Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 30

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Wikipedia citing encyclopedias as sources.

I would like the following addition to either WP:V and\or WP:RS:

"Wikipedia should not be citing outside encyclopedias as source material, other than for information about the encyclopedia itself."

Any objections?   Zenwhat (talk) 10:36, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Unless, say, those encyclopedias are "edited by experts who commission scholars to write the articles, and then review each article for quality control." Essay, but makes sense. See also Wikipedia:Evaluating sources. –Pomte 11:02, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
I don't see why encyclopedias are any more or less reliable than other edited tertiary reference works. We shouldn't be citing World Book or Britannica, certainly, but specialized and foreign-language encyclopedias often provide significant value. -- Visviva (talk) 11:16, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
We cite Britannica en masse, often literally, and in that case quite outdated versions – see these examples of the thousands of pages citing 1911 Britannica
Compare WP:PSTS: "Tertiary sources can be helpful in providing broad summaries of topics that involve many primary and secondary sources. Some tertiary sources may be more reliable than others, and within any given tertiary source, some articles may be more reliable than others." That's policy. So someone is proposing to write something contradicting existing policy in another policy or guideline? Probably unaware, so probably least said, soonest mended. --Francis Schonken (talk) 12:07, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree: Encyclopedias are fine as tertiary sources (for instance, if well respected, they provide useful back-up for the reliability of secondary sources). However, they shouldn't be used as secondary sources. Geometry guy 12:46, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Based on Scholasticism, a source is less reliable the less it relies on primary sources. That is, a tertiary source is less reliable than a secondary source and a secondary source is less reliable than a primary source. The reason for this is simple: The process of interpretation by one person to another can be like a game of telephone.

If Wikipedia cites encyclopedias as sources, this makes Wikipedia a tertiary-tertiary source and a "pseudo-encyclopedia" website.   Zenwhat (talk) 23:54, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Yes, I object. Please do not add these lines. I have written several hundred articles using, as one of my sources, an important specialist encyclopedia. Some specialist encyclopedias are secondary sources, for they cover topics which are not covered in the "secondary" literature, but rather contain articles written by scholars using primary sources. The New Grove, in its 29-volume and online glories, is of course my example, but there are others. In many cases where the New Grove has articles which are "tertiary", the scholar who wrote the NG article also authored the secondary source. Thank you, Antandrus (talk) 03:27, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I object also, per previous users. The main point of reliable sources and other editing policies is to automatically impose the kind of regulation that an encyclopedia editor and his/her assistant editors would normally ensure as a matter of course: we do not have that kind of structure here, of course. There is no reason why the content of other encyclopedias can't be referenced—it's just this one (wikipedia) that can't. Tyrenius (talk) 03:43, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
  • "If Wikipedia cites encyclopedias as sources, this makes Wikipedia a tertiary-tertiary source and a "pseudo-encyclopedia" website." No, Wikipedia citing itself is an example of bad sourcing. Sourcing to an established, published encyclopedia is no more a problem than World Book using material from Rand McNally's atlases, themselves based on U.S. census figures... which it does. Considering the source is always a better measure of reliability than basing sourcing decisions on artificially created source "levels". Firsfron of Ronchester 04:53, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I am a bit suspicious that this isn't more rerunning of homeopathy or pseudo-science content issues. You should take your issue to the relevant policy page where editors who keep an eye on those issues can address it fully.Wjhonson (talk) 05:27, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Creating a new article

Do I have to read Wikipedia:Your first article every time I create a new article, or is once sufficient? DuncanHill (talk) 14:26, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Once or twice should do. It's called "Your first article" after all. I think that WP:Verifiability is a more important piece to read. Puchiko (Talk-email) 14:41, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

COPYVIOS?! - Copyright clarification needed for fictional timelines - COPYVIOS?!

Please take a look at Back to the future timeline. Is it a derivative work? If so, it's a copyright violation, and needs to be speedy deleted. The timeline appears to be the presentation of background material for the fictional universe. That is, it seems like Back to the Future content itself - is this timeline itself a work of Back to the Future fiction? The right to derive new works from existing ones is reserved for the copyright owner of the original works. I think we may have stepped on some toes here.

The reason I'm posting this here is because this issue will also affect most if not all of the timelines on the List of fictional timelines, and warrants wider input.

The Transhumanist 23:29, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Already under discussion here. Please refrain from forum shopping. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 23:31, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Is that not jumping to conclusions? Assuming that a user posting to more than one forum equates to their desire to forum shop could very easily be interpreted as a failure to assume their good faith, no? Anthøny 15:03, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

In the United States, "derivative work" is defined in 17 U.S.C. § 101:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

I believe Back to the Future timeline may be a "recast" or "adaptation" or "condensation" of Back to the Future background material, as presented in the definition above. I look forward to your opinions. The Transhumanist 23:39, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Can you see that your interpretation would make copyvios of synopsis of books, episodes, films? A timeline is not a recasting of the product, its a book-report version if you will, covered under FairUse. A derivative work must be a reasonable whole use of the whole product (more or less). A two paragraph description of a two hour movie is not using the whole product to make another, but rather extracting a very tiny bit of that product to describe it, or review it.Wjhonson (talk) 23:50, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
It's more extensive than a 2-paragraph synopsis. Its scope is an outline of the entire history of the fictional setting. Does that fall under fair use? The Transhumanist
And the timeline is compiled from (that is, describes the universe from the perspective of) multiple sources, and isn't simply a synopsis of any one of them. Comments? The Transhumanist 23:56, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Every article is (preferably) complied from many sources. This does not change anything. Is Smallville (TV series) a derivative work because outside reviews are included? No. Same principal here. It uses a portion of the original work supported by sources, nothing more. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 00:02, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I see how this applies to non-fiction. But they are fictional details that are being compiled here. And the fictional universe being described is intellectual property. The Transhumanist 00:06, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
So would you delete Powers and abilities of Superman because it uses fictional details from more comics than you or I care to count? I think you're failing to realize just how generalized your claims are, and how many works they apply to. The fact remains: it is a portion of the work, plain and simple. It is not, as the definition you give requires, an "original work", merely a specific synopsis. 00:16, 2 February 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by The Rogue Penguin (talkcontribs)
I don't know. That's why I'm asking. The Transhumanist 00:20, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
An atlas of a fictional world would be a derivatie work, right? Well, wouldn't a history of a fictional world be a derivative work also? Can a timeline be extensive enough to be considered a history? The Transhumanist 00:20, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

(OD) An atlas of a fictional world would be a derivative work, but not a copyright violation. Copyright law makes no distinction, that I know of, between fictional and non-fictional work by the way.Wjhonson (talk) 00:25, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

I think the problem you are having is that you're stopping short on the definition of when is a derivative work a copyright violation? Simply being derivative is not sufficient. If the new work is substantially different from the old work, then there is no copyright violation. A translation is not substantially different, neither is a film version of a book. However a Dictionary of Narnia for example is not a work of fiction with a storyline, it's not a story about a Magical Lion or anything else remotely like the original underlying work. It's so incredibly different from the work(s) it's derived from, that it constitutes a new form of artwork. Thus, it's copyrightable by itself, and not in violation. I hope that longer example makes the situation more clear. Have a great day. Wjhonson (talk) 00:40, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

"Can you see that your interpretation would make copyvios of synopsis of books, episodes, films?"

It isn't a basic synopsis. It's detailed fan analysis based on certain specific facts pulled from the story.

The claims made in Back to the Future timeline are a synthesis of various bits and pieces of the Back to the Future movies.

"So would you delete Powers and abilities of Superman" -- YES.

Wjhonson: You claim that Back to the future timeline is a derivative work, but it is original enough that it is not in violation of copyright. Based on this: How is it not original research? Confused-tpvgames.png

Why on earth are you defending it, based on the assertion that it's a "new form of artwork," when this is an encyclopedia?!   Zenwhat (talk) 14:45, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Don't confuse OR with copyright. While this article might be deletable as original research I don't see how this can be a copyright violation. Jeltz talk 14:39, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • This is the second time this has been posted to this page. I'll copy and paste my answer from the section up above in case you missed it:
  • Yes they are, but only when a court says so. Hope that helps. Hiding T 14:38, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Hope that helps. To specifically answer this more direct question, I would say, it is a derivative work when a court rules so. Hope that helps. Hiding T 16:19, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
  • No, I don't believe it is a "derivative work" in the sense that it would violate copyright. If you took the dialogue from one of those movies, translated it into German, and published it, that would be a derivative work. ( And often anime fans run into similar issues with "fansubbing" movies into English ). The timeline you're discussing is more of a critical work. Squidfryerchef (talk) 16:38, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I am not confusing OR with copyright infringement. I'm saying: Based on Wjhonson's arguments above, he created a logical dilemma whereby the article is either original research or copyright infringement. He argued it is not copyright infringement because it is very original. But because it is original, it should not be in Wikipedia which simplies relies on collecting information from verifiable, reliable sources -- not creative fan analysis.   Zenwhat (talk) 00:58, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

There are exceptions to OR. The original question was regarding copyright, and that is the question I addressed. If there is a further question of original research, it would be more helpful to take that to that particular Talk page. In general however, the OR policy states that we are allowed to make non-controversial, simple deductions and inferences. If there is something controversial in the timeline, you are welcome to bring up that specific item. If the issue is merely hypothetical its not likely to raise many editors to review it. So it's better to use a specific, real-world, currently-in-wiki-conflict situation to illustrate your actual case. I would suspect timelines are created from trivial deductions, but I welcome evidence that I'm wrong.Wjhonson (talk) 01:03, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Is this neutral?

Initially, an article I contribute to said "Major proponent organization X says Y has never harmed anyone". I found some data that refutes this, and changed it to "While X claims Y has never harmed anyone, this is untrue. It has actually killed this many people ..." The article was then changed to remove the initial claim and just says "It has killed this many people".

I'd prefer stating the claims of proponents and then refuting them, rather than just stating the actual facts, but is this neutral? — Omegatron 03:08, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

If you don't tell us where you're having this problem, there's little we can do to help. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 03:21, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I would say that unless the second source you found specifically refuted the claim of the proponent organization, what you did was a WP:SYNTH violation. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 03:23, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Penguin: Symbolic logic of content disputes can be helpful, because if you bring up the specific issue involved then suddenly people, even admins, morph into these heinous political pundits like Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde. Naming the specific article may be necessary because there may be some outside information we're not aware of, but his question is still relevant and we can still answer it.

Omegatron: What you did appears to be weasel words and a violation of WP:SYNTH, like Sarcasticidealist said above. If both sources are reliable, then you can't invoke one source then say, "But this is untrue," and invoke another source. If source Y contradicts source X, then I suggest bringing up the possibility that source X is prone to having incorrect facts and therefore isn't reliable, and shouldn't be in the article at all.   Zenwhat (talk) 07:25, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

The article in question is actually pretty easy to find. Anyways, It seems pretty clear that this needs to be separated into positive claims and negative claims, instead of the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes, since that turns into poisoning the well. Stating that "Joe says that Bob has never killed anyone, but Mary says that Bob has killed 35 people" is the equivalent of saying "Joe says that Bob has never killed anyone, but he's a dirty filthy stinkin liar. Here's the real truth..."
In fact, it's the basic formula used in attack ads. "John Locke says that a social contract can benefit society, but Lysander Spooner has shown that a constitution can have no authority. What will John Locke try next?"
A list of positives and negatives really isn't any better, but it really does facilitate future growth and proper integration. (I am gladdened to find out that we have a policy against synthesis.) superlusertc 2008 February 02, 12:25 (UTC)


The article in question is actually pretty easy to find.

 :) It's better if you think of the situation objectively without getting your own personal biases involved. I'm trying to make an objective judgment about the safety of something compared to other similar things, and putting the data in Wikipedia as I find it. But it's one of those things that a lot of people have strong opinions about, which would degrade the quality of this discussion.

but he's a dirty filthy stinkin liar

But what if he is? As long as you're only stating facts, it's up the to reader to decide whether the facts make the party a filthy liar, merely misled, etc.
I agree that this is a SYNTH violation as I had written it, though. Hadn't thought of it that way, so I won't re-add it. Thanks. — Omegatron 04:01, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Do any sources call him a dirty, filthy, stinkin liar? superlusertc 2008 February 05, 06:26 (UTC)

Deletion of userpages

Why are userpages of indefinitely blocked users deleted on the English Wikipedia? See Template:Temporary userpage and Category:Temporary Wikipedian userpages. Vints (talk) 08:44, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Because of how indefinitely blocked users tend to be troublemakers, which tend to post things like, "MR. ADMIN IS A POOPY-HEAD," on their userpages as they go down in flames, falling into a downward spiral of vandalism and trolling that leads them to being indefinitely blocked.

Why is this a problem? Do any of their userpages contain encyclopedic content you think is worth keeping?   Zenwhat (talk) 08:57, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

It's a problem when other users are no longer able to read those talk pages to see help understand why the users were blocked. It's a great lack of transparency. -- Ned Scott 09:17, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Protests against a decision that the user perceives as unfair does not fit the definition of trolling. Andries (talk) 09:28, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Indef banned users should be should be allowed to continue to argue why the block was unjustified in a non-abusive way on their user page. Andries (talk) 09:32, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I am particularly concerned about indef blocking of unproven sock puppet accounts, sometimes in spite of evidence to the contrary. See User_talk:Jose.chacko and User_talk:Andries#Sock_puppetAndries (talk) 09:40, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Ah, I see what you're saying. Yes, I agree, then, that indef-blocked users' should be able to keep their userpages up. If they're disruptive, they should be blanked and then locked, but not "deleted."   Zenwhat (talk) 09:42, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Deletion of vandal accounts might be ok, but I mean doubtful cases of users whose blocks might have been incorrect. In addition to Ned Scott's and Andries's arguments, I think it is a bit like bullying to erase someone's userpage. Vints (talk) 10:13, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
(Copied from AN/I) I generally do delete indefinitely blocked users' pages, with the exception of sock puppet accounts (which are, as a rule of thumb, not deleted for tracking issues) and users who have been banned. This isn't a huge problem, really; it's certainly not worth kicking up a fuss about, anyway. Anthøny 14:53, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Anthøny. I recently went through and deleted a bunch of Category:Temporary Wikipedian userpages entries and the vast majority of them were {{usernameblocked}} and talk pages with vand1-vand2-vand3-vand4-indefblock. All totally useless. IMHO, folks are welcome to go through Category:Temporary Wikipedian userpages and remove nontrivial examples (accused socks, etc.) but there are very few that have any useful content. —Wknight94 (talk) 15:05, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
But.. why do we bother? Unless they're being abusive with the talk pages.. it just seems stupid to other with deletion of their pages. -- Ned Scott 06:22, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
The example I had in mind was User:Zingostar (fka Matrix17). There is no good reason to delete his/her userpage. Vints (talk) 16:03, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

If you feel an userpage of an indefblocked user should not be deleted when they are placed in the category for deletion, feel free to add {{Do not delete}}. — Save_Us 15:14, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Article Campers

They pretty much run an entire article, and should anything in it be changed without their knowledge, they'll immediately undo the changes. I'm frankly getting sick of them. Anyone else for getting rid of the 'watch' tab? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Animesouth (talkcontribs) 02:45, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Remind them that there is no such thing as article ownership. --Carnildo (talk) 03:26, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
Watchlists are extremely useful to a lot of good editors and they protect Wikipedia, for example by watching biographies of controversial living people so crappy and possibly suable claims can be reverted quickly. Don't remove a useful feature just because some problematic editors also use it. PrimeHunter (talk) 12:56, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
Carnildo, that works sometimes. But I've seen some authors who claim ownership of articles that are elevated to FA status. They get big heads. It doesn't help that the reason that most of the text is theirs is because they revert most other changes. What kind of pin can you use to prick those egos? -Freekee (talk) 05:18, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Read article ownership and if you post your specific addition and your specific article, then others can review it and assist you if it really should be there or not. You could also take a complaint about neutral point of view or undue weight for example, to their related talk pages. Wjhonson (talk) 05:25, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I watch several FA pages, and a lot of the content that gets reverted is added without citations or has numerous MOS or other violations. These kinds of things add up and could make a page lose its FA status. If you're having an issue on an FA-class article, first make sure that your contributions are meeting the Wiki guidelines for FA articles. Karanacs (talk) 14:52, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
There is no requirement that articles that reach FA need to be kept at FA; editors are not required to memorize and follow the FA criteria when editing featured articles. If someone adds content that has MoS problems, you can fix the problems without removing the content. If the material lacks citations, but is otherwise fine, it doesn't need to be removed immediately. This sort of thing would be helped by stable versions; remember that none of our articles is intended to be "finished". — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:01, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Military chiefs of staff?

Reading the article about the current chaos in Chad, I observed that the army chief of staff, Daoud Soumain, was killed in battle. I wanted to read about him, but there's no article; and searching online reveals rather little except current news statements about his death. There are plenty of sources for his being the chief of staff, and so I wondered: could we say that being the army chief of staff is sufficient for notability purposes? There's absolutely nothing about military officers in WP:BIO, and the closest thing to precedent for this is John Doughty, the Commanding General of the United States Army at only a major. Nyttend (talk) 22:37, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't say it's an automatic key for notability. The big problem is WP:BLP: Do we have enough information to make a biographical article about this person? ie. not just his rank, military duties and circumstances of death. -- Kesh (talk) 03:15, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
The general practice is that positions such as a national-level Chief of Staff are indicative of notability, as such people inevitably tend to have at least official biographies published (see also WP:MILMOS#NOTE); but, particularly in cases like this, actually obtaining the sources will be time-consuming, since they're likely not (easily) available online. Kirill 05:23, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
What Kirill said, but I suspect the Daoud Soumain article and much of the reporting has his name wrong. In 2003 the deputy Chief of Staff of the Chadian Army was called Daoud Soumain Khalil. That's not a coincidence surely. He seems to have been the Chadian Army spokesman in relation to various peacekeeping missings and there are a number of interviews in English, French and Spanish online. Pace Kesh, BLP applies to living people, not dead ones. Angus McLellan (Talk) 00:49, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

The inclusionist cabal now using bots to prevent deletion.

...in violation of policy.

I saw this posted on WP:ANI. It's worth re-posting here. [1]

Meanwhile, WP:ARS continues to be used for WP:Canvassing. I complained about them doing this, such as their lack of attempts at fixing Bawls. They ignored me. Later, Benjiboi archived my comments, even though other threads there are several months older. [2]   Zenwhat (talk) 11:05, 4 February 2008 (UTC) See comments below.   Zenwhat (talk) 04:25, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I take exception to the characterization of ARS to subvert the AfD process. I just recently joined the project, though I am not an "inclusionist" by nature. In fact, I have !voted Delete on more articles than I have !voted Keep. I have however advocated against strict deletionist AfD's, and I have used the {{Rescue}} donut to alert other users that a potentially good article is in need of a Heymann level cleanup. If no one comes to clean the article up, so be it. If said AfD results in Delete, so be it.
It's an unfortunate systemic bias that sometimes the only attention some articles get is when they are up for deletion. It's regrettable that there has been no effort to clean up Bawls, and I do not have enough knowledge to edit the article myself. The problem is though, that the article is just notable enough to avoid deletion, and there isn't currently a policy hammer to delete this article. -- RoninBK T C 11:38, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Before you start to panic, you might want to note that they are talking about the main page only within that e-mail, and the responder in question actually makes it clear that they intend to ban people for attempting to use that tactic. LinaMishima (talk) 14:29, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
And indeed reading further e-mails yields [3], which means that they are already discussing how to deal with such things. LinaMishima (talk) 14:31, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Wow, where to start with this? Betacommand and his bot have tagged thousands of images for deletion and Betacommand made over 7000 deletions when he was an admin, I would hardly call him an inclusionist. Second, it was done on the Main Page, I don't see why we would ever need to legitimately delete the main page. The bot was already blocked for the actions, Tim has removed the edits from the database and threatened to block any more people who do this, and this has been extensively discussed on the administrators' noticeboard. Why is this being brought here besides to continue a crusade against the ARS with an overly dramatic section name? Mr.Z-man 18:58, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Turns out my speculation about the inclusionist bot cabal was unfounded and also in violation of WP:AGF. See the discussion about this on Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard.

On ARS: Overall, I still think that WP:ARS is a bad organization which should be abolished, but a recent discussion with Benjiboi leads me to believe that not all of its supporters, themselves, are necessarily bad. Wikipedia:Intensive Care Unit might be able to take care of the fact that WP:ARS doesn't seem to care about actually improving articles, just "rescuing" them from AfD (which yes, generally just means voting).   Zenwhat (talk) 04:25, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Simultaneous redirect, merge or delete proposal

I was wondering if it was possible to create a policy that discourages more than one of the above proposals being used on an article at the same time. It makes discussion hard as there are usually two/three discussions going on all at once sometimes with the same points being raised twice but in different locations. For example Talk:Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix are two separate discussions on the same article. As you can see discussion started at the talk page then moved to the AfD page but is now back at the talk page. (I might change the title later to one that is a bit more clearer)--Sin Harvest (talk) 12:19, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

User categories

Are timelines of fictional universes derivative works?

For example, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions#Back to the Future timeline.

The Transhumanist 02:12, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Transhumanist, it appears that the community misunderstands copyright, or perhaps it isn't the community at all, but there's just a "cabal of fanboy editors" preventing fan-fiction on Wikipedia from being removed.

I attempted to simply blank the page until the deletion review was over, but Rogue Penguin reverted me. I e-mailed info-en-c@wikimedia.org. If anybody knows how to directly contact Mike Godwin, that might be a better idea.   Zenwhat (talk) 07:10, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I made a proposal here. Wikipedia:Fan fiction, since there's deadlock over at WP:FICT.   Zenwhat (talk) 07:25, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

For good reason. The community has a fine understanding of copyright. Transhumanist is confused on this specific issue, a reasonable thing indeed. You've jumped to the worst case scenario and gone crazy over enforcing it, an absolutely unproductive attitude. On a lighter note, make a new section for your proposal, otherwise it won't draw the attention required for consensus to form. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 07:29, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes they are, but only when a court says so. Hope that helps. Hiding T 14:38, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

That's false, User:Hiding\T.

That's a scene in Disney's Aladdin that sums up the point:

Aladdin steals a loaf of bread and says, "Stealing is only stealing if you get caught." Then the guard, Razoul, grabs him.

You can't defend yourself in court by saying, "But I didn't EXPECT to be sued! I thought I'd actually get away with this stuff!"   Zenwhat (talk) 00:54, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

  • When you show me where in my point I stated anything that resembles the point you are arguing against, we can continue this. Until then, all I can say is that you have somehow managed to not only misunderstand me, but also misunderstand the nature of the legal system as it applies in the area of copyright. If you'll allow me, I'd also point out that resorting to an animated cartoon aimed at children to illustrate any fact about law is perhaps showing a poor choice in judgement. My statement is not false in any way, since breaches of copyright are in fact only declared through the judicial system, and not by individual editors on Wikipedia. Unless perhaps Transhumanist is a practising US judge handing out judgement in a rather unusual manner, to which I think due process would be the appropriate defence, although I must resort to the caveat that IANAL. Hiding T 11:27, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Controversy articles and controversy sections in general

What exactly is the Wiki policy on controversy articles? I have read several things about controversy but in my mind the whole area seems more gray then any other policy section in Wikipedia. Does undo weight still apply to such an article? Must a controversy article be from the viewpoint of a clear and definable minority or is fringe opinion noteworthy enough for a controversy article? Is self-published material and fringe material allowed on a CA? Does a controversy article have a different set of rules from other articles? --scuro (talk) 21:52, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

There's no specific guideline or policy, but consensus seems to be that yes, undo weight still applies. Generally, "Controversy" articles are frowned on, precisely because 90% of them have no substance. What we do have are articles on notable, persistent topics which are also controversial. For an example, see Controlled demolition hypothesis for the collapse of the World Trade Center. Fringe opinion is generally not considered noteworthy. Self-published material is still not allowed, unless cited by another source per WP:V. And such articles are still bound by the normal Wikipedia policies and guidelines. -- Kesh (talk) 22:06, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
Undue weight always applies to all articles. Any controversy article must detail the controversy from the perspective of someone outside looking in on the debate, detailing the opinions of all involved sides in appropriate relevant weightings. Self-published material is rarely allowed, however it may have became highly notable with respect to the controversy, and hence warrants discussion, but will then have third-party sources that reference it that should also be used in greater depth. Any controversy article should be based upon clear and definable statements, be they by a distinct well-known minority group, or by a notable fringe member - notability and verifiability are the key requirements. Controversy sections within articles themselves should only be used when a controversy itself is key aspect of an idea. Criticisms and debates over separate aspects that are not part of a single notable controversy discussion should be detailed within the rest of the article in the most appropriate sections. LinaMishima (talk) 22:07, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree with what is above, except that sometimes self-published material may be allowed. With an article on a controversy over foo, the topic is the variety of opinion about foo. As with any other article, WP:RS and WP:V apply, but the fact being reported might be that So-and-So or such and such an organization has expressed an opinion or judgment on the topic of foo. If So-and-so is a recognized expert in the field, or otherwise is notable with respect to the controversy, then self-published material from So-and-so might be usable, under some conditions, if attributed. See WP:SELFPUB, and consider that the author is the subject of the reference to the author's opinion. And there is a good reason why guidelines are a bit vague about this, no one rule fits all, not even ignore all rules.--Abd (talk) 03:02, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
As I expected, this user is now citing the opinions he received here as basis for removing material, solely on the basis that it is "self-published," without any other reason given, and without discussion.[4] I did not notice anything in the two opinions given that was new, *except* that the guidelines note that there are exceptions, and the opinions above, being necessarily brief and merely comments from experienced users, did not include the weasel words sometimes used in guidelines (usually, other reference to the circumstances of an individual case trumping the general rule). There is a rule of law that opinions are not issued by judges absent an actual case applying them.
The subject article is Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: controversies
We are all judges, and while it is very tempting and even necessary to generalize -- that is what guidelines are, and even policies -- we should also be aware of the specific circumstances behind a question, if possible. I'd suggest looking at the contributions of a user before giving such general advice, or ask for specifics. The user above is a single purpose account interested in a narrow range of articles, acting consistently, and, I would judge, aggressively, for a long time, to remove nearly all hints of controversy from those articles, without regard for attempts to find a consensus among editors. A local consensus cannot overrule policy, but it can -- and should -- consider the interpretation of the guidelines. In the question above, it is possible to see a series of red herrings, trolling for a desired response.
That is, questions were asked that have obvious answers, i.e., the general case, or sometimes even the universal situation:
  • Does undo weight still apply to such an article? Of course it does. It applies to all articles *considering the subject of the article*. If all controversy is non-notable, then the article is inappropriate and possibly a POV fork, and that should be directly addressed. But if it is notable, then undue weight applies to *controversy*, not to the main topic. So an opinion that might be non-notable for the general article may be notable for the subtopic. Indeed, this is part of the point of creating the subarticle, to stop the constant attempts of editors to insert controversy of debatable notability into the main article, to allow it to settle. If controversy is of marginal notability, there need be only passing mention to it, using summary style, with reference to the subarticle. But then the subarticle is, in effect, opened up to a lower requirement of notability (in considering undue weight). It's a new topic, with a different context to be used in considering balance.
  • Must a controversy article be from the viewpoint of a clear and definable minority or is fringe opinion noteworthy enough for a controversy article? No, and Maybe, it depends on the definition of "fringe." Fringe opinion is, by definition, ordinarily not notable for an article on a subject of substance. However, suppose we could create and keep an article on "Fringe opinions on the composition of the moon." Suddenly fringe opinion would be notable and appropriate, and there may even be reliable source regarding it. If I were to ABF, which I'm not, I'd think that this was a trick question, asked hoping that the respondent wouldn't notice the unclarity in definition. "Fringe" refers to the body of opinion on a topic. This editor is using "fringe" to refer to the main topic, but then is applying that to a different topic, i.e., controversy over the main topic. Further not all controversy is fringe, in this case, and not all self-published material -- which is the real focus of this editor in this case -- is fringe.
  • Is self-published material and fringe material allowed on a CA? Same problem. The same standards apply as with all articles, but now with respect to the defined topic of controversy over, in this case, the ADHD diagnostic criteria, the underlying condition or causes, the implications of the diagnosis, treatment, etc. There is no special exception for "controversy" articles, just a different topic, the topic is now opinion, "What opinions are notably expressed in this area?" Is there self-published research or analysis by an expert that has been widely noted? Etc. Can such self-published material be a source for the article (particularly if explicitly attributed as the opinion of the author)?
  • Does a controversy article have a different set of rules from other articles? And, again, the answer is obvious: of course not. However, the topic has changed. If an article is about "Rejected theories on the shape of the earth," flat earth theories become, for this article, notable and, indeed, obligatory, if reliable, verifiable source can be found. And the standards for proper sourcing for what may, indeed, be fringe opinion with respect to the main topic is a huge can of worms that should definitely opened only with reference to a specific article and a specific source and specific reasons for inclusion or exclusion, which would include the notability of the source's author, the qualifications of the author, etc.
This is not an attempt to raise a content issue here. The sole issue is whether or not "self-published," when it is known that several editors consider a source appropriate, sufficient by itself to warrant exclusion, without seeking consensus on the specific question. If this editor disagrees with other editors on this, there is RFC and other process to address it. It may turn out, upon examination, that the specific source is inappropriate, and comments on the specific case aren't solicited here. I.e., the question is not whether or not Dr. Simon Sobo is sufficiently qualified as an expert that his self-published opinions become reliable source, but whether or not it is possible. And the guidelines are reasonably clear (the questioner is correct that they are not crystal clear) that it is possible, and quite properly leaves the actual decision to the editors involved (or to the community should dispute resolution ensue). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Abd (talkcontribs) 14:20, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to formalise the relationship between MOS and its sub-pages

Dear fellow editors—The idea is to centralise debate and consensus-gathering when there are inconsistencies between the pages.

The most straightforward way is to have MOS-central prevail, and to involve expertise from sub-pages on the talk page there, rather than the fragmentary discourse—more usually the absence of discourse and the continuing inconsistency—that characterises WP's style guideline resources now. If consensus has it that MOS-central should bend to the wording of a sub-page, so be it. But until that occurs in each case that might occasionally arise, there needs to be certainty for WPians, especially in the Featured Article process, where nominators and reviewers are sometimes confused by a left- and right-hand that say different things.

Of course, no one owns MOS-central, and we're all just as important to its running as other editors. I ask for your support and feedback HERE. Tony (talk) 12:25, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:No original research/noticeboard

Just letting everyone know that we have a new NOR noticeboard, where people can ask questions about material they think might be OR, or where they can ask for help if they're accused of engaging in OR but they disagree. The shortcut is WP:NORN, and the talk page is at WT:NORN. Cheers, SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 22:24, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Citing someone's role in a novel

The following statement was recently added to Richard Mentor Johnson: "Johnson, and more prominently his common-law wife Julia Chinn and their daughters, all play visible roles in the Eric Flint alternate history novels 1812: The Rivers of War and 1824: The Arkansas War (particularly the latter)." I don't have any reason to doubt the accuracy of the statement, nor do I have a problem with it being added. However, I am hoping to make a FAC run with the article soon, so I asked the editor who added the information to please cite it. He replied "Johnson, Julia Chinn and their two daughters are mentioned, and appear in person, intermittently in the first of these novels and constantly in the second. I'm not sure just what would be a practical means of citing this, since the books don't have indexes of character appearances."

What is an appropriate way to source this statement? Does it constitute trivia? How should this situation be handled? Acdixon (talk contribs count) 15:09, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

It may constitute trivia. I won't comment on that. The traditional way to do this would be a footnote that read something like "Flint, Eric. 1824: The Arkansas War. City, Publisher, Date. passim." Since we don't use passim, op. cit., and the rest of the footnote Latin, replacing passim with throughout, might work. This gives someone the information to find and read the novel, which seems to me to be the only way to verify a claim that characters are present throughout the novel. Dsmdgold (talk) 16:01, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
Find a third-party discussion of the appearance in a reliable source. If you can't, it probably constitutes trivia. --Carnildo (talk) 02:00, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Server Troubles at Wikimedia Commons.

"Due to a technical problem with one of our servers, some tools and search options may be unavailable. We hope to have this issue resolved soon. Uploading and viewing files remains unaffected."'

Anybody know how long this message has been up?

Again, more evidence of budgetary problems with the Foundation.   Zenwhat (talk) 02:42, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Technical problem does not equal budget problem. Don't jump to conclusions. There have been times where Wikipedia has been hours behind when updating recent changes. This does not mean Wikipedia is broke, just broken. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 02:58, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
The problem was/is with the toolserver, where many of the tools used on commons (and here) are based. They use a replicating copy of most the databases for most of the Wikimedia projects. One of the 2 toolserver database servers crashed a while ago and there have been some troubles re-importing everything but it should be fixed soon. The problem is most likely a bug in MySQL or a harddrive error on one of the database servers. They didn't run out of money - it takes a little time to copy almost all of the Wikimedia project's databases back on to the toolserver database. Mr.Z-man 03:17, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
And according to the #wikimedia-toolserver IRC channel, its back up now. Mr.Z-man 18:47, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Wikimedia's statistics are not trustworthy\Evidence Wikipedia is failing.

I made some substantial edits to Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not failing. I suggest anyone involved in policy-making read it.

With that said, here's something to consider: The statistics put forth by Wikimedia at http://stats.wikimedia.org/ do not seem to be reliable or trustworthy, but they are depended upon heavily by people arguing that Wikipedia is either succeeding or failing.

Here is why I make that claim:

There is a correlation between "slowed growth in the userbase" on Wikipedia and the sudden decision by Wikimedia to stop releasing statistics. See the table here.

It's possible it's merely a coincidence (keep in mind: I'm no anti-Jimbo or anti-Wikimedia conspiracy theorist), but why would Wikimedia do this? If it was financial and pragmatic constraints, then why did the largest wikis not stop having their statistics released first? But rather, regardless of the size of the dump involved, as soon as there was a major drop in user growth, the statistics stopped being published.

It's true for Wikipedia in every language and overall, their data collection appears to have been very sloppy, since even small wikis, like the Sundanese Wikipedia have huge gaps in the data. If Wikimedia is not capable of collecting and compiling data dumps, how can we expect Wikipedia to succeed? They can't even self-evaluate their own progress.

As you'll see from the data, as soon as there was a sudden major shortfall in new user growth, the data stopped being published. Furthermore, I have noticed that there are inconsistencies between that page as it is currently and historical archives. I.E., as it is currently, it states that on May 2005, Wikipedia had 6767 new users. That page as it was published on July 2007 states that on May 2005, Wikipedia had 6746 new users. [5] That's just one inconsistency of several. The question is: When did they revise their estimate, why did they do so, and unlike good statisticians, why did they not make a note of their revision? As I said, I'm not a wacko, so I'm open to plausible explanations.

So far, since 2006, the data they have released has been sporadic, at best. [6] (Other newer tables are available elsewhere on their site, but not very much)

Their claim for this on the main page is:

All statistics on this site are extracted from full archive database dumps. Since a year it has become increasingly difficult to produce valid dumps for the largest wikipedias. Until that problem is fixed some figures will be outdated.

This leaves us with four possibilities, none of which is exclusive:

  1. Wikimedia has been lazy about releasing statistics
  2. Wikimedia has been incompetent about handling statistics
  3. Wikimedia does not have adequate funding for the servers necessary to process statistics
  4. Wikimedia has been intentionally not releasing statistics because the current data would make Wikipedia look bad.

No matter which explanation you choose, it gives support to the claim that WP:Wikipedia is failing. And we shouldn't twiddle our thumbs and do nothing, while that happens.

Based on the data above, it is a plausible hypothesis that the Wikipedia community's growth has either slowed substantially or possibly even shrank since the data stopped being collected. I had this suspicion, myself, because I quit Wikipedia a while back, then made a new account and when I came back I got the distinct feeling that things got a lot "smaller," as I keep seeing the same users from page-to-page.

The reason for this, in my opinion, has been a brain drain, the result of Wikipedia:Anti-elitism. Out of every Wikipedia, German Wikipedia seems to have done fairly well, however, because they are the most "elitist," for obvious cultural reasons and which is clear from how their policy pages are laid out. Apparently, this has empirically led to a far more effective wiki-process than the huggy-feely wikilove and tea-drinking on English Wikipedia and Dutch Wikipedia. (See also: Wikipedia:Zombies)

Finally, if it's true that the statistics aren't being released due to financial contraints, the foundation should hurry up with releasing their financial report for fiscal year 2007 and cut back on unnecessary expenses. Furthermore, if anyone suggests it's the Wikipedia community's job to collect such statistics, well, that's just lazy and stupid.   Zenwhat (talk) 08:31, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

There is another possibility. It is possible that the statistics that were being published were corrupted/worthless. You yourself came back under a new account. Does that make you a new user? What about bots? How do we remove such bias from our statistics? It may be that systemic flaws were detected in statistical collection methods and that with the English Wikipedia, correcting these flaws was impossible, so they just stopped presenting the statistics until the flaws could be corrected and the data normalized.
I don't claim that that is true, but it is an alternate explanation. As they say, never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. superlusertc 2008 January 25, 12:33 (UTC)
ZOMG the end of the world is near !!!!! --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 12:42, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Superluser, statistics, like computers, aren't people. They don't make mistakes. It's just as silly to "blame the computer" when something goes wrong as it is to blame the statistics for being "corrupted/worthless" when they're collected and published sloppily. If you are going to personify them, though, then I shall counter that assertion by saying that you should apologize to the statistics for your personal attack because you might have hurt their feelings. Who are you to call them "corrupted" or "worthless"? Meanie.

In addition, your claim isn't an "alternative explanation" because incompetence is #2 on the list of possible explanations. And Wikimedia incompetence is a sign of Wikipedia failure, is it not? Wikipedia is edited by the community, but it is facilitated by Wikimedia. Without an efficiently managed Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia cannot succeed.

TheDJ: It's not 2012...yet. (dun dun dun) Still, your claim appears to be an appeal to ridicule. My assertions are quite logical and I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe Bush did 9/11, that Jimbo's secretly running Wikipedia as a tax-shelter, Google is a CIA front, etc..   Zenwhat (talk) 13:24, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I believe you're seeing the same sort of thing that the University of Minnesota study on "damaged views" in Wikipedia was seeing, but even they failed to draw the correct conclusion. Wikipedia is getting worse, not better, over time. The novelty of helping to build the encyclopedia is far more appealing to the volunteer editor than is the drudgery of helping to maintain the encyclopedia once pages have taken an adequate, acceptable form. Meanwhile, as more and more "regular" editors begin to experience how Wikipedia's most active administrators and Arbitration Committee members are only here to play multi-player role games, and actually contribute very, very little to the building or maintainence of the encyclopedia, the regular editors abandon the project (and probably tell 10 friends why Wikipedia isn't worth their trouble, either). As for your theory about why the statistics have stopped, I would absolutely say it is nothing more than the server started choking when the larger data sets were being processed, and it is more important for the WMF to pay Sue Gardner and her staff $500,000 and set her up in cushy San Francisco, than it is for them to invest in a kick-ass server for self-analyzing statistics. I'm actually thinking of quitting this project, too, after years of contribution. - John Russ Finley (talk) 14:53, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

John, about that University of Minnesota study -- strange. You said they concluded Wikipedia was getting better, but as it seems to me they actually acknowledged Wikipedia was getting worse. I dug up their study [7] and their abstract reads:

Wikipedia’s brilliance and curse is that any user can edit any of the encyclopedia entries. We introduce the notion of

the impact of an edit, measured by the number of times the edited version is viewed. Using several datasets, including recent logs of all article views, we show that frequent editors dominate what people see when they visit Wikipedia, and that this domination is increasing.

Similarly, using the same impact measure, we show that the probability of a typical article view being damaged is small but increasing, and we present empirically grounded classes of damage.

If somewhere buried in that study is an assertion that contradicts that abstract then, it's a flawed study. Their abstract, however, supports WP:FAIL and as such, it has been added.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:12, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Technicians tend to make pithy statements All statistics on this site are extracted from full archive database dumps. Since a year it has become increasingly difficult to produce valid dumps for the largest wikipedias. Until that problem is fixed some figures will be outdated.

Good, so the problem is not that there's no machine to do statistics, or that they are paying too much to someone else; could it possibly be <gasp> the trouble of making full-size archive database dumps.</gasp>? ... Naaaaah.... it's really because the illuminati have been taken over by aliens, and the wikipedia statistics would have revealed their evil plans! That's a much more logical explanation. --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:58, 25 January 2008 (UTC) There's a stack of problems making db dumps off of huge db's, many of them apparently to do with software.

Kim Bruning, if that is your real name, please post a source stating that the illuminati have *not* been taken over by aliens. I would submit, for the record, that we have no way of knowing whether you yourself are not a mere shill planted by the aliens, to dissuade (sp?) us from the apparent obviousness of our dire situation. (I will freely admit the previous is a run-on sentence under torture.)Wjhonson (talk) 00:17, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

The "trouble of making full-size archive database dumps.".

Kim, you're "blaming the computer," just like superluser. It's not the database's fault that it's difficult to collect and compile database dumps, because machines have ZERO responsibility. It's somebody's fault, somewhere, for not addressing the problem. And again, your are making appeals to ridicule. Please, consider the rationality behind my argument instead of just personal attacks, thanks.   Zenwhat (talk) 02:57, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

"Fault" is the wrong word. Wikipedia grew (which is something everyone hoped for). A consequence of that growth is that the statistics system no longer works. It's a known issue, obviously. Fixing this issue will take server resources and more importantly developer time. Thus far Wikimedia has chosen not to devote the time and money necessary to fix the problem, because (presumably) they have chosen to devote resources to other things. Dragons flight (talk) 04:12, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

"Wikipedia growth" means more users and a larger database, but it also meant MORE MONEY, something you can see if you read the financial reports for FY 2004, 2005, and 2006. This meant that they had a greater capability to invest in technology, something they claim is where most of the money is supposed to go. See Planned Spending Distribution 2007-2008. That doesn't appear to have happened, however, because of how they've been unable to set up the server resources to collect database dumps despite hiring several new employees and the expensive task of moving their offices from Florida to San Francisco.

I.E., if Wikimedia is being crushed under the weight of its own popularity, as you claim, then resources should be shifted away from Wikipedia events where they aren't needed and towards server resources and technology where they desperately are needed. Devoting resources in the wrong places (as you suggest) is incompetent.

And that's what I'm trying to say: Unlike Finley, I'm not saying this is a conspiracy, "The evil Wikimedia board is spending your donations on champagne and caviar, mwahahahahaha!!!" No, it's just simple mismanagement stemming from incompetence, which has led to waste of resources.   Zenwhat (talk) 06:57, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Servers are mostly bought by Brion, who is competent, but overworked. First priority is to allow us all to edit. Database dumps are a bit low on the list :-( --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:24, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm a bit confused. Why is it so essential wikimedia spends a potentially large sum of resources on server resources for the purposes of collecting statistics? Why is this more important then developing the community? In other words, why are you so convinced the wikimedia foundation is devoting resource in the wrong place? As it stands, wikimedia servers seem to be handling the load fairly well. The only problem you have highlighted is we can't collected statistics on large projects. Annoying perhaps but hardly the end of the world. I would argue the foundation are using their limited resources smartly. Nil Einne (talk) 09:37, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Collecting statistics would not require a "potentially large sum of resources," given the size of the Wikimedia budget. Statistics are the only way for credible self-analysis of how Wikipedia is doing. Spending funds on "developing the community" while relying on subjective and outside evaluations of Wikipedia's progress seems absurd.

Wikipedia's server load is not the only criteria in defining the "technology" aspect of the Wikimedia budget.

I did not highlight that we can't highlight statistics just on large projects -- even on small projects. Note above how even some of the smallest wikis have huge gaps in statistical data.

I'm convinced that the Wikimedia budget is being devoted in the wrong place given the fact that their increase in net assets for 2006 was $736,132. As noted above, it would only cost about $20 or $30k to purchase the servers necessary for the statistical analysis suggested. If their donations were roughly the same (or higher) in 2007 and 40% of their budget was spent on "technology," as they claim, then it's not clear why they'd be having trouble collecting database dumps or why Wikipedia servers would be donated by their tech guy.   Zenwhat (talk) 14:36, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

I don't think there is any doubt about it. Wikipedia is now facing the same issues that many peer organizations have faced: a system that worked on a small scale, and worked reasonably well on a large scale, is inadequate beyond a certain scale. I believe I can see a solution that is not fixed and closed, but that could easily adapt to new circumstances, including a vast increase in scale over the present one, without losing the very attractive and seductive freedom of the existing model, but by enabling the community to express itself both coherently -- when there actually is a consensus -- *and* efficiently, which is currently not the case. Wikipedia has fed on the enthusiastic work of countless volunteers, quite a few of whom are burning out. As the scale increases, without corresponding shifts in structure, Wikipedia becomes like a dinosaur, a huge association of individuals (cells) with an inadequate nervous system. Lest someone think that I'm suggesting the standard social solution to this problem (which is top-down hierarchy, perhaps through elected representatives and all the issues that raises), I'm not. I'm suggesting, instead, something else, and it requires no top-down, central decision authority; however, it will create a means for a true consensus to be estimated, but, more importantly, for it to intelligently form. Most people, on first contact with these concepts, think this impossible. Perhaps it is, but it has almost no cost. To hook up with a possible solution, watch the Talk page for User:The Community. If The Community hasn't been blocked. (That is a sock puppet of mine, and, if you look at the suggested guidelines that are on the User page, and if I follow them, that account won't be legitimately blocked, unless there is a community decision to do so.) If this does not work, nothing will be lost. Mechanisms will be provide to make participation in community consensus, for most, hassle-free, so, instead of explaining it all, which my normal tendency is to do at great length, irritating many, if interested, simply watch. If not, ignore it, you will lose nothing. Nobody is going to speak for you without your permission. That's not what The Community is about.
As to comments on the order of "the sky is falling," no, the sky is not falling. Rather the natural laws of human association and information theory are playing out, Wikipedia has no special exemption. The specific application here is new, but the principles are not. (If we have a generic solution to the problem of human organization and decision-making on a large scale, please, let us know, describe how it works and how it works as the scale increases to hundreds of millions of "citizens," the world needs to know. ASAP. There are several existing solutions that, as most of us know, have some severe defects: Electoral systems with varying degrees of suppression of minority opinion and coercion, Strong-leader or oligarchical systems, which are efficient short-term and inefficient long-term, or egalitarian tribal systems like Wikipedia, and, unfortunately, the latter have proven unstable and unable to survive, long term, when the scale gets large enough. I think that they need something, a combination, that hasn't been tried yet, even though all the elements are known to work.)
By the way, I've sat on the boards of nonprofit, volunteer organizations, and have watched many others as an involved member, and I've seen them make very serious errors, including some similar to what is alleged above. However, if the community is awake, serious consequences aren't likely, this community has enormous resources. If the community is asleep, I've seen substantial nonprofits, serving substantial communities, disappear practically overnight. The problem is not, actually, with the board or its members, but is a structural one that fails to involve, in decision making, the collective intelligence and resources of the community, with bidirectional and efficient communication. So mistakes that could be easily avoided if there were a means to efficiently communicate about what is happening, get made. *None* of what I'm saying alleges or involves any sort of incompetence, beyond the normal incompetence of normal people, even of very bright and very well-meaning people. We are not perfect, but, collectively -- if communication is enabled and practical -- we are almost perfect. The key is "practical." Right now, Wikipedia is afflicted, as it always has been afflicted, by participation bias. Participation bias is functional, at least sometimes, it is a kind of ad hoc Range voting. But, as the scale increases, participation becomes more and more afflicted and there are more and more people with tenacious views to promote and debate, and the noise increases until it is essentially intolerable except for the most argumentative and tenacious. There is a *reason* why Town meeting government, a form of direct democracy practiced in some New England towns in the United States, eventually has been replaced by electoral democratic forms, such as mayor/council, as the towns grow; Amherst, Massachusetts continues to pretend that it has Town Meeting government, but actually it has a huge assembly elected by neighborhood, and it is famous for being highly inefficient and contentious, and has very narrowly survived Ballot Questions to remove it, twice in the last couple of years.--Abd (talk) 17:08, 7 February 2008 (UTC)