Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 32

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"My Prof said X in class - just email him" Does this satisfy verifiability?

Would someone knowledgeable about WP:V care to contribute their opinion in this debate. I'm probably not doing a very good job. Talk:Artificial_intelligence#stupidity.2C_ignorance.2C_and_laziness_-_unverifiable. Thanks Pgr94 (talk) 04:59, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

First off, a single professor is not really a reliable source. See Peter Duesberg, Alexander Abian. Also, we can't verify this without e-mailing the professor, and if each of the six million Wikipedia editors were to e-mail this professor to verify, the professor would probably get slightly miffed.
So I'd say the prof has to publish the claim before we can use it. Strangely, neither WP:V nor WP:RS seem to make reference to private correspondence. superlusertc 2008 February 07, 06:03 (UTC)
"X said Y because I, Z heard him say it", is not a verifiable source. Ever. Period. Now if X was recorded saying Y, and that audio tape was published say on a radio program, television, a book, newspaper or whatever, we'd be in a different boat.Wjhonson (talk) 06:10, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Commented at the talk page.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 17:55, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Like Hearsay rule. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 00:09, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Policy on Christianity related articles.

Wikipedia has a clear policy on Islam related articles, designed to ensure that NPOV honorifics are not used [1]. Shouldn't a similar policy apply to Christianity related articles? For example, if the Prophet Mohammed is unacceptable [2] then consistency would demand that Jesus Christ is unacceptable, too. Michael Glass (talk) 13:08, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Likewise if the phrase Holy Qur'an is unacceptable, then Holy Bible should be likewise. Leithp 13:18, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Holy Bible is a redirect to Bible, likewise Holy Qur'an is a redirect to Qur'an. As both should be. Jesus poses a problem. There are many historical people known as Jesus. Removing the Christ part may make the name Jesus ambiguous, even in context. The same is true of Muhammad, which is the name of many historical and contemporary people.
Recommendation Change Jesus Christ to Jesus of Nazareth and Muhammad to an appropriate secular title. superlusertc 2008 February 07, 13:59 (UTC)
Don't actually know of any other titles for Muhammad, unfortunately. No real disagreement with changing the name to Jesus of Nazareth, provided that WP:NAME is indicated to not be of primary relevance here, because I do think that Jesus Christ is probably the best known name by which that figure is known. John Carter (talk) 14:14, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm an Atheist and the very existence of the Jesus article offends me. Jesus never existed, hence neither should his article. The same goes for the article on God. Also, based on this same line of reasoning:


Stop worrying so much about political correctness, jesus christ. Isn't there anything more important to worry about? Is there anybody actually even complaining about this, or are we just hypothetically speculating here that somebody, out there, somewhere, might be upset because they see the words "Jesus Christ," instead of just "Jesus"? As if they don't see that same association practically everywhere, because the religion is called "Christianity" and the honorific title "Christ" is no longer in use by anyone other than followers of Jesus.

It seems to me like you're proposing that we sacrifice the accuracy and clarity of the encyclopedia for the sake of avoiding offending people. See WP:NOTCENSORED.

Also, Michael, on a side-note: Stop owning the articles on circumcision.   Zenwhat (talk) 14:45, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I was about to use Gandhi as an example, but nope, it seems the PC police have gotten there, too. Instead of the article simply being titled Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi (the most common terms), the article has the ridiculously verbose title (his full name) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This is appauling.   Zenwhat (talk) 14:55, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

There are and have been more than one person named Ghandi; it's standard practice for a page like Ghandi to be a redirect or a disambiguation page. For example, see Mao or Nixon. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:05, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Comment: A common practice in religion articles is to use "Jesus Christ" when referring to specifically Christian subjects, such as Transubstantiation or Resurrection of Jesus, while using "Jesus" or "Jesus of Nazereth" in more general articles, such as Pharisees. Note that some subjects cannot be adequately explained without assuming the pre-existence of certain religious concepts. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 23:03, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Explain warning

Concerning Template:Uw-npov1, Tmplate:Uw-npov2,Template:Uw-npov3 & Template:Uw-npov4:

These templates should’t claim somebody did something without explanation of why you think the person did what you claim. Stating or implying that someone “violated” Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy without explaining why you think so is libelous. In fact, even with explanation it would be more truthful to say “In my opinion, what you wrote didn’t have a neutral point of view, and here's why.” Those templates and their usage should have a neutral point of view. Chuck Marean 18:24, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I refer you to the following in the article defamation, which includes libel: Opinion is a defense recognized in nearly every jurisdiction. If the allegedly defamatory assertion is an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact, defamation claims usually cannot be brought because opinions are inherently not falsifiable. So your second sentence is untrue.
More to the point, these templates are to be used when an editor egregiously keeps inserting commentary (for example, why abortion should or should not be legal) into articles; they aren't (I would expect) used when wording can be given minor edits to make it NPOV-compliant.
Examples of editors misusing these templates would be appreciated. Otherwise, this is a hypothetical problem with a draconian solution (delete the templates). -- John Broughton (♫♫) 00:47, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

It is bad enough that schoolteachers are banning Wikipedia for students to use in research. Is that not enough humiliation? Is that not sufficient indication that standards around here have fallen? After all, the requirements of academic rigor required of a high school student are hardly so demanding. Can this project not clear even that bar? I say nothing of the scorn heaped upon it at the university level.

Now I see TomKat -- and as I dare to search, dozens of similarly insignificant bits of tabloid trash. There is, charmingly, an entire Category:Celebrity duos and indeed a List of supercouples. Has this editing body lost all control?

I see that the latter page attempts to justify itself by stating, Each of these examples has been identified by scholars, critics and press as defining a supercouple. What nonsense is this? If we accredit yellow journalism then we need an article about the night Aliens landed in my back yard and stuck a robot cattle prod up my butt. If we consider a reliable source some mortarboarded fool attempting to fatten his resume with a pointless, inflated regurgitation of the tabloid line, then we must write Conspiracy of all them guys against all of us -- and there's not a moment to lose.

Laurel and Hardy are notable; together they were iconic. Penn & Teller are notable; one has no patter and one has no slight but together they make a fine, entertaining magician. Simon and Garfunkel are notable; they set the tone for a generation and while both have had moderate solo careers, it is the couple that will be remembered. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes together have opened no doors. They have not even worked together, that I know. They have merely gotten a license to have sex. I doubt their closest friends consider it of enduring importance.

Please stop a moment and think. Return to basics. This is purported to be an encyclopedia; community policy states it is NOT a random collection of facts, much less "factoids". For something to be notable, it must be in some way unusual or distinguished. I stubbed my toe today getting out of bed; it is not notable. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth stubbed her toe -- but even if the fact makes it into her article, there is no place here for Queen Elizabeth's toe, stubbed on Guy Fawkes Night.

Cruise and Holmes both may be encyclopedic topics and their marriage and offspring may be worthy of inclusion in their individual articles. Cruise's lack of self-control and his bizarre choice of cult are certainly proper topics for his article. But notability is not inheritable; their marriage itself is insignificant; it has produced nothing of importance bar an utterly ordinary child.

In a month or a year, the spotlight will wane and the couple grow bored and hungry for yet more undeserved attention. They will divorce and then hook up with other B-listers. Those relationships will end and the game of musical beds continue. It will be impossible to find anyone in ten years who is even able to define the term "TomKat" apart from male feline, misspelled. Meantime, the bulb will flash on each new pairing, inventing cute labels and spurious justifications for the glurge lavished. Must this project be cluttered with such trash? I caution that the potential number of "couple" articles for N celebrities equals (N-1)!; they could not be written in polynomial time.

I certainly feel that the vicious cycle of media adulation is an encyclopedic topic. I'd like to know what experts have learned, or merely speculate, that drives otherwise rational human beings at the checkout stand to pay good money for stuff unfit to line a bird cage. I'd welcome a discussion of the social forces that deflect journalism from its divine mission to expose the truth -- onto the absurd toadying exemplified by these empty paparazzi who desire to create from two celebrities, a third. But what they pretend to do, they have not done. There are still only two items of note here, Cruise and Holmes. There is not a third, two-headed glitteratus. There is merely an excuse to write empty prose and publish empty photos, an excuse as thin as the cheap stuff on which it is printed. Nothing exists upon which to write an encyclopedic article. To see Wikipedia join the howling idiots is an embarrassment which mocks the good work done elsewhere in the project.

Perhaps I ought not care. I concluded long ago that this community had developed into a behavioral sink, that there was no hope of rescue from the muck. I still use the resource; I dig past the nonsense and cruft to find knowledge or at least amusement. But it gets harder every day to find value here.

I say Wikipedia has become a running joke, staple of every comedy writer out of ideas, foolishness for fools. I say it should abandon all serious articles and concentrate on pop and drivel -- its area of expertise.

Prove me wrong.Xiongtalk* 13:12, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Its not like we're deleting articles about math and science to make room on the servers for pop culture. People contribute what they know and enjoy writing about, which unfortunately leads to systemic bias toward some topics. Should we ban them for not being encyclopedic enough or force them to write about other topics? Remember that we're all volunteers and nobody's forcing people to read articles about certain topics. Mr.Z-man 18:56, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
WP:TANK may be appropriate here. superlusertc 2008 January 31, 19:40 (UTC)

It doesn't matter whether you make room for it not, because Wikipedia's integrity is determined by the website in full and select pages of high quality can't be isolated if the whole thing is going to be packed under one name and one site. Inclusionism is nonsense. In the extreme, radical inclusionism would support allowing people to upload spam and blatant hoaxes.   Zenwhat (talk) 21:04, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

In the extreme, radical inclusionism would support allowing people to upload spam and blatant hoaxes. And, in the extreme, radical deletionism would support an empty encyclopaedia. So now that we've dispensed with the extremes, perhaps we can stop charging at strawmen, hmm? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 23:38, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
It does. (Robby Todino, IP over Avian Carriers) superlusertc 2008 February 01, 02:16 (UTC)
Her majesty wouldn't stub her toe, she'd get a servant to do it for her :p --Alf melmac 15:47, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Welcome to humanity. Wikipedia is a mirror. Zeality (talk) 23:31, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
45px This user has a morbid fascination to see Kate Moss' progeny.

Okay, that's it. I'm deleting space in articles on chemical elements, while including at least one celebrity baby for each one. Call it the human element, the Dow of Hollywood. Keeps us up on our daily micro-ration of cuteness factor. SBHarris 00:01, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Ummm... has someone seen the work archeologists do to uncover history? They value many little bits of broken shards they find as invaluablke. Some grafiti found in caves are priceless. They even treasure past-times' trash mounds. I think the same goes with an encyclopedia, which is but a collection of all knowledge. The ideal would be to collect every bit of data available. To be able to know everything. Certainly many people go around just to modify data with no seeming purpose. But to avoid falling in the sin of censorship, i think for every edition made to a page there should be a version number for it. No deletion. So people would be able to see all versions of a definition. Yes, there are space contrains, there are human mind limitations. But who is to say what information is correct what is not correct, what is notable what is not? Specially in blurry areas of human knowledge like, yes, alien abductions. If you believe in them thats your right if you dont thats your right. But without any concrete specific evidence, saying that something is a lie is pure unscientific fanaticism. If someone was abducted by aliens and a cattle prod stuk on him, it might be true, might not be true, but -without evidence- scientifically such an event is something undetermined. Regarding Tomkat, i think its useful information to know what that means. Specially that wikipedia is used many times to get definitions of current articles. If one day the term becomes outdated, well, it can be stated so. Without need to hinder knowledge by abstaining to define its current meaning. And if someone stubbs the toe today getting out of bed, maybe thats not a definition, maybe currently its not notable but who is here that knows the future and what is going to be notable and what not? How many historians crave so much to know tiny details on lives of- at the time- john doe? Andrew Johnson, someone in his childhood maybe not notable but became president. Or what about jesus? Who at his time would say he was notable, the son of some homeless itinerant people that came to be one of the foundations of History itself? How many historians would pay millions just to know when exactly maybe was he playing and realized he could perform miracles? Or if he really turned water in wine just with divine powers? Unfortunately wikipedia is restricted by space so not every bit of knowledge can be stored. Regardless, restriction of knowledge based on personal bias or mind limitations (thats not important, thats not referenced properly, thats not proper editing) is just that: restriction of knowledge which can prove terrible for future generations seeking that very same knowledge.--WonderingAngel-aesc78 (talk) 16:30, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


Although Wikipedia is an incredible resource containing a massive amount of information on a broad variety of topics, many articles are super-tiny, absolutely unsourced, two-sentence micro-stubs about some obscure soccer player or some barely-noteworthy politician. (hit the random page button a few times and you will soon see what I'm talking about.) A vast majority of these topics completely and utterly fail WP:NOTE, and WP:V. I am sure there are literally thousands of articles like this, and we can't go around mass deleting, but it would be incredibly difficult to expand on any of these subjects simply because there's nothing else to add. (I mean, what else can you say about Coil (chemistry)?) What should we do about this massive backlog of super-small, absolutely irrelevant articles? Jedibob5 (talk) 04:10, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

There are many similar articles on characters in fiction, and in almost every subject. There are at least two options to these sub-stubs. 1) Leave them as they are, and hope they grow in to genuine stubs, and then to full articles. 2) Merge them into composite articles. E.g. you example of Coil (chemistry) might be merged (along with similar articles) into List of chemistry equipment. Summary style could then be used to break out any subjects with a lot of text. Bluap (talk) 05:09, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Simply source the articles. I am failing to understand why there is an assumption that these articles are somehow bad. Hiding T 16:41, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
You mean Pascal's simplex? That's a micro-stub, I suppose, and what would you merge it into? Or would someone try to merge Pascal's triangle, Pascal's pyramid, and all the rest of said items into the article? I'd like to see you try... (talk) 01:13, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

longitude & latitude

Something that I've noticed off & on is how some editors think that geographical co-ordinates need to include amazingly detailed information -- not only degrees and minutes of arc, but even seconds. This would be quite fine, except for one problem: this only works if the object is a point, with no size.

Consider a large object, like a lake or a city (e.g. New York, London, Tokyo): they clearly are several miles/kilometers across. Considering that a minute of arc at the equator & at sea level is 1.15 miles/0.67 kilometers long, furnishing seconds of arc for geographical object of any significant size seems to me simply annoying pedantic -- as well as conveying an incorrect sense of accuracy. Further, I think that much of the earth has not been surveyed accurately enough, to provide verifiable measurements for seconds of arc even when appropriate.

Thoughts? Am I alone in caring? Or does everyone think this kind of accuracy is not only possible but desirable? -- llywrch (talk) 20:11, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm guessing it helps locate the object with GPS/Google maps/other? --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:00, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm sure there's already a guideline somewhere about this, but the coordinates used should be accurate relevant to the subject. If the article is about a city, there's no reason to use seconds, but if its about a building, seconds would probably be appropriate. Mr.Z-man 21:21, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Not that you haven't been there Llywrch, but for other's interested, there is a lengthy talk page over at the template page that addresses a bit of your concerns. Keeper | 76 | Disclaimer 21:23, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I didn't know that this page was where to discuss the matter, despite the time I've been here. Things & places get moved around far too often. Still, I'd rather make someone mad for posting a question in the wrong place than make many people mad for engaging in an edit war over whether to add seconds of arc to a latitude/longitude statement. -- llywrch (talk) 23:23, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
Uh ...? I thought a minute of arc was a nautical mile (1.85 km). That is quite sloppy accuracy for a town. And furthermore why would you not measure in decimal degrees, where a minute is meaningless as rounding factor. I see no reason not to use the center of town to a hundred feet accuracy (one second of arc). −Woodstone (talk) 21:39, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
To be precise (well, precise enough for purposes of this discussion), a minute of latitude, or of longitude at the equator, is a nautical mile. Anywhere else, a minute of longitude is shorter according to the cosine of the latitude. For example, a New York minute... er, a minute of longitude in New York is 1.4 km or 4,600 feet. And a second of longitude is 23 m or 77 feet, whereas a second of latitude is indeed just about 100 feet or 31 m.
Most cities don't have a precisely defined "center", so it really doesn't make sense to say "the center of town to a hundred feet accuracy". However, it may make sense to give a position more finely than to the nearest whole minute. -- (talk) 02:24, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
I supose this is the same problem that makers of highway signs telling the distance to the next town face. Something in the back of my memory says they use the distance to the main post office in the town. May be urban folklore, may be something I misremember, but there it is. Dsmdgold (talk) 02:32, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
This topic is in the field of WP:GEO, and if the Project's page doesn't answer your question then you might want to ask on WT:GEO. I think the Cities WP might have also discussed it in the past. Basically, the coordinate for a city's article is usually the coordinates from an official source such as the USGS. Usually that is the location of first settlement or the location of the seat of government (City Hall) and should be given in sufficient precision for a specific building. The scaling of coordinates has been discussed in the past and will probably be discussed again soon, ffor the purpose of displaying a map of the proper size. -- SEWilco (talk) 03:43, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
In this case, I'm pulling the data from several informal sources, and the locations are in Africa. Geographical accuracy for latitude & longitude for many locales in that country are not at the same level as found in the US. In fact, I've only seen accuracy down to a second of arc only for the capital of Ethiopia. -- llywrch (talk) 23:23, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Whistleblower: Wikimedia has been squandering your donations.

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

Based on a certain inside informer I know, I have learned that in 2007, the Wikimedia Foundation has been squandering your donations. This is not a "conspiracy theory," like the stuff said about, MyWikiBiz, or Wikia. I also don't expect you to take my word for it, because what I'm saying here will be proven once the financial report for FY 2007 is released.

It's important to note: This is not even a conspiracy, because those running the Foundation did not do this intentionally ("Let's use the donations to buy the Eiffel Tower! Mwahahaha!"), but rather, it was just simply unintentional mismanagement by ineffective leaders, who are unwilling to even be open about these issues. They know what they've done, they're embarrassed about it, and they're afraid of criticism. If there was actually a conspiracy going on here, then the FY 2007 financial report would've been released on time with fraudulent information. The Foundation, though, is not run by criminals and their auditors are honest. As soon as this report is released, whenever it is released, my statements here will be confirmed. If you don't trust me, that's reasonable. Just wait for the report.

Now, here's how I came by this inside information. There were some startling facts surrounding the Wikipedia project (as I've remarked before):

  • They don't have the resources to collect statistics and any reasonable explanation for this is rooted in some fault of the Foundation. Arguments that it's the server's fault, that it would cost far too much, that it's the community's responsibility, or would not be worth it seem spurious.
  • Most of Wikipedia's resources, as I've heard, are donated by their tech support guy, Brion.
  • From time-to-time, on regular Wikipedia, there are bizarre random errors. They usually go away, but still, an organization with well over a million dollars (if not several million) ought to be able to keep a clean database, with more than "one great tech guy" who never sleeps. Brion, as I understand it, is like the Greek god, Atlas, holding up Wikipedia on his back, while there are tons of people that aren't apparently pulling their weight or are basically resting on Brion's back.
  • Several options were taken away from the Wikimedia Commons, again, on the grounds that there is a "technical problem."
  • They're moving to San Francisco and, during this process, they've shuffled their staff around a lot, hiring and firing a fair amount of people.
  • The biggest red flag of all: Their financial report for FY 2007 is over 6 months late in being published. They published the report on time, in every past year.

Based on these facts, I spoke with several members of the so-called "inner circle" of Wikipedia, did some digging, and one of them accidentally confirmed my suspicions, but then followed up by saying, "But don't tell anyone about this."

Well, now I'm blowing the whistle and telling the community, because they have a right to know. Those who truly believe in copyleft should expect this kind of thing to happen, because an inherent part of copyleft is recognizign the fact that information is intrinsically free. No institution, whether public or private, can truly keep secrets like this forever because information is intrinsically free and belongs to everyone.

My proposals:

  • The Foundation should explain the above to the community immediately and apologize for their actions.
  • Financial reports by Wikimedia should be more detailed than they are presently
  • Criteria should be set to either reward or punish members of the board for either meeting goals or failing to meet them.
  • A new board of trustees should be elected by the community. Of course, because I'm not a crazy guy who wants the current board members to be homeless, they should be given a reasonable amount of time to find new employment before being replaced, likely with some reasonable kind of Severance package.
  • The Foundation should give back our membership, with a small monthly or annual fee for supporting Wikimedia.
  • should be allowed to archive Wikimedia for the sake of accountability to the public. It would cost a minimal amount of resources and it was cut in mid-2007, around the same time this nonsense with the funds started happening.

Any other recommendations are welcome.   Zenwhat (talk) 07:29, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Proof? Aside from "it's coming", that is. Plus, there are better places to address mismanagement. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 07:33, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
For a guy who's so well-informed, you seem remarkably ignorant of the fact that trustees do not draw a salary for their work. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 07:39, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
(ec)My recommendation would be to wait and see what happens. If things are what you say they are, then eventually they will come out (like Enron) and we can't do anything to stop or reverse it. On the other hand, if we spend weeks prattling about how to prepare for something none of us can actually influence (ok, I mean those of us who couldn't found a foundation with Wikimedia's resource level), we'll probably forget about something like WP:ENC. MBisanz talk 07:42, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

That also might explain why this was posted today Wikimedia finance report for 2007 with a clean audit report and what appears to be normal financial disclosures. MBisanz talk 07:52, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

I've just read the relevant bits of the audited financials (in real life I'm the business manager for a non-profit with a budget of half a million dollars; take that for what it's worth). Expenses increased a great deal during the last year. This increase was nearly matched by revenues. The Foundation is, by any measure available in the financial statements, in much better shape than it was at the end of fiscal 2006. That's not to say that the Foundation isn't squandering donations - that's impossible to tell from just that financial statement - but if it is, it certainly doesn't appear to be doing so in a way that jeopardizes the Foundation's financial health. I don't see the smoking gun, I'm afraid. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:01, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Ah, I wasn't aware that they don't draw salaries, actually. Sorry for that.

As for the report: Awesome. This data should be reliable. Gimme several minutes, folks. Let me enter this data into a spreadsheet, generate some graphs, and you'll get to see how donations have been spent.

And yes, I do feel a bit silly for the "whistleblower" thread title, without realizing the report was just published. Tongue.png   Zenwhat (talk) 08:03, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, you'll certainly be able to demonstrate to us that staff costs increased enormously (while costs in several other categories increased slightly less enormously). Does that equate to squandering? It might; there's no way to tell from the report. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:06, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
Right, but the Foundation has to the best of my knowledge, announced the expansion of the staff to a large degree (I'm doubting there are any hidden employees or surprise! bonuses.) And I'm only getting my MBA in accounting, so I'll defer to Sarcasticidealist, but I'm fairly certain that auditors are required to report incidental fraud to the audit committee (which would be hard to hide in a place as small as Wikimedia) and factor in the going-concern ability of the org. If salaries were spiraling out of control, I'd expect to see that somewhere. MBisanz talk 08:19, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Oh yeah, there certainly isn't any fraud here. And, like I said, there certainly isn't any evidence in the financial statement that suggests that the Foundation's ongoing viability is at risk (although the donations figures for calendar 2007 vs. calendar 2006 do give me some pause). I'm only conceding that it's possible that these spending practices are wasteful; we can't know that just from looking at the audit.
(And I suspect your accounting knowledge is superior to mine; I've taken to intermediate levels in both financial and managerial, and supplemented them with some on the job stuff, but nobody's anywhere near giving me an MBA.) Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:24, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Is it ironic that the financial statement was just posted today, according to the history at - ALLSTAR echo 08:21, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

No more than a black fly in your chardonnay. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:25, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Like I said, don't take my word for it: Read through the data in the recent financial report. If you have difficulty following it, I'm working on generating charts of the results right now.

I've known about this for several days now, but was asked not to share the information publicly.

Right now, I sorta flipped out and decided, "Rawrrr!! I'm going to tell everybody anyway!!!" and I find the report was already released. Which is a good thing, actually, because now nobody here has to assume Zenwhat is telling the truth. Just read the darn report.   Zenwhat (talk) 08:27, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Also, I didn't suggest their viability is at risk: Donations for Wikimedia are very strong. They have a strong in-flow of donations and this is likely to continue. What I'm saying is that they aren't adequately funding the important stuff, it's getting worse every year, and their actual budget looks nothing like their proposed budget, which had 40% of spending being on "technology."   Zenwhat (talk) 08:28, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

A category which, according to the graphical representation of their budget for fiscal '08 (I can't find the one for '07 - do you have it?) includes some salary. Since those categories don't correspond to the categories in the audited financials, it's pretty much impossible to draw conclusions from them.
Also, as noted above, I'm not sure I agree with you about donations; donations in calendary 2007 appear to have fallen almost by half from calendar 2006. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 08:32, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

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


A new department with membership approval rules and page ownership. The Transhumanist (talk) 22:27, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Why is semiprotection so difficult?

I've been noticing for a few months now an extreme amount of vandalism by IP editors towards articles about children's TV shows, particularly episode lists. It's my opinion that if most of the edits are vandalism, we should simply semiprotect them indefinitely, as editors are spread to thin to watch every single article. Yet when I took List of Dora the Explorer episodes to WP:RFP just now, it was declined on the basis of "not enough recent activity", despite almost every edit on the page history being vandalism[3] Squidfryerchef (talk) 22:55, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

One of the principles of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit, and indefinite semi-protection prevents IP addresses from editing forever. There are severe cases where indefinite semi-protection is required (see George W. Bush) but only because the vandalism frequency is vast even with semi-protection. Semi-protection and protection are meant to be temporary measures to discourage the current vandalism to go away, or the latter is used to stop edit warring. x42bn6 Talk Mess 23:00, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm familiar with the principles of Wikipedia. Most of the pages on the Wikipedia are fairly stable, but there's maybe 2% which are constantly being vandalized. Maybe not vandalized every ten minutes, but every hour or so. I don't see any reason why we can't semiprotect a page, long-term, if it has a persistent history of vandalism. The page I was rererring to had about a dozen frivolous edits a day, and apparently that wasn't enough. Squidfryerchef (talk) 23:05, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps the page does have a long-term history of vandalism. But there are edits like this which, although they may not be the best edits in the world, are still good-faith edits and should be encouraged. Then there's this and more. x42bn6 Talk Mess 23:11, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
I think the fact that you had to go back half a year to find even an edit that we would assume good faith on, from an IP editor, speaks volumes about the need to protect the page. Squidfryerchef (talk) 23:19, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
I just went from bottom-up. Here's one that's recent: [4] - misguided, perhaps. But still good-faith. x42bn6 Talk Mess 23:21, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
No, not good-faith. That's a numbered list, and I assume it's supposed to be in order of air date. Most of the vandalism these articles have been getting from a dozen or so IPs consists of reordering lists, changing numbers in dates ( often every number in the file is ++1'd ), or making shows "move" to a different network. The Television wikiproject is all over this. Also check out the talk page + contribs of the IP who made the edit. Squidfryerchef (talk) 23:52, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
Hm, I initially thought they were doing it alphabetically, but it appears not. I think, however, that semi-protection is only granted if the vandalism is heavy in the short-term rather than in the long-term. In the long-term, it's still best to allow IPs to edit articles. From what I see, it seems like there's a lot of drive-by vandalism, but I'm not sure enough to justify protection. Does anyone have any other comments regarding indefinite semi-protection? x42bn6 Talk Mess 00:42, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
My personal opinion is that semi-protection should be imposed when there are more than two IP vandal edits per day over a five-day period. If, when semi-protection is removed, vandalism immediately resumes at the old rate, then I'd favor reimposing it. The case might be different in a case where more than 10% of the IP edits are good faith. (In my experience, articles that are prime targets for IP vandalism may have practically no good faith IP contributors at all). EdJohnston (talk) 00:59, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Add my voice to those asking for easier semi-protection. In my opinion, all of Wikipedia should be semi-protected always. Emmanuelm (talk) 14:38, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Stop hand.svg
It's quite the opposite, 90% of Wikipedia's high profile articles (ie the kind you can actually find without having to hit the random article button) are already sprotected. Most do not have an expiry time set, very few are actually tagged the appropriate templates, and nearly all of them will remain protected for months/years without someone even noticing that they are protected. Don't believe me? Try googling something, go to its corresponding page on Wikipedia, and then check the protection log. --VectorPotentialTalk 14:47, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

WP:USER#NOT - How reasonable is "reasonable"?

A recent MfD has raised some questions as to what is a "reasonable time frame" to maintain a user page to compile information on the actions of other editors. I've posed some of those questions here, comments are welcome. Franamax (talk) 06:43, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Plot summaries

Hey guys, I'm sure there is some policy out there that if looked at from the right point of view, this at least violates the spirit of, but I have to throw it out there and see what comes back (hell maybe this exists, if so point the way). If you were to take a look at the history of Superbad (film), you'd see that the plot summary goes up and down like a yo-yo, this is the case on movies, tv shows, books, etc also. I think we need to either expand WP:PLOT or make a new policy altogether, to standardise the lengh of plot summarys, like say a movie of 2 hours gets two thousand words or less, a half hour tv show gets five hundred or less, so on, so on, something to that affect. Thoughts? Ferdia O'Brien (T)/(C) 00:18, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

  • TV Shows are the subject of an ongoing arbitration case at the moment so I'd say they should be left out of this until that is settled. And the general guidance for plot summaries is I believe 100 words for 10 minutes of action for films (that's off the top of my head though) - the problem being that far from all films actually meet this at the moment (some have no or an dramatically insufficient plot summary, others, such as BASEketball have one that is far too long, etc. Different films warrant different levels of summarising, so I think the words for time guided limitation is far better than an overgeneralised one size fits all standard.Caissa's DeathAngel (talk) 00:25, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Well if you'll notice I actually did that :). Yeah I'm awair of the ArbCom case, but that doesn't really consirn the length of the summarys, more there nature, I don't mind it being put on ice for the purpose of this discussion, but I'm not sure its necassary. Ferdia O'Brien (T)/(C) 00:34, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
There has been a considerable amount of discussion of this already at WT:FICT and elsewhere. If you'd like to join the discussion, great-- start by seeing what's been said. DGG (talk) 02:01, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
The thing about that though, is thats concerning fiction, I'm talking about summaries about just about anything, Fictional or Not, they all seem to balloon. Ferdia O'Brien (T)/(C) 03:24, 10 February 2008 (UTC) (fiction is being used here not to mean just novels, but all fiction formats). Yes, they do indeed tend to balloon, a good deal of the time, and sometimes they are too sparse to be useful. I could same the same about a great many articles about other topics. We have no really meaningful standards on article content. DGG (talk) 04:06, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Vandalism to own page

Is it considered vandalism if a user/IP places WP:Patent Nonsense (or anything else that would normally be considered vandalism) on their own pages? That is if it didn't have any personal attacks.--Sunny910910 (talk|Contributions) 01:20, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

As long as the material isn't defamatory (towards others) or copyrighted, I don't see why not, Charles Stewart (talk) 01:23, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Can you provide an example of what describing occurring? --SMP0328. (talk) 01:25, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I was thinking of something like this.--Sunny910910 (talk|Contributions) 01:27, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
That would seem to be directed at the people who posted earlier to his talk page. Charles Stewart (talk) 01:29, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
To me, a user can put whatever he wants on his own talk page, as long as it's not clearly offensive material (e.g., racist rhetoric) or insults directed toward a user or users. --SMP0328. (talk) 01:38, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Bureaucracy or Adhocracy?

So people keep adding fiddly little "rules", even though we have an ignore all rules kind of rule. In the end, this will cause wikipedia to become somewhat bureaucratic. Having well documented policies and process *can* be a good thing, and it *is* possible to grow and thrive as an organisation... if you manage to attain Capability Maturity Model level 5. Now who would care to bet with me on whether that is an attainable goal in a volunteer-driven networked organization? O:-)

Since wikipedia is on the internet, and things can change rapidly from day to day, it makes more sense to try to work towards running wikipedia as an Adhocracy, and that's what we've been doing.

Does that make sense?

--Kim Bruning (talk) 01:44, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Please refactor your comments to third-grade level. You can't expect me to understand all that high faluting lingo missy.Wjhonson (talk) 01:47, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Isn't it great to have an encyclopedia on-hand? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:49, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Rather than a bureaucracy or an adhocracy, I would submit that Wikipedia is becoming, more than ever a consensucracy. Don't blame me that your dictionary doesn't yet have that word, just remember that I made it up first. And here is my definition, a bureaucracy lives by its rules, no matter how senseless they have become. If you break a rule you are punished, even though no living person has been harmed. The rule itself becomes the person against which you are conflicting. In an adhocracy, the rules are overlooked in order to achieve a useful goal. In this sense ignore all rules is meant not to actually ignore the rules for your own gain, but to ignore them when the rules themselves harm the project because they have become too bureaucratic. That is, an adhocracy assumes there is a bureaucracy against which it's working. Wjhonson (talk) 02:14, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay now you say, Mr Johnson oh great sage o' the mountain etc, what then is a consensucracy? Your question is a good one Grasshopper. A Consensucracy is an organization that works by consensus. They do not have a bureaucracy and yet they have rules, however the rules are or can be in a constant state of flux, not being ignored, yet being reshaped constantly as new situations emerge. A Consensucracy is the ultimate democratic society. It is the end-result of the collision of Representative Government with Social Networking. It is the future my young friend, and those who do not conform to consensus must face the consequences! (0kay I'm done.)Wjhonson (talk) 02:19, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
The problem with a consensucracy is when its participants demand that the means to determining consensus become a bureaucracy :) It's easier to game the system when there's a system to game. This problem is a result of personal interests, but also results in another problem: vested interests. GracenotesT § 02:54, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I dazzled myself so much with my sheer brilliance that I had to go have a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.Wjhonson (talk) 02:54, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Kim, I like the term "Adhocracy." The University of Minnesota used the term, "intellitent-task routing." They seemed to suggest something along the lines of Adhocracy -- that the proper way of editing be made explicit in policy pages and a rational system of incentives be set up to encourage users to make good edits, but that it ultimately leaves it up to humans to make good edits.

According to wikiquote, Jimmy suggested users need incentives to make good edits. Right now, there is no incentive to be a good editor (aside from the occasional barnstar, every few years -- woo-hoo!), above and beyond being a blatant vandal or troll. If I spam Wikipedia, put in patent nonsense, engage in sockpuppetry, vicious personal attacks, etc.., I will be intelligently routed out of here. On the other hand, it's not quite clear that there's any incentive to use reliable sources, to verify properly, to have a NPOV, to avoid copyright violation, to avoid slander & libel, to avoid conflicts-of-interest, etc., and a whole horde of other policies I've probably forgotten.

Good editors should be free to make good edits, while bad editors should be "intelligently routed" into making good edits. Is that what you mean by Adhocracy?   Zenwhat (talk) 07:25, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Adhocracy explicitly rejects the concept of having strict policies for starters. Are you sure you're not confusing it with bureaucracy? --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:29, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

When I say "strict policies," I don't mean "unbreakable." I mean that somebody rational -- a philosopher king (aka User:Jimbo Wales) -- sets up a strong system whereby people are intelligently routed to perform certain tasks, that is, they are given incentives in accordance with the response expected by human behavior (see natural law). Any time a policy is formed that is not in accordance with that, people have the natural right of revolt (aka ignore all rules). Bureaucracy, democracy, and anarchy are rejected -- not simply because a policy page says so and people came to that conclusion -- but because bureaucracy, democracy, and anarchy all disturb the natural order.   Zenwhat (talk) 14:19, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I still say that Wikipedia is not Bureaucracy. It's the massively multiplayer sequel. So perhaps we should try to encourage people to treat it less like one? superlusertc 2008 January 26, 18:52 (UTC)
Maybe if we add XP and leveling to article editing, then the meta-game (politics) will become less important for people's enjoyment? LinaMishima (talk) 19:51, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
If you're equating revolution with ignore all rules, I think you're missing an essential point of that article. A revolution seeks to overthrow the established order, usually with the intention of replacing it with some other selected order, or with anarchy. IAR does not address that, but rather IAR opines that there are some situations, in which the bureaucratic rules get *in the way* of the project goals. That is, they hinder the development of the encyclopedia. It is only in that very narrow space that IAR applies. IAR is not for situations you don't personally like. I'm sure the hard scientists would really like to delete all articles on haunted houses. However that would harm the project and so IAR does not apply, imho. Wjhonson (talk) 19:51, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
WP:COMMON (another corollary of IAR) states that yes, you should use common sense all the time (aka ignore all rules all the time), but that such usage should be invisible to others. --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:13, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Now, back on topic: I believe that the bureaucratic model is unsustainable on en.wikipedia. The only way we could get it to work is by paying people money and/or offering other incentives, and we simply can't do that.

Now wikipedia seems to slowly be picking up bureaucratic traits. This is a bad thing because it reduces the efficiency of the system. I'd like to continue to discuss how to prevent bureaucracy from growing further, and how to direct more efforts into forming and/or maintaining adhocracy (yes, that's a real system, developed halfway last century, if memory serves). Adhocracy is best suited to short, goal oriented tasks. Tthat is to say, in the real world, where short is still something like "a year or two".

That is well within the normal scale and duration of writing an article, and the wiki does segment the community up into groups writing articles. Hence adhocracy is a very decent fit, and the wikipedia community has traditionally had quite some adhocracy-ish traits.

--Kim Bruning (talk) 21:22, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

As I see it, the spectre of Bureaucracy that haunts many Wikipedians is due to that evil concept...Process. People claim that they've followed The Process, people claim that someone else violated The Process, & some people wish they could simply grab hold of The Process & flush it down the toilet. In all of this tossing The Process around like a hand grenade, many people lose sight of what the point of The Process actually is: If you have reasonable knowledge that other Wikipedians will object loudly to a specific action you are about to take, give them a chance to express their opinions first.

The danger of The Process is that some idiots will keep you from doing something of great benefit. However, remember (1) that those idiots also think you are an idiot -- & may actually be right; & (2) if they truly are idiots, they will eventually demonstrate this clearly to one & all & be kicked off of the project. Then there is the possibility that sometimes getting input before doing something controversial may allow someone to suggest a better way of doing it. (This has been known to happen.)

And no, you don't have to ask every time you do something: that's one of the ideas behind ignore all rules. But common courtesy -- & a desire to establish a stable consensus -- dictates that if you make a bold edit and get reverted, the best next step is to discuss the edit -- not revert back. -- llywrch (talk) 20:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

As long as you realize that the point of that particular process is to facilitate editing (Wikipedia is not a discussion site ;-) ), that's just perfect.
The problem I see is where we start setting up committees, or start doing things like "CSD G7 the OR by the SPA" (which is a very BITEy thing to do :-P). --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:26, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
You are aware arb-com has already started setting up committees working parties? One thing that is starting to bug me is all the new rules which quote the odd phrase out of another very long rule page and treat that one phrase as being the appropriate point to create the new rule page. For an example of what I mean, see Wikipedia:Notability (serial works). Still. I'm sure some good will come of it. AT some point we will find the exact formulation of rules which will end all disputes. I simply fear it will also end all edits. Hiding T 11:03, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, as long as there are no rules officially we can live with it. But how many people actually realize that fact, to start with? (Some people act as if there are rules. It's annoying) --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:17, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, apparently you can't ignore WP:NPOV, and since blah is an expansion of foo, which is an expansion of x, which is an expansion of WP:NPOV, it too is non-negotiable and must be obeyed. I prefer the people who attempt to argue that you should ignore ignore all rules. Or that ignore all rules doesn't really mean that. Hiding T 14:37, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
I can think of several ways where ignoring NPOV -at least for a short while- can help the encyclopedia on the long term. Can you? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:39, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
So I opened my vim, and I managed to think up 5 ways in 2 minutes (though admittedly they're a bit related). How many can you manage? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:45, 31 January 2008 (UTC) Don't peek right away! :-)
On a specific article wikipedia as a whole ignores NPOV through various points of the editing process. NPOV is what an article should look like. Sometimes it doesn't look like that because we're in the process of getting there. Most editors ignore NPOV on the Wikipedia itself by editing within their comfort zone or areas of knowledge or familiarity. Most editors ignore NPOV on individual articles by adding only what they know. That's only three though. Hiding T 14:15, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
*Nod* I think most ways to ignore NPOV involve temporarily leaving it aside while you're still working on improving the article. Still, now we know that even that it is possible. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:45, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Other possible benefits of ignoring NPOV: overcoming writer's block; adding a touch of humour/sparkle to an article; inspiring people who have never edited Wikipedia before to click "edit this page" for the first time. --Coppertwig (talk) 13:28, 10 February 2008 (UTC)