Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 15

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Demonstrating consensus or the lack thereof

I have, sadly, seen this debate played out in just about all our policy and guideline pages. A group of editors express the need to change something in a Policy... They claim a local consensus (ie consensus among themselves) as to language. Another group resists that change. They claim a local consensus for keeping the "long standing" version. Each group claims that the other group has not demonstrated "Community Consensus" (ie beyond the local consensus) for their view. It come down to this... When such debates arise, do we need to demonstrate a larger community consensus to change, or do we need to demonstrate a larger community consensus to maintain? And, in each case, how do we determine whether that larger community consensus has been achieved or not?

As I see it, the underlying problem is that the "larger community" does not really worry about what the policies and guidelines say until they get into a dispute and need to resolve it. Thus, there is very little input from that larger community when a proposed change comes up. We can post a notice of the change at the Village Pump and various e-mail lists... but usually such postings do not generate a lot of comment one way or the other. The larger community remains silent on the issue. The question then becomes, how to we interpret that silence? Is the fact that the larger community has not bothered to express an opinion on a proposed change a tacit approval for the change... or a tacit approval for the "long standing version"? How do we judge "community consensus" when the "community" does not give an opinion? Blueboar (talk) 16:22, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

How do we answer your question when the community does not give an opinion about it? We don't know how many people are reading your headline nor reading your question. There certainly aren't many people providing answers. Do you have a specific suggestion for dealing with decisions made in obscure Talk pages of templates and WikiProjects? -- SEWilco (talk) 15:35, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I think this is an increasingly important question. As WP grows - and as its many layers of "behind the scenes" discussion/policy, etc. pages grow exponentially - the community is becoming more and more dispersed, with local agglomerations of concentrated decision-making power. Many editors are (justifiably) content to run up their edit counts or work diligently on specific articles/projects without regard to the greater WP context: the social and political structure that the encyclopaedic content resides in. But the policy and administrative decisions that are being made - with or without the input of editors - affect the content of the encyclopaedia itself and the community that has grown around it. I'm pondering these questions and more, but I'm glad to see that other WP folks are as well. Pinkville (talk) 16:45, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
perhaps we should make more use of user categories to send appropriate notices directly, though I realise the possible abuse of this with respect to WP:CANVASSING. Possibly more projects using a newsletter might help a little. DGG (talk) 17:31, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually, my question has more to do with judging consensus in our Core Policies, rather than at the obscure talk pages of templates and WikiProjects. I have seen an increasing number of debates over proposed changes where both sides in the debate (ie those supporting the change and those opposing it) claim that the other side lacks "community consensus" for their view on the debate. Take a look at recent debates at WP:RS and WP:NOR as examples. All of these are cases where notice of the proposed change was posted here (and on several other notice boards around Wikipedia) and where few if any editors bothered to comment on the change. This lack of comment is being interpreted in two contradictary ways... it could be a tacit approval in favor of the change, or it could be a tacit approval for leaving things as they are. Both arguments are being made on the talk pages of these policies.
So I thought I would come to the source and ask what you, the silent majority, mean by your silence ... when you don't comment on a proposed change, does it mean that you support the change? Does it mean you mean you don't support the change? What does your silence mean? Blueboar (talk) 20:53, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
This is the problem caused (partly) by the great dispersal of discussions in WP... Decisions are being made without many editors having any idea what's happening. At the same moment that key policy decisions are made without most editors being aware, many editors are changing content regardless (without awareness) of policy... In other words, there's a serious gap between policy-setters and editors. That's the context for your question... and your point - that editors don't participate in policy discussion - is an additional element in this fragmented community in which the invocation of consensus is nearly farcical. Every vote, straw poll, AfD discussion, etc is tainted by this situation... There are a lot of features in WP that contribute to this centrifugal force - that make it difficult for users to have a real grasp of what's going on (without spending a lot of time and effort exploring dispersed discussion pages), and that for that reason make it very difficult to achieve meaningful consensus on any issue. Pinkville (talk) 02:25, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I've long felt our "consensus" was flawed by the assumptions... lot's of us have little enough time for wikipedia matters of importance to us, that the assumption that everyone is following many or most discussion pages such as this is a severe flaw. As a matured project, I believe we now need some quorum requirements put in place... Thinking voting was evil needs revisited. Hell, I didn't even realize this page had been split and there is now some WP:VPR page that has been forked out. That's a mistake I think. Please see the related discussion has been ongoing there at here and the above page or so. // FrankB 19:21, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
The question is a fundamental question that strikes at the heart of every community and every institution that strives for inclusiveness and democracy. What I mean by this grandiose statement is that the question is unlikely to yield to any discussion a few of us might have, here. In my mind, though, there are really only three things we can do.
Firstly, we need to make the assumption, rightly or wrongly, that those who do participate in the discussions are broadly representative of those who do not. One might question whether or not it's a fair assumption to make but, in the end, it's the only thing that permits us to proceed at all; else our processes would be totally hamstrung. Additionally, if the situation should arise where an exceedingly rarified group is taking important decisions, those decisions will eventually be called into question by a rebellious horde. Or that's the theory behind it all, anyway!
Secondly, we need to make good notice requirements among projects and on newsletter-like pages a non-negotiable part of the prerequisites for the decision-making process. Maybe something like a "Policy discussion of the day" entry on the front page. Hey, we have DYKs and FYIs and FAs and all the rest on there, why not something about policy and guidelines and how they're made and where are they discussed?
Thirdly, we need to do everything we can to encourage participation in the decision-making process by stopping some of the things we currently do that encourage non-participation. For example, we tolerate editors who disregard a decision that has been taken for reasons that boil down to, essentially, disdain for the result. As long as we tolerate this by saying things like: "Hey, it's a guideline and guidelines are meant to be ignored." or "I follow WP:IAR on this matter." we'll fail to make headway. These answers encourage disrespect for the decision-making process and, I submit, actually encourage users to ignore the process because they will still be able to do as they wish. Interestingly, I've seen where established editors are given more slack than new editors when, in fact, I submit the direct opposite should be the case. We should expect established editors to follow the rules or to be able to demonstrate why they failed to do so. We should also expect established editors to be evangelists for our policies and guidelines and to gently encourage and nudge new users into the decision-making process.
Now, in a brief effort to answer the specific operational question of which side in a debate bears the greater burden of proof, let me say what I believe should be the operating principle. I believe the greater burden of proof should rest with the party who is attempting to make the rule more complicated. That may be, but is not necessarily, equivalent to the party who seeks to add to the rule set. In some cases, it's hypothetically possible that the addition of a sentence or two of qualifying, explanatory language may make the interpretation and application of the rule simpler. Any effort to add complexity such as additional areas of application or altogether new rules should carry the enhanced burden of demonstrating that consensus has been reached.
Finally, I'd like to just say a word or two on the whole idea of consensus. Many people talk about consensus but, in my experience, few people have a good grasp of what it means. Literally dozens of users have told me that they believe consensus means that everyone needs to agree or that everyone needs to be willing to abide by or support a decision. The uncomfortable reality is that consensus is just a fancy term for majority rules. There is only one difference between majority rules and consensus as it's used in Wikipedia and that is that we agree to go to great lengths to ensure that everyone has his say and is listened to. A pure majority rules would be, lets take a vote and that's the end of it. Consensus, as we use it, is more like, let's talk and talk and talk about it until people are fed up with talking about it and then we'll take a vote and, at that moment, — voilà — majority rules! Cheers! — Dave (Talk) 01:01, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Consensus can't be imposed: if others don't participate in a discussion, then ...they don't participate. You can't draw conclusions from that. I've not participated in discussions I knew about for various reasons. Sometimes I don't agree with the consensus that seems to be forming but I think (for instance): oh, well, when it comes to it this is too absurd for words, this will never get through, I'd just lose my time getting involved. But I might also think (agreeing to the consensus): nice that a consensus seems to be forming, I'm looking forward to the result.
For policies (WP:NOR is a policy, WP:RS is not, WP:V#Reliable sources is part of a policy) a strong consensus to change is needed. This means (for instance) that a single revert by a thus far uninvolved party might indicate non-consensus, even if a prior talk page discussion seemingly concluded in a consensus. Then you need to get that thus far uninvolved party involved in the discussion. If that is not possible, consensus may stand. Note that some policies are quite over-arching and would need (for instance) also a mailing list discussion, in order to make sure the consensus is really broad, before fundamental change can be applied. --Francis Schonken (talk) 08:53, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, the consensus here clearly lies with the long standing policy of changing to meet the new consensus. :) Sorry I couldn't resist. SharkD (talk) 10:24, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, if there is any new consensus of course.
For example, regarding the recent WP:NOR debates, at Wikipedia talk:No original research#Is there any room for compromise? Blueboar summarizes that there are three factions. Blueboar proposes the two other factions to bend to this faction: "Those who have minor issues with the current language PSTS and think it needs some re-writing at most, and tweeking at least." Then he further summarizes "atte[m]pts at building a new consensus are being hindered by the extreme stance of those in the other two camps". Yeah, sure, it are always the "L'enfer, c'est les autres" others who block consensus. There is no consensus, period. No need to go lyrical or witty about it.
And then as a further remark, even if there *would* be consensus about "needs some re-writing at most, and tweeking at least", you'd still need to flesh that out, and in doing so it might appear that those who want moderate change want that change to occur in opposite directions... so, as long as there's no consensus about an actual rephrasing, that is, which words have to be replaced by which others, you only have the outer appearance of a consensus, but in fact no consensus at all. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:32, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I suppose that Blueboar's other two camps are "get rid of source typing entirely" (of which I'm a non-participating member) and "make no change at all." But give Blueboar more credit: he's making an honest effort to find consensus - consensus that spans all three groups. If consensus is to be found then it will probably have to be of the sort Blueboar favors. I suggest you focus not on source typing but on consensus. If there were substantial support for the current wording I'd not like it but I'd not try to overturn it. There isn't. I just mentioned "current wording." Forget that, go back to consensus. There's a real need for there to be a visible and lasting consensus on WP:NOR and it should be possible for many more than those who have participated to be of assistance. While I'm responding to a specific post I'm speaking to all who read this. I hypothesize that Blueboar's efforts can lead to wording that satisfies enough editors that consensus will be visible. WP policies are important. I urge editors not already involved to go take a look and see if you can support what Blueboar is trying to put together. Or support whatever you think deserves support (but compromise is probably the way to a solution.) --Minasbeede (talk) 20:08, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Country names

Lately I've been encountering editors who seem to have a vendetta against certain country names and change them without apparent reason. Examples are "People's Republic of China" to "China", "Republic of China" to "Taiwan" and "Myanmar" to "Burma." The first two will result in a link to a different article. "Myanmar" currently redirects to "Burma," but the article name was fairly hotly disputed last time I looked in on its talk page. Most of the folks who do this are pretty aggressive date warriors into the bargain. The last one I saw was an IP who made over 30 edits to Timeline of World War II, changing "United Kingdom" to "Britain" (a disambiguation page, and, consequently, not to be linked to). Are there any Wikipedia policies or guidelines governing this sort of thing, and what's the best way to handle it? --Steven J. Anderson (talk) 09:38, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

I got into a discussion about this last month regarding the proper name for an article about a micro-nation. Should it be Sealand or the Principality of Sealand? A random search showed that it would be more likely to see the classic name of a country, rather than the political name, e.g., Germany, China, Monaco, rather than Federal Republic of, People's Republic of, Principality of, etc. But there was no absolute consistency, and I could not find a policy. This will probably be a challenging and emotional issue where there is no perfect answer. --Kevin Murray (talk) 11:25, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
At a closer look, China is a separate topic from Peoples' Republic or Republic of. Germany, Monaco, Spain, Portugal, France are main article names, but some others use the formal name. We don't have a standard. Should we? --Kevin Murray (talk) 11:38, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Well,it should be standardised. In my opinion, country names showed first should be the official name of the country. For instance,North Korea→Democratic People Republic of Korea. The editors who change the official names to the so-called common names, like just Steven J. Anderson mentioned are in fact doing para-vandalism. I think Steven J. Anderson should warn the users. If they still do what they want, then they should be blocked for 3 months, for worsening user experience!--RekishiEJ (talk) 12:30, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Here are a few more thoughts on this. First I think it's a little surprising that Rekishi should cite the example he does, since North Korea is an article and Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a redirect to it. My own view on naming convention is that the name used should be that most commonly used by English-speakers unless some other consideration like clarity overrides. Moreover, my real concern is not so much which name is used as the overall conduct and apparent intransigence of certain editors and the occasional dearth of response. A 3 month block after one warning seems wildly optimistic to me. When I made a recent posting at ANI this is what happened. Twelve hours since his last edit and the admin says, forget it, he's gone. How fast do you have to jump on someone to get action? You may also follow that link to see the editor's history.
But to restate my question, is there a relevant policy or guideline that specifically covers this sort of thing? It seems to go hand in hand with date warring much of the time (although not in this most recent case), and I know the guideline on that. I'd like to have my ducks in a row before I go running to the admins. --Steven J. Anderson (talk) 16:19, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, Ivory Coast has passed into law that their country name is to be Republic of Côte d'Ivoire no matter what language it appears in, and the article title reflects such. That should suffice for that article, but should all others sacrifice English readability (see [[Côte d'Ivoire#Usage) for political grandstanding? Today it's just one country, but then tomorrow who knows what could be added to the list? It should read the common place name in English unless there is a compelling reason to deviate.—Twigboy (talk) 18:10, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
There are naming conventions which can probably be found through WP:MOS. I think there also is a country/nation WikiProject. -- SEWilco (talk) 18:23, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Regarding Ivory Coast/Côte d'Ivoire: how does that law apply to us? Per Wikipedia:Naming conventions: "Generally, article naming should prefer what the greatest number of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature." If most English speakers recognize the country as Côte d'Ivoire, we should use that name, and if most English speakers recognize the country as Ivory Coast, we should go with that name. I don't see this law as a compelling reason to decide either way. AecisBrievenbus 18:59, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

(undent) Just my random two cents: why in [bleep!] should we eschew correctness in the name of articles for convenience? This is an encyclopedia, shouldn't we at least strive to be correct? Sure— we want people to be able to find the articles, and they are likely to look for it by the most common name... isn't that what redirects are for? — Coren (talk) 19:35, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

It looks like I've opened a rather messy can of words here and, in my usual fashion, I'm going to open it further rather than try to tidy it up. First I'm surprised to see that WP:Naming conventions has nothing to say (that I can see) about country names. This seems an odd omission as there seems to me to be a fair amount of dispute about it. Second, the main point of my post was not to find an answer to any dispute about country names, but to solicit advice about how to deal with editors who scour Wikipedia making changes to country names without explanation or edit summary, for no apparent reason other than the editor's personal preference. This seems destabilizing and bad for the project to me in the same way as date warring is, and is often observed as the second-favorite type of edit by persistent date warriors. I will repeat that my posting at wp:ani has resulted in no action by admins. --Steven J. Anderson (talk) 20:02, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
The two are related. The fact that nobody quite knows what to do about someone who goes on a renaming rampages is the fact that nobody is quite sure if that's a bunch of corrections or a bunch of vandalism.  :-) Yeah, we should put our collective feet down about country names and settle on something rational and objective... which would be relatively easy if it were not for the fact that the very name (and/or existence) of some country names are central to a number of very protracted and vitriolic nationalistic battles.
Personally, I would have the articles bear either (a) the name the UN uses to designate the entity or (b) the name the entity declares is its "official" name. Both have merit, and IMO are equally valid, but we need to pick one. Other names the entity is known by can be then made into redirects (where there is historical continuity) or explanatory articles (for nations who have not simply been renamed). — Coren (talk) 20:31, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Or other English-speaking officials: (c) the name used by the U.S. State Department or its British counterpart. -- SEWilco (talk) 20:39, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I think using a specific country's name for another country smacks of systemic bias. Either the name must come from a non-national entity that is (at least generally) regarded as neutral in the matter of naming, or it must come from the country itself. — Coren (talk) 20:49, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
But this is the English Wikipedia, thus my suggestion of using the two major English-speaking countries as authorities, if the names they use seem to match Wikipedia's common usage requirement. We can see that the CIA Factbook for Ivory Coast does not use that name [1] and the same book does not use "República Federativa do Brasil" [2]. -- SEWilco (talk) 21:18, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Why not then the state department equivalent of New Zealand? Whichever country you pick will introduce bias— which is a Bad Thing. Political entities are... political. They use naming to make points. The only "correct" name of a country is the name the country uses for itself— most provide guidance or specification for translations/transliteration in other languages (especially to English). In the cases where such an "official" name is not available, then the UN's designation is probably the least inappropriate alternative (but even then, the article should make it clear that its name is not the official name).

Yes, a significant fraction of Wikipedia readers and editors are American. This definitely mandates that the most common name in the US has a redirect. Might does not make right, and the US State Department does not hold any sort of authority whatsoever over the name of other countries— for all an encyclopedia cares, they can start calling France "Moronland", and that wouldn't change the name of the country. — Coren (talk) 21:29, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Also please note that there are technical limitations as to what may be easily represented in page names and that long page names may be unnecessarily unwieldy. For example, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is referred to as Republic of Macedonia, because it's clear and unambiguous without the rest. And is it better to have Ivory Coast, which can be easily read, or Côte d'Ivoire, which comes across as C%C3%B4te_d%27Ivoire in the URL? I don't have any answers, but it's something to think about. superlusertc 2007 December 20, 21:34 (UTC)

(I wrote this before the last few comments on this thread, so sorry if I'm repeating info/links, etc):
The problem with (a) the name the UN uses to designate the entity is, check out the UN's List of Member States. For comparison, here's the US State Dept list, and the best UK list I could find.
The UN list has some obvious problems and quite a few conflicts with the US and UK lists. Most striking to me, a "short form" name for most countries (eg, Pakistan, not "Islamic Republic of Pakistan"), they use a "long form" for quite a few, like: Brunei Darussalam; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; Russian Federation; Syrian Arab Republic; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; United Republic of Tanzania; United States of America; and, most confusing to me: Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of.
I can't see any reason why these are listed in long form while others are not. Worse, some are given the comma form, like "Iran, Islamic Republic of", while others are not, like "United Republic of Tanzania". The list does not look like it would make a decent standard. The US and UK lists look much better, but there are problems of course. All three lists conflict in some cases.
The problem with (b) the name the entity declares is its "official" name is that many (most?) states do not have a single clearly defined official name in English. Côte d'Ivoire stands out as having officially provided a name for others to use. How many other countries have done this? Germany, for example, is "Bundesrepublik Deutschland". Has Germany declared that the use of "Germany" is okay?
Just my two cents. I'm skeptical that a sensible a solid standard can be applied to all countries. However, the "problem" countries are few. For most there seems to be no issue with using the regular "short-form" name, like France or Japan. The problematic ones include Burma, South Korea and North Korea, China, the two Congos, Macedonia, and a few others. Each of these has unique issues requiring differing solutions. Another exception in wikipedia's usual "short-form" name is when disambiguation is needed, like Federated States of Micronesia. Why Micronesia goes to the geographical feature instead of the country while Chile goes to the country instead of Chile (disambiguation) seems a judgement call. How could something like that be standardized across the board?
I don't usually pitch in on these kind of meta-discussions, but placenaming is one of my special interests. :) Pfly (talk) 23:16, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
There seem to be two points here: first, that guidelines on naming conventions for countries within articles may be inadequate; and secondly, what to do about people doing wholesale re-changes to names. My two cents is this: For the first, I dont feel there should be specific guidance on country names. The guidance in WP:NC for article names I think can be applied adequately to countries without making guidance specific to countries. Would the new guideline cover foreign cities or provinces as well as countries? What about Taiwan? No, I dont see the point in going down that route. I think the principle should be that referring articles should generally use the same names as are used in the article name itself, unless there is a good reason otherwise. The second issue, I think calls out for a BOT solution. Could some techie write a BOT that looks at recent edits that follow a certain pattern and reverts them? Perhaps a new 'uw' template could be written to help with this as well? AndrewRT(Talk) 23:21, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
We need to distinguish between what is visible to readers and where links actually point to. On the second point, which is the easier to deal with, editors need to be educated to use piped wikilinks so that links don't go to disambiguation pages. (I doubt there will be arguments on this point; the issue is ignorance, not politics.) On the first point, I think we should consider the principle of least astonishment - what do readers expect to read in an article? I think that makes things much easier - do what the media do. Newspapers say "China", not "People's Republic of China"; newspapers use "Taiwan" as a shorthand for "Republic of China". (Note: this is for articles about current matters; for historical ones, the wording needs to be whatever will get the reader in the right frame of mind.) In short, I don't think Wikipedia should be "politically correct"; I think a neutral point of view is to use the most common name for things (again, what newspapers use), and explain what the different names for that thing are only in the article about that thing (as in, Taiwan versus Republic of China). Using uncommon names is (in my opinion) a violation of WP:NPOV, as well as a disservice to readers - which is the point of Wikipedia, yes? -- John Broughton (♫♫) 14:48, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, except that the "most common name for things [in the US]" is decidedly not neutral! When you call PRC "China", you are making a NPOV political statement. Service to the reader does mean "finding the right article" (hence redirects), but also — and more importantly for an encyclopedia — being as accurate as we possibly can. This means not pandering to the political climate, or what Washington (or any other single governement) thinks the world should be like. — Coren (talk) 16:11, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
In fact China is a very good example; it is an article on the historical civilization whereas the current political entities are in articles bearing their own names (PRC and RC). — Coren (talk) 16:52, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
China is a horrible example, as it's been under constant dispute since the very founding of the project. SchmuckyTheCat (talk)
In the CIA Factbook's FAQ I noticed "The Factbook staff follows the guidance of the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN)." I see in our article that they actually provide naming help in response to both government and non-government requests. -- SEWilco (talk) 16:58, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Take a look at WP:EPISODE, WP:WAF, WP:FICT

Three guidelines dealing with an aspect of fiction are simultaneously having discussions of revision and the future. Please see:

Policy on links to sites with pop-ups

What is the policy for linking to sites which have commercial pop-ups? I ask because IMDB now, whenever I click a link to it, opens up another window full of some commercial crap. DuncanHill (talk) 15:34, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

I do not share this experience, but if it were to happen, then I vote for the immediate removal of all imdb links from our relevant infoboxes and other templates... --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 16:20, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Without commenting specifically about IMDB, I don't see how popups are relevant, really. If the site is a reliable source, for example, then we shouldn't just remove references to it because we don't like their business practices. If there is an alternate site that can provide the same benefit with less intrusive advertising, then we should use that one. If there isn't then the link should stay. -Chunky Rice (talk) 18:10, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Popups in ads are beyond the immediate control of sites (after popup ads appear, sites sometimes alter their advertising to avoid them). If a site insists on a distracting technology (including PDF, Flash, or popups) then we should consider labeling the links the same way we label PDF links. I look forward to a "popup icon" contest. -- SEWilco (talk) 18:19, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Imagine Wikipedia with a popup window that appears whenever you hover near such links, warning you of their content. It could beep at you politely, informing you it is there, flicker serenely a few times — to make sure you noticed, and endearingly move itself around everywhere you move your mouse — to hammer the point home. This would be much better than using a popup blocker. - Neparis (talk) 00:56, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Not quite a guideline, not quite an essay

I recently spotted some disagreement over whether a page should be tagged with {{guideline}}, {{essay}}, or a custom {{notice}} explaining that the page was not policy but aimed to explain some aspect of Wikipedia for those not "in the know." I know this isn't the first time this sort of confusion has come up. So, I thought, why not make another template, for these pages which aim to inform, yet do not push a particular point of view, and are neither policies nor aiming to become policy? Immediately, pages like Wikipedia:Guide to deletion, Wikipedia:Glossary, and the like come to mind. After being edit conflicted by another user with the same idea, we settled on {{infopage}} as a name. I could run around tagging pages with it, but I figured it might not hurt to run it by some people for feedback. Currently the template doesn't add pages into a category, this might be something to address. So... thoughts? – Luna Santin (talk) 12:59, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Add WP:GOOGLE and WP:ARL to that list. Finer granularity is good; there's clearly a range of pages that are neither standards to follow (policy or guideline) nor just individual writings on a personal viewpoint, but provide information that is widely accepted. Good to highlight that these are widely accepted information pages. Reworded slightly to make sure it gets applied only to consensus information pages. FT2 (Talk | email) 13:45, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
WP:GOOGLE already has a similar template: {{how-to}}. I agree with the general goal that all reference/information/instructional pages in Wikipedia space should be marked with a standard messagebox (policy, guideline, proposal, essay, how-to, infopage, wikiproject, etc.). It might be good to put together a group, such as the one that worked on template standardisation, to offer a definitive list. For example, when is a page a "how-to" as opposed to an "information page"? -- John Broughton (♫♫) 14:34, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
To my mind, "how tos" or "tutorials" are specific kinds of "information page", much like "behavior guidelines" are a specific kind of "guideline". I'm inclined to not over worry about it. 1/ People'll figure which is best on which page, given the choice, 2/ If there's the option for both, then a suitable more specific header ("howto") is more useful than a more general one. FT2 (Talk | email) 16:09, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
For example, tagging Wikipedia:Single-purpose account with {{howto}} doesn't quite sound right to my ears. – Luna Santin (talk) 10:50, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

This is a great tag to use for WikiProject guidelines, which don't have the broad consensus of a general {{guideline}} but are more than a mere {{essay}}. Thanks for creating this. —Scott5114 [EXACT CHANGE ONLY] 01:52, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Are "hide/show" boxes disclaimers?

I believe they are and if so, are they not in violation of WP:NOTCENSORED??Ah0000000ga (talk) 23:56, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Not automatically. You have to be trying to censor something first. They should not be used for article content, but they save space with the navigation boxes on the bottom of articles and there is no intent to hide content from the reader with those. Mr.Z-man 00:02, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

It is being used to disguise a sexual image at anal-oral contact(rimming), which i might add is accepted as encyclopedic in 14 other languages. thank you.Ah0000000ga (talk) 01:51, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Like the man said, it's a matter of intention. In that case, the hide does not need to be there, so you could remove it. Best to bring it up on the talk page first, though, especially if people are enforcing the change. — Someguy0830 (T | C) 01:58, 23 December 2007 (UTC)
Since you just moved the page, an admin needs to update MediaWiki:Bad image list to show the image again. –Pomte 01:51, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Conflict of interest with Wikia links

During normal editing I noticed that the Family Guy article and every episode article from the first episode to the latest have links to Wikia articles. Now I am not suggesting that the Wikia Family Guy articles are not good quality (although I do not know if they are or not), but my problem is that I feel there is a very strong conflict of interest in linking to Wikia, seeing as Wikipedia is a not for profit organization and that Wikia is a for-profit company. And both Wikia and Wikipedia are headed by the same person, Jimmy Wales. I also now understand that linking to Wikia is common practice in a lot of Wikipedia articles. Simply clicking on these links immediately generates money for Jimmy Wales as the Wikia pages have ad views on every article.
I believe that the integrity of Wikipedia is at stake by linking to Wikia articles and the morals of a free encyclopedia which accepts donations linking to a for-profit site run by the very same person are extremely questionable. I do not think that Wikipedias purpose is to generate money for the Wikia corporation. I am aware that it is common practice, but that just makes me feel even more troubled. I believe that linking to Wikia is one small step from putting ads on Wikipedia itself. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this, or is anyone aware of this issue being brought up before? JayKeaton 13:33, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
In our current efforts to improve notability particularly for fictional works, transwiking information to Wikia is always preferred over losing that information, and generally, after some agrumentive discussion, the editors will eventually agree that transwiki the info over is the best way instead of fighting to keep it on WP. If we now turn around and state that Wikia links are no long valid, we are going to have a major problem on our hands, as we've now told people that we've taken their writing off WP and now you can't even link to that writing. I understand the COI interest, but transwiking to Wikia has been the status quo for a long time. --MASEM 15:20, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes it's been discussed ad infinitum. No, it's not generally considered a conflict of interest. Guy (Help!) 18:16, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
But 99.9999999% of the internet is for profit! Nearly every website we link to has ads, and how is this any different?--Phoenix-wiki (talk · contribs) 23:45, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
99 percent of the internet might be for profit, but Wikipedia has never been. Every link to Wikia is generating traffic for Wikipedia and cash for Wales. Even as I type this message there is a that thing about donating that wont stay hidden at the top of this page. Why should people donate their money to Wikipedia if Wikipedia is being used to generate money for Wikia/Wales? And it would obviously be in Wales best interests to see lots of links to Wikia, how can we trust that Wikipedia will be moral and just if suddenly it is in the creators best interest to flow traffic from Wikipedia to his for-profit side project Wikia? All of these little "Wikia" links on almost every single Family Guy page look like advertisements to me. How can we trust the higher ups to make the best decisions for Wikipedia when for them there is an alternate option, which is what is best to line their own pockets? JayKeaton 05:38, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
The obvious answer is that we shouldn't. Dishonesty is apparently the order of the day here. --arkalochori |talk| 07:39, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia editors (at least in 99.99% of cases) have no affiliation with the Wikimedia Foundation other than happening to use a site the Foundation keeps up the servers for. The same is true of the majority of administrators, and admins happening to use Wikia to communicate no more links the Foundation with Wikia than admins using MSN Messenger to communicate entangles the Foundation and Microsoft. If the Foundation isn't mandating the links, and Jimbo isn't inserting them, I see no conflict of interest if regular editors feel that a link to Wikia is warranted, nor are they encouraging a business relationship between the two projects, even if it does happen to be beneficial. Seraphimblade Talk to me 07:47, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

The problem isn't the editors putting them in or the admins allowing it. Just because editors put the links in doesn't mean that the issue is completely absolved of a conflict of interests. 99.99 percent of all Family Guy articles link away to Wikia, and I imagine that many other Wikipedia projects and articles link to Wikia in a similar way. And that really is the problem, so many links to the for-profit Wikia. If regular editors felt the need to link dozens or hundreds of articles to their own sites full of ads that generate money for themselves, would you be ok with that too? Don't we have a responsibility to where we link to? If the information on the Wikia pages was not good enough for the Wikipedia articles, why is it then good enough to link on every single Family Guy related page? Or on the flip side if Wikia articles are good enough to have regular links to them, why isn't that information already on Wikipedia? Why do readers need to leave Wikipedia and need to look at ads that pad the wallets of Jimmy Wales? Even Angela Beesley has a questionable place in all this, how can she be on the not for profit Wikimedia Advisory Board when she is also a founder of the for-profit competing Wikia hosting corporation? In any case none of that matters so much right now with the current problem, which is the issue of Wikipedias relationship with Wikia which both have totally different goals, totally different structures (no one profits from one of them and charity donations pays for it, the other is a business model and only two people profit from it). And those two people just happen to own and operate both Wikipedia and Wikia. JayKeaton 10:04, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
We link to things we wouldn't allow on-wiki all the time. We wouldn't make the C++ article into a comprehensive manual on how to program in C++. On the other hand, we certainly might link to such a manual, or use one as a reference. The same is true of mass amounts of in-universe information. We don't allow it, but that doesn't mean we can't, when appropriate, link to it. Seraphimblade Talk to me 17:09, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Text removal. I just saw a huge text removal from this section pop up on my watchlist. Says it was a revert of a banned user, but original contributor doesn't look Banned or that he was creating "ban-able" content? Mbisanz 23:09, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Correction: User:Vividraise is now banned, but there is no notification on his user page. Still, why remove the comment? Mbisanz 23:14, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Vividraise has been blocked as a sock puppet of a banned User (banned by Jimbo Wales, no less). All edits by banned users are to be reverted on sight. Corvus cornixtalk 23:18, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Banned users don't get to comment, especially when they're dodging a ban to do it in the first place. — Someguy0830 (T | C) 23:18, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Understood, wasn't familar with that policy, thanks for the info. Mbisanz 23:32, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
Leaving aside the whole "must sinence the banned user!" distraction, there's no reason for those links to Wikia per the policy. Just remove them.
CygnetSaIad 23:43, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
We are linking to an appropriate specialized external site. Were the leading fan wiki site elsewhere, we would link to that one. It's the subject editors responsibility to decide where the best link is. DGG (talk) 01:28, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Does Wikipedia/Wikimedia have an Ethics Board for these sort of issues? The Wikia problem is prevalent on many Wikipedia articles and it is likely to become even more rampant in the near future. Besides bringing this up with an external charity ethicist is there any kind of internal review system that can be done that isn't conducted in the Village pump? I don't think any of us here are qualified to make a decision on something as important as a conflict of interest within a registered charity. JayKeaton 12:59, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
No connection has ever been documented between the editors creating the links, the foundation as owners of Wikipedia, the for-profit Wikia, and the users who create the Wikia sites. It's quite a leap of (bad) faith to assume any conflict of interest, when the links are not being added by anybody with a tangible connection to the foundation. Guy (Help!) 13:17, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Users with no documented connection adding the Wikia links is only part of the picture. The rest is that they are there to begin with, the problem is that there are no guidelines in place to cover this issue. If Wikipedia was an ordinary business then it would be fine. But it is not, it is a registered charity that asks for tax free donations. The Wikia links are about as morally just as a primary school adding Pepsi Cola to their curriculum or the World Aids Foundation selling aids pins and all the profit from those pins not going to charity at all. There should have been a little more corporate responsibility to stop this from happening to begin with, because having those links innocently added or not, there is still a conflict by having them at all. It's like a charity funded "free hospital" referring patients to another for-profit clinic that gives that profit only to the owner of the hospital (and not the hospital itself).
To even say that there is no conflict at all and that it isn't worth looking into is just lazy and foolish. We need to take these things seriously because the people that own Wikipedia will not take them seriously. It is OUR job to see these things and to try and figure them out. If you just assume that everything is fine on the surface and that nothing could possibly be wrong, then you may as well be working the books at Enron 15 years ago. Someone could have stopped the Enron scandal before it even started, but no one did. And I believe that Wikipedias morals, the very thing that Wikipedia is here for (which is free information for the world) is possibly at stake. The fact that Wikipedia is a registered charity just means that Wikipedia has to live up to it's own morals and it has the honor the morals it is trying to project to the 33,059 people that have already donated. Why should those people have donated if Wikipedia is helping put profit in Wales pockets? Wikipedia is creating traffic for Wikias "Replica Swiss Watches" advertisements, why should people donate their own hard earned money so the owner of Wikipedia can make more money for himself on the side through WP? JayKeaton 04:42, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Please see the TfD of Template:FreeContentMeta, that dealt exactly with these kinds of problems as well. I'm also of the opinion that what we do with these softredirects is basically rubberstamping one wiki (commercial) as "wikipedia-approved" and giving it an unfair advantage over its potential brother and sister wikis. I understand why people think it is a good idea, but I still don't approve. Its a symptom that is being fought and this is no solution to the problem. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:13, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Wow, thank you, I wasn't even aware of the FCM template. I really do believe that Wikipedia as an organization has to be responsible with it's relationship with Wikia as company. And that relationship should not exist, as it isn't very responsible at all for a persons charity to be supporting that persons business. Wikia as a business should be able to link to wherever it wants, give away as many free* iPods as it wants and sell as many replica swiss watches as it wants. But Wikipedia the charity needs to be responsible with these conflict of interests, as Wikipedias reputation as a charity and reputation as an unbiased encyclopedia is at stake. As well as the good faith and trust of the 33,628 people who have donated so far. They did not donate to help Wales do anything with Wikia or make more money with it. They donated to keep Wikipedia free and to maintain a level of professionalism within this 'pedia. JayKeaton (talk) 17:43, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
To be totally fair, remember that we also "support" in many ways something like imdb and Something else that was raised repeatedly in the past. These cases are slightly different, because they are "established" database like sources for which no real free alternatives of equal or higher completeness exist. Still it is suboptimal and ideally and one time a free alternative will present itself that we could use. Still this soft-redirecting goes much further, even way beyond the concerns raised in the FCM discussions. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 20:58, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Some sites do seem to have been granted general favour with Wikipedia, which even if they were already influential they are now that little bit more influential because Wikipedia has found them to be a universal source. But there is no conflict of interest with any other site other than Wikia, unless any other board trustees own any sites that I don't know of. And I guess Wales old porn site, but I don't think that one is still running anymore somehow (Wikia is a big deal what with Amazon taking notice and millions of dollars being thrown around in advertising alone, any old little sites before that would have been abondoned). JayKeaton (talk) 21:37, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
There is a set of domains (including Wikia) that can be linked to from Wikipedia pages using interwiki shortcuts instead of traditional external links. You can find it at meta:Interwiki map. If you look at the talk page, meta:Talk:Interwiki map, and its archives, you'll see the community discussions on which domains to add to the interwiki map.--A. B. (talk) 04:15, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Also, I notice that the links to Wikia don't have rel="nofollow", unlike links to other external sites, and therefore Wikia gets a nice boost to their Google rankings that other sites, including more reputable ones that are better sources, don't. I presume this is because they're interwiki links, but it does have slight ethical issues. - makomk (talk) 15:41, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Where is that the case? I just looked at the Wikia page, and the links to Wikia there had "nofollow". If that's really the case, it has to be fixed. --John Nagle (talk) 18:59, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I've just been looking at List of Stargate SG-1 episodes oldID and the "wikia" links there are not using rel="nofollow". The generated links are of the following form:

<a href="" class="extiw" title="wikia:Stargate:Children_of_the_Gods">Wikia</a>

and are the result of wiki-text of this form:

[[Wikia:Stargate:Children of the Gods|Wikia]]

I'm sure someone can point-out documentation of the Wikia: prefix. The link to in the infobox on the Wikia page does not use the "Wikia:" prefix — it's a regular external link — and does get a rel="nofollow". It would appear that links to wikia *are* getting a PageRank boost from all of the links from the "Free" 'pedia. --Jack Merridew 12:52, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Sounds more like a bug to fix than a real issue. It's likely no one noticed this before. -- Ned Scott 06:58, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Our willingness to link to other GFDL wikis is an open offer available to any wiki that reasonably meets our criteria (WP:EL). See Meta:Interwiki map. We can, and should, support other well developed GFDL wikis, and in no way is that exclusive to Wikia. There is no issue here, only paranoia and misguided views about how anyone that is not "non-profit" is evil. -- Ned Scott 06:23, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

The issue is not that "for profit" is evil, but that there is an inherent, though inadvertant, conflict of interest when Jimbo's non-profit hand helps grow Jimbo's wallet. Ursasapien (talk) 07:54, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo's non-profit hand has nothing to do with the creation of these links and people adding them. This is something the community has done on their own. We are Wikipedia, and we are neutral. We judge the wikis based on their own merits, and not by who started them, or who knows who, or any of that. Wikia is not given special treatment for being started by Jimbo. Also, it should be noted that Wikia gives us tons of free advertising to help us out in our fundraisers. (without asking anything from us) -- Ned Scott 08:10, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
  • There's a lot of issues involved here. Could Wikia eventually surplant Wikipedia? Does that matter? Is there a conflict of interest with editors who use both Wikia and Wikipedia? Is it to WIkipedia's benefit to drive editors to Wikia? What's the purpose of Wikia? What's the purpose of Wikipedia? Should we accept advertising on Wikipedia? One might say there's a strategic masterstroke behind setting up Wikia. Just thinking out loud. Are we to become stuffy old Britannica to Wikia's Wikipedia? Who wins from links to Wikia and who loses. What does our guidance, policies, morals, heart, head and gut tell us? Hiding T 19:12, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

DRV for Template:FGwiki

I have listed Template:FGwiki, the template that started this discussion, on WP:DRV at Wikipedia:Deletion review/Log/2007 December 13#Template:FGwiki. -- Ned Scott 06:41, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Added my agreement. SharkD (talk) 07:10, 13 December 2007 (UTC)


Anyone know how one would go about reporting the nofollow issue as a bug report? -- Ned Scott 07:39, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I don't, but does Wikipedia:Bug reports shed any light? Hiding T 22:39, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
  • To file a bug report, go to, open an account, and then file the bug. This problem should go in the 'Wikimedia' product; choose 'General' as the component, leave the other fields alone, type a 'summary' and 'description', and hit go. However, I don't know if this is intentional behavior or not, and it's worth finding out before filing the bug. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:08, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
All true external links, i.e., [http://something.example/ Look here!] have a "nofollow" attribute attached to them. Interwiki links ([[bugzilla:1598]]) do not. It seems that this is not a technical issue, it would probably be very easy to modify the behavior of interwiki link generation. This seems to be an issue of using interwiki links in content areas. Personally, I don't see a pressing need to add the attribute to interwiki links; it seems to me that we simply need a clearer guideline on the use of Wikia and other wikis in page content. Cheers. --MZMcBride (talk) 00:30, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I see a pressing need. A huge amount of content will end up trans-wiki'd to Wikia. This is likely to become policy or a guideline as part of the sorting of the issue of much fan-driven content not being appropriate for Wikipedia. This will entail a great many links from Wikipedia to Wikia. On Wikia, there are ads and these ads put money in pockets. Without rel="nofollow" in these links, Wikia will get a huge PageRank boost. This is a serious conflict of interest. --Jack Merridew 14:31, 24 December 2007 (UTC)