful if a change is cultural rather than procedural, but i could see that those two examples are really focused on short-term interactions and more on manners/etiquette and probably one-off personal attacks, whereas a deeper understanding of bullying and controlling behaviors could be useful to unravel some other sorts of deeper conflicts that occur on Wikispace. SageRad (talk) 17:48, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia works through consensus. The consensus as I understand it is that bullying is too subjective a label to enforce, the label is used as a bullying tactic itself, and the actionable offenses are best addressed by enforcing existing policies and sanctions. --Ronz (talk) 18:45, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
(ec)I think you would first need to define what is bullying behavior. If you simply disagree with some people, they take it as aggressive intimidation. I asked another editor to stop dropping small insults towards me and they accused me of personally attacking them. In this situation, I don't think either of us was being a bully.
But I've seen this situation occur a number of times. Editor A posts their opinion. Editor B mocks their post. Editors C, D & E get angry at Editor B for his/her rudeness. Editor B says he/she is being ganged-up on. Who is the bully here? Editor B for being sarcastic and rude towards another editor? Or Editors C, D & E for bashing Editor B for being caustic?
I saw this happen a lot during the GamerGate fury, where one person would be abrasive & insulting, then get attacked for their attitude and then claimed that they were being harassed. I don't think that this world is black/white on who is being victimized and who is bullying. Liz Read! Talk! 18:50, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree there are some problems. However, I do have some problems with formalizing this for several reasons. (1) Some editors cannot take content based criticism and consider such criticism as a personal attack (and or bullying). I have repeatedly seen that after a polite exchange, editors who refuse to give up their fallacious reasoning and/or fringe theories are more bluntly put into their place. Who is to blame here? The people becoming harsh after been plagued with stubborn refusal to yield a ridiculous point (indeed WP:DEADHORSE is such a blunt discussion stopper but it is often justified), or the self-claimed bullied editor. (2) Harsh comments felt in one culture may not be intended by the poster from another cultures. Since EN.wikipedia is in practice the international Wikipedia this makes defining bullying tricky; and editors acting well within what is considered civil within their own social context may be seen as a bully by others. (3) Which leads to the next issue. If bullies are sanctioned - who decides. As many cases will be in the grey area all but the most black and white cases should be decided by "Wikisaints" who are in short supply. (4) Finally we should be extremely wary of more Wikilawyering. The original poster justifiably stated that the alphabet soup of wikirules and policies is confusing. I am afraid formalizing this proposal would add more of that soup. Arnoutf (talk) 19:23, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The above three statements are definitely good thoughts, in my opinion, but these are not reasons why it couldn't work. Of course there is a relativity among people of different viewpoints. People with more similar viewpoints tend to have better edit histories and to forgive each other more often, and also don't butt heads as often. And of course, if someone is trying to push content into an article that is not supported by reliable sources, then they are probably at fault for contention. Bullying, when it happens, is in the behavior, not in the point of view of an editor. For the content it comes back to sources and having good dialogue. Those who don't have good dialogue and continue to push (either to block content they don't like or to push content that they want) and in the process hurt other users and make the editing climate contentious, especially if they continue to target or to go after or harass a specific editor(s) who they tend to disagree with, then they could be given a kind of notice. "Here's what we see going on... we see you misrepresenting the other editors even after they've explained themselves quite well, and calling them names and being condescending to them, and posting templates on their talk pages that don't appear justified," for instance.

I'm also wary of formalizing this, but it could be an advocacy group of volunteer editors who know enough to advise someone who comes to them if they feel bullied. Then they could use their experience to help work it out, if possible, or advise where and how it could be brought to a noticeboard for the best and speediest resolution. It could use the already existing noticeboards, and simply be a group of advocates (sort of like public defenders in the court system) who volunteer to help out because they've been there before and know what it's like.

I assure you that my intention in suggesting this is not to enable POV pushing of any kind. In fact, quite the opposite. I advocate for integrity to the sources and articles that reflect reality as best known according to reliable sources. SageRad (talk) 20:42, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Here is an example of what happened when i asked what remedies are available for bullying behaviors, at the Administrators Noticeboard -- not good response -- continued bullying in fact. That to me is an argument in favor of needing people to advocate for those who are being attacked or ganged up on. SageRad (talk) 06:40, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

And the very fact that you consider those responses "bullying" is why your proposal will remain dead in the water, because what you got there wasn't "bullying" by any reasonable definition, it was simply disagreement and rejection of your ideas, which is not the same thing. AGF doesn't mean that we hold your hand and pet it and tell you what a wonderful person you are as we lovingly lull you to sleep with soft words that tell you why what you did or asked for was wrong. Wikipedia is - strangely enough - part of the real world, and sometimes blunt answers are needed, and sometimes diplomacy is better, but being told "No" is not "bullying". Grow a thicker skin, please, or get off the bus, but don't saddle us with an unnecessary piece of nanny-ist bureaucracy. BMK (talk) 08:32, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
You, BMK, would say this, as you are one who engages in this sort of behavior as far as i have seen. When someone drops by just to drop an insult (e.g. "Dunning-Kruger" in that AN discussion) that insinuates that i am stupid for speaking my opinion, that's essentially the same flavor and direction as bullying. So please leave your judgments here at the door and listen to people who feel the bullying pressure, please. It's a thing that is subjectively directed, as it has to do with the perception and effect on the recipient. Bullies, abusive people, know that they are doing it for that reason, to cause pain or intimidation within the recipient, and then they would want to minimize it afterward and say "oh no, lighten up, it wasn't bullying". It's NOT simply disagreeing with someone. That can be done respectfully. It's making someone feel like they ought to feel stupid or ashamed for speaking their mind. That's very different from simply disagreeing. So no, just no. I do not welcome this energy directed at me. SageRad (talk) 12:55, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I suppose you think that your being one of the subjects of an ArbCom case is an example of "bullying" as well. BMK (talk) 14:51, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
No I don't. Please cease off topic 'ad hominem' sort of comments here. This is to discuss an idea I think would be useful. If you're not here to talk about that then what are you here for? SageRad (talk) 14:55, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm here to point out that (1) Your definition of "bullying" is so broad and generalized that it, in effect, does a disservice to people who in real life are actually physically bullied; (2) that your "idea" is less of a viable concept than it is a whining complaint that things aren't going your way in your Wikilife; and (3) that therefore, there is nothing here worthy of consideration by the community. BMK (talk) 15:28, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm at the point where i don't feel like you're here to be productive at all. But to counter your claims, it's clear that cyber-bullying is a real thing, and that bullying works on an emotional level even more than a physical level many times (and physical threat is also emotional, by the way). My "idea" is an idea, not an "idea" and the quotes are derogatory. It is not a "whining complaint" and that is derogatory. And lastly, your constant projection of your opinion as the last word is really arrogant. So all in all, you're here to denigrate me, the whole idea, and to pronounce the last word for the community. I don't think this is a cooperative mode of dialogue. You are here in a sense to be an example of the problem that needs addressing, in my view. SageRad (talk) 15:52, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
"I'm at the point"? Please re-read your first response to me - you were already "at that point" back then. And in the future, could you please include a magic decoder ring with your comments, since your lexicon is decidedly skewed: "bullying" = "someone disagrees with me"; "productive" = "someone agrees with me"; "arrogant" = "someone aside from me has an opinion, and it's different than mine". It's getting to be hard to keep things straight. BMK (talk) 16:38, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not have very good methods and systems in place to deal with any kind of conflict resolution, but I am pretty sure that a squad of people running around calling others "BULLY!" is unlikely to help the situation. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:35, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
The mode of action would probably not be to run around yelling "bully!" I envision it quite differently, as being a site of advocacy for those who are feeling bullied to get advice and help. It could also involve confronting a party or parties who appear to be bullying, but the main thing is to care for the bullied person. SageRad (talk) 15:52, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
What exactly do you see as being the "help" that would be given? And what type of advocacy? And what part of "confronting parties who appear to be bullying" is different than " run around yelling 'bully!'" -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:22, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The "anti-bullying task force" already exists. Many Wikipedia administrators and some other contributors are essentially the anti-bullying task force. For example, blocking a disruptive user who is "not here" is one of the best anti-bullying actions. My very best wishes (talk) 16:38, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Good point. If only enough of the community supported them instead of assuming they are the aggressors and the ones causing disruption, we would not have the problem. Telling which is which takes skill and judgement, which unfortunately won't appear overnight. The best proposal I've seen so far is m:Harassment_consultation_2015/Ideas/Hire_a_harassment_expert. Burninthruthesky (talk) 17:19, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
  • SageRad, I think setting up an Anti-bullying task force is an excellent idea. It could be a place to work on how to spot bullying, never mind how to stop it. I wrote on GGTF yesterday that our dispute-resolution processes lend themselves to bullying, including inadvertent bullying, simply because they're in public, involve too many people focusing on a small number of editors (and sometimes on just one), and go for too long. You might find this page on meta useful: Research:Online harassment resource guide. Also, the Foundation is currently running a harassment consultation; see Harassment consultation 2015. So if you want to set up a task force, this is a good time to do it. SarahSV (talk) 21:16, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
SarahSV, perhaps good intentions, but there's no way I would trust SageRad in any kind of leadership role. Why? Their own words. "I actually brought a case to ANI today that had aspects that i would call bullying or otherwise an abusive flavor of another editor's action." It was a nonsensical complaint followed by a semi-apology. "Of course there will always be some wrong accusations, and there are false accusations of bullying, but that's the rarity, not the norm." Completely incorrect. I look at wide array of situations every day:
  • Preventing fringe material from added -> bullying
  • Preventing someone's right to "free speech" and to use Wikipedia as a soapbox -> bullying
  • Admins blocking -> bullying
  • Disagreeing with someone -> bullying
  • Telling someone that article talk pages are not forums -> bullying
Multiple people telling someone to follow Wikipedia's policies and guidelines (in an increasingly severe tone if it seems they're not listening) is not bullying. --NeilN talk to me 21:50, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
It was not a semi-apology. I did not think the other users actions were good and the other user made no effort to make peace. I was making an effort to reach peace there. Please don't twist my words to use against me in this way, NeilN. I seriously reject all the strawmen examples you put here. Not going into detail on any of them, but simply say you're making false arguments here. Please have a bit more generosity of spirit. SageRad (talk) 09:51, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Your generosity of spirit? The fact that you reject my "strawmen examples" without going into detail on any of them (very convenient) while still clinging to "false accusations of bullying, but that's the rarity, not the norm" makes me more convinced than ever that you are unqualified to play any kind of leadership role in this initiative. --NeilN talk to me 10:04, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
You're being extremely hostile here and trying to turn this into a witch hunt about me. It's predictable that when a person suggests an anti-bullying initiative, those more aligned with bullying behaviors are going to oppose it vehemently. Anyway, i'm not going into your links, nor responding any more. Your energy in the dialogue feels extreely hostile to me and i do not welcome it or wish to engage in it. SageRad (talk) 10:10, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
NeilN, a big part of the work of an anti-bullying task force would be to examine when people feel they are being bullied and why, and whether dispute resolution mechanisms can be changed to make people feel better about it. If SageRad wants to set up this up, I'd encourage him to do so. Other people can join too, and I hope everyone would work collaboratively, even if they disagree about particular examples. SarahSV (talk) 23:30, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree with User:NeilN. Unjustified complaints of bullying are common. For that reason, if there is to be an anti-bullying task force, it will be important to be very careful that it distinguishes between unjustified claims of bullying and actual bullying. Otherwise it could be used by disruptive editors to game the system. Also, as User:Guy Macon has implied, actual bullying may often not be reported, because editors who are actually bullied are likely simply to leave Wikipedia. Therefore, I think that there is relatively little overlap between claims of bullying and actual cases of bullying. I personally do not think that bullying is such a widespread pervasive problem that it requires a special task force, but, if there is a special task force, its work will be difficult because unjustified claims of bullying are very common. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:37, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Robert McClenon's logic, presented here, "editors who are actually bullied are likely simply to leave Wikipedia. Therefore, I think that there is relatively little overlap between claims of bullying and actual cases of bullying." reminds me somewhat of Cucking stool#Use in identifying witches; if she sank, she was innocent, if she survived, she was a witch. I know exactly how it feels to be subjected to that treatment having asked for help, and it isn't at all pleasant. Burninthruthesky (talk) 08:01, 26 November 2015 (UTC)


For the benefit of those editors at this idea lab who are not familiar with the background, the original poster, User:SageRad, has been editing in the area of genetically modified organisms, a contentious subject, and is, in my opinion, a combative editor who does not accept advice. In June 2015, multiple editors, myself included, advised SageRad to be less combative and more collaborative. The advice was discounted as "punches in the face", "threats", and "bullying". So SageRad has been seeing bullying for months. A case is now pending at ArbCom concerning genetically modified organisms. SageRad is named as a party to the case. ArbCom would have been and is an appropriate venue to discuss bullying and similar conduct issues. SageRad did not present any evidence, which could have included evidence of bullying, and did not present a workshop proposal. Now, as ArbCom is about to finalize the case, SageRad is facing a topic-ban from genetically modified organisms. A few days ago, SageRad, as noted, came to WP:AN to discuss bullying, after never having addressed it to ArbCom. SageRad again claims to have been a victim of bullying, but has not presented any diffs or other evidence to the community either. After SageRad opened this thread here, the AN thread, which wasn’t in the right venue because it wasn’t asking for admin action, was closed. At this point, it isn’t clear whether SageRad is in particular saying that they have been bullied, and that new measures are needed to deal with bullying, or just that Wikipedia has too much bullying, and that new measures are needed to deal with bullying. In any case, the original poster has not presented and has not made an effective effort to present a case either that they have been bullied, or that bullying is such a pervasive problem in Wikipedia that it needs new measures. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I am not going to try to counter every mischaracterization in the above comment, but suffice it to say that i have had a contentious relationship toward Robert McClenon, so please take his comments about me with a large grain of salt. I will counter one error in the above, though, since Robert continues to repeat the error that i didn't present evidence at the ArbCom case.
Hopefully Robert will see this and cease to repeat at least this one particular error that he seems to have about me. That one was easy. It's more of the matters of opinion and reckoning that are harder to refute, but i assure you his words about me need a large grain of salt. Preferably Himalayan salt. SageRad (talk) 08:56, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad did fill out the evidence section at at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Genetically modified organisms/Evidence, and proposed a finding of fact at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Genetically modified organisms/Workshop so "did not present any evidence, which could have included evidence of bullying, and did not present a workshop proposal" if taken literally is a factual error. I looked at what was presented and saw no actual evidence of bullying, just a normal, somewhat heated content dispute. This is, of course a judgement call, and no doubt SageRad is of the opinion that he presented evidence of bullying, but he did not make a case for that at AE. So the slightly modified statement that SageRad did not present any evidHence of bullying, and did not present a workshop proposal addressing bullying would seem to be accurate, and may have been what Robert McClenon was trying to convey. --Guy Macon (talk) 09:24, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Maybe. Thanks for working toward the facts, Guy Macon. One of the subheadings of my evidence submission there was "JzG being generally onerous, bullying, strong-arming" so i did at least mention the term, and one of the links i provided in the evidence was to this discussion in which Robert McClenon took part and says a lot of things that i would take issue with of course, like "SageRad has taken all cautions as threats and as bullying, and is unable to accept advice." I take goodwilled cautions as such and i take chilling "advice" as such. I think i can largely discern between the two. Robert and i have a long contentious history, it seems. I'd forgotten about that interaction about re-closing the RfC. Wow, so much water under the bridge. I could go down a rabbit hole, but i'd prefer to live in the present. Thanks, Guy Macon. SageRad (talk) 09:34, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I was mistaken about SageRad not having provided an evidence section. (The evidence section is very long, and apparently I scrolled past their section.) I do see the evidence, and there was a mention in passing that Guy/JzG had engaged in bullying behavior. What we see is that SageRad really doesn't like editor Guy/JzG. I was mistaken. However, the real question is whether to take any next steps to address bullying. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:45, 25 November 2015 (UTC)


My own observations are that many claims of bullying are not justified, and are made by editors who persist in editing against consensus, and are sometimes associated with claims that articles are controlled by cabals. Most of the cases that I have been where there really has been bullying have been cases of article ownership, where one or two editors enforce their article ownership by bullying. I don’t see bullying as the pervasive toxic problem that the original poster sees, but the original poster is, in my opinion, an editor who sees disagreement as bullying. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Sometimes the claimed "consensus" is not a real consensus, but one trying to be forced by one or more editors against the protests of some other editors who have good reasons. Sometimes the charge of WP:IDHT is a rhetorical device, when the other editor does hear and yet actually disagrees. I've seen and been subject to bullying tactics in many dynamics, most of them not really about WP:OWN but usually about trying to force an agenda into an article. Sometimes just seemingly for the shadenfreude or sadistic pleasure that the bully seems to get from making another person suffer. SageRad (talk) 09:01, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Robert, you seem to have used headings in this section to sort of take over the space here. I suggest it's not very polite. SageRad (talk) 09:02, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The best I can tellya is take a trip (along with 2 or 3 other editors) over to WP:UKNAT & see about getting the usage British adopted for British bio articles, in place of Welsh, Scottish, English & Northern Irish/Irish. After about a month, let us know how the experience was. GoodDay (talk) 21:39, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Hahahahaha, I did that, just for a minute, skimming the Talk page. Head, meet wall... --Tsavage (talk) 21:18, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I got an even better one. Suggest replacing country with constituent country or combning the two consituent country at the articles of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Then, tells us what kinda reception you get, after pushing those proposals for over a week. GoodDay (talk) 03:33, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Next steps[edit]

Although I disagree with almost everything that User;SageRad says, I agree that WP:ANI is not an effective forum for dealing with bullying. "The community" at the noticeboards does not deal effectively with issues that divide or polarize the community. Bullies divide and polarize the community, because any bully always has a few followers as well as a few victims. ArbCom and Arbitration Enforcement are the only forums that are able to deal with issues that divide or polarize the community. Perhaps the English Wikipedia needs sanctions reform, such as some sort of jury system below the ArbCom for dealing with conduct issues. This idea lab is an appropriate place to discuss sanctions reform. I don’t see evidence that bullying is such a pervasive problem that it requires a task force. (The gender gap is identified as a pervasive problem that requires a task force.) It isn’t clear whether a task force would try to mediate, when mediation usually does not work with conduct issues, or whether the task force would impose sanctions on the bullies. If the latter, then the proposal should be for sanctions reform. While I don’t see bullying as the pervasive problem that SageRad does, I do see bullying as a problem that isn’t dealt with effectively at WP:ANI (or WP:AN). Robert McClenon (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

One possible step, short of sanctions reform, not involving a task force, would be to ask admins to identify themselves as admins willing to look into bullying. Maybe the current group of administrators who are willing to make difficult blocks are already the appropriate people to deal with bullying. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I don’t see bullying as a pervasive problem, or Wikipedia as a toxic environment due to bullying. However, bullying is a problem that is not being dealt with effectively below ArbCom and AE. Maybe sanctions reform is needed; I think that it is, because the English Wikipedia is too large and fractious to be self-governing by direct democracy, but others may disagree. Maybe editors who view themselves as being bullied need to know what admins to turn to. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

  • SageRad, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but I see a problem which can be seen in comments like "...a site of advocacy for those who are feeling bullied to get advice and help" and "the main thing is to care for the bullied person". The problem is the assumption that "feeling bullied" is evidence of actual bullying. Sometimes there is real bullying, and sometimes the accusations are false.
Furthermore, those who complain about being bullied are not necessarily representative of those who are actually being bullied, The real victims often stay silent out of fear of further bullying, and you often see bullies escalate the abuse when someone complains. On the other hand, those who are most vocal about feeling bullied are often themselves doing some bullying, and using accusations of bullying as a tool to that end. And of course there are cases where two fighters are going at each other tooth and nail when suddenly one plays the bully card.
In my view, the place to start is having someone uninvolved evaluate the evidence in an attempt to see who is bullying who, rather than relying on what people self-report. Otherwise, we end up in a classic "Ready, Fire, Aim" situation. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:52, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I have trouble with "the main thing is to care for the bullied person". Wikipedia is WP:NOTTHERAPY and the "care" cannot be "allow the person being bullied to have the content version that they like". The purpose would need to be something like "the main thing is to help all people contribute to Wikipedia to their potential".-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:09, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I agree with User:Guy Macon and User talk:TheRedPenOfDoom. What on earth is meant by "the main thing is to care for the bullied person"? How? Does that mean that editors who think that they are being bullied should be given some sort of easy preferential treatment? What on earth does that mean? I really don't understand. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:00, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't think you are getting the spirit of what i'm suggesting. It's not therapy sessions. It's to address a problem by being in solidarity of sorts with the person who is being beaten down wrongly by another, in Wikispace. Often there is ganging up. The help of a single other person who sees and affirms the reality of what the victim of bullying techniques is saying, can make all the difference. To affirm that something is wrong when it feels wrong can negate the gaslighting aspects of bullying techniques.

From what i have seen lately, when one person is being railroaded by another editor or a group of editors, when someone comes along and sees the situation, witnesses it, and calls it what it is, the person who is being railroaded gets a desperately-needed breath of fresh air. It's the solidarity of being seen -- affirming their own gut feeling that they're being railroaded or bullied, that they're not crazy, that they actually have dignity and as much claim to knowing as the others who are trying to make them feel stupid, wrong, or otherwise bad for speaking their mind. Gaslighting is serious stuff and it happens here on Wikipedia. There are all sorts of rhetorical tropes that effectively are forms of gaslighting -- undercutting the other's sense of even having a worthy voice. Making them start to think they're crazy or stupid or something, when in fact it's a power dynamic of domination.

Of course there will always be some wrong accusations, and there are false accusations of bullying, but that's the rarity, not the norm. As i would say in a cautious analogy to the subject of rape. Few accusations of rape are made up. Are some? Sure, some percent are, but not many, and the fact that a few accusations are made ingenuinely in no way means that people should not listen very intently when someone says that they have been raped. Or otherwise abused. These things are about power dynamics, and abusive behavior also tries to shut down the victim from speaking out. There is a silencing that occurs that it would be good to provide some assistance, a friendly and trustworthy person to listen and advocate on behalf of the person so they're not so alone. SageRad (talk) 09:08, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

SageRad, what you say about gaslighting is important. I raised the same issue here with Phillipe when he worked for the Foundation. SarahSV (talk) 23:54, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
SarahSV, thank you for this. Your quote here really describes a reality i've experienced and seen in others: "So much time is wasted arguing about what it is. It's almost always left to the person at the centre of it to explain, and by then they're drowning in it and not at all coherent. Editors radically underestimate the emotional effect harassment has on the target. The latter's increasingly poor behaviour is used as evidence that there is no harassment, and that the problem was the target all along."
That is part of the dynamic that i have seen. Others do this subtle but very powerful thing, a sort of psychological manipulation, with boundary violations and gaslighting aspects, and then the recipient at some point lashes out and their "bad behavior" is cited agains them just at the very moment when they finally stand up to the bully. It's really a bad dynamic and it ends up getting rid of the people who are not bullying, leaving a more and more concentrated group of bullying people in Wikipedia. SageRad (talk) 10:17, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
More likely it gets rid of the very civil POV-pushers whom the community is fed up with. --NeilN talk to me 10:33, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

A categorization[edit]

I will comment that, in my experience, editors who complain of being bullied fall into at least four classes. First, there are aggressive editors who edit against consensus, because they know that they are right. They then complain of being bullied. These editors may or may not themselves be engaged in attempted bullying, but have been pushed back because they are against consensus. Second, there are passive-aggressive editors who edit against consensus, because they know that they are right. They then complain of being bullied. When their own behavior is discussed, they typically say that they need to take a Wikibreak of a few months to recover from their hurts from the personal attacks and bullying. They do not themselves engage in bullying, but are disruptive in a different way. Third, there are editors who run into article ownership, and complain about it, and about the bullying by the article owners. Fourth, there are editors who run into article ownership, and complain about it, but are otherwise disruptive, by flaming or soapboxing. Only the third class of editors who complain of bullying deserve real assistance. The original poster falls into the first class, in my own opinion. However, I would like the original poster to explain what sort of care should be given to bullied editors. I don't think that editors who are actually bullied need care. I think that they need administrative action, to block the bullies, but only if they really are innocent victims of bullying, and most editors who complain of being bullied are not innocent, although some are. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:09, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

  • Right off the bat, Robert, i have a problem with your phrase "who complain of being bullied" -- that very wording is denigrating the act of anyone saying "I am being bullied" and denying the validity of it. The word "complain" is very telling here. There is always going to be a need for complex judgments in situations. Sure. But please don't deny that bullying dynamics occur. I think they occur rather commonly within Wikispace.
  • Secondly, you classify me above as an "aggressive editor who edits against consensus, because they know that they are right". Well, what can i say? You're wrong about that. You have a chip on your shoulder against me, it's clear from this and many other venues where you've chosen to engage where i have spoken, and to write bad notions about me. You seem to be following me around a bit lately, daresay hounding. You don't like me, it's clear. But i've edited with reason and logic and sources, and i've spoken to other editors to express real thoughts. I've not edited against consensus, but tried to use dialogue to build consensus. In the process i have come up against many editors who are not engaged in good dialogue practices, who use rhetoric far too much to try to force points, and who ironically use alphabet soup like IDHT and DTS when they are really the ones who don't hear that, and who beat the dead horse.
  • Thirdly, sometimes ANI works and sometimes it doesn't. It can be luck of the draw. I actually brought a case to ANI today that had aspects that i would call bullying or otherwise an abusive flavor of another editor's action. Thankfully a good admin showed up and resolved it well. The articles were improved and nobody got hurt, and i felt vindicated that ANI does work sometimes. However, if you showed up first, i don't feel confident that it would have been resolved as well. I feel it's more likely that you would have dismissed my concern and said "The other editor made those edits according to guidelines, so what's your problem?" How it did get resolved also used the guidelines, though. It's about how the guidelines are applied, and the spirit behind it. If there is generosity of spirit an willingness to see the human dynamics behind the interactions, then there is the possibility of resolving it in a way that follows guidelines and yet is more humane and also more positive to the outcome of the content. SageRad (talk) 09:17, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I am going to have to see some actual evidence showing that false accusations of bullying are rare. I am going to ignore your rape analogy and suggest that others do so as well. Nothing good will come from changing the subject in this way. Could we just stick with the traditional Nazi Germany analogies, please? --Guy Macon (talk) 09:32, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
User:Guy Macon - Not everyone here has been on the Usenet or otherwise knows Godwin's Law in either its original form or in Tim Skirvin's restatement of it. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:48, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I can only tell that reporting someone to ANI [1] without even trying to resolve the issue on article talk page is an excellent example of wiki-bulling. Having that in mind, this thread looks to me as an exercise in casting aspersion. My very best wishes (talk) 02:27, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
You distort the nature of what happened there. It was a very specific kind of incident. Please stop. This is not about me and your representation of the incident is wrong, but this is not the topic of this section. Your doing this here is wrong. This is what happens when i bring up an idea for the community? I do NOT want to get into the specifics of the incident or to discuss it here, but apparently other agreed with me and helped to resolve it, so your opinion is not the only one. You are an involved person here, with a chip on your shoulder against me, as a few other people here are. Can't i please bring up an idea without people with grudges against me coming here and misrepresenting things about me? This is not about me. Please speak on the topic or cease. Bad energy. SageRad (talk) 09:58, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
All right. We are talking about comments that you or someone else may perceive as wiki-bullying. There are different cases. (a) clear "personal attacks - those are already covered by NPA; (b) battleground requests on AE/ANI (those which resulted in no action - as the ANI just noted above) - covered by "what WP is not"; (c) legitimate comments - one can actually make a lot of legitimate comments on an appropriate noticeboard, such as ANI, about another contributor, which will be just fine - this is not wikibullying. Your proposal is not needed. My very best wishes (talk) 16:34, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Cliques and clique behaviour[edit]

I think it may be useful to recast the issue in different terms, with regards to the feeling of being outnumbered. There is a certain degree of cliquish behaviour that arises in all communities, and Wikipedia is not immune. It's only human nature to feel a greater connection with those whom you've collaborated with before, and to harbour some doubt about newcomers. This can lead to a new editor feeling ignored by an inner circle, which I think underlies some of the emotions described above.

To combat this, experienced editors need to be more self-aware of how their responses may be perceived and make persistent efforts to be inclusive. Conversely, new editors need to be more understanding that other editors may not always craft the perfect response to them. It is, though, a very hard problem. In schools, students can be required to participate in sessions outlining the problems with cliques and techniques to minimize their impact, but in a volunteer environment like Wikipedia, it's hard to target the appropriate persons.

To anyone interested in forming a task force: I suggest you go ahead and just do it. Create a page in Wikipedia project space, and start brainstorming on its talk page about how you can put something into effect that is achievable with your current membership, bearing in mind that people tend to drift away from Wikipedia groups after a few days or weeks. If you are able to make some procedures work, then you can build upon that. If your first attempts fail, it's not a big deal; try something else, instead. In the spirit of wikis, be willing to boldly start a new initiative, evaluate it, and then try again! isaacl (talk) 04:10, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Isaacl. A lot of (what is perceived as) bullying is inadvertent, a product of large numbers of people who may know each somewhat commenting on someone who is not so well known. Sometimes the editor in question is being disruptive, but justified criticism can morph into bullying without anyone really noticing, except of course the target. So how do we handle that? That would be an excellent issue for a task force to explore. SarahSV (talk) 06:27, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
And sometimes justified criticism can mount up and morph into a consensus – the device we supposedly use to settle disputes – which will on occasion be interpreted as "ganging up" or "bullying". We even have the relatively non-pejorative term "piling on". (One aspect of which I've never understood: "I agree with the oppose votes, but I don't want to pile on", as a result of which someone passes an RfA, or "I don't want to pile on here", so a topic ban doesn't reach consensus. C'mon folks, "piling on" is not a bad thing', it's part of the methodology of achieving a consensus.)
As long as "bullying" is intrinsically tied to subjective feelings on the part of the reporting editor, there's never going to be an effective way of controlling it (if it even is an endemic problem, which I am not sure it is), because there's never going to be an effective way of proving that the charge of bullying isn't simply a tactical method of counter-acting opponents without dealing with their arguments.
Further, Editor A feels "bullied" when a couple of people politely point them to relevant policies, rules and guidelines, while Editor B, with a much thicker skin, can take on an orcish army and still not feel personally attacked. So -- are we expected to read the riot act to the polite editors trying to help because they (supposedly) engendered a feeling of "bullying", while allowing the orcs to run free? Without a way to get inside the head of the editor and confirm that a report of "bullying" is a real response to what happened, and without a scale to objectively grade what they were actually subjected to, there's just not going to be any kind of effective way of dealing with what may or may not be a real problem -- which is why the answer to "bullying" is going to be to deal with it on a case-by-case basis, sometimes telling the antagonists to dial it down, sometimes telling the subject to grow a thicker skin if they want to edit here. BMK (talk) 08:58, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
To address User:Beyond My Ken, I would suggest that an unwillingness to "pile on" may be misplaced sportsmanship, probably by Americans. "Piling on" has a very specific meaning in American football, in which it is a form of unnecessary roughness consisting of dumping on the opponent's ball carrier when he is already down. It shouldn't apply in Wikipedia because the rule in American football only applies when the ball carrier has already been downed, and, in the cases mentioned by BMK, the RFA or RFC or AFD is still open, when the referee hasn't yet blown the whistle or the closer hasn't yet closed the discussion. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:47, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
BMK, there is a very real difference between being the minority opinion in an otherwise consensus, versus bullying behaviors, so i would call the above perhaps a dynamic to be aware of but not really helpful because of the way you continue to put "bullying" in quotes as if it could not possibly be real, and you seem to use the dynamic you describe as a way to explain that there is not bullying, just people who are wrong and can't take others saying so... so... there is some polemic exaggeration there, too. I see that some people don't have a problem with bullying and don't even want the subject talked about or anything done to address it, and say it's not really happening, or it's all subjective weakness of those who think it's happening to them. SageRad (talk) 10:29, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't quite know what anyone hopes to achieve with this thread which is now TL;DR. The best I can do is repost the same answer I gave to SageRad on my Arbcom Election Q&A page:
Bullying is a delicate issue. It's a bit of a Catch-22 because on one hand there are editors like yourself who feel that more should be done about it, while on the other hand admins who block the bullies are often accused of being the bullies, or even end up being bullied themselves. Due to our WP:INVOLVED policy, admins are not allowed to defend themselves against gratuitous PA, incivility, and bullying and this may possibly be a reason why it could eventually be perceived that they are reluctant to intervene (this is however pure conjecture on my part and I personally have no evidence for it - as an admin I am not afraid of the flak I get for my work, and there are in fact a few others who are prepared to work in the trenches). There are others who would suggest that the creation of a special group of vigilantes would not only create more bureaucracy but would also increase the abuse of power - mind you, it might finally let the admins off the hook. So I'm afraid I do not have a silver bullet for you..
Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 10:17, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I see. Your position seems clear on this. I hope to at least talk about some real problems within Wikipedia that make it a hostile environment for some people, for very real reasons (not just overly sensitive people "crying bully" but real things going on). If it is tl;dr; for you then that's for you. For me, and some others, it seems that at least we're talking about something that is long overdue (even if it keeps being derailed by hostile energies). I would have to disagree with the role of admins. Sometimes admins can be bullies. Other times they are very effective at curbing bullying. It's just inconsistent. I've been subject to bullying behavior of at least one admin and was unable to even get any remedy for that from ArbCom so the admin is still doing his thing to others. I see it happening. Railroading a good editor into a block recently, in a McCarthy style inquisition. I went back and looked at the blocked editor's record and it was pretty darn clean and their edits were pretty darn good. I also don't see WP:INVOLVED being observed by admins who just don't want to observe it. There was a blatant case of this in the last months in a closing of an RfC that i set up at Monsanto legal cases where an admin who had become involved closed the RfC and then refused to recuse or re-open it when asked, and AN refused to do anything about it. So the remedies that should exist do not always work because they depend on the character and judgments of he people who come to the case, and often those are the ones who are attracted to it because they have a bone to pick. I think it may be matter of critical mass, a culture of Wikipedia matter. If we get enough people aware of the dynamics of bullying and gaslighting and this sort of thing, then maybe there would be a critical mass and it could be addressed. I don't think we're there yet. That's why i proposed this task force -- to have some people who are aware of the dynamics, recognize them, and know how to intervene appropriately and help people who are being ganged up on. SageRad (talk) 10:29, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Or it could be that the problem is you. Do you have any theory as to why it is that in multiple interactions with others who don't know each other you somehow wind up feeling bullied every time, and yet others here (me, for example) find Wikipedia to be mostly full of helpful and friendly people, plus a few easily-ignored jerks? Could the difference be in our respective behavior towards others? I'm just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 10:53, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Ok, enough of this. The problem is not me. I am not perfect but i recognize bullying behavior when i see it. Enough of this blaming the victim thing. It's the very nature of the gaslighting dynamic that is a serious issue. I do not claim perfection of judgment, but the continual use of this trope that if someone brings up the subject of bullying behaviors then that person is the problem is really a problem in itself. I find a lot of friendly people here and i also do find a minority, but a powerfully vocal and bullying minority, of people who are abusive to others, who follow others around to be mean to them, who seem to take pleasure in being emotionally abusive, who like to call others "stupid" in so many words (like the somehow-acceptable constant use of the stupid term "Dunning-Kruger effect" for instance) and then get no consequences from doing so, because of alliances with some very similar admins, a "good old boys" network. So no, it's not me. I assure you it's not me. There's a problem of abusive behavior here. Others see it. Some wish to deny it. That's predictable. SageRad (talk) 11:09, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad, I agree that this is not about you. Regardless of previous conflicts you may have been in, you brought this to the idea lab as something that should be judged by its own merits, and that's how it should be discussed, not on judgments of the editor who brought it forth. It is unfortunate that the issue has been sidetracked by previous disagreements. If a different editor had brought this idea here, then the discussion would be much different. If we were to omit all discussion regarding you personally, this section would be much shorter.  DiscantX 12:28, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
By and large, the idea has been discussed on its own merits, and it has been found wanting. SageRad, however, has rejected any and all criticisms of his idea as being "unproductive" or "unhelful" - clearly they are not really open to discussion at all, what they want is simply validation. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes "God answers all prayers; sometimes the answer is 'no'" BMK (talk) 19:27, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Let's remain polite. I think that most people here would agree that bullying (real or perceived) is a problem from time to time. However, the dominant sentiment in this (indeed overly long) thread seems to be that the proposed cures are worse than the disease, due to the subjective nature of (perceived) bullying. I agree with that sentiment and would suggest to close this with the conclusion that there is no consensus to take actions at this moment in time. Arnoutf (talk) 20:41, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
SageRad, I deliberately tried to recast the problem because the term "bullying" implies intent on the part of the critic. I think it's easier to look for solutions that don't require assuming this intent. Nonetheless, you've posted your concerns in a number of places now, so hopefully you've been able to find some like-minded persons. I suggest you move onto the next phase: start a project page and get everyone interested in doing something regarding this issue to discuss what to do next. isaacl (talk) 23:37, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Why are we talking about bullying when we already have Wikipedia:Harassment? What does the term "bullying" add except for a slight K-12 kind of flavoring? Drmies (talk) 21:17, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
We do have an essay on WP:Bullying. It states that it expands on the civility policy and the policy on article ownership. That is consistent with my observation that, when there actually is bullying (and the OP and I disagree on how often there actually is bullying), it is usually associated with article ownership behavior. As noted, we also have the harassment policy. Robert McClenon (talk) 22:03, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
    • I have some theories based on how this thread was started. None of them reflect well on the initiator. --NeilN talk to me 21:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

What the world needs now is...Guides[edit]

Tossing this in at the tail end, maybe all that's needed to resolve a lot of real and perceived bullying, lone editors being swarmed, and various ownership issues - not every one, but some, maybe even the majority - is an informal but defined volunteer role of Guide, to step in with a few words of orientation and context for individual editors (usually new editors, or editors new to more intense editing environments) who may be getting in over their heads in a particular discussion.

  • A Guide would offer a brief, blunt and practical explanation, advice and some context in a contentious or potentially adversarial situation, and provide a couple of links to examples and resources. A generic example of a Guide comment might be:
"You may be absolutely correct, and other editors out there may agree with you, but the way things are going right here and now, arguing the way you are, you only open yourself up to [a world of frustration/an argument that you will never win/getting blocked for edit warring/whatever fits]. Better to step back, maybe take a day to read these examples of how similar discussions can go. Also, thoroughly examine these [specific policies and guidelines relevant to the discussion], because most Wikipedia rules are open to case-by-case interpretation, and are at times entirely misused. Content discussion on Wikipedia can get pretty intense, so it's best to be familiar with the territory before diving in. :)"
  • Guide comments could be inserted in a Talk page or noticeboard discussion, or in User talk (selected for the situation, both ways have advantages).
  • If Guides gain traction, a simple Guide Resource page would develop, with handy links and boilerplate for common situations. (Kept clear and straightforward, the page itself would likely become a useful resource its own.)
  • The Guide concept relies on simplicity and the intuitive participation of each volunteer - it's not mentoring of any sort, only a quick word of advice in passing. Probably just a couple of basic rules like "one Guide comment, one Guide reply" or "get in, say your piece, get out," and, "you're helping to level the playing field, not taking sides," are all the starting rules it needs.
  • Guides provides a bit of structure to what at times happens anyway, to see if a culture and best practices emerge. As with everything else around here, certain types of editors will gravitate to this role, and if they are the right types, this should be a relatively easy bootstrap startup.

We are continually encouraged to focus on content, however, when editing gets intense, comments of one sort or another on behavior are always in the mix, so why not cut to the bottom line and have someone say plainly what needs to be said about a discussion reality, before it turns into a capital case? --Tsavage (talk) 01:03, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

I appreciate this greatly, Tsavage. In fact, this is quite a bit like what i was envisioning, and in fact what i've been doing in a few cases recently where i noticed a bewildered new user up against the culture of Wikipedia old timers who can cite the alphabet soup and use the various tropes that i am now familiar with after 8 or 10 months of editing, and now i can understand and not be shocked or daze by. I've helped out in a couple of recent cases where an editor seemed to be railroaded or up against a group of people saying how bad they were, when in fact their edits looked actually like the better ones in the mix, and thereby gave them a bit of solidarity. So i agree wholeheartedly with the idea of guides, roving guides you might say, with a nose to the dynamics of power and domination that can go on. Though i may not always say "just step back and back off" as my advice, i may also weigh in, in the editor's defense, and say against the crowdthink, that the editor actually appears to be doing good work and to be misrepresented here, in other words, to be their momentary advocate, which can give them a feeling that they're not actually crazy to think that reason and dialogue ought to win the day rather than mobbing. Or maybe the new user may just be mistaken about sourcing requirements, or trying to insert original research, or something else where they are actually in the wrong but it's not been explained in a simple and friendly way yet, so they got oppositional. Could be very situational. I very much appreciate your phrasing it in this way, as guides, or i would also say "advocates" perhaps, which may be less troubling to others than the term "task force" which sounds like it wields authority, which is not what i intended to convey. More like a group of helpful and knowledgeable people with an understanding of the power dynamics that occur on Wikipedia, hard-won wisdom coming from time spent here, not always apparent to a newbie. SageRad (talk) 14:49, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Practical matters[edit]

  • As a practical matter, if user A feels bullyied by user M, he must simply tell user M: "please do not comment about me anywhere", and the chances are user M. will do exactly that. During my editing here I received such request only once (from a user I actually liked) and respected it. However, it often happens that user A "pings" user M., makes comments about user M., starts and continues discussions with user M., and so on. If that happens, none of the users has been actually bullied or harassed. My very best wishes (talk) 17:02, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

General, non-spam blacklist?[edit]

I know we have a spam blacklist, but do we have a unique blacklist for sites that are definitively established as unreliable by various Wikiprojects/the greater community? And if not, why not? I've been doing a lot of editing in the world of Indian cinema over the last year or more, not out of familiarity or interest in the niche, but out of frustration with the corruption that is so obvious and rampant. If the Indian cinema task force were to conclude through discussion that various sites were not deemed reliable, (let's say and they'd still have to manually remove thousands of unreliably sourced submissions each year, because there's nothing preventing the addition of these sources except for eagle-eyed editors, and the bulk of editing in this realm is by SPAs, sock farms, paid editors, and people who seem to think that the most recent higher box office estimate is the most accurate estimate, regardless of where it comes from. That sucks up a ton of volunteer time unnecessarily. This isn't limited to Indian cinema of course, because any time that someone submits a reference from, that too should be on the blacklist, since nothing at that discussion forum is of value to the project. Or Wikia? Thoughts? Cyphoidbomb (talk) 03:10, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I've tried getting a series of scanlation websites that distributed copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright owners put on the blacklist one time, but was rejected because it was considered "proactive" and there was no evidence of abuse. The original list was the catalyst for User:TheFarix/Scanlation websites, which I scan through every once in a while to find links to be removed. —Farix (t | c) 13:15, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
TheFarix That's a lot of hard work to go ignored! Blacklisting sites that promote copyright violations seems like the academically correct thing to do. Although what would we do about YouTube, which contains a mix of copyright violations and decent stuff? Moot point, I suppose. Cyphoidbomb (talk) 17:53, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion we ought to at least make considerations for scenarios such as this, where highly-unreliable sources are being utilized en masse. Unrelated to the realm of cinema, there are almost 2,000 links to skyscraper enthusiast website SkyscraperCity. These links appear as cited references within the Wikipedia articles, and nearly all of them redirect to the SkyscraperCity web forum (WP:USERGENERATED content). [2] I have brought up this concern today on WP:ANI at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Continued_disruptive_editing_by_Mohsin17 and am interested as to current best practices when confronted with these situations. Regards, Yamaguchi先生 (talk) 02:17, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The examples above look to me exactly as spam, and they have been actually used for spamming already (that's important). So, I think they can be simply reported to the existing spam blacklist noticeboard. However, blacklisting websites simply because they are not reliable sources in general, but still can be used for sourcing certain specific claims or represent useful links, is not a good idea. My very best wishes (talk) 04:41, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
    • Thank you My very best wishes. What might the negative impact(s) be if, for example, were to be added to the English Wikipedia Spam-blacklist? There would be at least one legitimate use case at SkyscraperCity out of the 1,934 existing links back. I should state that I am relatively new to this aspect of Wikipedia, advice is welcome. Regards, Yamaguchi先生 (talk) 18:18, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
      • I don't even see a legitimate use case at SkyscraperCity, considering the reference is simply a link to the forum's home page, not even to an about page, as the reference claims (in fact the Wiki article's existence here is dubious to begin with — it's been AfD'd 3 times with the result delete each time, why is it still here?). In my opinion, there would be little negative impact to blacklisting a forum of this sort. The only time I could see a negative impact is if a post were made by someone important in the field and it would be prudent to use the link as a primary reference, though in this case it seems rather unlikely and if it were to be required I'm sure some kind of exception could be made in that one instance.  DiscantX 09:20, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Disable AFC submission from user sandboxes[edit]

I would like to propose that the ability to submit a user sandbox to Articles for Creation be disabled. The ability to submit a subpage of a user sandbox, a subpage of a user, or a draft page should be the ways to submit an article to Articles for Creation. The direct submission of sandboxes to AFC has several problems. First, as User:Anne Delong has wisely observed, sometimes when a sandbox draft is good, the sandbox is moved by a reviewer either first into draft space and then into article space, or directly in article space. This results in a redirect from the sandbox, and the creation of the redirect is in the sandbox history as an edit by the accepting reviewer. Then if the sandbox is reused by the user, which is permitted, it has a weird edit history. As a result, if the new draft in the sandbox is tagged for speedy deletion, or moved into draft space and nominated for MFD, or any of various similar actions taken, the accepting reviewer is notified of the action, and she had nothing to do with it. That is a problem that occasionally happens if the draft is good. On the other hand, at AFC, I have often seen sandboxes submitted to AFC that were not draft articles. They may have been test edits, permitted in sandboxes, or they may have been user page drafts. However, the inexperienced editor submitted the sandbox to AFC, probably not knowing that they were submitting it to AFC. This makes it necessary for an AFC reviewer to decline the draft politely as probably not meant to be a draft. So submission of sandboxes can cause problems either if the draft is good or if the draft is not meant to be a draft. Don't enable primary user sandboxes to be submitted for AFC. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:46, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Community Voting or Flagging of false dangerous or misleading information, similar to Web of Trust.[edit]

Users could login via open ID, facebook, email or wiki profile.. or not even login with IP, OS, Hardware, User facial recog id in order to enforce voting for truthful, safe and accurate information on wikipedia, including similar trust ranking factors for MLA cited content. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:30, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

What do you mean? Arnoutf (talk) 12:49, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
1) Wikipedia has already a lot of templates for flagging "false dangerous or misleading information", starting with [citation needed], see for instance Category:All articles with unsourced statements or Category:Articles needing expert attention etc. And these templates are more specific than some "trust ranking" number.
Article feedback tool phase 2
2) Voting on article quality isn't really working. Been there, done that. See the wikimania2012 video (30 min), and User:Protonk/Article_Feedback, File:Measuring_Quality_Content_Wikimania_2012.pdf, mw:Article_feedback/Research/February_2011 etc. --Atlasowa (talk) 12:54, 28 November 2015 (UTC)