Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 27

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Modifying a map[edit]

Modified CIA map of the Gaza strip

Is it consistent with current policy to take a map from the CIA World Handbook, modify it, and then include it in Wikipedia as a CIA map without mentioning that the map has been modified?

This is what has been done with the CIA map of the Gaza strip om Wikipedia, which is included in the Gaza strip article. Specifically, the following text has been removed: "Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation" (compare [1]).

In Wikimedia Commons there are several other similarly modified maps ([2]), which are used in various articles.

/Yuslo (talk) 18:58, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm sure the answer is no, but I'm having a hard time figuring out which article to cite. Maybe Honesty. The simplest approach for the uploading user would be to *not* say it's a CIA map at all. I don't see why it would matter to include that. Anyone can see it's a map of the Gaza strip. Wjhonson (talk) 09:42, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Since the portions of the map remaining were created by the CIA it would be intellectually dishonest to not acknowledge that. However since significiant changes were made you can't claim as the CIA map. I think the form of "after CIA" is best here. Dsmdgold (talk) 04:26, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
The image you include here doesn't seem to be the same one as actually on the Gaza strip article (which still includes the text). The Gz-map2.png you linked in above seems to have been originally uploaded unmodified, so I guess the changes could be tracked through its history; also I see Lojak has updated the Image page with a note on the changes. I guess the Gz-map.gif in Gaza strip should be replaced with this newer image? --tiny plastic Grey Knight 07:56, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps I misunderstand but you seem to be highlighting a wikiwide issue unrelated to the CIA. If an image is attributed to a source (and yes they always should be) then any modifications should generally be clearly mentioned as well. It doesn't matter whether it's CIA, Flickr or even a wikipedian. Nil Einne (talk) 09:48, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

No one understands the WP:SUMMARY policy -- please do something[edit]

(cross-posted in the Wikipedia talk:Summary style page)

For the last week, I tried to explain this WP:SUMMARY policy to editors of the United Nations article without success; they keep expanding a summary section while shunning the main article on the subject. In brief, few people understand this policy and, as a result, WP fills with duplications and contradictions. Please do something. Emmanuelm (talk) 14:37, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't really like the word Summary here. This essay or guideline is really about "Summarizing", i.e. taking a long article, replacing it with a summary and forking the detailed content. When I see WP:SUMMARY I instead naturally think that I'm going to a page that is a summary of Wikipedia, or even meta-Wikipedia. Sort of an "About" page or a "What we are and what we're doing here" page. So I propose renaming your page to Summarizing, or even "Article Summarizing".Wjhonson (talk) 00:20, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
It is not my page; I am a simple mortal, not an editor. Emmanuelm (talk) 20:51, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
A mortal! (Gasp) Shun him! I've been touched by a mortal. I demand my right to .... the cleansing Margharita!Wjhonson (talk) 00:31, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not really WP:SUMMARY that's the problem here, it's the editors in question. Some people are determined to get their pet quotes/cites/phrases into the lead, because that's what people look at first. In other words, trying to inject a particular spin or bias in the main article, because people often don't follow the links to sub-articles. This is an editing dispute that no change in the summary guidelines can fix. -- Kesh (talk) 00:41, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Statute of Limitations[edit]

Is there a Statute of Limitations for long-past instances of vandalism? Say, for instance, a page that hasn't been edited for over a year, and I happen across it and revert the edit. It seems pretty stupid to warn someone that long, but is there a policy there?

Thanks! --.ιΙ Inhuman14 Ιι. 21:59, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Generally, I would recommend checking what they have been up to since. If they have remained a vandal, then warn. If they have not been active, then it might not be worth it. And if they're a good editor, then there isn't any need LinaMishima (talk) 22:06, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Just use common sense. The point of warning an editor is to get them to stop engaging in a disruptive behavior. If they've already stopped a year ago, then there's no point. In fact, it could have the opposite effect. -Chunky Rice (talk) 22:10, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Cool, I was just making sure that there wasn't a "THOU SHALT WARN" clause or something. Thanks! --.ιΙ Inhuman14 Ιι. 00:24, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I only warn for current behavior. However, the level of warning I use, and whether I think a block is called for, takes past behavior into account. I would tend to ignore long-past behavior (year-old plus or so), but I would use a stepped-up warning (and sometimes block outright, depending on the severity of the current violation) if the last violation was a few months ago. I give greater weight to old behavior if the account seems to be a vandalism-only account. There are no hard-and-fast rules, just common sense. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 16:40, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Universities Article Guidelines[edit]

At WikiProject Universities we have been working on a set of article guidelines to define a solid structure and cases of notability for articles that we cover (mostly university articles). In attempt to build consensus I am posting here to see what the greater Wikipedia community thinks about our guidelines. There already seems to be consensus within our project and an RfC was already made on the talk page. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. —Noetic Sage 16:10, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Bot warnings[edit]

I've been RC Patrolling lately and have found myself beaten to the crime scene by those darned Bot vigilantes. How irksome! If a user is attracting all bot warnings, which do not really add up like the test2, 3, 4, etc do, should a real user tack on a "true" warning? Or, possibly, in order to avoid double jeopardy, erase a bot warning to add a real one?

Thanks in advance! --.ιΙ Inhuman14 Ιι. 02:03, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

The real solution, of course, is to fix the bots. It's a bit trickier than just escalating the warnings - in a sequence of four events A, B, W-A, W-B, warnings W-A and W-B should be at the same level, because the person doing edit B wouldn't have had a chance to see warning W-A before finishing with B. And even if the sequence is A, W-A, B, W-B, if edit B occured within a minute after W-A, an argument can be made that edit B was already underway and (again) that the editor may not have seen W-A until after saving edit B.
Anyway, until the bots are fixed, I suggest adding a higher-level warning to the user talk page. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 02:16, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Cool, thanks! --.ιΙ Inhuman14 Ιι. 02:31, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that warning W-B shouldn't happen, unless it's for a significantly different action. If someone's added "penis" to two articles in a short time, they only need to be warned once about vandalism. On the other hand, if they add "penis" to one article, and add a spam link to another, they need to be warned about both vandalism and spamming. --Carnildo (talk) 04:42, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. If they're repeating the same vandalism on multiple articles, they should get warned for each vandalism, otherwise they get a free ride because nobody will block when you report them at WP:AIV unles you've given them the full range of warnings. THAT is the big problem, refusal to deal with vandals who haven't had their hands held enough times. If admins would stop counting warnings and actually review the vandalism, we wouldn't have to deal with "only warn him once for all of the penis vandalism", vs. "warn him every time for each incidence." Corvus cornixtalk 00:51, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree with the latter part of your statement, but not the former. Mindless application of "four warnings before block" is indeed bad; in fact, with shared IPs it can cause errors in either direction. The rule that admins should follow is simply to block as soon as, and no sooner than, it is clear that the vandal knows what they're doing is wrong but still keeps doing it. Depending on the type of vandalism, this could require anything from zero to four, or possibly even more, warnings.
Fortunately, a partial solution to this problem, available even to non-admins, are the "blatant vandalism" warning templates such as {{blatantvandal}} and {{uw-vandalism4im}}. Of course, they need to be used sparingly, since the language in them (the latter one in particular) can be rather bitey, but they can be quite useful for cutting through the user warnings bureaucracy in those cases where mindlessly following it would be counterproductive. In particular, in cases where a vandal's talk page shows a "silly" or confusing warning history (such as bot-generated first level warnings for minor vandalism while immediately preceding major vandalism has gone unwarned, or a random mix of fresh and two-year-old warnings with little rhyme or reason), I've found it sometimes best to just blank the existing mess of warnings and replace it with a single {{subst:blatantvandal}} (or, where appropriate, a milder warning). After all, the point of all the user warnings is to communicate with the user, not to satisfy some bureaucratic requirement before blocking; if the preceding warnings seem to hinder that communication more than they help it, it's best to just remove them. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 16:35, 28 January 2008 (UTC)


Group accounts allowed?[edit]

Group accounts are permitted as long as they're being used for Anti-vandalism. Correct?--172.131.23.149 (talk) 18:59, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Group accounts are generally not permitted at all. -- zzuuzz (talk) 19:03, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
No. Have a look at Wikipedia:User account policy#Sharing accounts. • Anakin (contribscomplaints) 19:05, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Then why was an admitted group account recently given a rollbacker flag for anti-vandalism efforts?--172.131.23.149 (talk) 19:05, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Could you link us to the account in question, so that this can be taken further. Thanks, D.M.N. (talk) 19:06, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
If you were to search recent entires on the user rights log it should jump right out at you. Short of that, I'd rather not be accused of "outing" another user as being in violation of policy, even if their own userpage does specify that they are a shared account.--172.131.23.149 (talk) 19:10, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you are thinking of this? -- zzuuzz (talk) 19:12, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Unless I've drastically misinterpreted that thread, the issue was resolved on the basis that the account was non-shared, however the userpage of the individual makes it clear that it is not one person operating the account. Even their own response seems to be basically consist of saying that only 1 IP range is being used, not that only 1 person is operating the account. It seems that this could be solved easily enough were each member of their organization to register separate accounts.--172.131.23.149 (talk) 19:21, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
It seems pretty clear to me that the user claims to be the only person using that account. ("I am the only one who has access to the account .. should I leave the account would go with me and not the position"). Granted the wording of the userpage infers something else, but that doesn't seem to really be an issue. People put all sorts on their userpages. -- zzuuzz (talk) 19:28, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
"Staff" is not necessarily plural. MilesAgain (talk) 21:11, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

It appears that User:Gurch was using the alternate account, User:Gurchzilla, as an anti-vandalism bot. There's nothing wrong with this, but it appears he was the only one running it, which according to the policy above, is not allowed. I did some digging and found that a friend of his, User:Bishonen has also had a similar situation, with an alternate account named User:Bishzilla. I'm going to put in a request that Bishzilla be blocked, since she appears to have been using the account just as a basis for speaking like a cavewoman. Literally, read the contribs.

If anybody knows anybody else with accounts like this, please report them. Users should NOT have multiple accounts unless they have a very specific reason.   Zenwhat (talk) 19:50, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I was always under the impression that disclosed/undisclosed alternate accounts were allowed, unless they're being used abusively. In fact this statement "it appears he was the only one running it" seems quite odd to me, the policy prohibits multiple people from operating a single account, not a single person operating multiple accounts. --172.131.33.29 (talk) 20:21, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't see the harm. User:Bishzilla and User:Bishapod are amusing, and they make the wiki expirience more pleasureable. Both accounts have made it clear that they are alternative accounts of Bishonen, therefore fullfilling the transparency criteria. I agree with essays like WP:CARE and WP:Editors matter. Puchiko (Talk-email) 20:52, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
  • "I'm going to put in a request that Bishzilla be blocked, since she appears to have been using the account just as a basis for speaking like a cavewoman." Since when was mock prehistoric speech a blockable offense?
  • "There's nothing wrong with this, but it appears he was the only one running it, which according to the policy above, is not allowed." When put in context, this comment makes no sense whatsoever.
Any experienced editor here can then conclude that the full comment made above is without merit and disconnected from policy and facts. —Kurykh 21:10, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Having a group of accounts is not the same as having a group account. MilesAgain (talk) 21:11, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

The policy is simple- each account must belong to only one person, and though multiple accounts are generally discouraged, they are allowed as long as they are not used maliciously or deceptively, but you don't have to say that you have other accounts. I have, at times, considered getting other accounts for editing potentially sensitive topics, (and I wouldn't reveal the link between this username and that one) but decided it was more trouble than it was worth. J Milburn (talk) 22:33, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

If one user having multiple accounts (for whatever reason) was banned, that would imply that registered users operating anonymously (as many do from time to time, for whatever reason) would be frowned upon. At least, that's how it appears to me. As long as a single operator is using the accounts and they are all being used for legitimate reasons, I don't see a problem with it.Caissa's DeathAngel (talk) 00:12, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Harm does not matter. Users CANNOT violate policy. If the policy is "administrators let their buddies have multiple accounts because of favoritism," then that should be made explicit. I don't think, however, that such a policy EVER got consensus. So, in this case, you have rogue admins -- not rouge -- rogue admins blatantly ignoring policy for no apparent reason other than for the lulz. Actually, I took a closer look at the policy and somehow, lol, I missed something. It does currently say that it "recommends" users not use multiple accounts, not a requirement. Still, it seems rather in poor taste to let this kind of thing go on.   Zenwhat (talk) 00:15, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Anybody here willing to support a requirement rather than a recommendation that must justify and\or get addinitional accounts approved? It really seems just like a pandora's box for trolling since it gives people the possibility of plausible deniability when they engage in sockpuppetry.   Zenwhat (talk) 00:20, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Having multiple accounts is not forbidden. it is only against policy if one or more of the accounts are being used abusively. As long as you don't use them abusively and indicate the owner of the alternate account, you may have as many as you wish. User:Gurchzilla redirects to User:Gurch and User:Bishzilla states "This account alternative account of Bishonen." Mr.Z-man 00:25, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
"Abusively" is not the standard, it's a term that's sometimes applied to people who break the rules. It's banned (and considered abusive) if the purpose is deceptive, to game a vote, to play good cop / bad cop, or enable any misconduct, and it's definitely frowned on by most people to make controversial edits, conduct policy, conduct experiments, etc. The general rule is don't do it unless you have a good reason, and even there be prepared because you may have to defend yourself. I would support a requirement that anyone with an alternate account needs to register or otherwise disclose the alternate account, anonymously, with a trusted group here. I would question whether we should be getting into evaluating or approving the reasons. People sometimes do it because of fear of being outed over their sexuality, dealing with online or offline stalking, and other subjects that we would be uncomfortable to judge each other on. Wikidemo (talk) 00:53, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
No, no, no. You're now proposing solutions to nonexistent problems. We block for disruptive sockpuppetry, not just any sockpuppet. —Kurykh 00:56, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
conduct experiments - A month or two ago I ran across an editor who has contributed a lot of user scripts to Wikipedia, and has at least two other accounts - something like "XXX left sock" and "XXX right sock". I presume that he/she uses the accounts to test out user scripts, so that he/she can just maintain a standard set on user scripts on his/her main account. Perfectly acceptable experimentation, obviously.
You could refine the language of my comment or just apply common sense there. Maybe call that script development. In general experiments are a bad thing. Wikidemo (talk) 02:03, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
People sometimes do it because of fear of being outed over their sexuality, dealing with online or offline stalking, and other subjects that we would be uncomfortable to judge each other on. Precisely. And having experienced editors with such alternate accounts to do so strengthens the encyclopedia. Requiring such editors to "register" or disclose their plans to someone, no matter how trusted the community felt that someone was, would have a chilling effect on the number of such (constructive) alternative accounts. And editors intending to use alternative accounts for unconstructive purposes would either (a) not register or disclose or (b) would simply ignore any rejection of registration or failure to obtain approval, and go ahead and create an account anyway. In short, unless we implement universal checkuser for all new accounts (which we won't), registration/disclosure won't stop alternative accounts for deception, gaming, or misconduct (why would it?), but will stop constructive alternative accounts. And create more bureaucracy - a real lose/lose situation. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 01:46, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I expect a registration requirement will greatly reduce abusive sockpuppets. For someone who means to do wrong, it forces them to register the account, in which case it is much easier to police, or else to go unregistered, in which case we can be certain the account is improper and delete it upon detection. For people operating in good faith, it will reduce unintentional problems by making them think twice about their reasons for sockpuppetry, and discouraging people from doing it merely to separate their controversial edits from their well-accepted one. The core of the good faith but nevertheless improper use of sock puppets, I think, is people who create an alternate account on which they can be a complete pain in the ass, annoying people without quite stepping over the line of policy violations, and avoid any taint of their primary account from the behavior. I believe some administrators have created sockuppets where they engage in un-administrator-like behavior. That would all be discouraged if there's a registration problem. The chilling effect is a reasonable concern, but sockpuppetry is one of our biggest problems on Wikipedia and a perfect solution isn't possible. The main harm if there is a chilling effect is that a very small number of people will have to be exra careful or avoid editing a very small number of articles. We're already bending over backwards to allow people to be anonymous, but whatever the problem is they're running away from we did not create it and there is only so much we can do to help. Overall the incidence of bad, useless, or unnecessary sockpuppets is so much greater than the legitimate ones that I think we ought to do something, and work to minimize unintended consequences rather than avoiding a solution. Wikidemo (talk) 02:03, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not like a sockpuppeteer will register his/her accounts, right? They're just going to create multiple accounts anyway and disrupt the encyclopedia. This proposal does nothing to solve the problem, and only serves to impede what measures may be necessary to protect constructive editors. In short, not only is it a solution looking for a problem, it is a solution that is needlessly bureaucratic and will only backfire. And it is the epitome of the preemptive assumption of bad faith. —Kurykh 03:45, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I have to agree with User:Kurykh's first sentence here; a sockpuppet abuser will just ignore the registration system. The only people who will pay attention to it are those who care about whether they are using their sockpuppet correctly or not, and these are the people for whom it's no real use! To disclaim, I myself use this account as a sockpuppet (I frequently edit from public computers which aren't terribly secure), a fact which is explained on my userpage (and that of my primary account). --tiny plastic Grey Knight 09:02, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
As I said, if an abuser fails to register, then we've got them as soon as we discover the alternate account. Obviously no assumption of bad faith, it's just a registration requirement. If there's no approval process, no bureaucracy. Wikidemo (talk) 10:22, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

mostly arbitrary section break[edit]

Sockpuppets will do whatever they can to break the rules, which can include deceptively following the rules in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Requiring users to justify having more than one account is pretty rational and I don't see why anyone would oppose it unless they, themselves, are complicit or know somebody that is, in running sockpuppeting.

As an example of how existing policy might pose problematic, User:Bishzilla's account seem to be used to get under people's skin with the "dinospeak" nonsense. While this is perfectly in accordance with policy, it seems absurd to let it continue since it's disruptive.

Other problems that might be posed by letting users have accounts like this is long-term vandalism (that is, long-term edit-warring using both accounts that goes unnoticed, because the edits are so far apart between both accounts) and possible abuse of administrative privileges if one account is for administration while the other account is used for editing. It's true I couldn't find examples of any of these, but I shouldn't need to. One could argue that it's possible to "share accounts," without causing harm to Wikipedia and it would be hard to dig up evidence to show what a problem it would be, but obviously, it opens such a pandora's box that it doesn't make any sense to allow people to share accounts. The same applies to the mere "recommendation" that users not have multiple accounts.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:29, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I mean, here's my point:

"contributors using their real name may wish to use a pseudonymous account for contributions they do not want their real name to be associated with"

Why would they want to do that? If you don't want people to have your real name on Wikipedia, then don't use your real name when you sign up. If you did that already, then vanish and make a new account.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:30, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

And having an extra account to "edit sensitive topics" really seems like trolling. I mean, based on this, you're ALLOWED to have sockpuppets... until you get caught doing it with a checkuser. Seems pretty messed up. Multiple accounts should be fully transparent to avoid sockpuppetry. If there's any info you don't want others to know about on Wikipedia, don't upload it. Very simple.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:34, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Over time, people may develop a persona based upon their online pseudonyms that becomes well-known (see lonelygirl15, even if she isn't the creator of herself, so to speak). And it's not necessarily to do with Wikipedia, people sometimes use the same pseudonym for multiple websites. To me, I should be able to create as many accounts as I want so long as I am not disruptive with any of them, so as to avoid being checkusered; of course, it does have implications regarding voting on various things.
Sensitive topic editing is not trolling. Trolling is the action of provoking someone into flaming - I don't see how these are related. Besides, Checkuser is not for fishing - don't do anything to the extent of a Checkuser request, and all is well. x42bn6 Talk Mess 17:38, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure if BishZilla can be considered disruptive. What concerns me are her mainspace contributions ([3] [4]). However, I don't see any harm in her edits to other namespaces, she cheers up a lot of people. While we should make it clear that vandalism is evil, and won't be tolerated, I don't think a ban is in order. Advising her to steer clear of the article namespaces should be alright. Puchiko (Talk-email) 17:56, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
User:Bishzilla's account seem to be used to get under people's skin with the "dinospeak" nonsense. While this is perfectly in accordance with policy, it seems absurd to let it continue since it's disruptive. - Says who? Where is the disruption? From what I've seen, its mainly used for a bit of comic relief in high-drama situations. possible abuse of administrative privileges if one account is for administration while the other account is used for editing - Administrative tools != editing, how would editing on one account and adminning on the other be an abuse? As long as you only have admin tools on one, its a benefit to the project. Some people like to keep their editing separate so they can work on articles without the extra responsibility/stress of the tools. It's true I couldn't find examples of any of these, but I shouldn't need to. - That's called a solution in search of a problem. You of all people should know Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, we don't come up with rules that we don't need "just in case we might need them in the future". it doesn't make any sense to allow people to share accounts - True, but its so easy to register accounts, this isn't much of a problem. And having an extra account to "edit sensitive topics" really seems like trolling. - as long as your edits are constructive and you don't edit the same topics with your main account and create the impression of 2 separate people, what's the problem? Mr.Z-man 18:10, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
There have been some significant examples of administrators abusing administrative tools while using a meatpuppet or sockpuppet account . Anyone remember the Alkivar fiasco? I believe we had a number of people banned, quitting Wikipedia, or de-sysopped over that, and two or three arb-com cases before the dust settled on that one. Alas, unless one is on troll patrol you only learn about these incidents when they affect you and somebody uncovers the multiple accounts. The problem comes if both accounts work on the same or related articles, enter discussions on related policies and guidelines, deal with the same users, or push the same issues. Even when an administrator's actions are within policy, both as an administrator and as a non-administrative editor, it's troubling to think that a user with whom one is collaborating (and perhaps disagreeing) is secretly also an administrator who is wielding a threat of deleting and protecting articles, and blocking users. I don't think that a desire to avoid the stress of being an administrator is a valid reason for an admin to engage in a practice that's fundamentally unhealthy for the system. If they can't handle the responsibility of being on their best behavior they probably shouldn't be an administrator. If they do have some valid reason, it's absolutely reasonable to ask administrators to state somewhere and to somebody whether they're using alternate accounts, which ones they are, and why. The problem also happens when using separate accounts for seemingly sensitive topics. I use the same account for anal-oral contact as I do for patent claims. It puts me at a disadvantage, and it's actually kind of creepy, to think that someone I'm dealing with there is secretly without telling me someone I have interactions with regularly on other articles. It's a bigger issue when people use the second account to make controversial edits than to edit on controversial subjects. In theory no article here should be controversial. We are an encyclopedia that covers everything and does not censor - to participate in an article about a contentious political or sexual subject is to be a Wikipedian. This cloak-and-dagger paranoid stuff isn't a very mature or orderly way to go about creating an encyclopedia. If someone has a reasonable fear that their off-Wikipedia person will suffer, I think we can accommodate an extra level of privacy on a case-by-case basis. But it shouldn't be the norm, and people shouldn't do it just for the advantage of being able to have two different anonymous accounts, one of which is respectable and the other less so. A final note. I don't consider this a proposal - there's no way anybody is going to adopt a registration requirement for alternate accounts after this discussion. The idea has been considered and rejected on WP:SOCK. It's just an ongoing discussion. I think it's helpful to keep that discussion going and make clear that alternate accounts are the exception, not the norm.Wikidemo (talk) 23:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
it's troubling to think that a user with whom one is collaborating (and perhaps disagreeing) is secretly also an administrator who is wielding a threat of deleting and protecting articles, and blocking users - Huh? Since when is blocking for disagreeing part of the blocking policy? If you live in fear of admins like that, you might have a problem. If you are not being disruptive, you'll be fine. The problem comes if both accounts work on the same or related articles... - which is already forbidden. it's absolutely reasonable to ask administrators to state somewhere and to somebody whether they're using alternate accounts - except for privacy reasons, all users are supposed to disclose their alternate accounts. This cloak-and-dagger paranoid stuff - except perhaps privacy socks, what legitimate uses of alternate accounts would be paranoid? have two different anonymous accounts, one of which is respectable and the other less so - Good hand/bad hand accounts are already forbidden. Mr.Z-man.sock (talk) 00:21, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
I do have a problem with the behavior of certain administrators for sure, but I would call it experience, not fear. It has nothing to do with being disruptive. An administrator who has interacted with a user, an issue, a policy, or a subject matter simply cannot avoid the conflict - it's like pouring the cream back out of the coffee, it's there. If they make their role clear, and step aside on any administrative actions where they are likely to be questioned, they can contain it. When they're all over Wikipedia on a stealth account, they cannot be neutral and given our experience, we can't count on all to police themselves on it. The good hand/bad hand policy is weak; it is prohibited only t the extreme. There was a disagreement and edit warring over at WP:SOCK when people tried to expand the definition to include simply having one good guy account and a bad guy account. The way it stands now, that's only prohibited when the secondary account is used "for the purpose of artificially stirring up controversy" or "to engage in disruptive behavior." The pro-puppet lobby, some of them socks themselves participating in the dispute, insisted on the "purpose" limitation and the word "artificially." I'm not sure what the difference is between stirring up an artificial controversy versus a legitimate controversy. The word "artificial" begs the question. Also, it's very hard to prove what anybody's purpose is. Whatever your purpose is, you shouldn't be out on an alternate account causing trouble, or simply to do things you couldn't get away with on your main account. The limited exception, as we've both noted, is privacy: where your actions on the alternate account are sterling, and the added layer of anonymity is needed to protect your off-wiki life from any unfair harm from bigots, stalkers, and the like. It's hard to get a handle on it because we don't have any statistics or surveys of sockpuppets, but from the cases that emerge at AN/I and Arbcom, it looks like quite a few sockuppet accounts are being used in ways that get people upset but do not violate current policy in any obvious or easily detectable way. Wikidemo (talk) 00:53, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

WP:DEGRADE[edit]

Reading some AFDs got me thinking, so I wrote Wikipedia:Notability does not degrade over time. Might be insane, but tossing it out for consideration. Is this a lunatic essay, or did I just describe practice that is policy? Lawrence § t/e 08:59, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Actually, it's policy that could possibly use some more practice--"notability is not temporary" is part of the notability guideline. --jonny-mt 11:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it does. Just think of all the 1950's slang and cultural phenomenon that now belong on Wikipedia...

....oh wait.

A more accurate way of putting it is, "Hindsight is 20/20." Something can gain notability, but there is no trend for things to get notable over time and this is just a silly argument put forth by inclusionists in order to justify flooding Wikipedia with the type of nonsense that belongs on Digg and Youtube. To demonstrate hindsight: If the "Where's the Beef?" was invented today and broadcast on TV right now, it would probably be pretty absurd for anybody to make an article about it. Since it was made in the 80's, though, and it's now recognized as such a large cultural icon, in hindsight, we know it was notable. Overall, notability isn't "degrading," it's just that certain things become more notable and it's easier to tell, while certain other things aren't notable. 50 years from now, nobody is going to care about Voltron#Changes from the Japanese_version and nobody should care about it now. The same goes for all the bots spamming Wikipedia with obscure content. Because of all of this, every wiki except German Wikipedia is degrading over time.

Then there's the lists:

What we need to do is make a list of non-notable lists and delete them, en masse.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:21, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Hm, would this list be notable? ;-) --tiny plastic Grey Knight 20:58, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I was joking, Grey Knight. Also, lol, I was some good rouge admin deleted the List of lists. Good job.   Zenwhat (talk) 22:15, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

List of the names of 48,000 Beetle species who do not warrant their own individual articlesWjhonson (talk) 06:03, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I think the essay is wrong because of a couple of things:

  • "...increase or remain steady as time goes by." I think you're intending to discuss only the passage of time related to the /subject/. But /subject/ is not an island to itself. As time goes by, if the field becomes flooded with fifty thousand similar versions of /subject/, it probably reduces the notability of /subject/. Let's say someone builds the first duck blind in Cambodia. Is it notable? Let's say, yes, for its historical import. Is the second one notable? Let's say, yes again, because, hey, it's the second, and thus demonstrates the viability (and maybe notability) of the first. Is the third? Fourth? Fifth? As we get toward the fifty thousandth, it's hard to argue that the 99th is still notable. The notability of the 99th did not "...increase or remain steady as time goes by."
  • I think you are probably aiming this essay at notability with regards to the existence of an article. I don't think it applies to the existence of facts in an article about a rather current event. Facts that are notable will get drowned out over time by facts that are more notable as we get the wider view of the event. They have indeed become less notable as time passed by - within the scope of the article, that is. Tempshill (talk) 22:36, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

It's always been done that way...[edit]

I've recently been in a few discussions in which this argument has cropped up -- i.e., "there are many other WP articles that do X, so we therefore should continue doing X in this article." I know that this is not considered a sound rationale in and of itself, but I couldn't find where in WP's policies and guidelines it's addressed. Could someone point me to the appropriate page/section? Thanks! Huwmanbeing  19:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

What about consensus can change? Is that what you mean? Perhaps a more specific example? If you are talking about deletion discussions, for example, WP:AADD is a good resource for rebuttals. Keeper | 76 19:21, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Specifically WP:OTHERSTUFF. Bovlb (talk) 19:32, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I would say OTHERSTUFF only applies to deletion discussions. I can't think of any relevant guideline or essay that addresses the notion of consistency between related articles, for example. — Andrwsc (talk · contribs) 19:36, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
If a bunch of other articles do something, and doing so is not actually against a rule, its probably best to keep articles consistent, that's why we have the manual of style and some projects have their own format guidelines, but those don't always cover everything. Unless changing an article to be more consistent with others would actually damage it somehow, I see no reason not to do so. Mr.Z-man 20:39, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Consensus can always change. In practice, however, most people fail to understand this. See WP:Zombies. You have found a problem, Huwmanbeing, right? Attempt to fix it. I will help you if you need help, but most likely we will be stonewalled.   Zenwhat (talk) 22:18, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Getting around stonewalls is simply a matter of applying dispute resolution skills, which begin with not calling other people "zombies", or refering to others' good faith editing as "stonewalling". The most effective way to help get a good edit into an article past opposition is to involve other people, by using such resources as WP:3O and WP:RFC. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:48, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

In reply to the original poster, you don't need a page. The fact that your argument is logical is enough. Just explain why the edit you're trying to make is a good idea, and if someone only answers you by pointing out that other articles are different, ask them why it's better to do it that way, and demand a better answer than "inertia" or "tradition". -GTBacchus(talk) 22:48, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestions and good guidance! Fortunately the particular issue I'm dealing with is one of relatively minor significance — it concerns the use of certain census terms in geographic nav boxes, as discussed here, here, and a few other places — and I suspect we'll be able to reach agreement. I was just interested to learn more about this aspect of WP since the "it's like this in lots of other places" argument is being leaned on quite a bit. Huwmanbeing  01:54, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

You might take a look at Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions#What about article x?. It's about article deletion instead of formatting, but it may have some relevant points. -Freekee (talk) 02:14, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

"The fact that your argument is logical is enough." No it isn't, because the average page doesn't carry about logic. In response to logic, they'll say, "BUT THE POLICY PAGE SAYS X!" That's why it's so important to have policy pages which make sense and if his argument is logical, I see no reason why anyone should object to him fixing the policy page to address the same problem that several users face: people who use WP:CONSENSUS as an appeal to tradition.   Zenwhat (talk) 06:33, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The solution to that problem is to refrain from rolling over when they do it. Logic is enough, and if people throw readings of policy pages at you, then you need to point them to IAR and repeat your logic. Logic wins. Consensus can change, and if anybody appeals to tradition, you point them to WP:CCC. Wikipedians understand IAR better than you assume they do, Zenwhat. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:45, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
His issue seems to be that there isn't a policy on this. Anyway, we don't rewrite policy every time a new situation arises, we use common sense and leave policy to cover the most common situations and ideal situations. Mr.Z-man 04:59, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I disagree with the idea that logic trumps policy, or the use of IAR for this purpose. Proper change here requires discourse, it isn't an anarchy, it's a discursive democracy. We don't necessarily edit to logic, but rather to consensus. Sometimes editing to logic, leads directly to conflict, which should be avoided when we can. The easiest way to avoid conflict is to discuss the situation with your co-editors. Wjhonson (talk) 05:09, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not any kind of democracy, and it's not an anarchy. If you implement a change, and that leads to conflict, then you need to handle that conflict in a productive manner, i.e., via discourse. That's what WP:BRD is about. A bold edit, that might ignore some rule or another, is a great first step in a productive discourse.

We do edit to logic, but not to a blind logic that disregards other people and other decisions that have been made. We make logical edits, and if people disagree, citing some rule, then we use logic to convince those people that our edits improve the encyclopedia, regardless of what some rule might say. Eventually, the rule changes, because we don't want to mislead other people. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:27, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

There is always conflict on Wikipedia. What's important is enabling good-faith editors the ability to make constructive edits. Since Wikipedia is not a democracy if more than 50% of people complain loudly about wording policy in a particular way that helps Wikipedia based on logic not populism, then they should be ignored.   Zenwhat (talk) 05:45, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Policy on the neutrality of portals?[edit]

I was reading up on LDS/Mormon articles and came across Portal:Latter-day Saints. Frankly, I was surprised it didn't have an NPOV tag as I would expect an article that states "Did you know...that the Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ?" to have such, since it conflicts with other articles where that particular sentiment has been removed as non-NPOV. I was reading Book of Mormon and there was a backlink to the portal. So my question is: Are portals considered encyclopaedic or are they "utility pages" similar to talk pages etc.? If they are not supposed to be encyclopaedic, but are collection pages collating information and articles about various topics, should they should not be linked from articles per WP:ASR? And they should be clearly marked as such with a template on the top so readers don't get confused into thinking they follow the standard guidelines? Or if they *are* considered part of the proper Wikipedia they should be subject to the same NPOV standards as everything else. Meaning they should not contain anything controversial and if they do, be so marked. In either case, I noted that some recent (now reverted) POV edits (see Talk:Book_of_Mormon) on the BoM page were reflecting the POV expressed on the portal page. So I'd like the portals status to be clarified. TH (talk) 22:53, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Like lists, most people don't worry about portals because they mostly contain just compilations of Wikipedia articles rather than original content. The result is that they tend to get low visiblity, so they're of low-quality and dominated by mobs.

Flip on some Bob Dylan, get some rice krispies, and then take a look at Portal:Cannabis.

"duuuude, like welcome to portal cannabis!! here's totally a picture of bob marley, rofl!11"

There's plenty of treasures to be found:

The same rules elsewhere also apply portals, but despite this, portals are like black holes for bad content.   Zenwhat (talk) 23:07, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Zenwhat, thanks for that very informative answer. Much appreciated! FWIW, all of the examples that you list (and probably a few hundred more) could do with some extensive work (or AfD if nobody bothers to maintain them). I'm sure it'll be an uphill battle against "Save the Portals" activists if somebody actually started such a review process, though.. so I'll pass on that one. Ideally the portals ought to be marked with some template that they are not an "official" part of the encyclopedia, though. For seasoned wikipedians, the "Portal:" prefix might serve to instill that sentiment but I doubt a casual visitor would spot the significance. TH (talk) 23:59, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Since portals are meant mostly for readers in the same way that articles are, I think we should handle problems with them in the same way as articles. When a portal is non-neutral, put an {{npov}} tag on it. For what it's worth, I just put {{in-universe}} on the "Did you know?" section of Portal:Halo, as it's asking me whether I knew that certain fictional characters do certain fictional things. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 02:58, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Why is this So?[edit]

I think it is unfair that while Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. among other pages have links to their related wikia's, whenever I put a link to the Jaguars Wiki on the Jaguars wikipedia page, it is deleted? Why is that? If its against the rules, why do other pages have such links? —Preceding unsigned comment added by LordNyax113 (talkcontribs) 17:26, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

It's a gray area, but generally links to external wikis (like other external sites) are frowned upon unless A) it's generally recognized as the "best" wiki on the subject on the web and B) it has a rather large user-base to verify its information. Small wikis on niche topics pop up all the time and tend to dwindle to a few editors in short time, leading to possible problems with their accuracy. WP:EL is the main policy here. Just like we don't link to random fansites about subject X, we don't link to random wikis about subject X. -- Kesh (talk) 18:04, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


Thanks for clarifying. :) LordNyax113 (talk) 02:34, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Obama article vandalism study[edit]

Regarding Wikipedia:WikiProject Vandalism studies/Obama article study: Were any conclusions drawn from this? Tempshill (talk) 22:21, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I would bring it up on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Vandalism studies. -- Kesh (talk) 23:09, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm left-wing and I have to say: I think Wikipedia does have somewhat of a left-leaning bias when I see studies like this, lol.

Why haven't any other candidates or politicians gotten a similar vandalism study? It can't be because they haven't faced the same amount of vandalism.   Zenwhat (talk) 05:03, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

A proposed bot (SquelchBot) to automatically revert the addition of certain external links[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/SquelchBot if you have comments. Thank you, Iamunknown 01:07, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I strongly recommend folks here take a look. The proposal is reeeeeeeeeally strange. They're proposing an "anti-spam" bot that isn't dealing with spam: it's reverting suspicious links, like blogspot. They say that it won't revert more than once and it won't affect new users -- ohh, unless, of course a handful of select users in an off-wiki IRC issue manual commands.   Zenwhat (talk) 02:11, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

The bot has been in operation since November 2006. GracenotesT §

Correction: Since 2006, a bot with the same basic source-code was performing a similar but completely different function. The previous bot was anti-spam. This one isn't, though that's what they're saying it is.   Zenwhat (talk) 04:18, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Zenwhat, check your facts. its doing the same thing. βcommand 08:14, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
This bot is a replacement of Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/Shadowbot which was approved and running since November 2006. Was later renamed User:AntiSpamBot.--Hu12 (talk) 13:32, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

We need to encourage users to think critically[edit]

Wikipedia policy encourages anti-intellectualism, because it avoids the words "truth," "objectivity," "correct," "factual," "in reality," and other similar synonyms in favor of euphemisms like:


One can think of unbiased writing as the fair, analytical description of all relevant sides of a debate...

...a neutral reader to fairly and equally assess...

We should, both individually and collectively, make an effort to present these conflicting views fairly, without advocating any one of them...

Sometimes, the NPOV is neither fair nor equal. This misunderstanding leads to ridiculous false compromises like the proposal in gun politics to have a section for "liberal statistics" and another section for "conservative statistics." More often than not, this is how Wikipedia works. When you have two mobs over an article, both factions will splinter off, with the largest faction defending the main article and the smaller faction splintering off to defend a series of POV forks. So you see the creation of totally unnecessary pages entitled, "Criticism of X," created solely because the polarized mobs couldn't come to a reasonable consensus on the main page.

And in practice, the following cliches are used in an abusive manner:

  • Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth = Used as apologetics for uploading nonsense in violation of WP:FRINGE
  • Wikipedia is about NPOV, not objectivity = Used as apologetics for POV-pushing and for uploading nonsense in violation of WP:FRINGE
  • That's just an essay = Apologetics for ignoring WP:BRD, WP:SPA, WP:AAAD, WP:AADD, WP:DTTR and a whole string of important pages
  • That's just a guideline = Apologetics for ignoring WP:RS, WP:FRINGE, WP:NONSENSE, and other important guidelines.

When one brings this point up, one is often asked, "Nonsense according to WHOM?" and "Trolling according to WHOM?"

My response: Your point is backed by reason, yes? And it is true, right?

Reason and truth, ACCORDING TO WHOM, eh?

Wikipedia is not a garbage dump for your subjective opinions, particularly political and religious, and if you are consciously doing that (POV-pushing\trolling), you should either leave immediately or be blocked. Wikipedia is a place for reasonable editors to collaborate rationally and successfully towards creating an encyclopedia.

And so, I propose the following:

That we remove the language of "fairness," and "equality," and so on from WP:NPOV and re-word it to read "objective assessment" which is "based on reason" and "reflective of factual reality." Users who don't believe in this, those who are nihilists, factual relativists, and gonzo journalists don't belong here.   Zenwhat (talk) 06:11, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

A lot of the above is accurate. Some is problematic. First of all, I agree that "that's just an essay" and "that's just a guideline" are silly arguments. The argument being advanced is a good argument or it isn't, and the official status of some page doesn't change that.

On the other hand, it is never helpful to call other users "trolls". There is no situation in which that is the best or most useful thing to do. It creates drama, it distracts from the task at hand, and it gives your opponent openings to play a host of cards against you. It's also embarrassing when you turn out to be wrong.

Regarding "objective," "factual assessment," "based on reason,"... who do you propose gets to decide what is or is not factual, objective, reasonable, etc? How, in practice, do we distinguish the person with reason on their side from the other guy? What if some reasonable, intelligent people are convinced one way, and some reasonable, intelligent people are convinced the other way? Then who are the objective ones, and who are the fools? You're arguing for something that sounds good, but I'm not sure what it represents in practice.

What we currently do in practice is trust consensus to make the most reasonable, objective choices in the long run, and to do the best we can in the short run. This state of affairs might not be very accurately conveyed by our written policies, but I'm pretty sure it's how Wikipedia's been working. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:54, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Do you have any proposals how we could word some of that into policy?   Zenwhat (talk) 07:41, 30 January 2008 (UTC)