Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 126

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Viewing edit history/old talk pages on deleted articles?

I recently learned that there is no way to view the edit history or old talk pages for deleted pages (unless I guess you are an admin?). This seems contrary to the "Wikipedia spirit" in a way. I asked this on the help desk and everyone said, why should everyone be able to see a deleted page, in that case what's the point of deleting? That argument doesn't make sense to me. Why should be able to see ANY edits then? If someone adds non-notable/reliable content to an existing page, anyone can go look at the history. But for some reason if there is a whole article that's not notable/reliable, no one can view it.

Reasons why this might be useful to be able to view:

  • If I'm adding an article myself, and someone already added it in the past but then it was deleted, it may be helpful to see that someone tried already and possibly see discussion on a talk page about the issues with the article, or read the article to view its issues in order to avoid them, etc.
  • Maybe an article wasn't notable in the past, but now it is, and some of the information in the old article would be useful to have rather than needing to rewrite everything. Fake example: Let's say there is a complex physics theory that right now is really new and up and coming and not notable. Then two years later, it becomes notable due to a lot of press about it. Two years ago, someone went through and summarized all the complex math/science/technical jargon into a great encyclopedia article, but it was deleted for not being notable. That information is all still valid, but now it's notable. But the fact that no one can copy/paste that previously written article delays the creation of a new article, or maybe doesn't delay it but results in a poorer quality article because the technical jargon is hard to summarize into an encyclopedia article and takes a lot of effort.
  • Transparency - why can't I see old deleted articles' history if I CAN see old deleted content on existing articles? Even just from a curiosity standpoint.
  • Let's say two articles are merged into one and the old article is deleted. I disagree with this and I want to see the discussion as well as the old article's page history and talk page, so I can see whether the merger seems appropriate or not and form my own opinion. Sometimes this discussion might exist on the merged-into article's talk page, but it may not all be there, and in any case, being able to actually see the deleted article could be useful. Also let's say that later, notability changes over time dictate that it might be a good idea to unmerged, but everyday users can't actually see the old article and thus it may need to be unnecessarily rewritten from scratch (related to points above).

Would like some clarity around the reasons for this. Thanks! -KaJunl (talk) 22:47, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

Deletion is not only done for non-notable reasons. Attack articles are deleted for libel reasons. Copyright violations are deleted for legal reasons. Nonsense and vandalism is deleted for obvious reasons.

Even in terms of non-notable deletions, why would you want to view it? You wouldn't want to copy that information anyways. It was deleted for a reason. Mirroring or going off of that data will just result in another deletion. This discussion has been talked about dozens upon dozens of times. Non-admins being able to view deleted content is not going to happen for the reasons above and many more. For more information on this perennial proposal see this. --Majora (talk) 23:01, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the link, I'm glad to know this has been discussed and I'm not alone here. I'm sure I'm being a pain, but I still think it warrants further discussion. To answer your question, I believe I gave a reason above - maybe I would want to copy it, because maybe it was deleted for not being notable but now it is notable. To your point about attacks/copyright.. I could buy this, except much of that, when it happens in an existing article, does remain visible to the public, so I don't understand why deleted articles are any different than deleted edits (which are also deleted for a reason). I'll shut up now and let anyone else chime in who cares; otherwise I'll accept (for now) that my viewpoint is the minority. But I just wanted to voice my opinion on this. -KaJunl (talk) 23:50, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
@KaJunl: It is possible to ask an admin to send you the text of an article that has been deleted so you can take a look at it provided that there are not legal implications to its deletion (attack, copyvios, etc.). As for seeing it in other articles please notify an admin whenever you see something like this. Edits that rise to the level of attack can be removed under revision deletion criterion RD2. Copyright violations can be removed under RD1. The deletion of articles is only done when there is nothing left to salvage. If the article is new and there is no history that could be useful. Revision deletion is used when there is useful history that can be reverted back to. Once reverted the offending edits can be removed. --Majora (talk) 17:21, 20 March 2016 (UTC)
  • @KaJunl: If an article was deleted for non-notability reasons, and the notability situation has changed, and you think the deleted stub may have had useful content, you can request the deleting admin to restore it to your userspace for re-drafting purposes. This is a routine request and usually honored, unless the admin looks at the deleted version and sees that it was unsalvageable, or contained problems like copyvios, that cannot be undeleted.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:34, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
The two comments above are quite correct. As to the larger issue of viewing deleted content, there's actually nothing we can do about that even if we did want to. The Wikimedia Foundation has repeatedly made it clear that they will not approve of the granting of the right to view deleted content to anyone who has not gone through WP:RFA or an equivalent process. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beeblebrox (talkcontribs) 19:24, 21 March 2016‎ (UTC)
KaJunl You said "I'm sure I'm being a pain" - no, this is a great question. Some of the other respondents are suggesting that libel and copyright violations are common reasons for deletion, but actually, deletion for non-notability is the more common reason. Sometimes in these cases, the talk page will have useful conversation which ought to be preserved, but when the article is deleted, then so does the talk page. If it happens that later the article is recreated, and the topic really is notable, then often the old talk page discussion is forgotten and this is a bad thing.
The best practice would be that when a deleted topic is recreated, then all old talk page discussion ought to be restored and posted in the latest iteration. Currently if someone wants to do this, then they can get the old records by messaging an admin for undeletion, but this is not a standard practice. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:31, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
I am generally happy to restore any article I deleted to a draft on request provided it does not meet one of the more severe speedy deletion criteria such as G10 or G12. Even then, I am happy to give a brief summary of the article's history (eg: "I can't restore the article as it was a confirmed copyvio of [link]"). Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 11:17, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
There are lots of reasons why editors would want to see deleted revisions. For example I once had someone asking why a particular diplomat had been deleted per A7; I was able to explain that I didn't know if the deleted article was about the same person or someone else of the same name, but as it had focussed entirely on his career as a "pro" skateboarder I would ignore it when writing about the diplomat. In my view the solution is for all established, clueful editors to become admins. Our declining number of admins is a problem, and the solution is to appoint more. ϢereSpielChequers 14:48, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
You can ask for a WP:REFUND if you're interested in a previously deleted article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:23, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

Tackling vandalism

Some people like this "vandalism", you know

I don't spend much time bothering with vandalism - it occasionally crops up on my watchlist and I revert it with a disinterested yawn. Very occasionally, I will block without bothering to leave any template or notice. I think WP:RBI and WP:DENY are good practices to follow. Anything more than this is diverting my attention away from improving the encyclopedia.

With this in mind, I have been concerned for some time about things like the Counter-Vandalism Unit Academy. Putting aside the name sounds like something the Government would give to something once called Counter-Vandalism Secondary Modern, this really does seem like a solution in need of a problem and is giving too much attention to what should be a low-key task done with the minimum of fuss. Any time we are spent in a lather of managing those who screw around is not improving content. In particular, I think templating clear and obvious vandals is a complete waste of time, and would be interested in any evidence that such warnings are actually successful in making people suddenly stop and make good faith edits. My experience shows that somebody who is only interested in bad-faith contributions will never show any sign of repentance and reformation, so why bother? I am concerned about things like a "leaderboard" that seems to be "making important what one can measure" and appears in my view to go against the philosophy that Wikipedia is not about winning.

So what can we do? The obvious thing is to make our automated tools such as ClueBot do more of the grunt work. When we process vandalism, do we add the reverted material to a Bayesian filter corpus that allows the bot to be even more effective and minimize false policies? If not, why not? ClueBot isn't perfect - I've seen it revert good faith edits (in all cases they were made by IPs with no edit summary) and logged false positives. We should be delegating out boring, repetitive work to machines wherever possible, leaving the humans to do the creative job of writing content. I'd also like to ask people to think about whether they have an effective audience before they hit their "template spam" buttons, and I would question admins who refuse to block unless somebody has got a particular "quota" of warnings. Save your warnings for the good faith but disruptive editors.

This property has been officially tagged as problematic, but that won't make it look nice

I don't hope to get the CVUA dismantled tomorrow and all editors redistributed to working on improving articles to FAC, but I thought I'd lodge these thoughts here and see what people have to say about it. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 10:50, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

I do agree with you, but unfortunately one of the most important guidelines of Wikipedia is for whatever reason WP:AGF (and by extension WP:BITE, though both technically don't apply to vandalism), which your thoughts seem to be a bit short on (probably for good reason). As long as people think that matters, there's no chance of this reality becoming accepted. ansh666 11:54, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
Hopefully most people can tell the difference between vandalism and for instance a teenager without social graces who is trying to contribute and might have got things wrong. The problem is that there are quite a few editors who can't really tell the difference and need rules to guide their actions. Dmcq (talk) 12:29, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm sure it's exceeding rare, but I once saw a vandal-turned-contributor. I used that case as the subject of a canned RFA question I used to ask about second chances. –xenotalk 13:43, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
I don't expect there to be many vandals who reform and become good editors. I have met three former vandals over the years, but I think in all cases it was more a matter of growing up rather than being reformed. But I don't see the multiple layers of vandalism warnings as being there for the genuine vandals. I see them as protecting the people who make honest mistakes, both in editing and in identifying vandalism (my only smartphone edit could easily have been seen as vandalism - my thumbs being too big for the keys on my smartphone). Yes we do get goodfaith editors who mistake editing disagreements with vandalism, and it is easier for everyone if they start off dishing out level 1 warnings. I suspect we could dispense with one or more levels of warnings, and I've often blocked people whose first edit or three was blatant and unmistakable bad faith vandalism. But I'd be loathe to tamper too much with that system, not least because it works better than many systems we have, but also because of the unexpected. It is only a year or three ago that we had a major problem with visual editor being rolled out too early, and many newbies making goodfaith edits that looked like vandalism. For example users of Visual Editor would unintentionally delete entire infoboxes simply by hitting backspace. To my mind the crazy thing is that we go straight to blocks for editwarring whilst giving multiple warnings for vandals, I think the logic there is that we don't have systems to monitor edit warrers through multiple warnings. But it is a damaging anomaly. As for improving Cluebot and the edit filters, that has been going on for many years now, at some point we might hit a wall and I think we are already at the point where putting more obscure logic into the edit filters would slow everyone's save times. ϢereSpielChequers 14:20, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
What really gets my goat is things like this, this, this, this (four templates warnings inside half an hour) and topped off with a report on AIV, seemingly without any thought that the newbie might have difficulty communicating or using the increasingly arcane and outdated user interface. And that's from a highly experienced former administrator no less! Okay, I deleted the article in question, but there was no need to sound like Robocop and falsely accuse someone of vandalism, was there. And this is just one example I found this afternoon. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 16:49, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
Ah Newpage patrol. That's been a newbie biting and problematical area for years. See WP:NEWT for some interesting conflicts about that. I don't think that Special:RecentChanges is quite as bad, and I'm pretty sure that most vandalism and most AIV reports come from edits to existing articles rather than the creation of new articles. Where I see a problems at recent changes are in our handling of goodfaith but unhelpful edits, and true but unsourced edits. We also have a problem that a small minority of vandalism slips through unnoticed. If we had wp:flagged revisions as the German language Wikipedia does then we could be sure that every newbie edit was looked at at least once, as it is some are looked at many times and some not at all. ϢereSpielChequers 17:06, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
I've just had a situation recently where I've identified a persistent non-IP vandal, who previously had what appears to be constructive edits some years ago, but for a period of the last 6+ months made minor edits to introduce errors on 20+ pages -- changing figures, minor facts, that kind of thing. I've level 2 warned, they've returned to make another vandalised change, and I've final-warned. What's to stop the user just changing accounts, and continuing their infrequent subtle vandalism? With that kind of pattern, should I just final warn immediately and AIV thereafter? My reading is I can't; my gut is I should. Advice would be appreciated. Thanks, ~Hydronium~Hydroxide~(Talk)~ 12:24, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
The Academy is pretty well defunct as can be seen from "List of available trainers" and the page history. On the general point, what is being recommended? - that vandals should be left to vandalise without let or hindrance, damaging important articles temporarily or indefinitely? or that they should be blocked on sight? Most of us who sometimes revert vandalism don't have our own block button, so need a procedure for informing admins of recurrent offenders. If it became normal to send a first offence to AIV without prior warning then AIV would be swamped. Four warnings as standard may be too many; but warnings (a) will discourage some offenders so they don't continue, (b) inform good-faith users of shared IPs that someone else there is misusing their Wikipedia access, (c) make the problem visible to other editors. Yes vandalism does need to be correctly identified but I'm not seeing a specific policy improvement that Ritchie's concerns are pointing to. Keeping a tight lid on the less sophisticated forms of vandalism is important to protect the work of the content creators, and is likely to always need a large element of human judgement: Noyster (talk), 19:57, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

I'll only comment on one aspect as others have been mentioned. A large majority of vandals stop after a couple of warnings. They might have stopped anyway (in fact, likely would have). But the point is, a block would not have been necessary. So requiring enough warnings means that blocks are made only when truly necessary. If vandals were reported sooner to admins, admins would waste their time going through the reports, making unnecessary blocks, and it would thus take longer to deal with the persistent vandals that do need blocking. We don't have enough admins to handle every vandalism edit. Doing away with the requirement to warn vandals would quite simply ruin the system. (AIV would be a constant backlog of dozens of reports... such an experiment wouldn't last long.) Cenarium (talk) 18:11, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

RfC: Suggested change in the Wikipedia Blocking Policy

Blocking is very important in cases where the user indulge in persistent personal attacks, vandalism, copyright issues, etc. However, as identified by the community numerous times, newcomers are often not totally aware of the policies and guidelines that are ought to be followed on Wikipedia. Even after repeated warnings, some new users try to contribute to Wikipedia in good faith and end up being blocked to prevent further disruption. They are even blocked from editing pages in their namespace. I'd like to raise an idea here. What if perpetual disruptive editors were allowed to edit their user namespace, or, at least their Sandbox and possibly create draft articles, while gradually getting acquainted with the rules here. Editing their own namespace has little possibility to disrupt Wikipedia.

NOTE-This does not apply to users indulging in defamation, personal attacks, copyright violations, or clearly deliberate vandalism. It only applies to good faith, but consistent disruptive edits to Wikipedia. Please comment your thoughts. --Rollingcontributor (talk) 13:26, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Maybe, but if "It only applies to good faith, but consistent disruptive edits to Wikipedia" that's not the typical case of a block. I'd make it an option that a blocked user can request if she wants to work on WP editing without carrying on the behavior that led to the block. The exact restrictions (not just to their User, User talk, and subpages but also potentially topic restrictions) should be negotiated via an unblock request. Dicklyon (talk) 15:17, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
A considerable number of new users are usually unaware of what they can do to continue contributing even after a block (And that lack of knowledge may be the reason they're blocked in the first place). I do agree that the restrictions can be negotiated via unblock requests, but it'd be easier for the users to have their user namespace not blocked by default. Doing so would enable faster resolution of blocks and lesser confusion among new users.Rollingcontributor (talk) 15:37, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • This isn't so much a change in policy as it is a change in technical reality; it is the software that forces blocks on all but the individual's user talk space. That said, I think one of the most important things to have happen after a block is discussion (what went wrong, how can I improve, etc etc). I would prefer to see more developer focus on implementing something like Flow, which would allow newbies to easily communicate with the regulars, rather than spending time opening up other pages to blocked users in some cases. Ajraddatz (talk) 16:59, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Sure, but when/if we have a consensus, we can ask for software support. I'm not sure what Flow is, but if it's a different technical system that editors would need to learn to communicate, as opposed to editing talk pages, I'd think that would not be a great move. Dicklyon (talk) 02:31, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
      • There are honestly enough tech projects going on right now, but you are correct, if there was consensus they'd do it eventually. And one of the reasons why Wikipedia was so successful early on was because it was relatively easy to communicate with people. Now, we are still living in 2001 when it comes to user-user communication. Initiatives to improve that would certainly be a great move. Ajraddatz (talk) 02:38, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Dick, see WP:Flow. Or, more immediately, see a page like mw:Talk:VisualEditor, where it's in use. It's not feature-complete but the basics are present; User:Quiddity (WMF) can tell you more about it. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 03:35, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment - Is this is meant to be the default state of a blocked user, or an alternate state that can be given to a blocked user on probation? If it is the former, to let her keep access to her user page, user subpages, and sandbox, I will Weakly Support it. If this is meant to be an alternate state that can be given to a good-faith disruptive new editor, I will Oppose it for reasons based on my experience at AFC that indicate that encouraging new users to create complete articles in a vacuum is the wrong approach. As it is, too many editors come to Wikipedia wanting to create one article, not wanting to learn how to assist with multiple Wikipedia tasks such as editing other articles. Sending well-meaning but disruptive editors off with the assignment to create an article while blocked from editing outside their own space will send the message that they don't need to collaborate because they can just work in a corner. They won't even be able to ask for advice at the Teahouse. Would this be the normal state of blocked users, or a form of probation? If the latter, it is the wrong sort of probation. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:23, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't think on a technical level, an edit can just be allowed to mess around with their userspace alone. It's either a block with access to their user talk page or free reign. If the argument is that "an editor messing around in their userspace is not really hurting anyone so don't bother them," that's a terrible approach given the number of attack pages, BLP violations and other problematic userspaces I have seen. If the editor makes an unblock request saying that they will keep themselves away from certain problems (away from all of mainspace would be very weird), and that's agreed upon, that's fine but that's up to the admin corp on enforcing that. The other issue is that typically the problems occur when they interact with other people and if they aren't around others, that doesn't actually treat the problem so much as hide it. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 21:10, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

Schools and notability

Hello. I have a question about consensus regarding the notability of schools. I recently nominated a school article for deletion at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Good Shepherd English School, because I felt that the school did not meet our notability requirements, but also as a bit of a test case. The AfD has been closed as snow keep, after some editors pointed to WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES, which suggests that secondary school articles are typically kept. Now, that page is not presenting a policy or guideline, but rather summarising typical results of AfD discussions. Isn't closing an AfD as keep because an essay says that such AfDs are typically closed as keep a case of circular reasoning, though? How would one challenge this consensus? If I try to challenge WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES, then editors there can reasonably point to all of the recent AfD keeps, but some of those articles are clearly being kept precisely because of WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES. It would be interesting to hear other editors' thoughts on this. How and where would one go about challenging this consensus, for instance? Cordless Larry (talk) 16:18, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

I agree entirely about the circular reasoning; in fact, as it happens, i was thinking about this exact circular issue just the other day, but i don't really see a way around it, without a large consensus that it is not the best way to do things. The issue, i suspect, is that many people would like their school to have an article, but without the summary they are not likely to. I don't have a good solution; i imagine raising it here and there will probably not do anything other than cause people to point out how long-established this outcome is, whether it is right or wrong; cheers, LindsayHello 16:33, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, LindsayH. I guess my thoughts are that if there is indeed such a consensus, then this should be written in the notability guideline for organisations, rather than being left to a page that summarises what usually happens, but is actually being used as a guide to what should happen. Cordless Larry (talk) 16:40, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
This discussion is related to #Rechallenging the right for any type of school to have its own article!. --Izno (talk) 16:41, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
So it is, Izno. It was stupid of me not to check and see that. Cordless Larry (talk) 16:47, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
I've made it clear more than once that I disagree with the consensus inregards to schools but as far as I know nothing can be done really, Some schools here are poorly sourced and IMHO should be deleted or atleast face deletion but I (like many others) know it'd be closed as keep regardless of notability so in the long run it'd be a waste of time, Personally I would like to see it changed but I know it'd never happen but anywho that's just my 2¢. –Davey2010Talk 16:49, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
I respectfully submit that there is no such consensus. WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES is an essay, not a guideline, and so does not represent consensus. On its face, it only appears to describe what has previously been decided. For that reason, User:Cordless Larry and I would suggest either that the AFD be re-opened and to run for at least 7 days, or taken to Deletion Review as a good-faith misunderstanding of an essay as a guideline. Robert McClenon (talk) 19:14, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
It does not make the consensus; it records the consensus. Pretty much every secondary school article has been kept for years now. In what way is that not a consensus? You may not agree with it, but it doesn't make it any less valid. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:46, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
I suppose I'm not so concerned with challenging the consensus for now, so much as challenging the circular reasoning and the principle that a summary of typical AfD outcomes is being used to justify AfD outcomes. Cordless Larry (talk) 16:57, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
Hi Robert McClenon, Sorry I've only just seen your repliy, I've reverted and relisted the AFD and have cited the discussion there aswell, Thanks, –Davey2010Talk 19:32, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict)@Davey2010: In order for this to happen, it would require people closing AfDs to stop regarding WP:OUTCOMES as a guideline rather than an essay, and to treat arguments which rely upon exclusively as any other poor "other stuff exists" argument. You closed the discussion that started this section as a snow keep even though there were two people supporting deletion (including the nominator), and three people saying keep, and you used the closing rationale "All sec/high schls are keep per SO". That is a much bigger problem than people using it as their argument because you're making the argument valid, effective, and giving it practical guideline status. With a guideline, it can suffice to say "satisfies WP:NALBUMS #2". But we have no such guideline for schools. Let it be proposed as a guideline if there is consensus to do so. I suspect, however, that there is only enough support to make any movement in either direction seem like, as you put it, a waste of time. If you don't want people to treat an essay like policy, don't validate its use as policy. Outcomes can inform but not dictate future outcomes. (I'm directing this at you, Davey, but only because of the context in which this issue is coming up this time). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 17:25, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
That's an extremely good point .... I simply close them as if I don't someone else will and if it doesn't get closed the keeps tend to pile on (I've purposely left these open before and all that's happened is more keeps have piled on and more editors got ratty with the nominator ....), I know this may sound stupid but I've never thought of it as in "I'm validating the policy" - I just close them without much thought ....., Yeah I guess me closing these at times isn't at all helpful despite my best intentions..... –Davey2010Talk 17:35, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for engaging with this constructively, Davey2010 and Rhododendrites. Here's an idea: how about we re-open that particular AfD, point out that WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES is not a guideline, and see what happens in the rest of the discussion? Is that possible or desirable? Cordless Larry (talk) 17:43, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
You ask whether we should re-open that particular AFD. Do you mean to revert the closure, which is generally considered disruptive, or do you mean to request Deletion Review? I don't see a need for the Ignore All Rules of re-opening arbitrarily, because that is what DRV is for. I agree as to appealing. For the time, I would suggest that all school AFDs that are closed, either as Keep for secondary schools simply citing WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES or primary schools as Delete simply citing WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES should be appealed to DRV. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:31, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
My idea was that Davey2010 could revert their own closure, Robert McClenon, which wouldn't seem disruptive to me. Anyway, it was just an idea and a left-field one at that. Cordless Larry (talk) 18:42, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
I agree that it is not disruptive for a closer to revert their own closure. Has the closer been pinged? Robert McClenon (talk) 18:44, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
Yes, in the comment above your first one, above. Cordless Larry (talk) 18:47, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I've reopened and relisted the AFD citing this discussion, Thanks, –Davey2010Talk 19:28, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Well, I seem to be in a minority here, but I strongly support SCHOOLOUTCOMES, both because it reflect consensus and because it makes sense. Almost all verified secondary schools get some kind of coverage, just as all professional athletes get some kind of coverage. Having a guideline like this not only follows previous consensus but avoids hours and hours of wrangling over whether a particular secondary school (or a particular athlete) is notable ENOUGH. It also avoids WP:Systemic bias by allowing for the fact that coverage may be difficult to find in non-English-speaking countries. --MelanieN (talk) 00:17, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
    • The problem is that it isn't a guideline at present, MelanieN. Surely it should be made one if there is consensus to do so, or otherwise not treated as if it were one? Its status as an outcomes essay which is being cited as a policy is the source of the issue here. Cordless Larry (talk) 14:05, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Noting that Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Good Shepherd English School has been closed as delete. Cordless Larry (talk) 18:40, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

See a new RfC on this topic here. Cordless Larry (talk) 14:59, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

Outcome Essays in General

In general, we have a number of outcomes essays, which, on their face, merely state what the usual results of AFDs are. However, they are often cited by !voters both to Delete and to Keep as if they were guidelines, and are sometimes cited by closers as if they were guidelines. This, as User:Cordless Larry points out, is circular reasoning. We need to approach this issue in one of two ways. Either we need to elevate the essays to the status of guidelines, or we need to add language to the essays stating that, since they are only essays and not guidelines, they may not be cited by closers, and citing them by participants in deletion discussion has no strength of argument. If we want to elevate them to the strength of guidelines, we can either change the language in them, or we can merge them into existing guidelines, such as corporate notability guidelines. If we wish to have them continue to be only essays, then caveat language should be added to them that they may not be cited by closers and any citations to them should be ignored by closers (and citing them by closers is an error that can be appealed by DRV). There are several outcome essays that are similar, such as one about clergy, but the school outcomes one is the most controversial. We need to do one of two things, to upgrade the outcomes essays to guidelines, or to clarify that the outcomes essays may not be cited. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:45, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

  • I have found that it sometimes helps to address the OUTCOMES issue, right up front, in the nomination. Acknowledge the existence of the "presumption", spell out your attempts (and failure) to find sources, and explain why the specific topic in question is an exception to the usual outcome. This establishes that you are aware of the norm, and are acting in good faith in your nomination. Blueboar (talk) 20:43, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • The argument that is made when these are challanged is tha on Wikipedia policy follows practice, and so if in many cases all schools are kept, that demonstrates a consensus to do so, dn a guideline merely documents that consensus. i don't really agree, but that is the argument that makes this non-circular. DES (talk) 21:15, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • DES, what if people are arguing against deletion solely because of what the outcomes page says, though? Then, the page isn't reflecting consensus, but informing it. Cordless Larry (talk) 21:23, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Clarification is the answer. This is the correct approach: "we need to add language to the essays stating that, since they are only essays and not guidelines, they may not be cited by closers, and citing them by participants in deletion discussion has no strength of argument." There's no way these would be elevated to guidelines if attempts to elevate even WP:AADD and WP:BRD have failed. So, don't launch process with the knowledge that it will be a waste of time, just edit around the problem. And yes, it is a real problem. I'm dealing just today with a admin who cited an essay in a recent close and refuses to clean up the close, or revert the closure, and is taking a very hostile attitude about it. I'm considering closure review at WP:AN, despite the drama that entails. We need far fewer closes like this, based on opinion instead of policy reasoning.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:17, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Clarification/caveats as suggested. This has always seemed to me to be a form of ownership and sometimes an attempt to override policy/guidelines in specific areas. Doug Weller talk 13:58, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Caution I see little gain in upsetting the apple cart in such a thing of peripheral effect, and great risk of harm from new wars in largely settled matters, spilling out and replicating across the pedia (time suck, after time suck, upset user, after upset user, another issue sucked in, after another issue) - as they sometimes do (think infobox wars). -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:44, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I find this discussion rather funny. Since there had to have been consensus to put the outcome on the page in the first place, they should show the broad community consensus from even before they were added to the outcomes page, which is why they are cited as arguments - it's not circular reasoning at all. (And yes, in my opinion they should be guidelines, not essays.) ansh666 22:55, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Claiming that citing WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES is a circular argument shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the AfD process. It is not a circular argument at all. It is simply shorthand for: a consensus already exists so why are you bothering us with yet another AfD on a secondary school? Sometimes we just have to accept that consensus is against us and get on with other things; sadly those who don't like secondary school articles seem incapable of doing that. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:46, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
The problem is that each individual outcome is just that... An individual outcome. The fact that schools A through Y were all deemed notable has no baring on whether school Z is notable. An OUTCOME essay can be mentioned in the context of discussing the likelihood of notability, but not in the context of "proving" notability. The essay that counters the various OUTCOME essays is OTHERSTUFFEXISTS. Blueboar (talk) 14:14, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
And, yes, each individual school does stand on its own merits. The OUTCOMES page merely documents the consensus that secondary schools are presumed notable if they can be verified to exist. It isn't a "get out of jail free" card for all secondary schools. ansh666 22:46, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
Actually, that's not really true. OUTCOMES describes cases where the topics are generally kept because of consensus, and not necessarily because they are presumed notable; if it was the latter we would have already figured out an appropriate subject-specific notability guideline to drop this presumption into. OUTCOMES encourages circular reasoning because it is based on consensus upholding previous consensus, a feedback loop unto itself and extremely difficult to self-correct, and this is despite the cautions it gives to !voters and closing admins to not weigh too heavily on what OUTCOMES says it should be used for. --MASEM (t) 22:59, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
I don't see how "consensus upholding previous consensus" is a bad thing - sounds to me like that's how consensus is supposed to work. ansh666 10:42, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Secondary schools have been deleted when the content was not verifiable, as that is a policy requirement. Fences&Windows 00:52, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Left-field idea #19877647691 - Send SCHOOLOUTCOMES to MFD, I'd !vote to delete because of its chilling effect on legitimate debate - it is used as a club to beat up anyone who dares even think out loud that any high school might not actually be notable. Even closing admins cite this mere essay as if it is sacred scripture. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 09:45, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • What Necrothesp said. Really. Get on with your lives. --Tagishsimon (talk) 10:42, 25 March 2016 (UTC)

Avoid importing Wikidata at Infobox Telescope?

Template:Infobox telescope currently imports data from WikiData, an unreliable source. Even if citations are included in an article to support the data from WikiData at the time the citations are added, the WikiData information can change without any corresponding change in the citation. Should Infobox telescope be reverted to a version that does not import data from WikiData? Jc3s5h (talk) 12:46, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

  • Yes. Wikidata currently does not have enough eyes patrolling it to be a reliable source for an article, and there is no mechanism to alert editors on whose watchlists the article is that a change has been made due to a change in a Wikidata value. DES (talk) 13:23, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    Your statement regarding watchlists is false. Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-watchlist, "Show Wikidata edits in your watchlist". --Izno (talk) 13:27, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    I stand corrected on that point. DES (talk) 16:21, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • This is the wrong question to ask. We should instead be asking: "Is it time to trial Wikidata outside of the previous-consensus position? What, if anything, should be trialed?" --Izno (talk) 13:28, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • See also Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 124#Use of data from Wikidata, which makes it clear to me that we should have a broader discussion than that specific to this template. --Izno (talk) 13:40, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • And finally, Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Wikidata_Phase_2 is the standing consensus, the summary by the closer of which is:

    It is appropriate to modify existing infoboxes to permit Wikidata inclusion when there is no existing English Wikipedia data for a specific field in the infobox (option 4 of the first question). There is sufficient support for option 3 however, to indicate that this modification should be done carefully and deliberately, at least at first.

    It is, on the other hand, not appropriate to use Wikidata in article text on English Wikipedia at this time (option 1 of the second question). There is a valid point raised that while running text is clearly not suitable for Wikidata use, it might be worth discussing use in tables specifically – but not consensus regarding this has been reached in this discussion.

  • So this question is already preempted by a community consensus and should in accordance be closed. --Izno (talk) 13:55, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    I question the validity of Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Wikidata_Phase_2 because Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment is not a place to post, or hold, RfCs but rather a description of the RfC process. It is not the place a person interested in this topic would monitor to be aware that the RfC is in progress. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:08, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    It was widely advertised using multiple processes including WP:CENT and WP:RFC and WT:Wikidata. Your questioning is unfounded. --Izno (talk) 14:10, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    See also WP:RFC#Placing an RfC in a page other than a talk page. Subpages of WP:RFC are sometimes used. --Izno (talk) 14:12, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

Looking at the Hale telescope article as it existed at 20:35, 29 January 2016 UT, it doesn't seem this idea is working out very well:

  • The elevation is listed as 1,713 metre. I assure you there are no mountaintops in California that are 1713 millimeters above sea level. Also, this is a case of circular referencing; Wikipedia refers to ikiData, which imported the information from the English Wikipedia.
  • The location is given as Mount Palomar Observatory, Spain
  • WikiData gives the service entry date as 26 January 1949 UTC, with no citation. Presumably the unrecorded source is referring to local time in California. There is a strong posibility that the date, as stated in WikiData, is wrong. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:47, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

    You seem incorrectly to be interpreting the comma as a decimal point. This is incorrect per WP:DECIMAL.

    I expect the other concerns will be worked out as each article is converted to use Wikidata (except the date of course--Wikidata devs are working that now). --Izno (talk) 15:19, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

    @Jc3s5h: the elevation is listed in metres, not millimeters. The value in the infobox is repeated later in the article. I can't see where a spanish location is being given? The first light value matched what was in the article, I see it's now been locally overridden by yourself with a more precise time. References definitely need to be improved, but that's the case equally for infoboxes and wikidata (see my point below about this). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:33, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    Ah, the mention of Spain came in due to vandalism on Wikidata that was reverted after 30 mins. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:51, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I would favor revisiting that RfC. But in any case the terms of the RFC permit any editor to override the use of Wikidata in a particular instance by entering a field value directly in an infobox, subject to local editing consensus, of course. This is simply ordinary editing and does not require an RfC nor a discussion here. DES (talk) 16:18, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    Regarding "but in any case [...]", agreed. There is some potential for WP:GAMEing, but I think that can be dealt with as necessary. --Izno (talk) 16:29, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

Is it simply Wild West?

As discussion is stale and the only actual proposal has been firmly rejected, archiving this. Only in death does duty end (talk) 12:27, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I'm looking at serious ongoing behavioral issues, and don't know where to turn. WP:ANI doesn't seem to work. WP:NPOVN doesn't seem to work (although i would encourage everyone to watch that page and check it often to help others who are asking for help!) I have found admins who act abusively, instead of helping. I'm seeing bad editing practices all over the place. I'm seeing people unilaterally, archiving talk page sections that they don't like, re-reverting that when it's restored, refusing to acknowledge that it's a problem, insisting that there is consensus when there is not, hatting talk page sections that they don't like (to shut down the dialogue), people calling other editors names all the time, people using bad dialogue (like strawman/misrepresentation and rhetoric in place of substance) and the like. I'm seeing gang-like editing behaviors, where several editors seem to work together to maintain a page in a certain point of view. I'm seeing serious takeover of Wikipedia without a genuine regard to the policies. I'm seeing so much absurd stuff going on that it seems Wikipedia (at least in some topics) is broken. There is so much edit warring instead of discussion. There is unilateral action with complete impunity. There is very little actual enforcement of policies. There is WP:POV RAILROADing. I'm sorry i can't be more specific, but i have been observing these things in general for too long now, and the arbitrtion and enforcement structures simply do not work. It's broken. There is too much pushing and bullying. Where is the respect for each other and for "the sum of all human knowledge"? Rant over. Had to get that off my chest, and hope to hear your experiences, similar or different. SageRad (talk) 21:48, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

I agree with this wholeheartedly. To be added to Sage's list, I am also perceiving an increased tolerance of editors inappropriately editing others comments - to my mind this should be a clear line with swift and strong action taken if that line is crossed. Relatedly, I am also perceiving an increase in AN/I cases being closed by non-admins. Non-admins can not take action in such closures, therefore all these closures end with no action being taken when they perhaps should. Perhaps the policy of non-admins being allowed to close AN/I discussions needs to be reviewed. I feel this would help in avoiding the Wild West scenario.DrChrissy (talk) 22:12, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I noticed that too. I'm seeing a breakdown of Wikipedia. I think we've lost critical mass of editors with integrity and so the place has been taken over by pushy people with no scruples. Attempts at getting justice in terms of following policy seems to more often than not backfire into more bullying and pushing and ganging up and piling on. It's like Wikipedia has lost its immune system and at this point is even like it has an auto immune disease and attacks good people for doing the right thing. SageRad (talk) 16:20, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
@SageRad: See related Sanger item at WP:OTR.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:34, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I think you need to be honest about your own role in degrading the editing environment, rather than blaming everyone and everything else. You didn't come here to help build a reputable online reference work; you came here because you were upset about an argument you'd had on someone's blog, and you wanted to use that person's Wikipedia biography to get back at him. Your actions demonstrated petty motivations, making your high-minded appeals to Wikipedia's foundational principles hypocritical, to say the least. You were then topic-banned by ArbCom for repeatedly casting aspersions against other editors and degrading the quality of articles and sourcing. You should probably be honest about that background, rather than leaving it for someone else to point out.

In the end, you're basically someone who joined a game, tried to cheat at it, got caught, and now you run around telling everyone how stupid the game is. The game may or may not be stupid, but your motivations are so transparently self-serving that they invalidate your criticisms. MastCell Talk 16:27, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Wow, there you have aspersions, a level of attempted outing, lack of assumption of good faith, and lack of focus on content, and more. I actually meant everything I said above with full genuineness. It's borne of experience. I had a nasty learning curve in Wikipedia because I found myself in the thick of toxic editors with toxic practices. It could have gone a lot smoother. I really meant what I said above, now that I fully grasp the wisdom of the policies and yet see them being wildly disregarded so often. Please rescind your aspersion. This is not a game. Too many editors view it as such and act like it is a game but it's not. This is serious work. SageRad (talk) 16:33, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
No, it's just a hobby. WIJAGH, as in FIJAGH. Unless someone has a vested interest in what the content says, in which case those of us for whom it's a hobby have to spend hours of our time protecting the project, which is why it sometimes pisses us off a mite. Guy (Help!) 16:53, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
SageRad you said yourself here that you had a dispute with that blogger (and that statement makes it clear that you were violating WP:BLPCOI) and that is what got you blocked. There is no outing here; not even close. Just more self-righteous and self-deluded grand-standing. Jytdog (talk) 17:09, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
The things you describe are largely the inevitable result of the need to slow the decline in editor population. We must strike a balance between good behavior and editor retention. I believe that the balance is currently wrong, and I've for some time had this comment on my user page: How much disruption must we tolerate in the name of peace and editor retention? Something's wrong here. Change the balance and you will, regrettably, lose some productive editors who are unable to behave better. In my opinion, after the word got around that things had improved at Wikipedia, those losses would be replenished more than one-for-one by editors who were better behaved and, eventually, equally as productive. That's the strategy we'd be following ... if only I were in charge around here! Mandruss For President? ―Mandruss  16:35, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I wish you were president. I believe there would be better retention of good editors if some of the worst offending editors received sanctions for their bad behaviors. Who wants to contribute their good work and energy when bullies will just come and kick down the ornate sand castles they build? SageRad (talk) 16:39, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
There are several talk page stalkers who lurk and attack when it suits their purposes, but rarely make content contributions. These individuals can be easily recognised. They should be identified as such and weeded out.DrChrissy (talk) 16:44, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
You're too hard on yourself. Some of your edits are fine. Guy (Help!) 16:54, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Look, we can have a constructive discussion here, or we can devolve this into yet another pointless pissing match. These are real issues and any participant's motivations are irrelevant. Debate the points made and refrain from making things personal, please. ―Mandruss  17:11, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

That said, readers of this thread might care to take a look at the comments being made on JzG's Talk page.DrChrissy (talk) 17:14, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
That said, - That said and ignored. Your comment simply pours fuel on the fire. Others' behavior does not justify yours. ―Mandruss  17:22, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • JzG's comment should be struck. They've been pouring fuel on the fire for so long on this site I was shocked to learn they are admin. --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 20:34, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Mandruss, I must respectively disagree with your statement that editor's motivations are irrelevant. This thread (not your comment) is becoming yet another case of WP:POV railroad where the motivations behind edits are the very focus of the Wild West problem. This is why I suggested people look at JzG's talk page.DrChrissy (talk) 17:33, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Well good luck with that approach, which has been used countless times and never works except as a defensive strategy at ANI. If you wish to achieve meaningful change you need to stay above the fray. Just ignore any attacks (even clearly block-worthy personal attacks) and debate the points. ―Mandruss  17:41, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Fair enough - point taken.DrChrissy (talk) 17:44, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I do want to add that I have seen more and more cases in topic areas involving controversial, ideological issues that groups of editors appear to work together, often unintentionally, to maintain a specific viewpoint or eliminate counterviewpoints and rational discussions of such issues. Such groups will often rely on UNDUE, POV, and FRINGE to shut down such discussions or dismiss any counter arguments, which is not what these policies are meant to be used for for controversial subjects, as we are to document such controversies, not participate in them. These groups will often have editors that may not have, as we define it, a conflict of interest, but do have a vested interest to support a specific view or to refute a different view, which our guidelines caution people when they handle such articles. The problem that often happens is that it is difficult to separate this poor behavior from what would would normally be completely acceptable behavior in being vigilant against for a topic area that was being flooded by IPs and SPA accounts to include vandalism, false info, and BLP; this same behavior is generally needed to empower such users to combat unencyclopedic information. (case in point is the recent arbcom decision on the Indian/Pakistan topic area, where they empowered the 500 edits/30 days rule to avoid these type of accounts). There's a line here but it is very very fuzzy, and we're seeing acceptable behavior needed to handle the latter type of cases slipping more and more into other topic areas that are not as easy to deal with. There's no easy solution, since determining when this is happening requires throughout investigation of talk pages or direct experience in the situation, but there needs to be a better means to remind such groups of editors that page ownership is not acceptable practice for WP and cooperation with all editors particularly experienced ones are needed. --MASEM (t) 17:43, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment @SageRad: Sage, I'm wondering if between us we raised so many issues early in this thread that we have confused people. I think what we perhaps need to do is focus on just one of these. This is your thread and I am not attempting to hijack it, but I noticed you mentioned early on that you believe ANI is broken. I agree with you. Perhaps we should focus on this?DrChrissy (talk) 18:02, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I'd like to keep it on the whole gestalt... and not about any particular person, as was said above by Mandruss. I think this issue of general critical mass / tipping point of integrity, is interesting. SageRad (talk) 18:36, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
On the one hand, I agree with User:SageRad that WP:ANI is broken, and I agree with SageRad that there is too much tolerance of uncivil editors. I agree with User:DrChrissy that there is too much tolerance of editing other's talk page comments, which should result in a caution to new editors and a swift block to non-new editors. However, SageRad is very off the mark in saying that they had a rough learning curve because they came into the thick of toxic editors with toxic practices. They came into Wikipedia as a toxic editor. Whether the other editors were toxic is another question. User:MastCell is absolutely right that SageRad came in with a very biased agenda, and then characterized advice from non-admins that their incivility could lead to a block as "threats" and other advice as "punches to the face". SageRad is right that we are too tolerant of toxic editors, including of SageRad. I agree that WP:ANI is broken, but would welcome comments from reasonable editors. I agree that editing of other's comments on talk pages should not be tolerated. Robert McClenon (talk) 19:40, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Well if Robert McClenon himself feels the need to make this about individual editors rather than the issues, nothing more than an ANI thread in the wrong venue, I guess my pleas have been a waste of time. Enjoy the bickering and hat at will. ―Mandruss  19:46, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I did make comments about the issues. I agree tht WP:ANI is broken, and would welcome comments from reasonable editors like User:Mandruss on what to do about it. I did agree that altering of comments to mislead should not be tolerated. In the case that the latter is done by an admin, I would suggest arbitration and desysopping. Robert McClenon (talk) 21:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
@Robert McClenon: I don't feel I can say how to "fix ANI", exactly; I don't think I'm well versed in what people feel is broken about it; but I do have a couple of strong opinions about ANI.
First, that User X's bad behavior should not be allowed to excuse or mitigate User Y's bad behavior, and it routinely is at ANI. "Two wrongs don't make a right" may seem trite or naive to some, but it seems essential to me.
And secondly, ANI should be strictly about behavior complaints. It should not be allowed to become content dispute, and it routinely is. The minute it starts to be about content, an admin should step in and nip that in the bud as wrong venue. If anyone then persists, it should be handled as disruption. For this and other reasons, I think ANI would benefit from having at least one admin "on duty" as a moderator at all times, based on a previously agreed schedule. They could do other work at the same time, but should be tasked with monitoring ANI closely on their watchlist.
That's about all I have to say about ANI. ―Mandruss  22:08, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I think that the idea of having an admin serve as the moderator for WP:ANI is a very good idea. ANI is just a Wild West area. Your observation about two wrongs making a right is unfortunately often the case, and that if User X's bad behavior is argued as a defense against User Y's bad behavior, both should be sanctioned. (Whether by blocks, topic-bans, or what depends on the nature of the offense.) The moderating admin should be willing in cases of clear bad behavior to block and then close the thread so that it doesn't drag on. I will add that I don't think that filing parties at ANI intend to be bringing up content issues. In their excuse, they think that the failure of other editors to agree with them on content is a conduct issue (vandalism, POV-pushing, disruptive editing). That is a further reason for a moderator who will say, "Content dispute. Take to WP:DRN or use an WP:RFC. Closed here." Also, when two-way allegations of conduct drag on, a moderator should be able to formulate a proposal that can be !voted, such as topic-ban A, topic-ban B, topic-ban both. I agree as to moderation. Robert McClenon (talk) 22:52, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
So Robert, what should I/we do when an admin with many years experience has changed my edit to mislead. We are agreed AN/I is broken. I suspect that if I raised this at AN/I, the result would be that I will be blocked. What should I/we do to change this state of affairs?DrChrissy (talk) 19:50, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Well either you fix it when you find it or let others fix it. A one time occurrence is not something that should be brought to ANI, if the behavior continues it should be brought to ANI and dealt with. The proper response is NOT to revert the fix so it stays in the altered state until the person who made the change fixes it. -- GB fan 12:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Our [[WP:Talk page guidelines state "Never edit or move someone's comment to change its meaning, even on your own talk page (their emphasis). This sentence, or something very similar including "never", has been in the guidelines since at least 2010 so it is well established and non-contested. Why have such a strong statement if we are to then only say "oh well, once or twice won't hurt"?DrChrissy (talk) 16:51, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, it does say that. Our policies also say to never vandalize an article but we don't block someone for one act of vandalism. I never said "oh well, once or twice won't hurt". I said when you find that it has happened fix it or let someone else fix it and if the behavior continues to raise it at ANI. Very few things do we say one time is enough to bring someone to ANI, that is reserved mostly for repeat offenders. You revert and warn the editor to not do it again. Like I said before the correct thing to do is not revert a fix to what you don't want, like you did. -- GB fan 18:19, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
If I make a good point, it matters not if I'm making it to serve my own selfish, even illegitimate interest; it's still a good point; therefore my history is irrelevant, and to bring my history into it only serves to derail the debate. Discussions like this should go down as if all participants were here anonymously. (Note for the overly literal: I have used the first person merely as a device; I am not referring to myself.) ―Mandruss  20:22, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree. There are way too many editors who would rather discuss an editor's individual history than expand on a good point. My personal belief for this is because those editor's who divert an idea into a new direction, fear change or the loss of power. And it's very effective because I can go back 3, 5 years ago, see editors discuss the exact same issues as now, but nothing's changed! --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 21:04, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Indeed. Let's note that i've had some contentious relations with these folks who felt the need to come along and speak badly about and to me -- and not just about me but about their perspective about me -- and this is another illustration of exactly the point i'm trying to make here because these folks who are quite outspoken all over Wikipedia and act like heavies all over the place, in my opinion, problems at ANI and in the whole functioning of Wikipedia with integrity. I seriously want this to not be about specific people, but they did make it so, and tried to derail this dialogue, and so i must say they have a history with me and not a good one. Sure, they say i'm bad, bad, bad, i'm a bad boy... Fine... I disagree and it's basically gang warfare that you're seeing. There's a gang here. They've tried to make that point before and seem to have a chip on their shoulder for me -- but i say that i have integrity and edit according to policy, more than most i know.
This really does come down to reckoning, and it take a human sense with much observation and experience, to really get down to it. When it's person A saying there's a problem, and then persons B and C come along and say "No, A is the problem here!" but according to person A, persons B and C are part of the problem although person A didn't name specific people to begin with... it comes down to observations of edits and dialogue over the long-term. It's way too easy to play the discredit game, where multiple editors with a chip on their shoulder or an agenda come along and say something mean about editor A -- poisoning the well, introducing a prejudicial air to the dialogue, etc.... and that's not cool with me. Everyone has made some mistakes in their life, and we need to see who is willing to learn and to do better, and who is just constantly a problem and causing problems. And we must remember that opinions are from a point of view, as well.
And yes, i did enter Wikipedia in a toxic environment, and learned from some of the worst in terms of behavior, and learned to act like it's the Wild West -- you grow up in a gang environment and you learn you have to act tough. Only later did i see the wisdom of the policies and that we could work better if we cooperated and acted in a civil way. It can work. But it requires a critical mass to work. We need a critical mass of editors who speak up for integrity all the time. SageRad (talk) 21:12, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I should clarify that I'm not taking sides in any disputes involving anyone present. Partly because I know nothing about them, partly because I don't care about them, and partly because they are irrelevant here, as I said above. If I make a bad point, I can be defeated by a strong counter to that point, still without bringing my history into it. I hope I've (finally) said everything that I meant. ―Mandruss  21:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I appreciate that, Mandruss, very much. That is the way i would like it to be, as well. I intentionally did not name any specific people or topics or articles, so that we could have a general discussion about the gestalt of the functioning of Wikipedia, and not devolve into mudslinging. Having said my piece in self-defense, i am done with specifics and back to general observations. I know you have no history with me and i don't expect you to have an opinion of me. SageRad (talk) 21:20, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Hopefully we can all be learning and evolving together, and not polarizing all the time against each other. Hopefully people who have had past issues can evolve to work better with each other. SageRad (talk) 21:37, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

SageRad, if Wikipedia is "broken" then it has always been broken. There never was a period of time where peace and harmony and civility reigned. You look at arbitration archives around 2005-2007 and you'll find major problems going on and unqualified editors becoming admins and going to town, blocking their "enemies". By perusing Wikipedia history you'll find that a lot of problems that used to exist are no longer the serious issues they were years ago. There have been improvements. I know that ANI is much better now than when I first became a regular editor in summer 2013 where editors would often come to discussions with pitchforks and torches. I think at some point I think you have to accept that you have Wikipedia was never some harmonious haven of writing articles, cooperation and exchange of open information, Wikipedia is flawed and has always been, just like any human being or any organization is flawed because it is made up of imperfect individuals. Expecting people, on the internet of all places, to be kinder and more thoughtful than they are in their off-line life is unrealistic.

I think you also have to accept that you are approaching this issue the wrong way. An individual, even a few organized individuals, can not change the culture of a group. People are who they are and no amount of posting on noticeboards will change that. Your best option is to focus on realistic, doable changes to policies that you think might lead to improvements, run an RfC and try to get a consensus to see if your argument has the support of the community (or at least those that choose to participate in an RfC). Yes, this takes time and effort but even Jimmy Wales can not wave a magic wand and make Wikipedia suddenly change overnight to the idyllic community that you hoped it would be. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, it's just the nature of how slowly organizations change, especially decentralized groups like the Wikipedia editing community. Liz Read! Talk! 22:03, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
That. As I understand your complaint, you're unhappy at the open nature of Wikipedia and want a centrally enforced "constitution", but changing the internal structure of a project with between 3000—100,000 participants (depending on how you measure it) isn't something that will just happen because you say you're unhappy; you need to propose an alternative, and then convince a majority that they'd be better off with the alternative. As Liz correctly says, it's worth bearing in mind that despite the shrillness of the critics, Wikipedia at present is probably the least dysfunctional it's ever been. ‑ Iridescent 22:09, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • The above two comments are seriously wrong. That's the classic just give up. Should the middle class and poor in the USA also give up and sign over what little income they have left to the 1%er's? --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 22:27, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I think Iridescent's point is that complaining is easy, but changing things would take work and thoughtfulness. That is different from telling someone to "give up". Stellar analogy, though. MastCell Talk 01:34, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
  • It would be much easier for me to agree with your point were it not for that big arrow! --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 03:49, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Unless your monitor is exceptionally wide and your default font exceptionally small, the big arrow should be pointing at Liz's last sentence (I'm not saying that this is good or bad, it's just the nature of how slowly organizations change, especially decentralized groups like the Wikipedia editing community.), a sentiment with which I concur wholeheartedly; fifteen years of inertia isn't going to shifted just by wishing it so, and if you want major changes you need not only to identify the nature of the changes you want made, but identify a means of getting them implemented and a means of persuading people that doing so will be worthwhile. Make the quote Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it if that suits you better. ‑ Iridescent 17:42, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Why, yes my monitor is indeed exceptionally wide, and my default font is exceptionally small (6 pt)!
Here are some identified changes I'd like to see implemented.
1. Stop admin elections. Instead editors are automatically admin based on length of time (which should be within one year or less) and number of edits. Take the power away from the fascist few. Give it back to the masses and it will not be the big deal that it is right now.
2. Make it easier to lose admin rights. Wikipedia doesn’t need tenured admin. Admin rights should be something an editor loses, not something an editor fights to win.
3. Create clear rules to follow, not excessive bloated essays that have other bloated essays that counter each other. Can’t be more than 10 or 12 rules. (Even AA only has 12 steps!)
4. Greet all new editors with the rules they need to follow.
5. Anyone using cuss words gets an automatic 48 hour ban their first use. Thereafter, that editor will receive an one month ban.
6. Create a bot so that whenever one’s editor name is mentioned, the editor is notified.
7. If a subject is true and can be verified by reliable sources, it stays. Stop with the esoteric value judgements which is based on one’s knowledge (or lack there of) of a subject.
8. Eliminate the COI witch hunts. All editors show up with personal biases & POV’s. Spend that wasted time on making a neutral article. Readers only care about facts.
9. Put warnings on all medical articles.
10. Add links at the top to the best ranked sites for all the science topics. Wikipedia owes this much to the public since Google is now defaulting to Wikipedia. (Which is worse than being bought and paid for, it’s called being used!)
11. Create friendlier warnings. Do they really need to look so hyperbole? Like someone’s about to be maimed? Especially since they’re really meant to bully rather than warn?
12. Everyone gets one account only! IP’s will need to create an account if they want to edit.
13. A mass reprieve for all banned editors. This would exclude those globally banned.
14. Change page patrol to page approved.
Thanks for asking! --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 16:31, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm sure you don't actually expect that 14-point wish list to pass as a package. Pick one that you feel is high is importance and stands a decent chance of passing, argue for that (a separate subsection would help), and leave the other 13 for other days. Otherwise the discussion is going 14 different ways, and nothing gets accomplished. ―Mandruss  17:21, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Sort of a package deal like congress? Why not! Wikipedia needs big changes. This site has been spinning its wheels for quite some time now while not addressing issues.
fyi - If editors don't believe there is something growing more amiss with Wikipedia, check out, "The Knight Foundation grant: a timeline and an email to the board." --MurderByDeletionism"bang!" 19:23, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
@ Mandruss - a very friendly reminder - I think it is frowned upon to include a user's name in your edit summary.DrChrissy (talk) 18:17, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
  • While there are some things that are part of the "unfixables" that Wikipedia will always have as long as we have the tagline "the encyclopedia anyone can edit", there are problems being raised here that have becoming more troubling in terms of "cliques" around controversial topics that are being used to quell proper discussion. Normally, in the past, things like dispute resolution or AN/I would be venues to at least engage in discussion when such problems occurred but as identified, I've been seeing more cases of these groups on controversial articles refusing to engage in dispute resolution, and if these groups include long-standing editors, AN is often hesitant to get involved. Mind you, the number of such cases is trifling small compared to the number of other disputes that happen every day and that are resolved as harmoniously as we can expect on WP, but it still exists and becoming more evident. And I think some of this is being influenced by the global situation in the world that align with the social conflicts that are happening across the globe and the change in media's role that work against our purpose as a neutral tertiary work (I've describe this in depth about a month ago here on VPP). --MASEM (t) 22:44, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Seems more like as the years go past, the attempts to deal with particular personality problems have yet to be resolved. For the ones who complain about never ending chaos here, you do realize that you can always WP:FORK the entire contents of the project and create your wiki-encylopedia with whatever rules and ideas you want, right? If your ideas create a better encyclopedia, I say go for it. Otherwise, is there an actual policy discussion or proposal here? It seems like it's just "oh this place is so terrible now." -- Ricky81682 (talk) 04:28, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
There is some substantive discussion occurring in this thread, contribute to it or not as you wish. If you want to play the wrong venue card (which is played with great selectivity, I've noticed), go ahead, but this discussion has a place somewhere on the site (and not consigned to user space). I'd be happy to relocate the entire thread. ―Mandruss  12:03, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I think one of the general areas that is being discussed here is civility. I edit in several areas and it amazes me the difference in civility in some topic areas. I have been in the situation where after taking an incivility-bashing from groups of editors who have followed me, I have moved to editing another area and despite the subject being (potentially) contentious, the editors there have behaved with total respect and civility. So, although this is not about individual editors, it is about like-minded (incivil) editors who see what others get away with, repeat this, the precedent is then set and suddenly we all have to tolerate it.DrChrissy (talk) 12:52, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I agree this is also what I've seen. Editors that behave as we'd expect in a friendly, cooperative manner in most other areas are a different type of person in a specific article or topic area, and this usually seems to be the result of having some type of interest in that specific topic. As as I've noted, when this is from established editors, it's hard to convince AN or others that something is out of place, often sweeping such confrontations as "a bad day" (which everyone has, no question, but makes it hard to have any action taken against such editors). --MASEM (t) 18:00, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Is there an opportunity to share these best practices in civility across communities and projects? Something along the lines of, "Hey, here's how we work and what our interoperation of civility have meant for our project." Followed by a simple checklist of what works? Maybe we can raise the tide for all boats without having to rely on Mom and Dad enforcing good behavior? Sorry for having more questions than answers. :) Ckoerner (talk) 22:41, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
At least at my experience, these lines where civility is an issue don't align with WikiProjects, though individual Wikiprojects may have had to deal with internal problems on one-off bases, and the Signpost often features Wikiproject spotlights that ID these things. The situations I see generally fall outside the individual coverage of Wikiprojects. --MASEM (t) 23:53, 10 February 2016 (UTC)


It's easy to be civil and it's easy to not be a bully, if you're committed to doing so. It's easy to edit according to policy and to hold ourselves to high standards of integrity, if we want to. I also edit in areas that are extremely civil, and it's a wonderful experience. I want that same level of integrity and civility in other areas that are contentious, but there does not seem to be the critical mass of editors willing to stand up for civility and principles as there needs to be to change the general culture. There is instead impunity and gang behavior. Many good editors have been intimidated out of editing in such areas, and have stated so explicitly. When you do try to use ANI or NPOVN or other structure which are supposed to be the next-level way to address it, they typically result in no action or blowback action against the person making the appeal. Therefore, the system is broken in certain areas where there is contention. I think we can foster a critical mass of integrity, and the first step in doing so is to name the problem. The second step is to step up and address it. Stand up for what's right, even in small things. If an editor is repeatedly deleting other editors' comments on talk pages, isn't that a signal that they don't have the innate integrity needed to function well in discussions of possibly contentious topics? If another editor is consistently name-calling, acting bully-like, being emotionally abusive, etc... that's a signal that they are probably a source of problems. Other editors may react in the moment sometimes to those centrally problematic editors, and that's to be expected. They even know how to bait, how to get others to blow up and then use that as ammo against them. There is this stuff going on. This stuff is toxic, and drives away good editors who really do want to apply the policies like NPOV and RS to to correct goal of writing a good encyclopedia useful for the human species. SageRad (talk) 15:05, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

I support your reasoning in principle. But, as I've said recently, one's opinions count for nothing if they prefer to remain silent, and intimidation tactics work. I strongly suspect that a large majority of editors would do anything to have a better working environment—anything except stick their head up so it can get chopped off. I don't think that's going to change, we can't repeal human nature, so there's no solution short of an outside entity (WMF?) stepping in, assuming control, and overriding the vocal and aggressive minority. I don't see that happening, so I'm pessimistic about such ambitious and idealistic goals. I feel we can make significant improvements in the culture with changes like what I suggested at 22:08, 9 February 2016 (and even those would be difficult to pass), but I don't see us achieving any more than that at this point. ―Mandruss  15:33, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
As somebody on the other side who has been described as a bully, not by anyone in this discussion, I would like to put the other side's point of view. Many discussions seem to go on and on and on over matters where the sources are pretty clear but those arguing against them think there is some great injustice to fix, and they simply will not stop. That is where we get pointers to various WP: like great wrongs and flogging dead horses from. Yes there is some bad behavior sometimes but it is often because of exasperation because these 'polite' editors continue to disrupt Wikipedia. In my opinion it is they who drive new editors away and make things unpleasant for people who just want to edit Wikipedia according to the policies and produce a good encyclopaedia with a neutral point of view that goes by the sources and their weight. More than just dealing quickly with people who have been uncivil to each other what I really would like is a way that editors who flog a dead horse just get toned down or excluded from topics quicker rather than the endless recursive stairs of the process for content disputes. Dmcq (talk) 16:07, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't see you as "on the other side" from me. I think we should have a far more aggressive block schedule. If one hasn't cleaned up their act after three blocks, what they and Wikipedia need is for them to receive an involuntary 5-year sabbatical to work on themselves. They are a net negative to the project, full stop. I think we'd be surprised at how many misbehavors would change their ways if they knew that their continued editing rights depended on it. ―Mandruss  16:11, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
I think you'd get less blocking as a result. If admins knew that the third block would result in a 5-year ban, there would be less minor blocking as I imagine every block will be subject to gigantic amount of scrutiny based on the "now the editor only has two chances to avoid a five year block, it must be for a very good reason." You're going to get more chaos not less. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 22:31, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
However, I have seen cliques that stand perhaps too much behind policy as to refuse to engage in any discussions that require nuanced considerations of policy, recognizing that some policies need to have more weight than others for certain topic areas. Most commonly that I've seen is the use of UNDUE and FRINGE to eliminate counter-discussion about a topic that is contentious. Policies are meant to be flexible; there are times where editors are encouraged to and should use UNDUE/FRINGE to remove minority/fringe counterpoints (particularly when it comes to BLP), but there are times where there is need to be more accommodating if we are to remain neutral on a contentious topic. But instead, sometimes these cliques stick to the policy like glue and refuse to consider their flexible nature in areas where they need to be flexible; whether this is just a mechanical application or intentional usage to uphold a specific POV, it can be very difficult to tell, but in either case, these groups need to work with editors that bring these questions forward in a cooperative manner. It creates elitism which is not helpful for the project as a whole. And again, this type of behavior is very much a long-term phenomena, and very difficult to identify as an outsider to the conversation, or even to guide outsiders to the most relevant points. --MASEM (t) 16:25, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Yep FRINGE and WEIGHT do sometimes cause problems and especially when put together. Some editors go around removing the facts about fringe topics even when it destroys Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia on the basis of WEIGHT. All you get is an article saying it is pseudoscience and lots of people have shown it is rubbish with very little about what the topic is about in the first place. It is unfortunately very easy to be cliquish and the general rule that should be followed I think is that a notice should always be placed on an article talk page if the article content is being discussed elsewhere, not just inform an editor if they are explicitly named. Dmcq (talk) 23:43, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

No linkage of bad behavio(u)r

The parent discussion is useful, but too blue-sky to actually achieve change. I would like to take one of the things mentioned (by me) and frame it as a formal proposal.

PROPOSED: Confine each ANI complaint to addressing the behavior of one editor. If the opponents of that editor have behaved badly, handle that separately. Avoid linkage. Do not allow User X's bad behavior to mitigate User Y's bad behavior.

  • Support as proposer. Many editors are far more likely to behave in a disruptive manner if they can reasonably expect to be forgiven after pointing to someone else's behavior. "I'm usually not like this, but I had no choice. They made me do it. Hey I'm only human." This is bullshit. No one makes me do anything, I'm an adult and I decide how I behave. Two wrongs don't make a right, and there is no "justified" bad behavior. Don't make excuses for your behavior, and don't legitimize excuses in Wikipedia process. It has created a culture of excuses and one of the best things we can do for the editing environment is to change that culture. ―Mandruss  13:39, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Terrible terrible idea. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:48, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose So if two editors are both revert warring each other, we must have separate discussions created for each one? It's too chaotic and too restrictive. Besides, this won't stop people from using the behavior of others unless you want to spend all day policing people's rationales. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 22:28, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It takes two to tango, and oftentimes more than that on Wikipedia. Calidum ¤ 22:32, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - If we were to adopt this, who ever complains to ANI first would effectively win any dispute... Even if their behavior was more serious. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs) 22:51, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - per Ricky81682. I have to agree that separating the discussions between editors that act in bad faith would clog up an administrator's time. It should also be on the administrator to review the actions of all involved, not just of those being reported. Boomer VialHolla 10:19, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose I have read Mandruss's explanation below and I disagree with what they say. One person's behavior does in many circumstances mean another's should be excused to an extent. We are not robots, we are supposed to use commonsense. Dmcq (talk) 12:14, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose on the principle of boomerangs. It also makes any ANI threads much easier to read through and discuss when both editors can be discussed in the same "parent" thread. Separating the threads would remove easily viewable context of the editor's behaviours. I do however agree that one user's behaviour should not excuse another's through a perverse false balance. Cheers, Doctor Crazy in Room 102 of The Mental Asylum 10:50, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - each user's behavior must be judged in context of how this user was treated, or thinks (s)he was treated, by the accusers and other users. A user's behavior can be migitated by the fact that this user was treated badly (yes, there are absolute red lines, but even crossing them may be punishable by a smaller punishment). To discuss a user's behavior without its context would clearly make this context harder to find. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 04:16, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Calidum nailed it. Very frequently, if not the outright majority of the time, the complaints by Editor A against Editor B are overblown and histrionic, and both editors (or groups thereof) need to settle down. Those of us who bother to try to moderate these disputes should not have our hands tied. We'd probably also have to get rid of WP:BOOMERANG, which we've long relied upon. It's also unworkable because ANI reports fairly often are about multiple editors. We shouldn't have to have five threads at once to deal with the behavior of an editing bloc.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:42, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Two wrongs do not make a right. CLCStudent (talk) 18:58, 2 March 2016 (UTC)

Discussion: No linkage

Ricky81682: First, this is about ANI, not AN3. This is not an edit warring context. Also, it doesn't say we must have a separate discussion for User X, only that User X's behavior may not be used as a defense by User Y. As for your last sentence, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you referring to User Y "using the behavior of others" in their own rationalizing, or as a defense at ANI? If the latter, that may be true, they may try the defense regardless of this culture change, but that defense would be futile. ―Mandruss  22:50, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Um, actually it says quite clearly: "Confine each ANI complaint to addressing the behavior of one editor. If the opponents of that editor have behaved badly, handle that separately." So "It doesn't say we must have a separate discussion for User X, only that ..." does not appear to be an accurate statement. If you want to change the proposal then change it, but please don't try to gaslight us that we're all having reading comprehension problems.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:42, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Calidum: I don't know what that means, or why it would be an Oppose rationale here. Could you elaborate? ―Mandruss  22:50, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

I mean that in many instances (though not all) both parties have contributed to the dispute; this doesn't mean they're equally guilty or that the actions of one excuse the actions of another. I fail to see how breaking out each users' conduct into separate threads helps at all. Calidum ¤ 23:04, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
Ok, thanks. I thought my !vote answered those questions. ―Mandruss  23:05, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Blueboar: Not so. If the person who was reported first was not judged to have committed actionable bad behavior, no action would be taken. But their behavior would not be excused by someone else's behavior. Regardless of the outcome of the original complaint—or even before that complaint is resolved—a complaint may be filed against the person who filed it, and that outcome may be more serious than that of the first complaint. No change except the elimination of linkage. The need to keep the complaints physically separate is simply a matter of organization. ―Mandruss  23:14, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Specific behaviour

  1. Editing other's talk page comments.
  2. Non-admins closing ANI threads.

Both of these are not new behaviour, rather behaviour that was tolerated far more in the "old days". If I make a distracting spelling error why should someone not correct it? If a thread needs closing why should it not be closed? The ossification of the community has made both of these actions ones which were looked askance upon, and then (unofficially) frowned upon, and then over which people were taken to task.

My advice is, be very careful editing others' comments, and annotate anything non-trivial (indeed consider notifying the editor instead) and be careful closing ANI sections.

The reason I suggest more caution over editing others' comments is that the action is less obvious. ANI closes can be, and often are, reversed: so while it is a good idea to close "correctly" a mistake should not be a major problem.

Wikipedia is (or was) a bit like the Wild West, and where reversible actions are concerned this has stood us in good stead. Almost all the problems stem from irreversible actions. And we tend to compound this by taking more irreversible actions as a remedy.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 13:50, 14 February 2016 (UTC).

I think one of the problems of allowing editing of others' comments is that it blurs what could be clear line, helpful in preventing misunderstanding. I recently had a comment of mine heavily edited and it significantly changed the meaning. There were comments along the lines of "it is a single occurrence so it is not actionable". I disagree. We take action over a single edit when this breaches 1RR or 3RR. If we have a clear line that others' comments should not be edited, this can be avoided. Oh, by the way, the AN/I thread in which these changes were made was closed by a non-admin...I think this indicates why I also disagree with the second behaviour in your sub-heading.DrChrissy (talk) 15:33, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
Given I've seen people use comments out of context as well to infer an entirely different meaning, this strengths the need to avoid any edits on others comments, even if it is fixing a spelling error. The only times comment editing should be allowed is to fix page-breaking or discussion-confusing layout (adding the required colons or stars for intentingindenting or moving a misplaced comment, or closing an open italic/bold format or the like), to remove BLP or copyright-violating material, or otherwise strip clear vandalism out. If its a spelling mistake or a missing word, that should be let be though you're free to tag that editor to ask them if they want to fix it. It prevents the line from where one fixes a spelling, to adding a few extra words, to changing the entire meaning of the user's post, and that's just the easiest way to prevent that slippery slope. --MASEM (t) 15:41, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
@Masem: Do you want to fix your spelling of "intenting" to "indenting"? Seems to be closer to what you are saying. Cheers, Doctor Crazy in Room 102 of The Mental Asylum 02:12, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, thanks. --MASEM (t) 16:23, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
I occasionally fix indenting per WP:THREAD (many, many editors don't understand that simple indenting system or refuse to follow it because they disagree with it, in some cases resulting in misunderstanding of one's meaning). I've been known to remove massive bolding per WP:SHOUT, without being the local massive bolding sheriff. Inserting a blank line for readability, no problem. Correcting others' spelling is excessive, unnecessary, and potentially annoying to the writer, but forgiveable if not overdone. Anything else should be verboten, and I'd be likely to raise a bit of a stink if someone did it to me. ―Mandruss  19:27, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
What MASEM called "slippery slope" is the result of applying an old excuse: that the end justifies the means. As we have many times seen in the past, this miserable excuse hides, always and only, a battle for power. Is the community really willing to mingle with this? Wouldn't be better to find an higher bank where to conduct the struggle from? Carlotm (talk) 21:14, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Question I have just seen that a current thread on AN/I was opened by an editor and the same editor closed the thread as a "non-admin closure". Is this allowed?DrChrissy (talk) 18:41, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
What is the context DrChrissy? (Read; provide a link please) If they are withdrawing their request/notice/what-have-you, then I'm pretty sure that is allowable in most cases. Cheers, Doctor Crazy in Room 102 of The Mental Asylum 02:12, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
The closure is of AN/I "Edit-warring at Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" which is now in archive#914. To be clear, I'm not making any report of this editor (which is why I have not named them or pinged them), I just thought that actual self-closing of a report leaves the system open for gaming and abuse. By all means an editor should be able to withdraw and ask for closure, but should they really be able to close it themselves?DrChrissy (talk) 15:52, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
He pulled his own request as things had calmed down. There is nothing at all wrong with this. Also you basically named them and should have pinged SheriffIsInTown. Mrfrobinson (talk) 02:07, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
I had this request open for so many days and no admin intervened to resolve the matter. Once we were done fighting and I stepped back from my stated position. I thought there is nothing wrong in pulling out this request. I had seen non-admin closures before so I thought let's close it myself so nobody else can be bothered with the closure as well but if there is a policy saying that requestor cannot close their own request then do let me know and I will refrain from that in the future. Sheriff | ☎ 911 | 02:59, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
SheriffIsInTown I saw no issue with your action at all. I only pinged you because it was mentioned above by DrChrissy who said they weren't going to name names but linked to it (which is essentially the same thing). Mrfrobinson (talk) 12:16, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
@SheriffIsInTown: As I indicated above, it was the principle of the action (self-closure of a thread on AN/I) that I was raising as a genuine question, not the incidence in which you were involved. I only linked to your closure when requested. I apologise for any embarassment or inconvenience caused by my drawing attention to you. DrChrissy (talk) 14:19, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
Not a big deal, thank you :), i had my share of bogus blames since i joined Wikipedia, compared to those, this is nothing. Sheriff | ☎ 911 | 17:21, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Um, these two specific "bad behaviors" are trivial, rare, and easily dealt with (and sometimes even permissible, per WP:REFACTOR and WP:NPA when it comes to changing others' posts, and WP:NAC when it comes to WP:SNOWBALLs that result in no administrative action being needed). They certainly require no changes to process, procedures, or rules.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:46, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Who still writes articles around here?

I believe the sad reality is that many should just leave the project. Before things can get better first they have to get worse. The current editors seem not at all interested in changing their ways, things just are not bad enough. Or things are going just fine the way they are, it depends on your perspective.

I think the problems are many and obvious. There are countless ways to identify the problematic editors. For example: If you are reading this and your mind is fixated on pretending I've experienced- or physically are- the problem then you are one of them. As long as you maintain that bad faith assumption you and me can not write an encyclopedia together. -> This is not my problem. You are doing this every time you see someone raise an issue. Don't expect that on the man approach to ever fix anything.

It is like filling a bug report "that link overthere doesn't work", then getting a response like "you can still get to that page by doing A, B, C, D" Here the person who is suppose to fix the bug pretends it is the user who is having a problem. This while the person filling the bug was trying to help him.

As noted above, the Wikipedia system was bad from the beginning. There never was peace on Wikipedia nor was there sufficient effort to enforce the rules. There are these illusory pillars and edit guidelines but they are like having a law book without a police force or a court system.

It is perfectly acceptable for overly active long time editors to cite guidelines they've made up themselves. If their buddies, or shall we say, random other editors agree, then: that is what the guidelines "says" and it will be enforced the way it was imagined to work.

As an IP editor I get to see this again and again. The usual response is that I should make an account, which fails to appreciate the issue raised. It is as if I'm interested in treating the sympthom, as if it is acceptable for editors who know better to "accidentally" fabricate convenient guidelies.

But that is not all, much like any article the guidelines and pillars are written and guarded by teams of users who by understatement are really not interested at all in your participation or views. Endless debates and small tinkering will never accumulate to serious changes to any of these ideas. Those who would have agreed with your proposal left Wikipedia long ago or avoid the page like the plague. That is what WP Consensus refers to in this context.

If you can see- or think-that the small club (or shall we say cult?) controlling the guideline is wrong or insane you should really abandon the project. Do continue to edit some trivial mainspace mistakes 2 or 3 times per year or post 2 or 3 talk page comments, but limit participation to that.

Admins, the wikipedia law enforcement, can and do randomly shoot people on the street without consequences while being reluctant to enforce even the most obvious guidelines.

I've seen one editor, who I cant blame at all, with an edit history that should be described as a multi-year river of insults. I estimate he cost Wikipedia roughly 2000 users as people simply don't care for cynical and insulting feedback on their constructive legitimate effort. It was amazing to see administrators ban users on his request after they simply insulted him in return (which should be an entirely acceptable deed for a newbie repeatedly insulted by a long term user) The guy had so many insults in his name that we can hardly blame him for it. He clearly didn't know any better.

Meanwhile on a different page far far away editors are ganging up on a contributor who simply lost his cool for 1 minute.

It is hard to imagine admins not to be entirely and fully aware of these double standards.

But you wanted solutions, I find it hard to see where to begin but ok.

Lets enrich ANI by having involved parties provide links pointing at their X most recent mainspace contributions. Restoring deleted content doesn't count and minor contributions may be skipped if the editor desires it.

That way administrators don't have to read endless horror stories but they can adjust their bias to the wonderful contributions made by the user before banning her.

While the report might be valid and filling it might contribute to the project constructively: If the editor filling the report is not an active contributor his ideas about the way the article writing process should work are not based on experience. It was someone else who was trying to write an article and he chose to get in the way of that process. That choice might be legitimate, the goal of the project is certainly not to make antagonizing the writing of the encyclopedia as comfortable as possible.

The reality is that editors who are willing to do the research, make the citations and format the pages are perfectly capable of self-policing among their own. (not directly of course)

In the current paradigm vandal fighters are a precious type of users in contrast with article writers who are considered a disposable commodity. But face the music, the vandal fighter is never going to teach the new user how to write articles, all he can do is tell her how not to do it. again and again and again...

Personally it is the first thing I look for when a user is disagreeing with my contribution. I look at their edit history to see how many years ago their activity last involved article writing. If I'm impressed by their contributions I will make far greater effort tying to debate the disagreement, if there are any I respect their emotional outbursts and continue to calmly explain why I think it is valuable to the article and so on. If their contributions are laughable however, I will systemically avoid debating the art of article writing, not because I don't want to but because it is pointless. You can only have a serious discussion if participants share the same goal.

I believe administrators are very capable of making that call if they are conveniently provided with the stuff that makes valuable editors.

Ill consider against to be a vote against article writing per WP:Making Stuff Up. (talk) 22:17, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

  • Support as proposer. (talk) 22:17, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
  • A bit overlong but I think what you are asking for is a reputation system which works to encourage constructive edits. It is hard to stop such things being gamed and encouraging cliques of people who back each other up. However I would support efforts to find such a system as it might help greater engagement by good editors. Dmcq (talk) 13:58, 25 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Just jumping in to say I agree that there a lot of bad faith assumptions on here where experienced Wikipedians (not necessarily frequent editors) cite rules and policies without actually being too helpful or assuming that people are doing their best. Not sure the best way to fix this. I don't know if the problem is that they don't create articles; I think the problem is just that they are removed, for whatever reason, from issues certain people face. Sometimes this is because they don't write articles, but sometimes it's just becaue they've been around for a while and don't remember what it's like to be a newb. I think it's important to always remember that there are a lot of us out here who aren't Wikipedia experts but who have a lot of knowledge others' might not have, and our contributions, even if not perfect, do better Wikipedia. -KaJunl (talk) 23:43, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Works that are PD in US but not in country of origin

Can we incorporate text into Wikipedia from works that are public domain in the US but not in their country of origin? I'm currently thinking of this[1] (likely still under copyright in UK because author died in 1953), but there are many similar works. This one is a nice biographical dictionary that would let us start stubs on many notable people. Thanks, Calliopejen1 (talk) 22:57, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

Yes. Only Commons has that weird rule. Jolly Ω Janner 22:58, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
PS I thought I'd double check that it actually is public domain in the US and per WP:Public domain "For non-U.S. works published without compliance with U.S. formalities (i.e., without © notice), the situation is a bit more complicated: If published before 1909, such works are in the public domain in the U.S.". As it was published in 1908, you are good to go. The linked article above gives more detailed criteria for works after 1909 and if you enter into the realm of URAA restored copyrights, Commons has recently not been bothered about it, so I presume Wikipedia isn't bothered either. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jolly Janner (talkcontribs) 07:02, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

Policy implications of new Mediawiki feature

Viewers here may be interested in Wikipedia:Mouse! ϢereSpielChequers 23:03, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

@WereSpielChequers: You're at the wrong pump. Please repost to WP:VPT. --Izno (talk) 12:05, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

Fact reporting can also make an article biased

The article on SodaStream keeps pressing that they employ 500 Palestinians, and they mention more than once how the company had to let go of them because they had to move the factory from Ma'ale Adumim in the West Bank after boycotts.

The whole tone of the article is biased, it quotes the people, and state the facts that help its case in regards to the Palestinian land situation & the controversy that surrounded it and led to the move in the end.

I find it biased to keep mentioning that they employed 500 Palestinians (and not mentioning other employees, which include Jewish Israelis, and Palestinian-Israelis) without mentioning what the same process might have done to other workers. They also mention that they are expected to employ Bedouins (who are in fact Israeli citizens) in an upcoming plant.

I'm requesting a neutral-party reading of the article. And I need more details on this particular situation (reporting only the facts that give a good image, but not all the facts or the ones related to it), vis-a-vis Wikipedia's editing policy (WP:SOAP, WP:NPV). I'm also asking if the way it's written warrants a {{advert}}, or if it reads like it was written by a PR firm to present a better public image as means of damage control after the controversies and boycotts. ¬Hexafluoride (talk) 21:11, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

@Hexafluoride: You might also want to try WP:NPOVN. Kingsindian   04:34, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
@Kingsindian: I've posted it there on the 30th but still no answer. ¬Hexafluoride (talk) 21:58, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
@Hexafluoride: Sometimes that's the way it goes. You might want to post on WT:IPCOLL as well to get more eyes on it. Kingsindian   13:55, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

New RFC dealing with WP:FAMILY section of WP:SOCK

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Views are wanted at Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry#RfC: Should WP:FAMILY be deleted from WP:SOCK?  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 08:54, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

Appeal of the CheckUser tool

Dear all Wikipedia users,

I would like to release a statement that will argue to eliminate the CheckUser tool from both the English Wikipedia and the global Wikimedia Foundation. I understand that this will require a major change in the WMF software and will require intervention of Jimbo, but there are several reasons why I strongly feel that the tool should become history.

Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. When a user registers an account, it is said that registering hides your IP address. It makes no mention of the CheckUser tool. To me, that's deceiving. Also, a user's IP address and physical location is private. I don't think it's right for another user who may have no connection whatsoever to the subject, to be able to find private information that could compromise the user's security without that user's permission. In this case, I would be for keeping CheckUser in place, but only if the policy could be altered to require that the user's permission must be granted first.

I am also strongly aganist the deletion of {{Checked by CheckUser}}, because now Checkusers cannot notify their subjects. This just adds on to my argument. Now, something that is already a potential privacy issue is now being done without permission or even general knoweledge of the subject. I definitely feel that it is wrong. I don't see any problem with users using multiple accounts, and why it would need to be determined that they are the same person. Many people on other websites use multiple accounts, and those sites equivelent to Wikipedia's ArbCom does not scrutinize it at all.

Regardless of what others think, I will continue to stand my ground and am willing to take this matter directly to Jimbo himself if needed. This is a matter of user privacy above all else. (talk) 01:13, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

If everybody in the world suddenly agreed to stop socking and stood by that promise, we wouldn't need Checkusers. Instead, people get around one of the only tools we have at our disposal to maintain some semblance of sanity on the project, blocks. You can stand your ground all you want. You can take it to Jimbo, although you might want to read Wikipedia:Appeals to Jimbo first. You can scream it from the rooftops. This isn't going to happen. And as for the "permission first" requirement. How many people illegitimately socking do you think are going to give their permission? None. As to to "you weren't notified that checkusers existed" part of your speech perhaps you should have read the privacy policy that is linked at the bottom of every single page on this project. It is clearly shown there and it explains that they have access to your private information. So do Stewards by the way and I don't see you petitioning to remove that group. If you want to start a policy discussion regarding something that has even a slim chance of happening please go right ahead. This isn't one of them. --Majora (talk) 01:25, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
@ User:Majora, Please do not be rude and do not mock users who do things in good faith. This editor actually states a good point, for the most part. It is true that the registration form does not make you agree to any policy, including the privacy policy. Though no one ever reads that crap anyway when registering, wouldn't it be wise to have a little banner at the bottom of the registration form that says "I agree to Wikipedia's Terms of Use and privacy policy." That way people cannot register unless they check that little box. That way, people like this IP address proposer would not be "screaming" about this stuff "from the rooftops." Philmonte101 😊😄😞 (talk) 04:25, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Feel free to write a rant complaint to Jimbo... I fully expect that he will be able to explain why he approves of having the system. Blueboar (talk) 01:30, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Also, do you realize the admins on other website that you visit have access to your IP address, user agent, screen resolution, etc. without the need of a checkuser tool? Your activity on the web is not all that private unless you use an anonymizing proxy, and even that doesn't guarantee it.- [[user: MrX|Mr]X 01:36, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Indeed, the information collected in some (most?) web server logs is very detailed. ​—DoRD (talk)​ 02:37, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Checkusers will often notify people whom they've checked. The notification will often be associated with one or more account and/or IP blocks; they're called checkuser blocks. No template is required. Incidentally, User:Jimbo Wales has checkuser permissions, self-granted. I'm fairly certain he won't be agreeing with the OP. Risker (talk) 02:06, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Not withstanding what Majora has said, I'm sure that we'd all be interested in hearing what solution you propose to preventing socking and other forms of abuse that doesn't involve looking at user's technical data. Lankiveil (speak to me) 02:12, 10 March 2016 (UTC).
  • First, removing CheckUser would not require any massive software changes (the line including the CheckUser extension in the Wikimedia core would need to be removed or inactivated), and the consent of Jimbo would do absolutely nothing. The reality is that Wikimedia a) needs to have a tool to associate accounts with IPs to prevent disruption, and b) takes much less information than other websites and gives it to a much smaller group of users. Your privacy is safer on Wikimedia than it is on Facebook, Google, or any other major website, both in terms of what is collected and what is revealed. There are also totally legitimate uses for alternate accounts, and if you use them properly, there will (usually) be no nosy checkusers looking at your IP. Ajraddatz (talk) 08:25, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
What is the problem with socking? The way I see it, a block is a warning. A simple warning that basically says "What you did was incorrect and you should consider changing". I've seen many users who have been blocked, thought about it, apologized, and still were denied by some admin. I think that those users have the right to create another account and, as long as the new account does not make the same disruptive edits as the original account did, not be blocked. I am not suggesting appealing the sockpuppetry policy altogether, but I just feel that it should be less strict. This all comes down, in my opinion, to a change in the administrator policy. Something to the effect of "If an admin reviews a user's unblock request, and the content of the request can be identified as a sincere apology, they are to unblock them without further discussion other than approval of the blocking admin, out of fairness to the user". (talk) 16:19, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

A block is not a warning though. It is an action to prevent further disruption to the wiki. The warnings come before that and should be taken more seriously than they are by users who end up blocked (else they wouldn't be blocked--misuse of tools is actually not the epidemic that many would suggest it is).

You may be interested in WP:CLEANSTART. --Izno (talk) 16:42, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

If blocks are being used as punishment, then something is going wrong. They should be technical actions to stop further disruption, nothing more. If there is clear evidence that the blocked user will stop their disruptive behaviour, then unblocking is certainly possible - but that's a big if, and can be hard to tell from a few sentences on a talk page. The issue with most sockpuppets being used to evade blocks isn't that they are just evading the block, but that they are continuing to engage in the patterns of disruptive behaviour that got them blocked in the first place. Otherwise, it can be quite hard to tell who is or isn't a sockpuppet without a behavioural connection. Ajraddatz (talk) 18:06, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I think you may be confusing a temporary"block" with a permanent "ban". Blueboar (talk) 18:18, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
Who are you talking to here? Nobody has said block when they meant ban, from what I see. Ajraddatz (talk) 19:32, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I think that the user was more likely referring to an indefinite block than a permanent ban. Also, as the other IP said, what if the sock puppets don't engage in disruptive behavior? What if the users has learned from their mistakes, but been denied unblock, and starts editing constructively under a sock puppet username. What do we do then? (talk) 19:45, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
Your entire argument what if the sock puppets don't engage in disruptive behavior vanishes in a puff of smoke because we don't run indiscriminate Checkusers. If someone is socking and they get Checkusered it's because they did something to warrant a Checkuser. If someone has been blocked for disrupting a specific topic, then being recognized immediately gravitating back to their problem area may be sufficient grounds to Checkuser. If someone wants a Cleanstart they are REQUIRED to edit in new areas and avoid old disputes. Stay the heck away from whatever got them in trouble in the first place. Alsee (talk) 20:50, 12 March 2016 (UTC)
Like Alsee says, checks are run when there is some sort of evidence to suspect that the user is a sockpuppet. If the "sockpuppet" account is productively editing in a different area and not being a nuisance, then most likely nobody will find out. If they are discovered, then I imagine it would be dealt with by an admin on a case-by-case basis, considering both the block evasion but also WP:IAR if the encyclopedia is benefiting from it. Ajraddatz (talk) 21:54, 12 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I think this would be very easily solved (as even hinted by the OP) by putting a notice saying something like "By making this edit, I am accepting the conditions that my identifying data may be compared blah blah" next the edit box, just like we do about licensing. People who are purely readers of the encyclopedia need not be made subject to any privacy-invading checks. Editors, on the other hand, should not necessarily expect to edit without any condition. LjL (talk) 22:47, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

Counter Proposal

I propose that we do the following:

  • Retain the current three-month limit that information that can be accessed by the CheckUser tool before being deleted.
  • Retain the current system where only the most trusted users have CheckUser, all uses of the CheckUser tool are logged and can be reviewed by other CheckUsers, and those who abuse the tool lose it.
  • Increase the accuracy and reliability of CheckUser with techniques such as panopticlick.
  • Start a conversation about what information we should gather and retain for readers of Wikipedia vs. editors of Wikipedia. Our current privacy policy says "We actively collect some types of information with a variety of commonly-used technologies. These generally include tracking pixels, JavaScript, and a variety of 'locally stored data' technologies, such as cookies and local storage." In my opinion, for readers (not editors) of Wikipedia this information should be anonymized (assigning a random identifier and severing any connection with a particular username of IP address) as it is collected.

--Guy Macon (talk) 02:34, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

I assume that you know this, but in case others don't, CheckUser can only see edits and logged actions, but nothing from users simply reading the site. ​—DoRD (talk)​ 02:43, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I assumed that, but not having the CheckUser right I wasn't sure. Thanks! The thing is, even if Wikipedia doesn't reveal information about readers to CheckUsers, the privacy policy specifically says that they may use tracking pixels, which means that info about readers is gathered (for several good reasons). Any cop who is able to convince a judge to sign a warrant can see that information, and if some criminal offered a bribe or made a credible threat to the right WMF staffer or his family, he could see it too. That's why the information should be anonymized as it is collected. --Guy Macon (talk) 13:49, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
Agree per Guy Macon, info about readers is gathered to make data-informed decisions about website activity, if I'm not mistaken. (talk) 22:31, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
To expand on the above a bit, if when reads a page and Wikipedia gathers information to make data-informed decisions about website activity (which is fine) there is no need to retain either the username or the IP address he is using. They can save the data under the name 86B1B5FBE4737813BBDDD168D244893BB04B59B4817496060B13BE316ED44CEA (which is a SHA256 hash of "") and gather all the statistics they want about what the user known only as 86B1B5FBE47... reads on Wikipedia. The SHA256 hash cannot be converted back to reveal "". --Guy Macon (talk) 00:35, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
Sure it can. Just do a SHA-256 of each entry at Special:Listusers and see which one matches. Anonymizing data is a lot harder than most people think. --Carnildo (talk) 02:30, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
You are right, of course. Total brain fart on my part. (Note to self: next time, smoke crack after editing Wikipedia...) --Guy Macon (talk) 03:27, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
I would like to expand a bit on my error above. I have no idea what I was thinking. What I should have said is that we should encrypt user data using something like AES, not a hash like SHA256, with access to the key strictly controlled. Then, when the time comes to delete the data, destroying the key makes the data and any backups or copies inaccessible. This, of course, solves a completely different problem.
For those interested in anonymizing user data, here are some interesting links:
--Guy Macon (talk) 20:37, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

Counter counter proposal

Heaya WMF! We love that you take reader privacy so seriously! We were wondering if it could be even better. We were talking about tracking pixels, locally stored data technologies such as cookies and local storage, anonymizing/hashing/encrypting/deleting reader data. We decided to simply ask if you'd be interested in looking over the matter, seeing if there is any more you could do on your end. That would be awesomesauce! Thanx!

  • Support as nom. It's focused on readers, editing raises extremely different factors. Alsee (talk) 21:23, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

RfC on the use of video in articles closing in a few days

Wikipedia talk:Videos#RfC: Full-length films/videos in articles

An RfC concerning how to handle full-length videos/films in articles about those videos/films will be ending in a few days. I posted here when it opened and there was some talk about moving it here, but as that hasn't happened I thought I'd post again for good measure.

The basic question regards articles about films/videos for which the full-length version is on Commons. In such a case, for a reader to watch the video should they click a still image to launch the video on top of the article ("embedding", as with A Day at the Zoo) or click on a text link in the external links section which takes them to the Commons page to watch it? (or neither). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 19:04, 6 April 2016 (UTC)

Excessive description of a book harmful to author?

I recently looked at the article for a well-known book, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. The "Overview" and the "Summary of chapters" sections together constitute an over 10,000-word description of what's in the book. Isn't this way excessive, in terms of what WP articles normally do for synopses of books, films, etc? Moreover, isn't description at this size and level harmful to the author? If it's written well, it may hurt book sales, because people now think they know everything that's in the book. Or if it's not written well, it's going to hurt the image of the book, because it gets details wrong or it isn't written as well or misses some important themes. Yet I couldn't quite find a policy that said that what this article is doing is wrong. Is there one? Wasted Time R (talk) 00:46, 24 February 2016 (UTC)

While one might argue WP:NOT#PLOT doesn't apply to non-fiction, the nature of it still does : we should not overly reiterate what is described in the book. Highlighting major themes and points is fair, but a 10,000 word summary is overkill. --MASEM (t) 00:59, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Given the lack of direct guidance for non-fiction summaries, the best we perhaps have is MOS:PLOT, which cautions that summaries of works should not overwhelm the rest of the article, or WP:UNDUE in general which discourages unbalanced articles of any type. I agree the length of the summary is excessive. --Jayron32 01:00, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Also, per guidance at Wikipedia:Plot-only description of fictional works notes several legal cases where works with excessively detailed summaries of the parent material constituted copyright violations of the original works. --Jayron32 01:04, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Just as a procedural note, its interesting to see that nearly every section of that summary in the book is from a different registered editor that effectively didn't edit much beyond that, over a very narrow time span (of a few days). I don't think it's socking (there's no signs the individual editors were blocked) but perhaps something else is going on? Class assignment? I would almost consider blanking that section just in case. --MASEM (t) 01:17, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
I'd imagine a class assignment would use the same IP, or at least ones that geolocate to the same area, and the timing would be shorter rather than over months. But you're right; it does look somewhat suspicious. Ajraddatz (Talk) 02:06, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Well, it could be an online class. ansh666 02:57, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Could be, though the time scale still seems a bit long. Oh well, I think that shortening the section per the reasons listed above makes sense. Ajraddatz (Talk) 03:11, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
One of the page headers at Talk:The New Jim Crow says that it was indeed part of a course assignment in Spring 2015. It would feel bad to rip out students' work, but it really shouldn't have been put there like this in the first place. Wasted Time R (talk) 03:13, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
This was my class's project. As the first Wiki project I engaged in, I didn't manage it very well. Frankly, I'm surprised the summaries are still up. So, don't feel bad. In fact, other work that students have contributed since has been taken down. I use these as examples about what stays on Wikipedia and what doesn't. So, it's helpful. (talk) 15:08, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Hosting class projects isn't part of this project's goals; if they want to use our site for their project, they have to live up to our rules, not visa versa. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 10:24, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Well yes but that would actually require rules to adhere to. MOS (and MOS:PLOT) are best practice guidelines, the other relevant guides are essays and MOS:PLOT doesnt apply to non-fiction works anyway. WP:UNDUE is not relevant either, excessive description is not a neutrality issue unless its skewing the neutrality of the article towards one point of view or another. An excessive summary of the subject of the work the article is about is almost never going to hit that. The appropriate place would be somewhere in the MOS for summaries for writing about non-fiction works. Which at the moment does not exist that I can see. WP:Manual_of_Style/Writing_about_non-fiction probably needs creating. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:32, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Well, it probably violates WP:Primary or wherever we say do not base articles too much on primary sources (which is somewhere in our major policies or WP:RS) and the spirit of WP:Close paraphrasing. Alanscottwalker (talk)
FYI I deleted the section per the comments above. If anyone thinks we need more policy, please propose. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:29, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
The work put in to summarize the author's arguments is a good thing. This is still a map, not the territory. There is no issue of copyright over the ideas put forward - and we should emphatically and doggedly reject any moral argument that communicating knowledge to the masses is a bad thing if it is prone to reduce someone's profit. We are here to make the sum of all knowledge available to mankind, not to put up our own toll-gates on what people are allowed to see.
That said, the deleted text had some trouble with over-reliance on a single primary source. I mean, we could cover a prize fight by having some editors watch the tape and make up tables of when and where each punch lands - but unless there are third party sources discussing those punches, the relative importance and meaning of each would be rather subjective, random, unreliable. For the rehabilitation of the text it is therefore crucial to have other third party references to the ideas in the book worked into the text, not just paragraph after paragraph with a [1] at the end. And I also think that when third parties are brought into this and organized by their own comments, it may allow for an organization that seems less ... stilted ... than repeating the author's chapter titles in order. Wnt (talk) 12:56, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
If you think this is bad try the videogame articles, where line-by-line walkthroughs are considered perfectly acceptable. "How much detail should a summary go into, and should it rely on the subject text or on third-party commentary on the subject text?" is an argument that's been ongoing for as long as Wikipedia itself. (In the particular case of The New Jim Crow—and unlike many fiction articles—I don't consider there likely to be a credible ethical or legal argument against summarizing, since unless Wikipedia is quoting large blocks verbatim it's unlikely to have any material impact on sales. In the case of novels, movies etc, where there's a reasonable presumption that at least some readers will say "now I know what happens I'm not going to pay for this", the arguments are a lot less clear-cut.)

The undisputed champion of "inappropriate level of detail" remains this article, not only individually describing every single building in a (long) road, but listing every map the original author was aware of that showed the road. – iridescent 2 13:25, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

@Iridescent 2: I don't see a need to take a potshot at video games articles in specific by calling such "perfectly acceptable"; that one is clearly noted as having an excessive plot as well as being rated C-class. WP:VG/GL#What is appropriate? takes after MOS:FILM in recommending summaries of less than 700 words, and all of the video games FAs (should) have commensurate synopses. In general, there are good and bad summaries of works across the board. --Izno (talk) 13:34, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • My answer to the main question in this section is it doesn't matter: Wikipedia is WP:NOTCENSORED, and this is not a WP:BLP issue, so vague allegations of a "description" being "harmful to the author" are insubstantial and irrelevant. If there are issues of copyright (doubtful, IMHO, if the work is merely summarized) or issues of Wikipedia policies like MOS:PLOT is something that I won't comment on, but it is a completely separate issue from "harm to the author". LjL (talk) 14:47, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

For me, I would just delete it, if it harms the quality of the article. See WP:HERE. ThePlatypusofDoom (talk) 23:19, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Does WP:V apply to drafts?

It's come up at MFD quite a bit that WP:V applies only to mainspace and on that basis, essentially statements in drafts and userspace drafts that are unverifiable (or just plain not verified at all) is irrelevant for determining whether a page should be kept, deleted or not. This seems counter to WP:BLP which applies to all namespaces. The proposals to demand that a draft apply WP:GNG and other notability standards is another matter but it seems like a glaring hole to state that I could create a page in my userspace that is completely unverified and as long as it's never in mainspace, nothing can be removed for lack of verification. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 19:00, 23 March 2016 (UTC)

WP:V should not apply (short of any BLP) to drafts, but in considering stale drafts, the lack of verification (and inability to show via searches such verification could be added) should be a factor in the deletion of such drafts. I would not expect a 2-week-old draft without citations to be considered a possible deletion candidate, but a two-year-old one (which hasn't been worked on for two years) to be a possible candidate. --MASEM (t) 19:10, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
What about, say, a four-year-old claim on what was the most read newspaper by Congolese people in the world? Since A7 doesn't apply either, is any significance asserted sufficient to keep an article on an ongoing basis, even if there's no evidence that the fact is true? I agree on the two-week example, I'm just trying to wrap my head into a sensible way to figure these out that isn't ridiculous on either end. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 19:31, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
Generally, No. If most of the statements in a draft are not only unverified but demonstrably untrue, then it might be deleted as a hoax. My view is that staleness should not be relevant, and that a draft should only be deleted if there is no reasonable possibility that it could become a valid article: if it is about an inherently un-encyclopedic topic, or if reasonably comprehensive searches have shown that there is no notability, and the nature of the subject shows that there is no reasonable possibility of any future coverage. For example, a long-disbanded garage band that never received any significant coverage could be deleted, while a draft about an up and coming musician who is not currently notable but might eventually become notable should not be. Of course, copyvios and attack pages should be deleted promptly, and the BLP rules apply to drafts (although I could wish otherwise), as do the rules against blatant spam. But beyond that, I see no value in such deletions. DES (talk) 19:43, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
WP:V should apply to content in drafts in the same way that it applies to content in article space. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate web host, and drafts aren't meant to be placeholder articles for things that might become verifiably notable in the future. We can and should be lenient with drafts (excepting the usual BLP caveats) but the goal is for drafts to become articles, and if info in a draft is challenged and no source can be found, it should be removed, just like in article space. If a draft is demonstrably unverifiable, why would we let it languish? Ivanvector 🍁 (talk) 19:58, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
Ivanvector you haven't been around MFD lately, have you? Drafts that more likely demonstrantively false have multiple keep votes and the like. I've proposed to adopt it and check on it and have built up severe doubts about the claim but I suspect if I take to be deleted because it's a hoax (well I can't prove that it's a hoax) I'll be dragged to ANI for another page-long debate about whether I'm gameplaying here. We'll probably return back into the userspace of the person who hasn't been here since 2014 until we see it again. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 21:00, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
You're right, I don't often peruse MFD, it's kind of a dumpster fire. I don't really understand what the dispute is at the MfD you linked to, it seems like you all agree that there's no source for the only claim which lends itself to notability, yet there's disagreement on deleting the draft. Are we waiting for this person dead for a hundred years to do something else notable? I don't think it's a deliberate hoax, but it's objectively wrong, it's an erroneous claim that's now been repeated all over the internet (using Wikipedia as a source) which is clearly harmful. This is a great case for backing up my point above: there should be no time limits on stuff in draft space if it can be used to build the encyclopedia, but this draft can never be an article because it's about an objectively non-notable person, so delete it. (I won't comment at the MfD lest I be accused of having been canvassed). Ivanvector 🍁 (talk) 22:27, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No Why are we applying our core content policies to anything inside drafts? As far as it doesn't read as defamatory, promotional, test, forum or vandalism, there's no cause to delete it. --QEDK (TC) 05:25, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No, WP:V should not apply to draft or userspace, just as it should not and does not apply to talk pages (do you want my own userboxes to come with WP:RS to show they're true, just in case?). The fact that WP:BLP claims to apply to everything is a bit of a bug with it, since that has even been used to claim that you can't even call sources unreliable inside of a talk page discussion if the said sources are living people (!), but in any case, the fact that WP:BLP claims to cover "everything" doesn't need additional WP:V backing. Where there are WP:BLP issues, they can be handled as that; where there aren't, there's no problem. Besides, an obviously common reason for something to be a draft is that it isn't thoroughly referenced yet. LjL (talk) 23:22, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes and no. A lack of verifiability could contribute to the decision that the page is unlikely to produce anything of use, especially if it's a stale draft. Generally, though, statements in drafts do not have to be verifiable. This all goes out the window for a BLP, of course, but that's due to a different policy. ~ RobTalk 23:33, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Send encouraging email to editors who are not responding to critical talk page notices

I won't name names unless I'm told by an administrator or WMF representative that it's okay, but can provide examples of editors who are clearly trying to contribute, but who aren't quite getting it right.

On these editor's talk pages, can often be found months of notices and warnings about often good faith edits being reverted because they weren't referenced or that they were judged to be in some other trivial (it's often trivial to find a reference for additions and/or changes that weren't referenced by the editor, rather than reverting and warning) way unacceptable (it varies, but even a lack of edit summary is enough justification for some to revert). And often the subject editors have not really been engaged in conversation anywhere.

I'd like to think that part of building an encyclopedia - online by crowdsourcing - is as much about encouraging and educating editors, as it is about all the other work that gets done.

  • Should the WMF send encouraging and educational emails to editors who are actively editing, and have talk pages filled with notices, but who haven't responded?

I can imagine why an editor might not feel inclined to enter into discussion with a deluge of templates telling them they're risking being blocked for this, that and the other, but they do continue to edit, and if the responses weren't quite so BITEy (as they often are) maybe they could be brought around to learning how better to contribute.

A happy friendly email might turn a potential frustration spree or retirement into a valuable and valued editor. fredgandt 04:24, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

  • I've always felt like those templated warnings drive away genuinely good people but I haven't got any idea how to tackle that issue at all and I'm unsure if the idea you're suggesting will work. --QEDK (TC) 19:55, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
    Not to mention the ones who don't know their line of communication is the talk page. --QEDK (TC) 19:56, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Not being referenced isn't a trivial issue. WP:BURDEN is fairly clear on that and it's extra importance for BLP issues. The issue is whether they are bad enough that it is considered disruptive at which point typically we go to ANI for the matter. I don't know what's gained by saying "I know that it's policy for you to find sources but because you've been told so many times to do it and you haven't, I think you should know to ignore them" but the first step may just be a simple English non-template "hi there, I see you haven't been active in a while and I don't know if you are aware but you can archive your page as such" and see if they respond to that. The templates probably need work though and that probably needs to be discussed somewhere. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 21:06, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
    @Ricky81682: - Unreferenced content isn't trivial, nor did I say it was; adding references is often trivial, as I said - and reverting good faith contributions and threatening editors with being blocked instead of thanking, educating and helping them add references is counter productive.
    Putting more messages on an editor's talk page to tell them how to address the messages they've already ignored is pointless. And it's not inactive editors that I've opened this discussion about, it's active good faith editors who clearly need guidance, but who aren't responding to the barrage of warnings that I suggest the foundation email.
    @QEDK: - It's exactly those editors who don't appear to know that their talk page is their line of communication that I'd like to see the foundation target, and there's no way to know if it'd work without trying (this or something else). fredgandt 01:25, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    Sorry, I misspoke. A single instance could be trivial but if it is a repeated problem, calling it trivial doesn't help. The problem is I don't see where email makes sense since the editor has to first set up an email account which I don't think is a requirement. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 02:27, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
    A lack of references is only one of the many issues and not the focus of this discussion. Where an editor can be emailed, the fact that some others cannot should not affect whether those who can should be. fredgandt 03:40, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No. If they don't read or respond to posts on their own talk page, and keep repeating the same mistakes/disruption, they need to be blocked for WP:CIR, not encouraged to continue on Wikipedia. Softlavender (talk) 08:47, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Nope - Not being funny but it's not hard to reply to a talkpage message here nor is it hard to even miss it, and who's to say these editors will even reply via email ? ... It'd all be a waste of time imho. –Davey2010Talk 19:44, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
    Making a mistake is one thing, making repeated mistakes, another, making repeated mistakes after being informed of this, and not replying but continuing to make mistakes can be simply "I can't here you, so I might continue to make continued mistakes". Continued ignoring of the policies and guidelines does not help Wikipedia. Of course I would have to see such a case but if anyone wants to see if an editor disrupting Wikipedia can figure out how to communicate? Start a discussion to block/ban that editor. If the discussion does not get a response from him/her then implement such sanction. If that does not get a response then Wikipedia has not lost anything. "IF" such supposed errors (assuming good faith) continue and specifically if they are of the same type (a pattern), any editor becoming aware of this has likely found a knowledgeable vandal that is getting away with gaming the system. We should only assume good faith until there is clear evidence that there is reason not to right? Any editor continuing to make unsourced contributions, specifically when being advised against it, is only helping spread WP:OR and not really here to build a good encyclopedia. At the very least I am sure an editor could seek a third opinion about such a practice of another editor and that would put things on the map. Otr500 (talk) 10:46, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • No. Anyone who refuses to respond to or comply with a long string of talk page complaints, warnings, requests, questions, suggestions, guidance, and "your disallowed additions were removed" notices, has at least one of a WP:ICANTHEARYOU, WP:COMPETENCE or WP:NOTHERE problem, usually all three at once, and will end up indefinitely blocked after enough time passes (as just happened to another during the past week). The "maybe they don't know the talk page is for talking" thing doesn't fly, for any editor with more than a few days' experience, and if they've racked up a long list of the above kinds of messages already they need to be blocked temporarily until they figure out what this project is, why they want to participate, and how to do so – because they're being a net negative right now – but be allowed to return when indicating clue has been obtained. If they're not new, they definitely already know better, so if they exhibit this pattern, they're doing it on purpose and they just have to be shown the door. Analogy: If a friend-of-a-friend shows up at your book circle or other quiet gathering and starts challenging people to beer pong matches, you take them aside and explain its not that kind of party, and invite them to stay or go, based on whether the actual nature of the get-together is something they're interested in and want to be a constructive part of. If someone you've known for several years shows up at every event you host, gets drunk, picks fights, and breaks a bunch of stuff, you eject them when you've had enough, and make it clear they cannot come back. That said, private e-mail or Skype or whatever between long-term contributors who have been having conflict can sometimes be helpful. And sometimes not, since if one of them's a nutter, they now have the other's e-mail address. Use with caution, after you already have some kind of inter-editor relationship with the person and solid idea who they "really are", in a personality, not ID, sense.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:01, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Privacy and dark traffic

T99174 It is either proposed or has already happened that MediaWiki, and hence English Wikipedia, along with the other WMF sites, passes referrer information to external HTTP sites as well as HTTPS sites.

User:John Vandenberg points out

" Due to this configuration change, any time a user clicks on a link on a wikimedia wiki, the webserver of the target link is informed which wikimedia website the link was clicked on. It doesnt inform the target webserver which wiki page the link was clicked on. The referrer wiki page name is only sent to the target webserver when the clicked link goes to the exact same wiki.
However, as each external link typically only appears on a few pages on each wiki, it is very very likely the external webserver can know which page you were reading if it is a public wiki."

Actually matters are somewhat worse: an eavesdropper will also be able to tell which pages have been visited, negating the whole point of using HTTPS in the first place.

I believe we should be a silent referrer, as far as possible.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 22:14, 31 March 2016 (UTC).

  • I agree. Someone eavesdropping, or a government monitoring which articles users read or edit, already has all the information they need. I request adding a POST requests option. ¬Hexafluoride (talk) 23:30, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Agree. I don't see how encouraging websites to see Wikipedia as a source of traffic is the least bit useful. In fact it's actively detrimental and encourages spam. It's also inconsistent with previous decisions like making offsite links nofollow (I think that's the term). I don't think the WMF ought to "fix" this so our traffic isn't dark. Geogene (talk) 23:55, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment It should be up to the browser and the user whether referrer is passed on. Wikipedia should not do anything about it at all. It is not and should not be the concern of anyone here - we should just follow normal internet standards. Having everybody second guessing each other is just messing around. By the way I thought browsers automatically removed the referrer when going to another site and the referrer used https. Dmcq (talk) 10:27, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
    @Dmcq: ...browsers automatically removed... yes this is part of standard behaviour, this is a proposal to use a Content Security Policy construct to "undarken" this traffic. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 23:02, 2 April 2016 (UTC).
@Dmcq: re-ping due to typo. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 23:05, 2 April 2016 (UTC).
I misunderstood what they were intending. It looks like they have a list of targets they will allow as partners and which will be told the referring website is Wikipedia without giving the subject. This is slightly than I thought but I wonder if there is not a better way. The could count up the links and send digests separate from the referrer information for instance. Unfortunately otherwise I can see the information getting to the ad men via ads on the partner sites. Though most anything interesting will anyway I guess straight from seeing who the request to the partner page is coming from. This all does very little about government snooping where they will figure it all out pretty easily anyway from analyzing the traffic. If the partner also uses https it might help a little I guess though I'm not certain then even. Dmcq (talk) 16:42, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment - Also relevant is meta:Research:Wikimedia referrer policy via DarTar. I'll just note that this is a big deal for GLAM partners (and others), but I don't have a response to the privacy concerns. I will say that any opt-in or opt-out will probably be unsatisfactory in some way, for usual reasons (i.e. if you must opt in, the vast majority of traffic will still be dark; if you must opt out, the vast majority of users will not know to do so). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 20:14, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
    Yes, and there is a solution for that, namely to redirect traffic via a click-counter, as Google does - that would allow "us" to share traffic measurements with selected partners. But it also raises other issues, which are probably best discussed separately. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:33, 2 April 2016 (UTC).
    That does sound like a reasonable alternative. I don't feel prepared to weigh in on the matter, but if there's a way to only give that information to certain partners, that makes sense. It would mean some bureaucracy in determining which are considered partners and writing some policy for the responsibilities that come with that designation, but yes, that's a separate talk. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 13:07, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
    @Rhododendrites and Rich Farmbrough: I worry about several major concerns with this solution: first ,it requires a significant amount of software development; this creates a layer of bureaucracy at a time when we are seeing core editor numbers decline: we should be decreasing workload, not increasing it; and third, it misses a major secondary effect of our importance in traffic generation, we see dozens of research libraries, cultural heritage organizations and open access publishers wanting to be involved in disseminating their free knowledge through Wikipedia and spontaneously joining us as contributors (something really common, actually). Having some type of obscure back channel for discovering the traffic, puts all of the power in our hands for creating relationships , rather than creating one type of accidental outreach channel to free and open knowledge communities through their web-metrics. These communities are developing Altmetrics and other transparent ways to demonstrate the dissemination and access to information happening throughout the world precisely because its a motivating factor for them, not just for corporate or malicious intentions. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 13:57, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Agree: This could have real-world consequences, under certain governments, and/or under circumstances of particular individuals or groups thereof attempting to spy on someone. Also agree that we should not be encouraging in any way at all the perception that WP is to be manipulated as source of Web traffic and "hits".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Agree with "I believe we should be a silent referrer, as far as possible." Passing on referrer information reveals what Wikipedia pages our users are visiting (most links are only found on one or two pages) and gives linkspammers valuable feedback about where to best place spam links. --Guy Macon (talk) 20:55, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Agree Wikipedia shouldn't be passing on the referrer. Despite the WMF comments below, from my point of view it is simply: either external websites can't see I'm coming from Wikisomething, or if they can see it because that helps with some "partnerships", then that means they get information they weren't previously getting, and that is information that can clearly jeopardize my privacy to some extent. LjL (talk) 02:14, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

Review of the change in terms of privacy concerns

Hi @Rich Farmbrough:, et. al. We did a review of the concerns you raise with both the WMF Security and Legal teams in light of the implemented change. Both have described this change as not weakening our support of user privacy, because:

  1. This change does not change HTTPS in any way for users while within our sites.
  2. Receivers of referral data only see that traffic comes from *one* of our project’s domains -- not which page the information comes from. SSL handshakes (part of the HTTPS encryption) *already* include our domain and the IP address of our servers (through Server Name Indication), so any passive observer of the HTTPS traffic could uncover this data with minimal effort. From a privacy evaluation perspective, organizations or individuals with enough sophistication to maliciously track referral data from urls on Wikipedia, could also track the SSL interactions for the same exchange.
  3. Malicious link spammers could discover which pages editors are coming from anyway by creating unique urls that signal their source. The community’s policies and strategies for dealing with link spam and bad citations provide more defense against this kind of malicious activity than HTTPS ever could, in part because of the above data *is* shared by default as part of SSL.
  4. We're not in any way changing the nofollow policy, so there is no net benefit for search engine optimization or other traffic generation strategies.

In light of these considerations, we cannot find any point of significant risk, and as others mention above, there is a net benefit for creating relationships with organizations which could partner with our community to further our mission and goals. Please let me know if that resolves your concerns, or if you have any further questions. Sincerely, Astinson (WMF) (talk) 23:09, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

I have taken the liberty of replacing your bullets with numbers to keep my reply clear.
  1. Yes, we understand that.
  2. There are two parts to this:
    • SNI could be simply disabled by becoming our own certifying authority, and re-issuing certs as a standard part of rolling out new projects. This would be an improvement in security, but is not part of the issue I raised. (Note: Since wild-carding is allowed "*" covers all present and future wikipedias, "*" all Wiktionaries and so forth, so we would only need a new cert once in a blue moon anyway.)
    • Even with the current set-up there is a difference between knowing that someone was referred to from, and hence was visiting that page, and knowing that they visited English Wikipedia at some point, and that at some later point they visited This is the issue we are talking about here.
  3. Malicious linking is a separate issue which I did not mention for reasons of WP:BEANS. However there are ways of at least partially defeating this.
  4. SEO benefit is once again, not the issue I raised.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:33, 5 April 2016 (UTC).
Hey Rich: we included the points other than two, because some of the comments above are confusing the different elements of spamming and malicious use of linking. I wanted to be clear exactly how the change currently effects the situation.
As for your suggested solution: I will suggest it to our security folks to look into -- and the primary lead and decision maker on this, Dario Taraborelli, is currently on vacation (I am helping with the research and community discussion). Astinson (WMF) (talk) 13:47, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 15:25, 5 April 2016 (UTC).
Although SEO benefit is indeed an unrelated side issue, I would like to point out that the WMF's claims #3 and #4 appear to be only partially correct.
  • Concerning claim #3, spammers could discover that visitors came from Wikipedia and which pages editors they came from by creating unique URLs, but the fact is that they usually don't. Most spammers use sub-optimal strategies, and countermeasures that work on most spammers are a good thing. With no referrer, the vast majority of spammers who spam the same URL everywhere won't know that their Wikipedia spam is working. Furthermore, those spammers who do create unique URLs stick out like a some thumb. A URL to might be legit, but when I do a a link search and it turns up and or even it is blindingly obvious what they are doing. Depending on how they do it, we might even be able to write a bot or filter that targets the unique URL spam.
  • Concerning claim #4, nofollow helps -- a lot -- but it only helps with traffic generation strategies that depend on search engines and SEO. Inserting a spam link on a Wikipedia page is itself a traffic generation strategy that works with or without nofollow. If we send a referrer or SNI the spammer knows that the visitor came from us.
I would also note that "we should be a silent referrer, as far as possible" would include putting meta name=”referrer” content=”none” on every page, rel="nofollow noreferrer" on every link, and not sending SNI information (See Rich Farmbrough's comment above for a discussion of how to accomplish that). --Guy Macon (talk) 08:11, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
Is there going to be a list of approved partners for people to look at, is it like Wikipedia:The_Wikipedia_Library/Databases or some subset of that. I can see a quid pro quo argument for some sort of data for them. Or are we talking about other partners? Thinking again about getting a digest rather than using referrer that requires a linkback which would mean Wikipedia was gathering information it did not need to which would raise other privacy concerns. Dmcq (talk) 13:15, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
We might offer this on the usual aggregated basis, where the exact numbers are "noised up", and pages or domains with less than a certain number of hits are not reported on.
Of course the question of whether this should be, for example, quid-pro-quo for partners, open data, or not be done at all, depends on philosophical and ethical considerations as well as technical ones.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 15:25, 5 April 2016 (UTC).
Here is the reason why, whenever possible, we should reveal as little as possible about what pages our users read or what links they follow:[2][3][4] --Guy Macon (talk) 17:23, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

Meta needs your help!

  • Thanks for starting a discussion there. That's probably the best venue for such a proposal. Ajraddatz (talk) 02:04, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • It appears that nobody is interested in commenting there... :( --Guy Macon (talk) 16:25, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

RfC: In-universe name details of fictional characters, in article leads

Should we list the in-universe (fictional) former names, aliases, middle names only ever mentioned rarely or in non-canon material, and other name variants of fictional characters, in the leads of these characters' articles? Example:

  • Jeanne Mary (Garcia) Deaux is a character on the soap opera Last Days of Our Lives ...
  • Jeanne Mary Deaux (formerly Jeanne Smith, born Juanita Maria Garcia) is a character on the soap opera Last Days of Our Lives ...
  • The Superfudge (in day-to-day life the reclusive businessman Robert O'Blivion, a carefully maintained alias of Petrov Vlaidimir Zorkov III) is a superhero in ...

A recent discussion of this matter, with editwarring and WP:ANI drama surrounding it, can be found at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Soap Operas#Middle names, maiden names, married names, birth names, etc.... This relates closely to previous discussions like Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Comics/Archive 48#Lead section and character names, about changing comics character leads (for articles at the name of the superhero/supervillain) to begin with the fictional "real" name of the character in everyday "life", as if these were articles on real people.

An excessive genuine example of the issue is here ("Nicole "Nikki" Newman (née Reed; previously Foster, Bancroft, DiSalvo, Abbott, Landers, Chow, and Sharpe) is a fictional character ..."), but is not representative of typical cases, and the RfC question is more general; i.e. it should be taken as using the first of the above examples as typical. It should also be noted that the simple formula "Superman is a fictional superhero.... As Clark Kent, he is a journalist by day...", or "Iron Man (Tony Stark) is a fictional superhero...", is typical in superhero/villain articles, and many other fiction (novel, TV series, etc.) articles on fictional characters with aliases, and this RfC is not challenging that. There are more complex cases as at Spider-Man, where the "real" (fictional) person who is the superhero has changed over time; these generally approach this matter with prose explanations, not long strings of alternative names, and is often handled outside the lead, as at The Shadow.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:02, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

Procedural note: I've included a bio tag on the RfC specifically because the style matter in question is mimicry of biographical style but for fictional subjects, and it's expected that bio-focused editors will have opinions on whether it is great to do this as a win for consistency, or is a detriment as a confusion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:04, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

Editor comments

  • No Leave pure minutiae to fanpedias, and not turn this one into Cruftipedia more than it already is. Robin (comics) is about the limit of what is "tolerable". Collect (talk) 21:11, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment—the style you give is pretty ugly, but I think it depends on how prominent the other names are. If we're talking about a maiden name that just happens to be mentioned on the show, then absolutely not—probably nowhere in the lead. If we're talking Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, then Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Peter Parker needs to be mentioned in the lead—but if you look at their articles, none of them are done in the style you mention. If you're talking about the "in day-to-day life" language, then no, that should be avoided. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:26, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No For the reasons I've already listed in the thread SMcCandlish linked to above (which was started by me) and at the other conversations on the matter I've also taken part in (I'll go find them now).Cebr1979 (talk) 22:32, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Here is one of them. It would take some time to find the others, I can't remember where all they've happened but, I always sorta say the same thing: clutter can go. If those names need to be here somewhere, they can go in the infobox (which just reminded me of this conversation).Cebr1979 (talk) 22:51, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose prescriptive rules per WP:CREEP. Here's another example, which I wrote myself: "Mr. Dick, whose full name is Richard Babley, is a character in the Dickens novel, David Copperfield." Explaining this character's name is not a problem; it might well be the exact information which the typical reader is wanting. Andrew D. (talk) 22:49, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No assuming we are talking non-canon or non-obvious details. I would expect that we explain that Superman's alterego is Clark Kent, or that there are number of people known as Green Lantern in the lead, all which are reasonable search terms that can lead to that article. But obscure details that are unlikely to be search terms should not be featured in the lead. --MASEM (t) 23:03, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Mostly no. Comments as RfC nominator:
    • Necessary detail for comprehension: I think the Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Superman and Robin (comics) cases are permissible, giving the detail level necessary to understand the topic, without throwing in middle names and other clap-trap, nor producing an impenetrable "name-cruft" lead sentence.
    • Non-canonical cruft: I think that non-canonical name details should be omitted (I've noticed a tendency to insert middle names and aliases from non-canonical comics, sci-fi and other media into character articles here).
    • Trivia: We should also not include former in-universe married names in a string of names as in the Newman example; if her former marriages are necessary to understanding her role in the soap, explain them in compact chronological form in an extended lead the way we treat the detailed superhero examples just mentioned, but otherwise omit them as noise. It serves no encyclopedic interest to note what someone's middle name and second married name were if these are things simply mentioned in passing in the course of the show, or were important in the show only briefly and a long time ago.
    • Nicknames vs. "real" names: It is not necessary to refer to a fictional character as, e.g., "James (Jim) Doe" if the character is always called "Jim" (cf. the Nicole "Nikki" Newman example above; it is poor in this regard, not just the long string of fictional married names). Especially do not include nicknames mentioned only once, as is especially common in sitcoms, where the writer-of-the-week makes up some back-story that is never used again. For superheroes and the like, it is not necessary to include former aliases in the lead sentence, or in the lead at all if they're not necessary for reader understanding of why the character is notable. WP is not a comics database.
    • Good example of keeping it short: The character of Penny (The Big Bang Theory) is just given as "Penny"; there is not fanwankery present about her name really being Penelope, about what her maiden name is about how she's (as of the last episode I saw, anyway) now Penny Hoffstadter, etc., etc. Her changing-over-time relationship to Leonard Hoffstadter is explained briefly in the lead, and that is sufficient. There is name-crufting going on, and it does not help the article to add any.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:11, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Penny is a good example of poor style; the article is mostly OR. So far as her name is concerned, the lead goes to the trouble of explaining that the show hasn't revealed her maiden name. The infobox gives a couple of nicknames and tells even more that we don't know about her family, such as her "Unnamed mother". As and when the show does reveal any more details, we can be sure that they will go straight into the article. SMcCandlish's long, complex list of putative rules isn't going to stop any of this because they are quite vague and unenforceable. Per WP:NOTLAW, our guidelines should be based on what happens in practise. And in practise, you can be quite sure that we going to be told that Captain Kirk's middle name is Tiberius; that he's often called Jim and so on. Andrew D. (talk) 23:42, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Sourcing of the content has nothing to do with whether the lead is laid out in the useful manner for a fictional character article. I did not read it past the lead, and the quality of the rest of the article isn't relevant to the discussion. Most of most of our articles [that wasn't a typo] on fictional characters have OR problems; a different issue for a different time. The shite state of most of their infoboxes is also an orthogonal concern. Your Kirk argument supports my view, since he gives his full name frequently in the series, and is very often referred to as Jim, so the material is pertinent in the lead; what Peter's middle name is in Family Guy is not. You can't seriously cite NOTLAW - i.e., a provision that we not treat guidelines as rigid rules – then criticize me for not coming up with insufficiently rigid rules, when my intent was clearly that we should be flexible about it, instead of our present warring approaches of wanting to include every bit of nomenclatural trivia as a wannabe rule vs. wanting to exclude all naming details even when salient as an equal but opposite wannabe-rule. Anything else?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:20, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • The case of Penny demonstrates what a waste of time this discussion is. SMcCandlish says that he hasn't read the article, just the lead, which he praises. The first thing we see at the top of that article is a big cleanup template. It has been there for over two years but clearly nobody cares enough to do anything about it. The plan is now to create even more rules for people to ignore. The article doesn't give Penny's family name but this is not because the article's authors are keen on brevity. Instead, it's because the show's writers have made sure that she doesn't have one. The lead still feels the need to discuss this but instead of accurately reporting what the source says, the lead engages in OR, telling us that she's the only lead character not to have a surname – something which the source doesn't say. The quality of this lead is awful. We clearly still have trouble getting editors to follow the fundamental principles of WP:OR and WP:V. Inventing fuzzy rules about the finer points of naming is an absurd distraction. It's especially absurd when we already have a rule which advises against cluttering up the lead with minor details – WP:LEADCLUTTER. How come no-one has pointed this out yet? It's because we already have so many rules that people can't keep track of them all. We have rules which tells us not to do this – WP:NOTLAW and WP:CREEP – but some people just love this stuff and so the rules cruft is piled every higher. Enough! Andrew D. (talk) 07:55, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
So pick a different example you like better. Next.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:16, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Mostly no as long as WP:OTHERNAMES is adhered to (e.g. Dot Cotton has been known as Dot Branning for almost half her entire history). AnemoneProjectors 23:21, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Out of curiosity, specifically what and how would you like WP:OTHERNAMES adhered to?Cebr1979 (talk) 00:03, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Pretty much per Maplestrip (Mable) below. Generally I think if a character has been credited with a name, it's their real-world name and should be included. Phil Mitchell's name in the lead is "Philip James 'Phil' Mitchell" but he's only ever credited as and known by viewers as Phil Mitchell, so it should just say "Phil Mitchell". Fatboy (EastEnders) has been variously credited as "Fatboy", "Fat Boy" and "Arthur 'Fatboy' Chubb", so I'm happy for that to stay as it is. Denise Fox has been credited as "Denise Fox", "Denise Wicks" and "Denise Johnson", so I would say all shoudl be listed, but "Denise Turner" has never been her on-screen name as it's part of her backstory so it's already not mentioned, and her middle name "Celeste" should also be removed. AnemoneProjectors 16:14, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No, but there needs to be sufficient information to identify them properly and give proper context. Non-cannonical names are instantly out, as is anything that requires original research. If it requires a long explanation, then it should be outside the opening sentence. But we need to tell people that Superman has a secret identity. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 08:37, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I think this varies strongly on a case-by-case situation. "Penny" is just "Penny", but Captain Kirk's names should probably all be there, and though the "Tiberius" part should be discussed on the talk page, I think the current form is fine. A superhero name and their alter ego are almost always both notable, unless the alter ego is only used a small amount of less notable media. Former names are rarely worth noting in the lead section, unless the character was known under that name for a long time in our world. A maiden name of a character that has been married from the pilot to the finale is probably not worth mentioning in the lead. A nickname is only notable if it is used a lot. Either way, go by sources: if you can cite a name to a reliable source, it's probably worth mentioning. I don't believe there's a specific rule you can follow, but try not to clutter the lead with fiction. ~Mable (chat) 11:07, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, provided that the canon of the fictional universe actually uses these name components. For example, the name "Harry James Potter" shows up in Harry Potter books 5 and 7, so this name should be used in the lead of Harry Potter (character); on the other hand, the name "Draco Lucius Malfoy" is never used in the books, so it should be left out of Draco Malfoy. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 12:15, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No. Use common name and common full name when known, so ok to use James Tiberius Kirk and Homer J. Simpson. But do not add "Jim" to that since that's an obvious diminutive of James. Do not add joke names in the lead such as when Vash the Stampede calls himself "Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andry Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III" Do not add names that are placed in the late reveal of a character as with Fairywinkle-Cosma to Cosmo in The Fairly OddParents. Do not assume a married person has a hyphen or assumes the married family name unless that person is referred to as such in scripts afterwards. AngusWOOF (barksniff) 19:52, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • This sums it up perfectly.Zythe (talk) 10:20, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, with limits - This should be done by a case by case basis as some characters are notable in literature for having aliases or the like. - Knowledgekid87 (talk) 13:25, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Mostly no in terms of listing them all in the lede. However, I'm "mostly yes" for listing them somewhere in the article itself. --IJBall (contribstalk) 21:42, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No, Unless... the article is for the fictional character as the notable subject - not an article about a singular actor/actress playing that fictional character. In which case, it should read " Timmy Shortpants is a fictional character portrayed Joe Bloggs whom .... " Aeonx (talk) 07:13, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong no, apart from when the middle name is part of their WP:COMMONNAME. No middle names, no dates of birth, no fictography whatsoever. These aren't biographies of fictional people, they're articles about characters as real-world creations.Zythe (talk) 10:18, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • YES and NO I'm very torn on this subject. While I understand the reasons for the ONLY using the a character's WP:COMMONNAME, but I think full names should be included to some extent -- maybe with the exception of the middle name unless it's apart of the common name. I kind of like Od Mishehu's idea of using the name when when it is often referenced in universe.--Nk3play2 my buzz 04:00, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes and No, I agree that married names shouldn't be included in the lead names, but birth names, middle names, full names, should be included in the lead like Sonny Corinthos's legal name is Michael Corinthos, Jr. and I think it should be included in the lead as Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, Jr. that is important information, because readers would want to know is the character's name or a nickname. Plus, sometimes a character's full name ties to history. I'd include the title of whatever profession they had like MD, PsyD, etc. because if these characters are in a specific profession it should be noted in the lead. Jester66 (talk) 06:12, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • No, BUT please don't add lines to the MoS as that would be instruction creep. And furthermore this RFC is slightly begging the question as it's prefaced with "only ever mentioned rarely or in non-canon material", which is usually grounds in-and-of-itself to omit something regardless of whether it's a name or a plot point or whatever. (Well, depending on just what "non-canon" means in a context of course.) I'm presuming that if editors disagree with removing these names, it's hopefully because they don't think it's "only mentioned rarely" or only by fanfiction or the like, which means that this RFC shouldn't be casually cited to remove alternate names unless they really are obscure. As a side note, I believe there was a discussion on WT:SPOILER recently, but I *would* be in favor of omitting spoiler-ish names which, while mentioned in a work, are only relevant much later in the work. If there's a 3-novel series where a character marries 80% of the way through the 3rd book and changes her name, then they should be listed under the name they used almost the entire time, not the current name as of the very end of the series, and probably shouldn't have the last name listed at all in the lede where it'd just be a pointless spoiler that isn't even very enlightening. SnowFire (talk) 21:08, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
    • I agree with the idea of "not adding spoiler names" in the sense that I believe we shouldn't discuss later portions of a franchise/work unless it is also discussed by reliable sources. A synopsis of a book series can often do well with a description of a set-up, setting, and some basic plot points, with the whole ending being ignored as non-notable. Name changes in a fictional work shouldn't be reported on Wikipedia unless reliable sources also report them. If a marriage between two characters in season x of a popular television show is heavily covered, then obviously the new name should still be in the lead. If such a marriage isn't covered at all, it isn't even worth mentioning. ~Mable (chat) 08:24, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
      • There was a discussion last October about spoilers in the first line of an article, it can be found here. AnemoneProjectors 16:19, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree with SnowFire and Mable here. For example, the current version of Pam Beesly opens with 'Pamela Morgan "Pam" Halpert née Beesly (born March 25, 1976) is a fictional character on the U.S. television sitcom The Office, played by Jenna Fischer.' Clearly the "Pamela Morgan" bit is not of major relevance and should be deleted, but her married and maiden names were both part of the character's identity for a significant time and so should be kept.--NukeofEarl (talk) 13:43, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Depends on situation I agree with Knowledgekid87 that alternate names and such should be a case-by-case basis, and middle names are fine to include as long as they are canon like Od Mishehu points out. Things like birthdate on the other hand are probably best left out unless it is a key trait of the character. Snuggums (talk / edits) 18:26, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
  • No. There might be the incredibly rare outlier where this makes sense (such as a character whose notability extends from two equally well-known names--though no examples spring immediately to mind), but by and large this would be a counter-intuitive, non-encyclopedic approach. In some instances these details may be appropriate to the lead, but placing them in the first sentence and using normal conventions for different names can result too readily in increased ambiguity as to the character's fictional nature. In my opinion, encyclopedic tone in this case requires using language and emphasis that reflects that the article is one concerning an element of fiction, not a biographical entry. The first sentence should contain the work, the creator, and a brief description containing only the most essential details. In many cases, it might then be worthwhile to cover alternate identities, especially if they are salient, central plot devices. In some cases, alias need not appear in the lead at all. But where they do, bolding will rarely be appropriate. Snow let's rap 05:01, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

More detailed commentary

WP:ARBPOL, Harassment, and Private hearings

Amendment opposed by overwhelming consensus of responding community members. Some have requested below that this discussion be left open as long as possible, such that ArbCom receives the strongest possible indication of the community's unfavourable view of the proposal. But nearly two weeks in, the !vote stands at 25-to-1, favouring opposition, this seems to be a WP:SNOW issue, and it seems unlikely that dragging the matter out further could make the disapproval of the proposal more resounding.

However, as with any community discussion, the most important result is found not in the numbers but in the perspectives provided, and the Arbitration Committee will hopefully take note of the deep concerns expressed here with regard to lack of transparency and proper process. Those concerns have been raised especially high with regard to the wording of this proposal but respondents have also expressed a more general unease with regard to the Committee's recent actions in the area of 'private hearings', with numerous users expressing the opinion that the exercise (as utilized of late) already strays from the principles of open community review of important decisions and bottom-up oversight that are generally-accepted cornerstones of Wikipedia's process.

Given the profile of this discussion, I hope I will be seen to have faithfully expressed the view of the responding editors and to not have erred in closing the discussion at this point. Nevertheless, I believe the writing is on the wall here. Snow let's rap 09:55, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

In keeping with the Ratification and Amendment section of Arbitration Policy, this is a petition that

Private hearings 
In exceptional circumstances, typically where significant privacy, harassment or legal issues are involved, the Committee may hold a hearing in private. The parties will be notified of the private hearing and be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to what is said about them before a decision is made.

be amended to

Private hearings 
In exceptional circumstances, typically where significant privacy, harassment or legal issues are involved, the Committee may hold a hearing in private. The parties will be notified of the private hearing and be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to what is said about them before a decision is made, unless the majority of active arbitrators believe that such opportunity is likely to result in or increase the harassment of a person.

The options will start with the following:

  1. Support
  2. Oppose
  3. Support an Alternate Amendment (please include a suggestion)

Please indicate your response in the appropriate section.Evangeliman (talk) 01:44, 29 March 2016 (UTC)


  1. Support the idea enough to post in this section, although I oppose enshrining it in policy. Instead, I trust that there are enough sensible people on ArbCom to recognize those rare occasions when they should ignore policy. I don't think anyone on ArbCom would be immoral enough to ever do something that they truly believe will cause further harassment, just because some rule told them they had to. I just ask that they double- and triple-check to make sure they're extremely confident that it would lead to further harassment, and listen carefully to any one of them who disagrees. --Floquenbeam (talk) 18:56, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
"those rare occasions when they should ignore policy", ArbCom shouldn't ignore policy, period, otherwise there is no point for the policy to exist. If they thing that the evidence is serious enough and they think it warrants a ban of the user without informing him of the charges against him, then they only really have one option, refer the case upward to the WMF. InsertCleverPhraseHere 20:57, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
The fact that occasionally a policy should be ignored does not mean that there is no point for the policy to exist. WP:IAR applies to every single other facet of this project, it's fine with me if it applies to ArbCom too. If it happens a lot, either change the policy, or stop doing it. If it happens once in a blue moon, it's OK. There are 15 fairly disparate people on ArbCom; they're not all going to agree to railroad someone. --Floquenbeam (talk) 23:32, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Ignore all rules is about focussing on improvement over rule following, so in that way I don't see how it applies to ArbCom. Considering that this ArbCom has decided to do it twice in a row, I've got to disagree with you. A decision like this, undressed, is precedent for the future that ArbCom can do whatever the heck it feels like. InsertCleverPhraseHere 02:16, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
The Cla68 case has nothing to do with this, so it is not twice in a row. And if you don't see preventing harassment as an improvement over facilitating harassment, I guess we're done talking. --Floquenbeam (talk) 13:43, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
"And if you don't see that abolishing transparent due process as an improvement over facilitating transparent proceedings *which still have no less an ability to punish an editor for harassment if deemed so,* I guess we are done talking" is the parallel meaning of your statement—not that I particularly agree with all Insertcleverphrasehere has to say. (talk) 15:25, 2 April 2016 (UTC)


  • Oppose as the right to defend oneself against accusations is a fundemental right of any process that even tips the hat at being fair. That the current Arbcom willfully and flagrantly are defying Arbpol as it is currently written is not a reason to re-write the policy that limits their ability to take unilateral action with no oversight, in order to make their current actions retroactively justifiable. I would also expect it to be taken that if this results in a clear oppose to the amendment, that Arbcom should cease to defy the policy that governs the use of their powers. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:05, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongest Possible Oppose I see no valid reason to endorse the idea that Arbcom may condemn people without even granting them the chance to be heard. Such a kangaroo trial would bring the project into disrepute. See Process is important. If harassment is an issue, surely there are ways to allow all sides to be heard without subjecting anyone to possible harassment, perhaps by hearing the parties separately. DES (talk) 13:29, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
Just to clarify, Arbcom have already indefinately blocked two editors without following the process in Arbpol for private hearings (notifying the accused) - which the above wording change is designed to legitimise. Cla68 (alleged BLP issues) and TDA (alleged offsite harrassment) Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:51, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose This change would turn ARBCOM into a "Ruling Party". Transparency of process allows us to check the integrity of Arbitrators, and this change would allow a bypass if a group held a majority position within ARBCOM. Cabal behavior and Group think are real phenomenon, and we need transparency and accountability to prevent those behaviors. --Kyohyi (talk) 17:42, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't think that this should get traction, but for different reasons than those given by editors above. Obviously, this proposal arose out of two recent decisions that ArbCom made in private. The way I see it, we elect Arbs to exercise good judgment about when to employ privacy concerning things like harassment. Changing the wording of policy won't improve their judgment. So pay attention to who you vote for, and who you reelect. And I think that it's only a small number of editors who feel, about those two recent decisions, that ArbCom should treat editors as though they have legal rights, the way one ought to have in a court of law. I've long wanted ArbCom to do less in private and more in public, and that's where I really see the need for reform. ArbCom should be permitted to make some hard decisions about harassment, but they need to get better at communicating the outcome to the community. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:22, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - "on the basis that informing the accused might result in more harassment" is assuming guilt before having the private hearing. Why bother having the hearing at all? On this basis a false accusation alone, backed up by fabricated evidence, is enough to result in a banning. This isn't a good idea. InsertCleverPhraseHere 20:52, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Maybe we should change it to "If the majority of active arbitrators believe it is justifiable, they can do whatever they want". I mean, if it is majority, and they are elected by the users, why don't let them do whatever they want. Vanjagenije (talk) 22:10, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. And also dismiss all the arbitrators who are violating policy and making up their own rules—which I suppose means all of them. Everyking (talk) 01:13, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose I gave my reasons in the relevant discussion already, but in a nutshell: simply letting a person know what they themselves did, in private, cannot result in more harassment. There should be an opportunity for someone to be heard before condemning them: this is basic fairness and good procedure. The case was simply bad judgement by ArbCom and then doubling down on bad judgement. Kingsindian   04:32, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - This committee is already well on the road to making this dangerous, arbitrary, unfair system its standard operating procedure. One quarter of the way through the year, more or less, and it has opened zero public cases and make two bannings without either a case or adhering to the norms of notification of the parties and admission of exculpatory evidence. It stinks and it may well be time to abolish ArbCom altogether. Carrite (talk) 07:53, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose, largely for reasons cited by Only in death above. Notice and opportunity to respond to accusations of wrongdoing are about the most basic and indispensable elements of adjudicative processes that even try to be fair and avoid arbitrariness of result. And the lack of transparency that results from these secret proceedings is incompatible with ArbCom's position as community-elected representatives accountable to the community. -Starke Hathaway (talk) 11:01, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Harassment is a serious problem and I am glad that ArbCom is taking strong action against harassers. But my imagination is not able to conjure up a situation where giving an accused harasser a chance to explain their actions in a private forum would create unacceptable harm. At the very least i would want some sanitized examples of such a situation before considering a proposal like this. And even then a supermajority should be required.--agr (talk) 11:32, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
    • One example I can think of: Editor A has clearly harassed lots of people in real life, one of them Editor B. Editor B complains, and provides incontrovertible proof (there may not be incontrovertible proof of any of the others being harassed). If ArbCom confronts Editor A with Editor B's proof, Editor A is quite likely to refocus even more harassment on Editor B. --Floquenbeam (talk) 19:12, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
      • You assume guilt before the hearing has even taken place. You say that "Editor A has clearly harassed lots of people in real life" but also "(there may not be incontrovertible proof of any of the others being harassed)" these things don't work together... there is either lots of proof of harassment or else Editor A has not clearly harassed lots of people in real life. What if Editor B brings proof that they themselves have fabricated, and the proof in question can be refuted by the accused by verifying where they were at the time of the incident or perhaps the email account where the harassment originated was created by Editor B and Editor A can prove it, if only given the chance. InsertCleverPhraseHere 20:53, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
        • wikt:incontrovertible. --Floquenbeam (talk) 23:36, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
          • wikt:clearly. Wig Bondsman (talk) 02:57, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
            • What is incontrovertible or clear to one person may not be to another, or in light of evidence that can only be brought to the discussion by the accused, thats why people are always given the chance to defend themselves, this was the gist of my argument above, but i suppose it is more constructive to quite literally argue semantics... InsertCleverPhraseHere 08:07, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Mostly per the points raised by Carrite above. In a project where transparency and accountability are supposed to be key points, having a committee which seems to hold itself accountable to neither principle is dangerous. Intothatdarkness 17:56, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - it's the right of any accused user to defend themselves before any decision is made against them. This includes a decision that giving them such a chance "is likely to result in or increase the harassment of a person". עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 18:16, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose The accused should always have a chance to explain his/her side of the story. This would be like taking away due process by adding that statement. (talk) 19:31, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
    • I don't think anyone has suggested removing a person's right to defend themselves (some of the rhetoric here is overheated, to put it mildly). The two blocks in question are more about the order of events. There are certain actions that are harmful enough that we block first, and then consider appeals and defenses. The most common example is serious, flagrant, or apparently malicious violations of WP:BLP. If we see an editor doing that, then we block them first, to prevent further real-life harm. Then we can consider wiki-legal arguments. But when you put real-life harm up against the "right" to pseudonymously edit a privately owned website, the former should win every time. That's WP:BLP in a nutshell. I think perspective is seriously lacking in this discussion. MastCell Talk 19:34, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Actually this is being brought up because at least one person has been denied that right. You can't really defend yourself against an accusation without knowing what the accusation is. And this proposed change in policy says ARBCOM can sanction someone, and deny them any form of defense. (By denying them any information as to why they were sanctioned) --Kyohyi (talk) 19:45, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
      • This would be the non-BLP issue where the subject's name was in the article when it was promoted as an FA, is linked in sources currently used in the article, and as the subject who actively gave interviews to the press, it could hardly be described as a major BLP issue given they were not trying to keep their identity hidden. It would be a hard sell at the BLP noticeboard that this is a violation of the policy, or that any real life harm is likely. Which is why bullshit like this requires scrutiny, because if the facts were known, it is a very different story to that which you are portraying. Only in death does duty end (talk) 22:00, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
        • I don't think this is the place to discuss specific past cases (if it were, I'd say that you're misinformed, gullible, ignorant, or some combination of the three). Presumably we're discussing changes to policy that would apply prospectively, to hypothetical future cases. My point is that there are situations where it's appropriate to block first and entertain appeals/explanations later. Those situations typically involve potential real-life harm. Admins make these kinds of judgement calls routinely, so it makes sense that ArbCom—who, after all, were elected specifically to handle these sorts of difficult situations—should be able to use their judgement in the same way. MastCell Talk 03:50, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
@MastCell: Let's assume for the sake of argument, that the block is due to some urgent need to prevent harm. There is an easy way to test the claim. Did ArbCom bother to contact the person afterwards to get their response, now that the urgency is gone? If not, then the assumption is shown to be false, and it is a case of acting unilaterally based on the complaint, without due process, in direct violation of WP:ARBPOL. We all know what happened here, and people can draw conclusions from that fact. Kingsindian   07:23, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
That makes no sense, as a matter of basic logic. The urgency of the block is one issue, and how (or whether) ArbCom chooses to communicate its reasoning is a different, orthogonal issue. If ArbCom chooses not to communicate (or fails to communicate) with a blocked editor, that says absolutely nothing about how urgent the block was in the first place. Separately, when we see blatant 3RR or BLP violations as admins, the perpetrators are often blocked "unilaterally" (to use your rather inapt word), without being asked to offer a defense first, but with the option to appeal after the fact.

Look, we elected ArbCom as a group of grownups to handle issues that the "community" isn't capable or competent to address. They reviewed the evidence and acted in these cases, as is their responsibility. Finally, frankly, if we took 0.001% of the self-righteous energy devoted to advocating for editors like TDA, and applied it instead to supporting and retaining sane, constructive, marginally mature, well-socialized editors, we'd have a very different and much better Wikipedia. That's the aspect of these sorts of discussions that I find most dispiriting: the infinite willingness to argue wiki-technicalities in defense of people who were irredeemable net-negatives as editors, while virtually every other aspect of this project decays. MastCell Talk 18:55, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

I agree with you MastCell, in principle, however I'd like to point out that TDA wasn't given the chance to appeal, at least not immediately, it was set at 6 months before being allowed to appeal. In the previous discussion on the ArbCom noticeboard I already suggested that a possible solution to this issue would be to remove the appeal restriction from TDA, but I also think that it is also important that someone from ArbCom comes forward and agrees that they shouldn't have done what they did , as otherwise it sets an unfortunate precedent that the majority of editors on this page seem to agree is a bad idea. InsertCleverPhraseHere 20:02, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
I agree with you that removing the appeal restriction would be a possible solution. (talk) 19:15, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
If TDA (or Cla68) was an "irredeemable net-negative", then he could've been banned through the usual procedures and there wouldn't be all this fuss. Instead, he was banned in a secret hearing based on secret evidence without the opportunity to speak in his defense, or even to know why he was being banned. To object to that isn't "arguing wiki-technicalities", it's sticking up for the most basic principles of justice, and I think it's clear that the community is essentially speaking in its own defense, against ArbCom overreach, and not so much in defense of any particular individuals—except insofar as we think each editor ought to get a fair hearing. Everyking (talk) 06:22, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
I do object to editors being banned without they knowing the reason why. Appealing the ban correlates to one of the principles of justice. (talk) 19:36, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose as serving no purpose. If ArbCom thinks that contacting that person will only increase the harassment, why do they think a siteban without a hearing is going to placate them? It appears that ArbCom already blocks people before those hearings begin, if they think there's a chance they'll run amok on-Wiki before they have time to agree to a permanent ban. There is no problem to fix. Geogene (talk) 23:33, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose: This is a (bad) solution looking for a problem. --Guy Macon (talk) 00:13, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose The committee was unable to follow the previous policy and looked awfully foolish trying (or rather failing to try) to explain how notifying a harasser of the hearing could possibly increase the harassment. It was the Rolling Stone method of journalistic rape investigations and it's clear that not involving the accused increased the harm to the accuser beyond any other process. It's bad enough that even a few arbs thought it was a good idea, but showing that it was a majority would indict the lot as incapable of rational thought. Lets not dig the hole any deeper than the not-so-brights have already achieved. --DHeyward (talk) 05:32, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
    • For the record, "notifying a harasser of the hearing" was not the objection. The objection was to giving "a harasser" the details of the complaint/accusation against them. You may, of course, disagree whether that is a significant difference. Evangeliman (talk) 15:17, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose The harasser still has the right to defend themselves, and know the basis of the ban or disciplinary actions taken against them. This is the most basic right in a just system. Exceptional circumstances can't warrant exceptional stripping of rights. ¬Hexafluoride (talk) 23:10, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose—ArbCom is not a court, and arbitration isn't beholden to legal proceedings, but basic fairness seems a pretty fundamental courtesy to accord each and every person involved in the process, and central to the pillars of the community. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:49, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Pretty much everyone above me summed up the problem with secret hearings without right of response, so there is that. Just wish this was actually proposed by Arbcom themselves, as they haven't shown any actual "give a fucks" about this issue no matter how many people say it was wrong. Sadly no one can do anything about it, yay. Arkon (talk) 20:16, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - this is the opposite of transparency, and definitely not the direction we want to go. —Torchiest talkedits 22:07, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Audi alteram partem; I agree with many comments above. The only people that would likely support a Kangaroo court would be ones that have enough power to never be subjected to one. Anyone that has ever been subjected to false allegations would likely never want one to exist. Such a "hang 'em in private" hearing (Trial in absentia without representation) is against natural justice. It would be more fair if a Grand Jury could pass sentence right? While protection of a supposed victim is a major concern, trampling the rights of another by advance measures because it might be thought a proceeding could be "likely to result" in some harm to said victim, is extreme. I suppose I have a different view than some as I feel that any extreme (egregious) detrimental actions by an editor, causing harm to another (harassment etc..), should result in a block/ban and it would cause no harm to Wikipedia. I do not ever think we should entertain giving such power to a select few to make decisions in secrecy. If this course of action were allowed it would seem there would be no appeal, as that too could be "likely to result in or increase the harassment of a person.", so that to would have to be held in secrecy. Could this not be allowing a possibility of a sanctioned lynch party? How can we possibly assume good faith that ARBCOM will always do the right thing with a potential provision that does not assume good faith?
    • I think I brought up a possibility of issuing an interaction block/ban, concerning harassment allegations (or any issue) between two parties. This would not be a punitive action but a protective one on both parties, that didn't seem to go anywhere, and I wonder how it could be explained why that could not alleviate potential problems, be within the transparent authority of ARBCOM, and a better solution than secret "courts"? Otr500 (talk) 15:58, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose I wouldn't vote to explicitly grant this power to an arbitration panel I actually trusted, let alone this one. If ArbCom wishes to conduct sub rosa proceedings during which they implement ad hoc rules, let them act in an unfair manner on their own accord rather than have us retroactively give our blessings. CoffeeCrumbs (talk) 21:20, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I don't think the community is going to sanction turning Arbcom into an internet Star Chamber court. —Nizolan (talk) 12:02, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose - Clearly, Natural Justice remains strongly resonant in the collective psyche. Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.
    It is clear in the instances discussed that the latter did not occur; and consequently the former remains open to speculation. This is to the detriment of both the Committee and the community.
    Even if, by virtue of a collective conscientious objection, the Arbitration Committee feels unable to abide by the policies that the community, by consensus, has set, they must not act contrary to those policies. And we, the community, must act to strongly condemn any such contrary action; as the editors above have done.
    It is clear that in the initial instance which is understood to have provoked this discussion that, by policy, a hearing, whether in public or in camera, should have been held. If the committee felt unable to do so, and assuming that the matters at hand were of sufficient severity, the matter ought to have been referred to the WMF; I propose that we enshrine such referral in policy. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 10:47, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose, as it really gets too far when you start saying "you can have sanctions without oversight as long as you let the sanctioned parties respond except when you better not let them, and no one's the wiser about it all having taken place". This is an open community, come on. LjL (talk) 17:50, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - no compelling arguments for policy change have been presented. In extreme cases it would be appropriate for Arbcom to request a WMF intervention.--Staberinde (talk) 16:05, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Support Alternate Amendment


Note this in particular. Evangeliman (talk) 21:30, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
This proposal, as written, refers only to the first case (banning of The Devil's Advocate). Nobody said anything about harassment in the second case. There is an ARCA request about the second case. Kingsindian   04:28, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
That's nice of you to ask, thanks, but I do not feel it's necessary for me. I feel like I said what I wanted to say. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:43, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
Me too. --Floquenbeam (talk) 21:03, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Call for snow close

  • look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. This proposal is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged discussion. Look, I took the liberty of examining that proposal when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there. 'E's passed on! This proposal is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PROPOSAL!! --Guy Macon (talk) 00:13, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
    I was going to earlier today, but I figured that it would be fine if we let it sit to the end of the week to see if the Weekenders have a different opinion. --Izno (talk) 00:41, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
    Even though the vote is already overwhelmingly against it, I think it's really important to let as many users as possible have their chance to say that this is not OK. As a community, this is a situation where we need to send a very strong and clear message to the ArbCom that we can't accept this kind of thing. Everyking (talk) 05:37, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I too think it a dead horse and trying to ride it will just inevitably cause stinky pants. I think it should run the duration for the above mentioned "very strong and clear message to the ArbCom" that not only is this is a very bad idea, shame on whomever thought it up, but so all voices can be heard. I also would hope that an admin would close just for sake of it. Surely we have admins that are thinking WT_. Why would I think that important? Because I would vote to elect an admin to ARBCOM that stood up for other editors rights even those accused of a transgression. This was hopefully a good faith idea yet nonetheless a tyrannical solution. Otr500 (talk) 16:21, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

By this point I think it's clear enough that the community is overwhelmingly opposed to the ArbCom doing this. Ordinarily, that would be enough: the proposal was shot down, crashed and burned, and we all move on. The ArbCom, however, has already made this proposal an ongoing practice, and it has so far not responded and has not stated whether or not it plans to continue this practice (or reverse the decisions that were already made in line with this practice). The matter can't be considered settled until we know whether the ArbCom intends to respect the community's wishes. Everyking (talk) 23:33, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

Actually I think the logical next step, now community consensus is clear on the above, is a proposal that requires Arbcom to follow Arbpol as written: In short conduct a case (following the rules for private evidence laid out in Arbpol if necessary) for both TDA and Cla - or alternatively unblock both users as they have been blocked both out of process and without authority/remit to do so. Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:59, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
That sounds like a sensible way forward. Everyking (talk) 04:04, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Amendment to Wikipedia's reference policies

this clearly isn't going to get anywhere. No use wasting people's time by keeping it open any longer. --Jayron32 18:56, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I propose to that Wikipedia make changes to its referencing policies. In my personal opinion, "personal information" or "personal knowledge" should be allowed. People who write paper encyclopedias aren't required to cite all of their sources - some of it is written based on just what they know. AgrAVE BAnks 17:32, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

Aren't they; is it? Can you cite your sources for those statements? Face-wink.svg fredgandt 17:36, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
it seems to me that technical articles leave room for some summary/explanation that wouldn't always need citations (ie summarizing/explaining the cited/factual content in the article)....but if you're stating a verifiable fact then of course it should be cited, and this policy makes sense.... (talk) 17:47, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
Having just looked at your contributions and talk page, I see the problem you wish to address is something you've personally had trouble with.
Your writing is good, but without reliable references can only be accepted as original research by readers. Since readers have no way to distinguish OR from other content, and we can't manually verify every addition to the encyclopedia, we need a blanket policy of requiring everything to be verifiable and referenced.
Look at it this way: I could add "When playing Simcity, the player may press and hold the A key for 35 seconds to enter secret mode ..." and go on to describe this secret mode in some detail.
Should that be allowed?
In order to find out if there's any truth to that statement, the reader has to actually try it. There are over 5 million articles. Can you imagine the insanity if we allowed anything and everything to be included?!
Where a statement is notable it is likely to also be mentioned elsewhere, in books, or websites or newspapers etc., and we can quite simply connect our statements to these sources to confirm that we're not just making it up.
Something that you have unfortunately been the victim of, is the easy reaction to unreferenced additions - that is the removal of them. Another possible action editors may employ, is to place a {{Citation needed}} template after the questionable addition(s), then contact the editor who added them asking for sources. Unfortunately this happens less than I'd personally like. Another even rarer possibility is editors finding references for unreferenced additions in order to save the new content for posterity.
Again though, with over 5 million articles, that's a lot of work to keep on top of, for editors who are arguably right in feeling that the responsibility to back up their additions with references lies in the hands of those making the unsourced additions.
I encourage you to find reasonable references in the wider world that offer some proof of the additions you want to contribute, then be bold and try again. If you run into problems with other editors not accepting your referenced contributions, there are procedures in place to find an amicable resolution.
In short, if we publish anything anyone has to say, this encyclopedia would be utter nonsense within hours, and completely trashed within days. fredgandt 18:32, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
Well technically you would cite SimCity as the source (as a primary source) and verifiable by playing it. Much like you would cite films and books for their respective content - verifiable by watching/reading them. Was this an argument at random? Or is the OP's issue actually over game-cheats? Because is a good secondary source for anything gameguide/cheatcode related. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:05, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Actually, Gamefaqs is not reliable - it's all user-generated content. --MASEM (t) 14:10, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Reliable with a small r. When was the last time it was wrong? Besides if you are citing both a primary and a secondary source, then being told to come back with a Reliable Source (TM) to confirm that IDDQD starts God Mode, thats just another editor being a rules lawyer. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:20, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, no, not necessarily. Just because something is true, and you can source it to a small-r reliable source like Gamefaqs doesn't mean it warrants inclusion - this would lead to lots of excess fan pushing for material. The requirement for using Reliable secondary sources means that it has been noted outside the circle of fans, not just to source it but show its considered important to put into a summary article. If the only place you can learn how to activate a game's God Mode is via gamefaqs, its generally not appropriate to include regardless how correct it is. That's, in part, the issue with the original point of this discussion. --MASEM (t) 14:39, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Do you have some way of magically preventing the creationists from inserting their personal knowledge that the earth is 10,000 years old or the holocaust deniers from inserting their personal knowledge that Hitler didn't kill any Jews? How would you resolve the competing personal knowledge some have that Ted Cruz is the Lead Singer of Christian Metal Band Stryper[5] and the personal knowledge others have that he is the Zodiac Killer[6]? --Guy Macon (talk) 18:45, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
As Guy (lol) plus similarly useful gems like this erm claim(?) on the talk page of a semi protected article. If it weren't semi protected, what might the result have been?
Unfortunately, not all edits or editors can be trusted, and so none can. fredgandt 19:01, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This isn't an amendment to policy, it turns what Wikipedia is upside down. some of it is written based on just what they know. - Sadly, many, many people know things that are not true, or are unable to distinguish between fact and their own subjective opinions. And paper encyclopedias are not wide open to every person on the planet who has a computer and Internet access and is old enough to use them (about 4); they are far more selective about who writes for them. No offense, but if one set out to propose a non-starter, it would be something like this. ―Mandruss  19:27, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

The reason that paper encyclopedias don't cite all their sources is that there are editors there who are hired to spend their time checking the writers to make sure that what they say is accurate. We don't have them and the Verifiability policy, which is the policy which requires references, is what we have that stands in the place of those editors. Without it, nothing here could be trusted. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 19:52, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

Facts that are unlikely to be challenged (like London is on the river Thames - which can easily be checked by anyone) do not require references anyway. So the policy is not overly restrictive.
WP:Trivia should not be mentioned in any case, and facts that do not have reliable sources, but can be checked by anyone, can be trivia. The reliable source in this case would have the role to show relevance. (in the example mentioned above, is a secret level relevant enough for mention)
So no to amendments, there is enough leeway in the current policies that should help you to discuss the case on the relevant talk page. Arnoutf (talk) 20:01, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose: I am sorry but I am having trouble laughing while trying to type. I assume that "In my personal opinion, "personal information" or "personal knowledge" should be allowed." means source policy, like references, would be canned. Allowing personal information or personal knowledge, with policy backing, would mean such policies and guidelines like no original research, verifiability, Wikipedia:identifying reliable sources, and even WP:FRINGE, along with others, would not be necessary. The idea of "This is information that I personally know, so it should be allowed", is seeking a slippery slope that totally ignoring all rules including consensus could somehow benefit Wikipedia. Lets start a rfc to gain consensus that Wikipedia be sold to Google and the proceeds divided among all active editors. Otr500 (talk) 02:18, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Personal knowledge may be true, but it clearly isn't verifiable - that is, it could be made up and no one would know it. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 02:57, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - This editor appears to be attempting to rewrite Wikipedia just so they can add some of their WP:GAMEGUIDE information into a video game article. They seem to be disappointed that Wikipedia is not a fan-wikia or Gamefaqs. If you want to contribute in the manner of a video game guide writer, then contribute there, not here. Sergecross73 msg me 13:39, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Opppose - This would obviously undo Wikipedia. —Torchiest talkedits 16:21, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

RfC: Religion in biographical infoboxes

Overwhelmingly clear consensus (36 "remove" to 12 "keep" and one "rename the parameter", if anyone cares about raw numbers) to remove the parameter from the infoboxes. How to implement this removal while ensuring that those cases in which the religion is significant to the article subject is adequately covered either in the body text or in a custom parameter will potentially require a second RFC if a discussion can't agree on a mechanism for an orderly removal of the parameter, but it's clear that there's strong consensus to remove the parameter from the generic infobox. ‑ Iridescent 20:26, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Proposal: Should we remove from {{Infobox person}} the |religion= parameter (and the associated |denomination= one)?

  • Religion would be covered in the main article body, with context and sources (if included as relevant at all, per consensus at the article).
  • Permit inclusion in individual articles' infoboxes (through the template's ability to accept custom parameters) if directly tied to the person's notability, per consensus at the article.
  • Permit inclusion in derived, more specific infoboxes that genuinely need it for all cases, such as one for religious leaders.

Rationale: This would be consistent with our treatment of sexual orientation and various other things we don't include in infoboxes that are matters which may be nuanced, complex, and frequently controversial. The availability of a parameter encourages editors to fill it, whether they have consensus to do so or not, regardless of instructions in template documentation to gain consensus first; new and anon IP editors generally do not read documentation, they simply see a "missing" parameter at article B that they saw at article A and add it.

While written for categories, the concerns of WP:CAT/R and WP:NONDEF may be logically applicable here, since the context-free data in infoboxes serves a categorization/labeling purpose, not an expository one; their reasoning is frequently applied to navbox templates, at least informally. So is that of the WP:BLPCAT policy, which explicitly covers them, and lists. Per WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY, WP:LAWYER, and WP:GAMING, if the community's consensus is to avoid certain kinds of arbitrary, contentious, or factually questionable labelling, this consensus must not be evaded by moving the label to a different spot on the page in a different wrapper.

Procedural notes: I'm listing this at VP because RfCs at the infobox template talk pages tend to overrepresent the views of infobox template editors and those who argue about these templates frequently, and I think this deserves – requires – broader input, considering reader needs, encyclopedic purpose, editorial community strife levels, etc. I think matters like this also very directly relate to the resistance against including infoboxes in entire categories of biographical articles, but I'm not going to leave pointers to this RfC at every wikiproject on the system; VPPOL exists for a reason. PS: If anyone really wants to, the places to look for any previous RfCs or other discussions on this parameter would be the archives of this page, of Template talk:Infobox person, Template talk:Infobox, Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography, Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Infoboxes, and Wikipedia talk:Notability (people) (all of which have already been notified of the current discussion, and the similar one on the |ethnicity= parameter.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:26, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

Comments for / against

  • Support removal, as the nominator. The |religion= parameter causes constant strife and disruption (for multiple reasons), across a wide range of articles, with no end in sight. There are real reasons we don't have "|orientation=bisexual", and why things like |ethnicity=Hispanic are subject to a similar ongoing RfC; these reasons mostly apply to religion as well.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:26, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - Usually religion is both irrelevant and contentious. It is of course necessary for clergy and similar people whose religion is part of their notability. Robert McClenon (talk) 01:55, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Since it is, in your words, "necessary for... people whose religion is part of their notability", your argument is an "oppose", not a "support". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:25, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • No, it's not. You don't appear to have read the proposal, Andy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:27, 24 March 2016 (UTC
        • You mean the "custom parameter" cludge? What a crock of shit that is. I'll expand my own !vote to explain. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:41, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support religion is unique in that unlike other parameters, someone's religion cannot be determined without the subject making a statement about it. If there are secondary or tertiary sources, those always, by necessity and without exception defer to the subject as a primary source, and are not thus not verifiable.Mduvekot (talk) 01:59, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Actually that is not invariably true. When a person routinely and publicly attends religious events of a single specific variety or denomination, that is a matter of objective fact that secondary sources might report on. And i think it would be enough to source a statement that a person "belonged to X religion". There might be other ways in which public actions clearly indicate a religious affiliation. None of which says that this is appropriate in an infobox parameter, of course. DES (talk) 02:13, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Which brings up another point: observance against belief. Plenty of people throughout history have performed the observances of a religion (possibly under the threat of public ridicule/disbarment from office/torture/death) but who knows what they truly believe? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:18, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • This reasoning is false. There are often third-party sources that someone served in or regularly attended a particular church, for example. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:25, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • The point went pretty far over your head, didn't it? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:34, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • (edit conflict) @Pigsonthewing: Which wouldn't make it relevant. See WP:NOT#INDISCRIMINATE. A source can probably be found that a particular subject believes in astrology, but it shouldn't be in the infobox or in the article at all unless (as with Nancy Reagan) it's actually important in the context.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:31, 24 March 2016 (UTC
        • So much for WP:BLUDGEON. I didn't say it would make it relevant; I indicated that when it is relevant it is often also independently verifiable. Yet another straw man. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:50, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
          • Which is still off-topic. If it were not independently veriable, it wouldn't be included anywhere in the article at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:08, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
            • It's not off-topic at all; see the claim made by Mduvekot in his ill-founded "support", which I am refuting. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:13, 24 March 2016 (UTC)


  • @Curly Turkey: Because of broken indenting (please fix it, per WP:LISTGAP), it's not clear to whom your comment is addressed. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:55, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Too nuanced to be covered by a single infobox parameter. Of course it can (and should) be extensively discussed and explained in a good biographical article (where relevant) but it isn't necessarily helpful in an infobox. --Jayron32 02:09, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • There are many things which are "[not] necessarily helpful" in some cases; we don't use that as a reason for preventing them in all cases. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:28, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • The issue is not "should religion ever be mentioned". It's whether the infobox is the appropriate place to mention it. I posit it is not, largely because the infobox does not allow for nuanced explanation or discussion of what is often a complex issue. The article text is a fine place to discuss religion. This is not a refusal to include text about religion in articles. It's a note that the infobox is usually not the place to do so. --Jayron32 01:58, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
        • Yes; that's how I read your comment. Allow me to clarify: There are many things which are "[not] necessarily helpful" in infoboxes in some cases; we don't use that as a reason for preventing them in infoboxes in all cases. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:37, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - it is controversial enough to deserve discussion if it is notable. If it isn't notable, then like sexual orientation and the other elements not included in infoboxes for the same reason, it becomes trivia. There are some cases where religious affiliation might be important but not notable for the individual, such as with British politicians in the 16th-19th centuries, but in those cases too where it is relevant it can be explicitly discussed in the article. Ajraddatz (talk) 02:11, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • As can everything else in the infobox. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:28, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • PLease see WP:BLUDGEON. Make your own Oppose comment. It's not helpful to badger other people about theirs.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:44, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
        • Please don't try to stifle discussion. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:46, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
          • Andy, people disagreeing with you doesn't equate to stifling discussion. And not everything else in the infobox is trivia - looking at a page like Justin Trudeau, there are some important pieces of information in there. Positions held, political party membership, and these are key to understanding who he is. Religion? Not so much, and it is controversial enough that I can understand why the proposer would want to leave it out. Ajraddatz (talk) 16:58, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
            • Nothing in the "Personal details" part of Justin Trudeau's {{infobox officeholder}} is "relevant to his notability". His article would clearly demonstrate his notability if none of the information in that section (which does not include the offices held) was mentioned in the article, but it would clearly be a deficient article for not mentioning those things, and they are all verifiable information which can be summarised to those few words from the longer prose in the text. --Scott Davis Talk 08:20, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
              • Did you just go on record stating that Justin Trudeau's place and date of birth, affilitation with the Liberal Party of Canada, and relation to PET are not relevant to his notability? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 09:38, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
                • I think I did, yes. There are (or could be) other people born on the same day and affiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada. This is not relevant to their notability. Those facts are necessary for a comprehensive biography, but not relevant to the WP:NOTABILITY of the subject. His relationship to Pierre Trudeau is also insufficient to satisfy notability, otherwise the article on Sarah Coyne would not have been deleted. --Scott Davis Talk 12:17, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
                  • Well, good luck finding even a flicker of support for that one. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:33, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
            • You're misrepresenting me. Again. I didn't say that people disagreeing with me is them trying to stifle discussion. I pointed out that people citing WP:BLUDGEON when someone disagrees with them is. Nor did I say that everything else in the infobox is trivia; I pointed out that everything else in the infobox "can be explicitly discussed in the article". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:42, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support per nom, with clarification. We should not avoid things simply because they are contentious. We should avoid things that are unjustifiably contentious—bikeshed, essentially. ―Mandruss  02:15, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Keep (or Oppose) We say where people were born, we may as well at least suggest where they go when they die. If there's contention about a certain person, hammer it out on the talk page, and leave blank till there's a certain solution. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:20, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
    • Comment: There is a world of difference between where someone was born, which is a physical, geographical, verifiable fact, and what they say about what they believe will happen to them after they die, which is an unverifiable matter of pure speculation and personal belief. Hence the explanation above about nuance, which is putting it rather generously. (Unless you are just trolling us with the above, in which case well done and never mind.) – Jonesey95 (talk) 02:46, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • That's a matter of faith. Unerifiable, but gets many through the days. I don't believe in trolls, myself, or many other myths, but if someone else does, that's a matter of (eternal?) life and death to them. Noting who subscribes to which distinguishes them, and distinguishing someone is a good step toward defining them. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:55, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
        • InedibleHulk: Keep in mind that the context is strictly the infobox; nobody is suggesting removing sourced information on a person's religion from the body of the article. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:05, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
          • Yeah, I know. I like an infobox and lead that summarizes the body. Key facts, at a glance. Especially for the longer or clunkier articles. There are only so many hours in the day, and even fewer for busy folk. InedibleHulk (talk) 21:06, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
            • I don't see an argument in that statement for highlighting religion in the infobox. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:46, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
              • That's because I don't want it highlighted. Just included (if known). InedibleHulk (talk) 07:57, March 25, 2016 (UTC)
                • An infobox functions to highlight key information. You can't include a piece of data in an infobox and not highlight it. If you just want the info included, then the body should be more than sufficient. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:11, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
                  • I'd figured highlighting made something stand out against the rest. If ten or twelve things can all be equally highlighted, then yeah, I want to highlight religion, too. InedibleHulk (talk) 21:18, March 25, 2016 (UTC)
      • Straw man. This is not |belief in afterlife=. This is about which religion a person follows, while alive. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:29, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
If you believe in reward and punishment, you'll try to live the righteous life. Or at least ask forgiveness when you don't. Two sides of the same coin. InedibleHulk (talk) 21:09, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal under situations matching an argument I've made WRT military service: if its inclusion in the main body would lead a reasonable person to ask, "Why is this here?", it should not be in the infobox. 🖖ATinySliver/ATalkPage 03:01, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. Religion should be allowed in an infobox only when the subject's religion can be demonstrated to play a key or defining rôle in the person's biography—such as with religious leaders, missionaries, or whatever—and then only under the condition that it can be simply and clearly defined and is uncontentious. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:02, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. We don't need to fill in every single infobox parameter for every person. If the information is not directly relevant, it shouldn't be there. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 06:33, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly support. Infoboxes need to be kept to a brief succinct summary. The main body is the place for a detailed discussion, particularly of any controversial matters. "known for" and "occupation" are available if religion is a key identifier, otherwise keep it out. Besides which, those people for whom religion is a key factor often have occupations which clearly imply the fact: Pope, Archbishop, Dalai Lama, Mullah, Rabbi and so forth. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:26, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • No; we only have infoboxes for some people for whom religion is a key factor: those you list are only for clergy, not laity. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:21, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • This discussion is about {{infobox person}}, not any others. Pretty obviously "occupation=recognised religious leader" is going to imply clergy, in a Christian context at least. If you re-read my comment you will note that (1) I also mentioned the "known for" parameter which is appropriate for the likes of Richard Dawkins (for example - let's not reopen the whole atheism/religion debate here) and (2) "and so forth" includes those whose occupation is specifically religious but who are not part of a formal clergy. If a person is not a professional religious and is not especially known for a religious stance mention it in the article but not in the infobox. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:12, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
        • It is you, not I, who raised the subject of other infoboxes; I merely pointed out that those you listed are not sufficient for all the people for whom religion is an appropriate topic to include in the infobox. Dawkins is utterly irrelevant. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:17, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. While the religion parameter may be relevant for those known primarily for their religion (e.g. priests and other clergy); or those who publicly and strongly self identify as adherents of a religion; the many debates about using this parameter when this is not the case is a serious problem. Therefore in my view, the benefits of this parameter for a relatively small set of articles do not weigh against the problems caused by over-user of it. I support removal. Arnoutf (talk) 11:05, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose removal. I am consistently baffled by this approach. Yes, there are some pages where this field is contentious, but this is outweighed by the vast majority where it is not, especially in historical cases. Of course there are cases where "it's complicated" is the best answer we can give, and obviously in those cases the field isn't appropriate; in others, consensus may determine that it's best left blank, and that's fine too. But in many, many articles (again especially in historical cases), it is a simple, uncontroversial field, like all the others. I do not see this as equivalent to sexual orientation or ethnicity (which I agree have no place in infoboxes - for what it's worth, I'd be targeting nationality as the most useless one still there); religion has a far lower incidence of being controversial than either of those do, and is rarely anything like as ambiguous. I am particularly unconvinced by the argument that it should be removed since being there at all encourages people to fill it regardless. I've seen very few infoboxes with all 100-odd parameters filled in, but I guess, for the 0.1% of the time someone tries it, I guess we should thin the herd - I mean, really, what kind of reasoning is that? I see, quite frankly, an overreaction here - an understandable one since I'm sure these are tedious and frustrating disagreements, but that shouldn't mean that the 99.9% of cases where this field is uncontroversial, useful and relevant should be ignored. For what it's worth, I think the current documentation needs rewording - "include only if relevant" is absurdly non-specific and, in my view, pointless, since "relevant" is virtually impossible to define in the majority of cases (I mean, is birthplace "relevant"? Is family?). A better instruction would be "include only if verifiable and uncontroversial", which I think covers the bases. Frickeg (talk) 11:26, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
Did you just suggest, Frickeg, that we should extend WP:BLPCAT, WP:BLPSOURCES and WP:NONDEF to cover the infobox |religion= field? I believe they already do, and they make clear (unless I have misunderstood) that use of the |religion= field is restricted to cases where the subject's religious belief is a defining characteristic of their public notability. In short, their religious beliefs must be why they are notable. Xenophrenic (talk) 19:31, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
I concur with you that they already do (although, again, in my opinion they are unnecessarily narrow), but disagree that it then follows that religion must be the reason they are notable. In fact, WP:NONDEF makes the difference between "definingness" and notability quite clear. Frickeg (talk) 22:41, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
@Xenophrenic: You have left out a few words of WP:BLPCAT. The full sentence in question is Categories regarding religious beliefs (or lack of such) or sexual orientation should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources. Note that it says "public life or notability". --Scott Davis Talk 01:37, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
No, I didn't leave any words out. In fact, I didn't quote it; I paraphrased the three policies, and I believe I did so accurately. And Frickeg, you are, of course, welcome to disagree with Wikipedia. I think it would only be problematic if you attempted to edit against such "narrow" guidelines. As we all know, notability applies to determining if a subject should have a Wikipedia article. Once that article exists, it can be (and usually is) stuffed (including infoboxes) with all sorts of factoids of varying significance and relevance. EXCEPT when it comes to highlighting religion, ethnicity and sexuality in a Cat or IB; to do that, the information must be a defining characteristic of the subject's notability. Something that would exist in the WP:LEAD, no less. Xenophrenic (talk) 02:36, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying. This appears to be the point at which we have different interpretations of the same words. I see nothing that says that a defining characteristic of the subject should not be reflected in an article's infobox, even if that characteristic is not part of their WP:NOTABILITY. If the article's prose clearly and unambiguously describes the subject's religion (with appropriate references), then I consider it likely to be appropriate (i.e. there could still be cases where it is not) to include this religion in the article's infobox. This is similar to many other aspects of a biography. Very few people are notable because of their date of birth, or the political parties they are or have been a member of, however these are commonly characteristics used in an infobox (and often a category) if they do not require qualifications or deeper explanations. --Scott Davis Talk 13:32, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Religion is a key defining character for a significant number of the people we write about, and is often closely related to the reason for their notability. To suggest that the many non-clergy in, for example, Category:Roman Catholic activists should not have their religion shown in their infobox beggars belief. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:13, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • In these cases, their religion is generally evident from a glance at the article. Explicitly labeling the pope as Catholic is superfluous and looks weird, as if insulting the reader's intelligence.  Sandstein  12:40, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • No, "self-evident from a glance at the article" doesn't cut it - that's why we have infoboxes. I specifically referred to "non-clergy" - Popes use {{Infobox Pope}}. Another straw man. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:44, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Regarding the proposal to "Permit inclusion in individual articles' infoboxes (through the template's ability to accept custom parameters)...": This is a horrible, horrible cludge, One of the purposes of infoboxes is to provide clear, structured information, with using unambiguous label:value pairs. We increasingly also have the option to transclude data from Wikidata, also. This suggestion is counter to both. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:01, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
      • If custom parameters were a kluge, we would not have them. label=value pairs are just a feature of the templating language. Unambiguous ones, in the sense you mean, are an edidor convenience not a requirement. Our generation of metadata is an afterthought, not a requirement. There are are theoretically 1,000+ pieces of metadata we could generate about a topic; our deciding not to do for one because it's nuanced and complicated has no implications for anything. Existence of a datum in Wikidata, some day, does not require that en.WP accept it; our sourcing, relevance, and other standards are local to this particular WMF project, and the relevance varies with context within that project. The likelihood that Category:Roman Catholic activists should have their religion shown in their infobox is why the proposal would permit exceptions. I think this covers all the points you raised.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:00, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
        • It may cover them; it certainly doesn't refute them, since it's full of non sequiters. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:10, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
          • Which non sequiturs would that be? Nothing encompassed at wikt:non sequitur applies to what I posted. "You're wrong" is not an argument. Actually, this is better hashed out in the discussion section below.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:52, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
            • Which non sequiters? Well, there's your first sentence. And your second. And your third. And your forth. Then I stopped counting. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 20:44, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Captain Obvious says; If we are going to have "religion: catholic" on all the articles about popes, shouldn't we have "defecates: in the woods" on most articles about bears? Except of course for polar bears. And perhaps a few popes I could name... --Guy Macon (talk) 04:04, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. In most cases, religion isn't such an important aspect of a person's biography that it warrants particular mention, and as with ethnicity, religion (which moreover can change over time) is often subject to such ambiguity that it is not suited to a one-word highlight in an infobox.  Sandstein  12:39, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • We have many other infobox properties which change over time: |alma_mater=, |employer=, |spouse=, and so on. Used without harm. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:01, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal – Infoboxes oversimplify complicated field of religious identification, leave to problems of WP:NPOV and WP:V. It can be discussed in the body, but it does not deserve prime billing in the infobox, which is giving it WP:UNDUE weight. RGloucester 13:37, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Alter parameter name Rename the parameter to 'religion_if_has_wp_weight' as per what I said in the discussion below. We should be dealing with the root problem which is people not understanding the requirements for including information. Dmcq (talk) 13:59, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal – The proposal is a common sense approach. For those persons such as clergy, members of orders, or those whose notability is otherwise tied to their religion (for example, Category:Roman Catholic activists, the custom parameter option could still be there by consensus. For the vast majority of notable people, such information is irrelevant in addition to being ambiguous at best, and contentious without a justified balancing benefit at worst. TheBlinkster (talk) 14:12, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Religion is, as mentioned above, nuanced. While it may be important in some peoples life it is not in others, even those who are nominally religious. By labeling a person with religion= it is possible that we are bringing undue attention to this facet of their life. Beyond that, massive disruption caused by conflict on-wiki about this parameter causes more problems than the, very limited, benefit the information provides to our readers is worth. JbhTalk 14:41, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Far too much tenacious editing revolving around this field, showing it doesn't work readily. It's only a fact that can be sourced to self-statements, and that's difficult to get. --MASEM (t) 14:46, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose — Religion is frequently an objective and relevant qualifier for people. Where it is (and only where it is), it belongs in the infobox. It makes little sense for Gerry Adams identified in the Infobox as Irish but not Catholic. One can think of dozens of historical situations (from post-Reconquista Spain to colonial Massachusetts to Nazi Germany) where religion is as consequential and salient to the lives of people as nationality. This is a blunt technical solution in response to a problem of overeager editing. Instead of an RfC turning off a feature, we should be extending the guideline at WP:MOS—"Ethnicity, religion, or sexuality should generally not be in the lead unless it is relevant to the subject's notability."—to the infobox.--Carwil (talk) 15:21, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal - as someone who edits mainly medieval people (and many ecclesiastical leaders at that) I'd even be in favor of removing it for many religious figures. We don't really need it for someone who is a bishop - it is redundant and often times leads to fringe pushing of terms not used in the sources (See "Chalcedonian Christianity" at Template talk:S-rel#Introduce two new parameters which has also sprawled out into the infoboxes for medieval bishops). Ealdgyth - Talk 15:24, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal Infoboxes are best used for simple statements of fact, and as there is a strong likelihood of "religion" etc. being a contentious claim in many cases, the prudent course is to remove that line but even if a minority of cases are not a problem the removal is still the correct course. Many editors, alas, think "if the line exists in the infobox, it should be filled in" and this has now been shown to have very bad results. This is not "turning off a feature," it is "removing a temptation to place contentious material into infoboxes." (Yes - I would support removal of all material which can be viewed as "not simple statements of fact" from infoboxes, if that is ever proposed. I have been berated in the past for asserting that labelling people by religion may end up implying "guilt by religion/ethnicity/association" but I retain that assertion here.) Collect (talk) 16:25, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. I have never understood the largely US view that everybody must have a religion. Even without the confusion of religion, ethnicity and culture inherent in, for example, "Jewish", in most cases it is completely irrelevant, on a par with their favourite pizza topping. I could be persuaded of the utility in the parameter remaining but with a strong documented comment that it is to be used solely in cases where religious activism is a prominent facet of the subject's public persona. Thus it would be removed for Bernie Sanders but not for Ted Cruz, for example. I will remain forever disappointed that "wingnut" is not an allowable option though. Guy (Help!) 17:20, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • See Demographics of atheism. 90% of Americans say they "believe in God?" whereas for the EU as a whole the figure is 51%. If you look at northwest Europe the it is roughly between 25% and 40%. Very, very simply put: for a US-centric view "Everyone has a religion - what's yours" in distinction to a NW EU-centric view "if you want to, that's up to you".
This fire-worshipping Canuck didn't mean to imply by his opposition that everybody must have a religion. Just that those who do should have a place in their infobox for it. If editors can't figure out how to figure out if somebody is religious, that's on them. I might just be hanging out at the wrong articles, but I've wasted far more time arguing with angry people over birthdates. The box is innocent! InedibleHulk (talk) 21:31, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
And no, we don't determine innocence through trial by fire. And we don't live in igloos, or say "aboot"... InedibleHulk (talk) 21:34, March 24, 2016 (UTC)
You may not, but Ted Cruz does. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:15, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
Went right over my head, and sent me on a wild goose chase, before I realized what you're talking aboot. Damn political games cost me 20 minutes (forever!), but at least I learned who he's fired, what he's under fire for, who says his pants are on fire and what Fire Island means in Washington (nothing!). Thanks for that. InedibleHulk (talk) 23:06, March 25, 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal as being an attractive nuisance which tempts editors who don't understand our policies or the nuances of religious beliefs to get into huge stupid fights over infobox entries. --Guy Macon (talk) 20:56, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal. Significant information for many people. SSTflyer 03:09, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
    • "Race" is "significant information for many people". We don't pander to those audiences. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:13, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Religion can be sourced to the person herself. Race cannot. We can limit its usage, but wholesale removal is inappropriate. SSTflyer 06:48, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal, Frickeg said much of what I am thinking. In addition, infobox standard parameters allow for standard formatting and in some cases microformats to assist catalog engines of various kinds, and correlating information via Wikidata. Infoboxes should contain more than just "what is relevant to the subject's notability" as some people above have said. It should contain verifiable facts about the subject that are likely to be attributes that a reader might look for without wanting to read the entire article. I have no problem with infoboxes that have |religion= having their documentation updated and standardised to be more explicit that |religion= and |denomination= are only filled in if they are described and referenced in the text, which is the standard required for many infobox parameters. There are many parameters of infoboxes that are used in hundreds of articles for information which is not relevant to their notability, but once their notability is established, are relevant to their description. Most people are notable for something they have done, yet the infobox on an article about them includes name, date of birth, age, nationality, a photo, spouse, ... which are not relevant to their notability, but are relevant to summarising the information about the notable person. --Scott Davis Talk 08:05, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Shoesizes are not listed in infoboxes, and are, in the point of view of many Europeans, probably more relevant information than religion. So not all verifiable information about notable people that is relevant to summarise the information is provided. (note that the word relevant often, like here, is inherently subjective). Arnoutf (talk) 09:25, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
      • I would have no particular issue with including shoesize in the infobox of an article that contained cited prose about the subject's shoesize which was not WP:UNDUE weight to that aspect of their life. --Scott Davis Talk 12:17, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Religious beliefs are not immutable, for many people they change over time. On a dating site it might work because the question then is current religious belief and the person who chooses the option is self declaring. But we are writing an encyclopaedia, and the infobox risks overly simplifying things. If we can reform the process so that religion is only used where relevant then I might be persuaded to change my view. ϢereSpielChequers 12:37, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. Due to the ongoing insistence of various editors in causing BLP headaches. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:11, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Very Strongly Support removal. Support. I was going to join the dozens of commenters above and give my "Support", primarily because proper use of the field is a constant source of editorial disagreement and it is a time sink. Data entered into that field is mutable, often ambiguous, and rarely is an accurate summary of the subject's religious beliefs. After carefully reviewing the (only 6 at this time) "oppose" arguments in search of reasoning I may not have considered, I've changed my "Support" to "Very Strongly Support", because the arguments not only failed to convince, but often strengthened the case for abolishing the |religion= field. One opposing argument equates date of birth (an objective point of public record data) with religion (a subjective notion which can only be self-declared, and rarely accurately summarized in 1 or 2 words), and ignores the highlighting done by the neon-light billboard known as the Infobox. One argument was based on the woefully inaccurate assessment, "I do not see this as equivalent to sexual orientation or ethnicity (which I agree have no place in infoboxes...)"; when Wikipedia strongly disagrees (see WP:CATGRS, WP:OPENPARA). One argument bemoans by way of example, that "Category:Roman Catholic activists should not have their religion shown in their infobox beggars belief", yet when I examined the (all 200+) entries in that category, the vast majority aren't even using the |religion= field, and the minority that do are not using a standardized data format. One argument defeats itself by admitting that an infobox "is to provide clear, structured information, with using unambiguous label:value pairs", when entries in the |religion= field have frequently shown themselves to be anything but clear and unambiguous, and are often contentious. One argument suggests we can keep the |religion= field if we only extend "the guideline at WP:MOS—'Ethnicity, religion, or sexuality should generally not be in the lead unless it is relevant to the subject's notability.'—to the infobox", oblivious to the fact that we already have, and it has failed to solve the problem. (See WP:CATGRS, WP:BLPCAT.) Two other arguments were either clueless about the issue, or amounted to "me too". I'll continue to watch for just one substantive argument against removing the problematic field. Xenophrenic (talk) 19:09, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
To address my "woefully inaccurate assessment" here, I think (as I said above) that you are conflating "definingness" and "notability", which are quite clearly different concepts. WP:OPENPARA does include religion with sexual orientation and ethnicity, but hardly equates them; moreover it is clearly phrased as a suggestion and not a hard-and-fast rule. As for WP:CATGRS, that is again a bit of a stretch - they are grouped together as "potentially controversial", not "aligned in all ways". I will say that my stance here probably derives quite heavily from the fact that I generally work with historical politicians, for whom religion is very commonly important (even in recent history) - sectarianism has often been a significant aspect of political history in Australia (and in other places of course - I mean, this is kind of important for, say, Irish politicians, no?). Especially in early cases, it is often just as important as the |political party= field. Whether I would argue for its inclusion in other infoboxes (say, of actors, or sportspeople) - I don't know, but I suspect I wouldn't. But this goes back to my original point - this parameter is useful a lot of the time, and should not be removed just because it is the source of what I am sure are annoying disagreements. Adapt the documentation if we must; don't burn the place down. Frickeg (talk) 22:51, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
Of course I have not conflated "definingness" and "notability", and WP:NONDEF should serve to clear away residual misunderstanding, if you feel the need. I mentioned that Wikipedia treats ethnicity, religious beliefs and sexuality with extra sensitivity and care, and with additional requirements and restrictions over all those other fields — especially in Categories and Infoboxes — and your most recent comment doesn't give me reason to change my assessment. Arguing with me that policy wording says "should" instead of "shall"; "generally" instead of "absolutely"; or is deemed a "guideline" instead of a "policy", etc., will be unpersuasive. The fact remains that religious beliefs of living persons are very frequently contentious, and therefore have higher sourcing requirements, and also more stringent requirements before they can be highlighted in an infobox or category. Religious beliefs are not well suited at all to being shoehorned into a template field or category that is designed for unambiguous, consistent, objective summaries of key facts, and that is why there is overwhelming support for removing the field. No one disagrees with you that religion can be important for historical politicians and others, and it certainly should be covered in the article. And no one is suggesting that we get rid of infoboxes specifically designed for people notable because of their religious beliefs. Xenophrenic (talk) 01:59, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Keep/Oppose removal: Improve the instruction set. In the cases where religion is an important part of someone's identity (for example Jimmy Carter) It should be made part of the metadata and used in an infobox, but also, there are many other parameters in {{Infobox person}} that aren't used in every article and are often irrelevant; height, weight, religion, political party, shoe size, etc. What I think is a better solution than removal is to refine the template page so that the "basic set" people can copy and paste is universailzed to only the most significant parameters (name, DOB, location, notabilit, etc.) , and all the other miscellaneous parameters that people use sometimes are in a "optional parameters to be used when appropriate". Montanabw(talk) 16:55, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
    • We already have WP:CATGRS which tells us that Religion, Sexuality and Ethnicity are to be handled differently and with more sensitivity than "shoe size" or "birth place". We already have an "improved instruction set", WP:BLPCAT, WP:BLPSOURCES and WP:NONDEF, that instruct us how to handle such information, yet the |religion= field is still a perennial source of contention and misinformation. It is also anything but standardized, as one would expect from a metadata field. Xenophrenic (talk) 19:31, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
    • Montanabw: Perhaps shoe size should be removed. People don't fight over, nor do they insist that it should be filled in for every infobox, so it hasn't been an issue. Some very vocal editors continue to insist that the "|religion=" parameter should be filled in even when the subject has no religion, or even if the religion is unknown. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:22, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
      • Just continue to insist that encyclopedic content must be verifiable. If they insist it mustn't, warn and/or block. Generally works elsewhere. InedibleHulk (talk) 22:05, March 25, 2016 (UTC)
        • In other words, as long as shoe size is verifiable, it must never be removed from the infobox? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:15, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
I've yet to see a shoe size in an infobox (Ajaz Ahmed doesn't even have a box), but if there's a field and a good source, no. Not until a newer source shows there's been growth or shrinkage. InedibleHulk (talk) 22:20, March 25, 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support removal. The "Religion" parameter has been or is being used for entirely POV purposes in far far too many biographical articles. In most of the cases the article itself, and the person's life or lifestyle itself, does not even evidence the importance of religion or religious practice. Softlavender (talk) 01:16, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. Religion is much better addressed using full article prose where appropriate, rather than being oversimplified in infobox labels. In theory we should just have guideline that it's only included where it's specifically clear and noteworthy, but religion is an unusually messy matter and this field rises to the level of attractive nuisance. The religion field should remain in boxes for religious leaders, or other boxes explicitly relating to religion. Alsee (talk) 05:26, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove - It would be fine if it were an available parameter that was used sparingly by intelligent editors. Unfortunately, there are too many POV-pushing motards out there... Carrite (talk) 13:18, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removalSome things can not or should not be summarised in an infobox. Keep them for simple uncontroversial information. AIRcorn (talk) 02:05, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal - Source of too much edit warring, even when sourced (Pattimura has been host of Muslim/Christian proponents edit warring a couple times, for instance). — Chris Woodrich (talk) 04:23, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose removal - Firstly, it is not right to remove a feature just because it causes of conflict or edit warring in articles (And is hard to maintain with). Even though religion is believed by many, as identified in the above comments, a harbinger of conflict, it is still an important indicator of many individuals' biography. People don't seem to be readily identifying the numerous wars and other events in history that were heavily influenced by religion, or more importantly the religious adherence of certain individuals. I believe that is extremely important for religion to be identified. Though it may not be required in the infobox in cases considered obvious, like Pope, not all religious leaders around the world are so well known, and it's inclusion in the infobox will only help an easier identification of the person. Also, to avoid any claims that I'm personally biased and a strong adherent of a religion, I'd like to state that I consider myself irreligious and an agnostic atheist. --Rollingcontributor (talk) 13:42, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal - apprising the reader of religion in the Infobox falls under the purview of our role in disseminating salient information. Disagreements over this should be discussed on individual article Talk pages. Bus stop (talk) 13:58, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose The same as above.--RekishiEJ (talk) 12:00, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - It's too hard to pin down in too many cases. Pope Francis: easy. Christopher Hitchens: not so easy. People who conflate race and religion, people who think atheism is a religion, people who think you're an x if you were ever an x and haven't formally been excommunicated, and the rest make everyone else's life miserable over this. In too many cases the question "Religion?" can't be answered in one or two words. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:39, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal Religion is sometimes relevant to a person and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes including the field in the infobox is both accurate & verified and provides appropriate weight. An example might be the newly elected Vice-president of Myanmar. To put this into context, his religion (christianity) is as significant as, say, the race of the current president of America, which is mentioned in the opening sentence of the wikipedia article. The same could be said for a former president of India who was a Muslim or the last Prime Minister of India who was Sikh. This should be enough for us to include it as a non-mandatory field in such a widely-used template. If, in a particular case, someone's religion is either contested, unverified or the inclusion would give undue weight to the fact, then this should be discussed on the individual page. I suggest a better solution would be to draft/expand a guidelines for use of this template that could clarify the test that should be applied on whether to include or not include for a particular individual. AndrewRT(Talk) 22:19, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal. Summoned by bot. Glad to see this up for discussion. Yes, get rid of it. The religion parameter in the infobox has resulted in a lot of unnecessary and heated squabbling in Bernie Sanders, where there is much hairsplitting discussion over whether he is Jewish in a spiritual or ethnic sense or whatever. Yes, many of us have a fascination with religion and ethnicity. Where relevant, it can be discussed within the body of the article. Coretheapple (talk) 14:34, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Coretheapple—You suggest removing the religion parameter from the Infobox at the Bernie Sanders article. Do you also suggest removing:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Mitt Romney,
Roman Catholicism from Rick Santorum,
Nondenominational Evangelicalism from Rick Perry,
United Methodism from Elizabeth Warren,
Presbyterianism from Rand Paul,
Roman Catholic from Joe Biden,
Nondenominational Christianity from Jim Webb,
Roman Catholicism from Chris Christie,
Episcopalianism from Jeb Bush,
Episcopalian from Lincoln Chafee,
Roman Catholicism from Marco Rubio,
Anglicanism from John Kasich,
Southern Baptist from Ted Cruz,
Seventh-day Adventist from Ben Carson,
Methodist from Hillary Clinton,
Presbyterianism from Donald Trump,
Roman Catholicism from Martin O'Malley,
Nondenominational Christianity from Carly Fiorina,
Methodism from Jim Gilmore,
Southern Baptist from Lindsey Graham,
Southern Baptist from Mike Huckabee,
Roman Catholicism from Bobby Jindal,
Roman Catholicism from George Pataki and
Nondenominational Evangelicalism from Scott Walker?
These are of course all people who are, or were, candidates in the United States presidential election, 2016. In each case their religion is found in the Infobox at their article. I think this information could be useful to some readers. I think it therefore should be in the Infobox where it is viewable at a glance. You refer to "hairsplitting" but I don't think such "hairsplitting" is substantially found at the reliable sources supporting this information. Bus stop (talk) 00:37, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Actually when I was summoned by bot to the RfC on the Sanders talk page I argued for inclusion of his religion in the infobox. At that time I observed an enormous amount of sniping over that on the talk page, which carried over to my talk page, and your response above proves my point. The religion of all these people can be discussed where appropriate in the article proper. Coretheapple (talk) 14:46, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal I was also summoned by a bot. Not only could this be covered in the main article body but often the need to simplify someone's religious beliefs down to one or a few words can be misleading. For instance, a person may live in a time and a place that by default requires them to identify as one religion but that person may not actually agree with the majority of the beliefs of that religion in practice.Louieoddie (talk) 07:05, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal not relevant to peoples' notability for the majority of biographies, and for those cases where it is a prominent aspect, it can easily be discussed in article body. I would personally get rid of the parameter entirely, but can understand including it in infobox for people whose religion is key to their notability. Snuggums (talk / edits) 04:26, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly support removal. Unaware that this discussion was going on, I opened another thread today on a change made in one article, replacing "Catholic" in the article of a King of Navarre, with Chalcedonian Christianity, and, apparently, this has been done in articles such as the ones on Charlemagne, Clovis I, and others. --Maragm (talk) 19:54, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Removal - Infoboxes cannot be a complete summary of the article, only a short summary of the article. Experienced has shown that for this field, summarizing is not useful and can be contentious. Robert McClenon (talk) 12:51, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal - Makes sense to me. Reasons have already been pretty well presented (here and elsewhere, many times). Ultimately it's too often too complicated and too sensitive, and ultimately better handled in the text. Also support the inclusion of exceptions in this proposal, as there are certainly several articles for which local consensus can come to the conclusion that it's appropriate. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 13:01, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal - often too complicated to handle easily in limited space of infobox.--Staberinde (talk) 16:11, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm not averse to the idea, especially due to the "template's ability to accept custom parameters" caveat. We certainly see dozens of cases daily on STiki and at AfC where IPs usually just add religions due to good faith edits. The problem arises from the fact that we have parameters which merit special treatment and more stringent referencing quotas, if you will; usually editors that are new and have no clue about infoboxes or verifiability do not know assume the onus is on them to establish fact, not to mention read template documentation. I don't have any ideas as to how this underlying problem could be solved, but if removing the religion parameter from easy manipulation provides some sort of respite, I'd like to see how that works. Best, FoCuS contribs; talk to me! 18:18, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal - if religion is especially notable to a subject it'll be covered in the article: but just as nom said race and sexuality aren't covered so religion shouldn't be either: just as other supporters state religion can be very nuanced. WP:LAMEish edit wars over the parameter would hopefully end under this proposal. NottNott talk|contrib 13:25, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Keep It creates machine readable data about a relationship to a group. Other onthologies include ways to relate a person to a group, e.g. includes affiliation and memberOf. The more that is removed the less useful the data model becomes. The premises against are based on percieved or potential misuse which to me seems like a problem with the editor and not the model. Moreover, the category religion is not an artifical type but a mapable reltionship to categories which represent worldviews. It is also a metric since "Religious Organizations" have a NAICS code 81311 which can be placed into the naics field in the ontology which is sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 19:20, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
    • I think from some of the comments above there is clearly consensus that when a person is part of the organization of a religious group (such as priests and ministers), that specialized infoboxes for members of these religious fields should still clearly indicate the religious group they follow/serve/work for. This would readily address the schema aspect and the ideas around NAICS codes for religious organization. But your average person, those concepts don't make the same type of sense, since most people do not have the deep involvement with the organization of the religious group. --MASEM (t) 20:19, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
@Masem: that is part of my point: relegating the relationship to a specialized infobox excludes that relationship from the majority of people articles unless they, in effect, pass the qualification/restriction of a specialized infobox. It is more open to not restrict that relationship. Your other point, i.e. "do not have the deep involvement", is a different type of thing. The religion field is for establishing that a relationship exists between the subject of the article and the thing named in the field (organization, group, religion, etc.) – it does not define the quality of that relationship. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 20:43, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

Call for snow close

Call for snow close by any uninvolved editor per WP:SNOW. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:00, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Extended discussions


--Guy Macon (talk) 04:20, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

  • See also previous discussions of ethnicity at Template_talk:Infobox_person [7].  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:43, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

All this removal of things - infoboxes will start removing date of birth soon at this rate and pictures will be removed because they are not the definitive picture of the person or show them at the wrong age or something like that. The basic problem is that people are putting in things which aren't really relevant and for some things we really require that it have some weight. Isn't what's really necessary to rename the parameter from'religion' where people think it is okay to just find it out, or even feel obliged to find it out, and stick it in, to some name like 'religion_if_has_wp_weight' so people think for a moment if the religion is actually something people associated with the person as part of their interest? We should be concentrating on the actual problem not on removing things because clueless people might misuse them. Dmcq (talk) 13:51, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

  • That's a slippery slope fallacy and reductio ad absurdum. The removal of one thing from infoboxes (or even 17 things) would not mean "infoboxes will start removing date of birth soon". What's the difference between changing it to a parameter name no one can remember, and just removing it and allowing it to be done as a custom parameter (i.e. another string that people are not liable to memorize). In both cases, it requiers the exact same thing: Slowing down long enough to go to the template documentation page and figure out the name of the parameter to add, just enough time to think critically. The proposals are essentially equivalent.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:23, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • What this discussion is highlighting is the need for clearer guidance on filling in infoboxes... to help editors figure out when it is appropriate to include a given infobox parameter... and when it isn't appropriate. It's not a one-size-fits-all thing. Blueboar (talk) 15:03, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
    • No doubt we do need that, but it seems unlikely to solve the problem. The majority of edits by this point are made by non-regulars (or I saw stats to that effect no long ago; even if it's not quite so, a large percentage of them are). They have no idea what template documentation is. They see |religion= empty in an article, so they fill it and move on. Their next stop is an article where the entire parameter is missing (because consensus discussions the editor doesn't know about remove it). So they add it and fill it, and move on.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:09, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
Exactly my point. Just rename the parameter so they do think and that will probably reduce to problem to something fairly minor whilst letting people put it in where appropriate. No great fuss or fanfare. No need for editors to do anything special just because of clueless drive-bys. As to the slippery slope business we already have arguments around the place about removing any montage of few people illustrating something like a religion or a people and RfC's like this one and the one below. Yes it is a slippery slope and we're flies in the inside of a pitcher plant heading down to the digestive juices below. The first aim should be to develop an encyclopaedia, so we should try and allow things and just put in as little as necessary to stop things going wrong. Dmcq (talk) 15:26, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
Except there's a lot of concern that usually including religion labels is not encyclopedic. I'm content to let the RfC play out. You and I have both made our views clear already. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:48, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
An RfC is supposed to also be about comments and you have gone straight to wanting a particular solution without the discussion about alternatives. Even the descriptive text for 'religion' has not been phrased in a way that would stop people just sticking them in if they can find a citation. Your solution is about making it technically difficult for some editors who might be interested in religious matters whilst leaving it as something that can be cut and pasted by a technically competent drive by editor from another article without them seeing any real warning. It should be straightforward wher eit is appropriate whilst deterring people just sticking it in because they can figure out the religion. Dmcq (talk) 21:57, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
To clarify, I think I've said my piece already, and am more interested in letting the discussion run, without trying to dominate it, that's all. I don't have a "campaign" to manage here. I've asked a question, and the community can ponder and answer it. This question was inspired by the earlier-started RfC on ethnicity in biographical infoboxes (a discussion that is now immediately below this one, having been moved here from its off-topic original location on the talk page of the main infobox meta-template). I honestly don't follow your objection, anyway. The idea here is that we should not have religion in infoboxes at all, except where there's a consensus at a specific article's talk page to go out of our way to insert that information there because we're certain that it's correct, that it's relevant, that it's simple and non-controversial enough to be such a one-word label, and that there's proper sourcing for it. Based on experience it seems unlikely that most cases meet all of those conditions, and as a result, strife erupts constantly over the inclusion of |religion=Something here, on page after page. Better to just leave it out, in my view, and the RfC asks the broader editorial community if it collectively agrees.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:18, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
SMcCandlish—I can't agree that "most cases" fail to "meet all of those conditions". I think that the single point of disagreement I have with this RfC concerns "simple and non-controversial". I think that in fact religion is often "simple and non-controversial". Controversy can also be generated by those wishing to remove religion from an Infobox. It is easy to veer into original research and argue that such-and-such a factor calls into question the religion of an individual. That is a problem found on individual article Talk pages. I don't believe one should attempt to solve this particular problem by making this problem project-wide. This particular problem would be alleviated by applying the policy of no original research to the discussions that arise over this question. Bus stop (talk) 01:16, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
If that were the solution, then the problem wouldn't exist, would it? It's not like NOR is a new policy, or we didn't know how to use it until this afternoon. PS: It's not necessary to diff people's quotes from the same conversation. If they can't remember what they said within the last day or so, they're probably not competent to be working on the project.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼ , 02:43, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Not a problem—let me un-diff the quotes. Bus stop (talk) 02:51, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
The problem isn't one of WP:NOR but of WP:WEIGHT. That's why the current description of the parameter is wrong. It can be quite easy to check the religion - and that's all the description currently implies one should do - but really very often it just isn't something important enough to stick into the artricle.. We don't often for instance put in what hair color of height people are and reli=gion is quite often just an incidental foist on people by their parents rather than anything relevant to anything of interest about them. Dmcq (talk) 11:52, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Dmcq—you say "We don't often for instance put in what hair color of height people are and reli=gion is quite often just an incidental foist on people by their parents rather than anything relevant to anything of interest about them." That is an argument for the omission of religion from the Infobox at an individual article. It is not a general argument for omitting religion from Infoboxes at all articles. You are correct that WP:WEIGHT could be applicable as a part of an argument for the omission of religion at an individual article. Some editors are presenting that argument when they use the word "highlighting". If I can paraphrase such editors, they are arguing that the placement of religion in the Infobox "highlights" that person's religion. This is debatable, and I am going to refrain from entering into that debate. Suffice to say that is an argument concerning WP:WEIGHT, but that argument is not applicable to all articles. Certainly religion, according to reliable sources, in some instances, is justifiably noted. And this is not just in the case of for instance clergy. Reliable sources sometimes draw connections between for instance behavior displayed and religious affinities, whether incidentally foisted on the individual or not. The point that I wish to make is that this debate properly takes place at the individual article. We should not be deciding here that in all cases religion in the Infobox constitutes undue weight, because sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Bus stop (talk) 18:51, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
I was commenting on where you said NOR is what disputes on this should be decided on by saying the problem was weight rather than OR. I never said that religion was always inappropriate for inclusion or should only be put in for clergy or anything else you said. Now if you are saying that verifiability is enough and weight doesn't matter then you would be disagreeing with me. Dmcq (talk) 00:30, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
Are most of the offending edits coming from people who are using the visual editor? If so, the proposal from User:Dmcq appears to be an effective way of addressing this, which I would support. AndrewRT(Talk) 19:49, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm unaware of any connection. To clarify, this isn't about "offending edits", but whether it makes sense in very many cases to religiously label bio subjects in their infoboxes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:18, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

Question for clarification of scope Is this conversation about all biographical infoboxes as the section header says, or specifically about {{Infobox person}} as proposed in the question? A significant difference in the current layout is that {{infobox person}} generally highlights the personal information before the positional information, whereas {{infobox officeholder}} tends to put official positions first and personal information further down the infobox. I wonder if the supporters' "highlighting" concerns can be addressed by changing the layout of infobox person to emphasise positional over personal biographical information. --Scott Davis Talk 08:33, 25 March 2016 (UTC)

It was intended to apply generally, including to derivatives of infobox person, like infobox officeholder; the "straw the broke the camel's back" case was Bernie Sanders. The RfC is phrased such that, if the result were to deprecate the parameter generally, a WP:LOCALCONSENSUS could override this, e.g. for clergy. In theory it could also override this for politicians, though that would defeat the raison d'etre of the RfC to begin with. It would definitely be okay, and expected, to override it on a case-by-case baais, e.g. for a candidate whose platform and part of their notability is the advancement of a particular religion and/or denomination's views. Anyway, I don't think "highlighting it less" by moving it further down the infobox would have any effect on the analysis of whether the alleged information belongs in the infobox, since it mostly has to do with relevance, oversimplification, PoV and/or original research (e.g. particular interpretations – one might be "proud to be Jewish" or "a supporter of traditional Christian values" without either being a statement of religious faith or affiliation at all), etc. Probably the least important concern is where it is in the infobox. The presence in it at all, as a one-word label with no context or nuance, is the issue.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:32, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
There are something like 300,000 Wikipedia articles with infoboxes about people (person, officeholder etc). The |religion= parameter seems to be contentious in under 300 of them, less than 0.1%, which says to me that in the vast majority of cases, it is handled well under existing policies on the talk pages of individual articles, and does not require heavy-handed mass removal. At most, the "short form" blank template examples could be modified to not show an empty religion field suggesting that it would normally be filled. --Scott Davis Talk 01:39, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
That is a potential outcome. The ethnicity RfC below could go the same way. I don't see it as the optimal outcome. I think it comes down to this: We can go out of our way to pigeonhole other people with over-simplistic labels, or we can avoid doing this and focus on why they're actually notable, on their own terms. I've noticed that articles that take the latter approach tend to be more encyclopedic and well written, while the former tend to have more problems and attract more PoV disputation. This isn't simply a difference in Wikipedian approaches either, but a far more general one. In simple terms, it's far more important to understand what the 44th president of the United States has accomplished (and failed to accomplish) that what the first black president of the US has. JFK's accomplishments and foibles had nothing all, really, to do with nominally being a Catholic. PS: I disagree with your stats. Not all of the 300K bio infoboxes use the religion parameter, and the number of active vociferous disputes is not a measure of the number of problems, just of the ones that people are presently pissed off about enough to be fighting over. A lot of the religion (and etnicity) labels on minor-notables' bios are problematic, but not many editors care to argue about these things on the article of a chemist from Zagreb, an actor who last did a movie in 1937, or a billiards player who retired in 1986.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼ , 02:43, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: My stats are fine. I agree that not all of the bio infoboxes display religion, and that is the point. If an article does not describe the religion of the subject in the text, it shouldn't be in the infobox either, and that is generally not contentious. There are a few articles that seem to be generating a lot of heat when some editors interpret the sources to be present but ambiguous or conflicting. Taking away a standard way of summarising religious affiliation for the thousands of articles where it is not contentious is a rather excessive sledgehammer to crack the walnut of a few contentious articles, and a few with inadequate referencing, for which other policies already apply. --Scott Davis Talk 00:25, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
Meh. There are all sorts of things that could be in infoboxes which are not, and the world has failed to fall apart. Nothing is set in stone on WP. The parameters in this pair of RfCs have proven problematic. If they were removed, either an increase in calm and productivity will result, the opposite will, or no noticeable change will occur. If it turned out that consensus changed again after the removal of one or both of them, re-proposing their addition would probably be a simple matter, especially if the past was learned from and they were implemented in a more restricted way. If they were not missed, then it was the right decision. If dispute levels remained constant, then the parameters evidently wouldn't matter much either way, and would probably be put back on the basis that they're harmless.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼ , 02:43, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Your RfC explicitly refers to {{Infobox person}}, and no other infobox, And since you refuse to tell us where you have posted notices about it, it's reasonable to assume that that does not include the talk pages of the other infoboxes to which you now attempt to extend it. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:15, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
Why don't you go ahead and do it, then? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:25, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) And see WP:IDHT. You've already been told twice now, Andy, that I explicitly provided a list of where I posted, in the procedural note, and that if you doubt its accuracy you can check my contribs list for the same time frame to see if I'm lying. Waving your junk in my face is not going to impel me to re-list them for you redundantly. No one is obligated to deliver notices of RfCs to other pages at all, especially when posted here, WP's centralized forum for such things. And no one can (or should) stop you from posting more notices, if you think the first round of them wasn't sufficient. Have at it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:31, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
It should not be decided project-wide how religion is handled in Infoboxes because this is fairly standard biographical material which when well-sourced is well-suited to Infobox presentation. Bus stop (talk) 12:09, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm particularly concerned that this discussion at the bottom seems to be the only discussion about the parameter, there was no discussion as far as I can see before the RfC was raised about alternative ways of solving the problem. Having more people jump in saying oppose or support does not fix that. I think at best this RfC should be treated as a poll of how people feel about the religion parameter. Dmcq (talk) 13:10, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
That would be a reasonable outcome. Not all RfCs are to decide on immediate courses of action. They were not actually intended for that at all when instituted, but actually meant to be polls of editorial opinion as an aid to consensus formation, not the be-all and end-all of it. It isn't actually true, however, this is hasn't been discussed at length before. It comes up again and again; this is just the first time I know of that it's been centralized in a place frequented by a broad sample of content editors, not just editors focused on a paricular dispute locus, or those most interested in template coding. The ability to add features to a software development project leading to implementation of ones "just because we can" that are not really needed, or even counter-productive, has been well-documented for decades, and even has a funny name.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:31, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.