Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 54

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Wikipedia not Myspace

I am currently in a discussion with a user who posts on "user talk" pages to an alarming extent. So I thought of this problem and came up with a solution (that's what I do in real life) -- all user edits would be monitored on a rolling basis, and if the total of a user's article-space and wikipedia-space edits combined drop below 45% of his total edits, he is warned once. If, in the next 30 days he does not bring his ratio up to 45%, he is blocked for a week. The next infraction will bring a block of 30 days, the next 90 days, and the fourth time, he is shown the door.

This should keep the idlers away from Wikipedia, being that we should concentrate on articles and administration, not talk page chatter. What do you think? Halli B (talk) 05:33, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I also have posted a new essay: WP:Silence means nothing. Feel free to share your comments with me. Halli B (talk) 06:39, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like WP:CREEP with a potential benefit not worth the kilobytes it would have to be written on, much less the volunteer coder hours that could be spent on fixing actual issues. --erachima talk 07:04, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

The only user that you have had any significant interaction with is fr33kman (talk · contribs). Of that user's 300 edits, 70 have been to user talk pages. I'm not alarmed by this; the editor is a newpage patroller. I will inform fr33kman of this discussion. Darkspots (talk) 11:06, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
This is an appalling idea. Are you seriously saying you think edit-warring over an article is better than discussing the change? – iridescent 11:25, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
To expand on Iridescent's point, the flaw in this idea (and all others like it) is the implicit assumption that all edits to a given namespace are of equal value. They're not. Even discounting obviously unproductive stuff, like edit warring, doing Wikignoming, like correcting spelling mistakes or adding categories, you can rack up huge numbers of article edits while making few or no talk or user talk edits. On the other hand, a major rewrite of a controversial article may require a large amount of talk- and user talk-space discussion to establish consensus, and then a single article edit to implement the rewrite. There is therefore no "optimum" ratio of article to talk space edits which fits all editors, and under Halli's suggestion, editors who did a lot of the latter would be in danger of getting blocked. Iain99Balderdash and piffle 12:06, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. Under that system, people might do useless or harmful things to keep their ratio up, like dividing up what could be done in one edit into several separate edits. It takes human judgement to determine whether a user's edits are of net benefit to the project. Coppertwig (talk) 12:22, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Incidentally, this is the system that our cousins at Conservapedia use. You can see for yourself just how well articles develop when discussion is deliberately stifled. – iridescent 12:29, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Shame on you, Iridescent, for using sarcasm against our trustworthy fifth cousins twice removed. You are simply jealous because they don't need to discuss things, enlightened by God as they are. Discussion is for people with a liberal bias.
I am starting to doubt my loyalties. Waltham, The Duke of 22:33, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
I create new articles in userspace and they sometimes take over a hundred edits prior to releasing the text into public space. And now some piece of software or an IRC kid will ban me for not littering in the public space? nonsense! NVO (talk) 19:59, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Agree totally! By this logic the founder of Wikipedia would have to be banned also, see. fr33kman (talk) 22:53, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Standard rant: there are many roles to play in Wikipedia, and even those who function solely to promote morale and social interaction are furthering our purposes by promoting collaboration and providing additional incentive to be involved. Dcoetzee 00:00, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Copywriting wikipedia content

Can someone look at this site? Seems to be copyrighting the text from Incheon International Airport as hidden comments. I found this while trying to figure out if Incheon International Airport contains a copyvio itself. Vegaswikian (talk) 07:05, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

It's just search engine optimization, and I think you mean copyrighting, not copywriting (although strangely both apply here). --NE2 08:09, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
No, I agree with Vegaswikian, I think it is copyrighting our text. We have a list for this stuff somewhere, um, see Wikipedia:MIRROR#Non-compliance_process. Hiding T 09:51, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Is it possible to enforce copyright over an invisible text? NVO (talk) 01:08, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not invisible to search engines, and depends on how the browser used parses the page source to not present it to the user. It exists and is publicly I'd say normal rules apply? LeeVJ (talk) 09:43, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Agree, definitely fishy fr33kman (talk) 23:08, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Is it true that Wikipedia content can be copied to Wikia? SharkD (talk) 01:47, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Sallalahu aleyhi wasallam

Is it normal Wikipedia style to write "S.A.W." or "sallalahu aleyhi wasallam" (peace be upon him) after mentions of Muhammed's name, as occurs frequently in Ramadan (calendar month)? I understand it's normal Islamic practice but it seems unsuitable in a secular article. -- (talk) 13:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd say no, as it's nether part of his name nor a title; likewise, we don't generally include "Christ" after "Jesus". – iridescent 13:18, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
No; we don't use honorifics or titles like that. There's really no reason to. Celarnor Talk to me 16:41, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Read Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Islam-related articles)#Islamic honorifics. It should give you the answer. Eklipse (talk) 16:45, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Have you find an article where this is done? — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 21:53, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
It shows up occasionally in Islam-related articles. Periodically, uninvolved editors need to go through and remove the PBUHs and SAWs from them. --Carnildo (talk) 23:35, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Policy on image maps

I've started a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Image use policy#Image maps about the use of image maps in articles, about which we don't seem to have a specific policy. I'd appreciate it if anyone interested could weigh in there. Thanks. Chick Bowen 01:00, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Informal request for opinion on MOS demarcation

Here's a question I thought worth getting wider opinion on. Aluminium is a light metallic element. In the United States it is usually spelled aluminum. WP:ENGVAR says "The English Wikipedia has no general preference for a major national variety of the language. No variety is more correct than the others. Users are asked to take into account that the differences between the varieties are superficial. It then goes on to talk about consistency within articles, strong national ties to a topic, retaining the existing variety, and opportunities for commonality.

Wikipedia:WikiProject Chemicals/Style guidelines however has, in relation to the "aluminium" spelling (and also sulfur and caesium): These international standard spellings should be used in all chemistry-related articles on English Wikipedia, even if they conflict with the other national spelling varieties used in the article. These are based on "preferred names" in IUPAC nomenclature.

The Space Shuttle was the specific focus which prompted the question; while it is clearly a project associated with the United States, I would argue that it falls into being a chemistry-related article by virtue of referring to a chemical element in a way that relates specifically to its chemical properties. Al is used not just as a structural material, but also as a propellant in the Solid Rocket Boosters, and it is used precisely because of its specific chemical properties.

I may because of my background in Chemistry be taking too wide a view on what constitutes a "chemistry-related article". What do others think? --John (talk) 22:18, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I had a little look at this, the original edit in the Space Shuttle article had two words linked together (Aluminium alloy) where there is a single article Aluminium alloy which would have been better as it was relating to the structure. The latter article seems to be in US spelling looking at other words in the text. Duralumin would be another alternative article to link to. The only pure aluminium components I have seen and used on aircraft are rivets which need to be heat treated before use and these were special use only. Have no problem with the alternate spellings (as a UK contributor) noting the convention for the chemical element of Aluminium above. I think this is more a metallurgy area. Nimbus (talk) 22:45, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Agreed. These uses are Metallurgy/Engineering related, not closely related to Chemistry. -Fnlayson (talk) 23:35, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Chemical-related implies that the article falls within the scope of the project. The scope of WikiProject Chemicals, as defined by the project, excludes the Space Shuttle article from being considered as chemical-related since the article is not about a chemical or a chemical-related process or form of analysis, etc.. Even the IUPAC, which WP Chemicals cites, accepts aluminum as an alternative to aluminium. I forecast that the use of aluminium in a U.S.-centric article will invite constant editing because of the WP:ENGVAR statement in the MOS. As we've seen in WP Aircraft, when it comes down to the internal guideline of a WikiProject versus the MOS, the more broadly accepted guideline wins out because the MOS is considered to have a much broader consensus throughout the Wikipedia community. --Born2flie (talk) 23:50, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
"Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their compounds, which are called alloys." Inasmuch as the article discusses metals, which are chemicals, I'd say it falls within the remit of the chemistry project. But I do sympathize with the latter part of what Born2flie is saying. --John (talk) 01:35, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
I just realised that you welcomed me to WP, I appreciate that. So perhaps you should add the Chemistry project banner to all the articles on metallic alloys? I got kicked out of Chemistry class for setting fire to the Bunsen burner gas taps (was much more fun!) Seems to me that a minor spelling variation edit has been taken out of context. All the best. Nimbus (talk) 01:53, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
I would agree that metallurgy is chemistry-related but the space shuttle is not. Note that metallurgy is just a part of the wider discipline of materials science, which includes the use of aluminium in semiconductors, paints, and many other classes of material, all of which are chemistry-related. -- Cheers, Steelpillow (Talk) 11:57, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
So where would the line best be drawn? As a chemist, I naturally see the Space Shuttle as very much a chemistry topic. The use of Al as a structural material and as a propellant in the SRBs is claearly predicated on Al's chemical properties. I would be interested to see other people's opinions; if this is not a chemistry topic, why is it not? --John (talk) 18:31, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
By that reasoning, every reference to a material substance, specific enough to mention the name of an element, is a chemistry topic. This is not what was intended. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:05, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
The space shuttle article by its nature focusses on the gross properties of the finished product, such as its physical design, performance, use and history. The chemistries of its structural and propellant materials are not notable in this respect, nor are its grosser properties of direct interest to chemists.
I am also reminded that physics is just mathematics, which in turn is logic, which is philosophy, which is culture, which is psychology, which is behavior, which is neurology, which is biology, which is chemistry. Maybe MediaWiki should be patched to add the chemistry-related banner to every article. Oh, hang on darn it, but of course chemistry is just physics.... Face-wink.svg -- Cheers, Steelpillow (Talk) 19:52, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
You screwed the order up! Here's the correct order. Anyway, back on topic, surely the international chemistry community are the authority on the names of elements, so we should go with them in an article like Space shuttle. However, I disagree with Wikipedia:WikiProject Chemicals/Style guidelines that the international names should be used "even if they conflict with the other national spelling varieties used in the article". I think the "strong national ties to a topic" should be kept, so that a specifically US article using chemical names should use the US names. Deamon138 (talk) 15:54, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
So far as I know, MOS still trumps Wikiproject style guides. Articles under the purview of WP:Chem, and its style guide says “These guidelines have been put together by the WikiProject Chemicals to help editors improve the 4000 or so articles on Wikipedia which are about chemical compounds.” (Emphasis mine.) So, whenever an article is about a chemical, chemical compounds or chemistry, per se, its style guide should prevail. When it comes to the use of spellings in articles that are not directly chemistry-related, then WP:MOS is the final authority (and, in this case, more particularly WP:ENGVAR). Askari Mark (Talk) 21:40, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Notes on WP:SOCK

I am a bit afraid of the way the sockpuppet and multiple accounts policy might turn out. I see many users being blocked, not because they are using those alternate accounts to canvass, vote or vandalize, but because they just have multiple accounts. Take for example, there's a user, who wanted to change her username. She is a novice at Wikipedia and doesn't know about WP:CHANGINGUSERNAME, so she chooses to create a new account in ignorance. Satisfied with her new username, she wakes up the next day to find herself blocked. Rather then a complete block, a notice on her talk-page about just why did she create the new account will be more appropriate. Thus, further action will be taken after the rationale is found. (e.g. blocking, or advice)

Not only does this apply to the situation I described, but it applies to every situation where the user has multiple accounts. Should those multiple accounts be blatantly used for cavassing, voting or vandalizing or any disruptive behavior, then no further questioning will be needed. However, should the user have multiple accounts for non-controversial and non-disruptive purposes, then those accounts should not be blocked. (e.g. accounts made for use in public areas and accounts made because of ignorant mistakes, such as the one I described above.)  Marlith (Talk)  00:41, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree, I've seen this a lot on WP:SSP, which is why I can almost never stand to participate there. However, I believe most of this (requiring socks to be disruptive or deceptive before blocking) is already covered by the sock policy, so I'm not sure what can be done. I think the main problem is overzealous sock hunting and people who only understand the general background of the sock policy before trying to enforce it. Mr.Z-man 01:39, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Could you be a bit more specific about the particular case? You might want to raise this on WP:AN—admins shouldn't be blocking new accounts without reason. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 02:05, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, I would like to see some cases where a user was blocked when it was clear they should not have. Tiptoety talk 17:06, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Would anyone object to a notice being added to MediaWiki:Gotaccount saying "If you already have an account you can request to change your username." ffm 20:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Change made, feel free to revert. ffm 00:49, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Abuse Filter – final consensus gathering

Please tell me if there are objections to the course of action outlined at Wikipedia_talk:Abuse_filter#Final_consensus-gathering. — Werdna • talk 13:29, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposal: Extend category naming guidelines to cover list articles as well

I propose that Wikipedia:Naming conventions (categories) be broadened in scope to include list-type articles. SharkD (talk) 01:15, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Why? Algebraist 08:38, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
This is similar to two proposals SharkD made on 2 September: this and this. Some discussion has taken place at Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Namespace for lists. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 09:21, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
No. This proposal has nothing to do with namespaces. SharkD (talk) 22:08, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, yes, it is similar. You are looking for a change in how Wikipedia handles lists. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 03:20, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I think the naming of lists (disregarding the "List of" part) should follow the same guidelines as categories. SharkD (talk) 22:12, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, you said that already, but you didn't give any reasons for it. Please don't expect us to work out for ourselves why you think this is a good idea. Algebraist 00:13, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I just think the purpose of lists and categories are similar enough for them to follow the same naming conventions. SharkD (talk) 21:07, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Policies regarding unusual vandalism

How should

  • Obvious vandalism on a talk page
  • Obvious vandalism on a page in the WP namespace
  • Obvious vandalism to someone else's userpage

be handled? What differences in standard procedure exist between this sort of vandalism and standard "insert-random-insults-in-an-article"-type vandalism? Thanks in advance. Horselover Frost (talk) 06:20, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

If it's obvious vandalism, then deal with it in exactly the same way as you would article space vandalism. --Tango (talk) 06:25, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, Thanks. On a related note, what is the procedure for someone who places an advert on their own talk page? Horselover Frost (talk) 06:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Delete it. — Werdna • talk 08:02, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Indeed, CSD G11 applies to all namespaces. --Tango (talk) 08:10, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
OK. I thought that was probably the case, but wanted to be sure. Thanks! Horselover Frost (talk) 19:11, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

RFC on Civility restrictions and other questions

A Request for comment has been raised about Wikipedia's civility policy and civility parole. It is available at Wikipedia:Editing restrictions/Civility restriction RFC. The two basic issues raised are how the community deals with persistent incivility from long term editors and what form the community expects editing restrictions to take. This RFC is a partial attempt to resolve the Georgewilliamherbert RFAR concerns raised by the ArbComm. Please leave comments and thoughts on the suggestions at the RFC itself. New or derivative proposals can be brought up on the RFC talk page. Thank you. Protonk (talk) 17:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

How many editors have actually read the Manual of Style?

Supposedly, all guidelines represent consensus, and changes to them represent consensus. This is shown by the active consent of those who choose to participate in the process, and the silent consent of those who do not, but who follow them. My question is this: how seriously do most editors actually read and follow the Manual of Style? If we are required to obey its prescriptions, do we owe it to ourselves to be more concerned about it?

Supposedly, we don't require editors to read anything about the project or have any project-specific knowledge beyond how to edit a wiki and the short statement of NPOV and its corollaries, Verifiability and No Original Research. If you know your subject, cite sources, write decently, have a basic sense of fairness and are civil, you should be able to edit for a long time without ever needing to look at a policy or guideline.

Returning from a long wikivacation, I happened to run across a couple of MOS-related issues that surprised me: sometimes on talk pages, and sometimes when I was sharply reverted with a "per MOS" comment. The issues themselves are secondary: We apparently have stopped using bluelinked dates and apparently we have always used so-called "logical punctuation" of quotations, which contravenes the quotation-punctuation style that most of us were taught in school. OK, eventually I will get used to the first, and while the second strikes me as wrongheaded, it is clear that the regulars consider this a closed issue.

I am, however, left with the following observation: in comparison to other Wikipedia policies and guidelines, the MOS appears to me to have grown both in size and in prescriptivity during my absence. The size is daunting: far beyond what anyone but a committed editor would read. It reads as more prescriptive about details than verifiability policy and reliable source guidelines. The tone of related discussions on the talk page, and of many MOS-inspired edits that I have seen, seems to be "do this or your contribution is unwelcome." Perhaps that improves Wikipedia; I'm not sure.

Whereas one can apprehend Wikipedia's core policies from the nutshell description, the MOS is a mass of details, most of which have little to do with one another. One can't "get" it at a stroke, and one cannot reason a particular provision from first principles. That means, in effect, that each detailed provision must have its own detailed consensus. If, as I suspect, most editors have never looked at the MOS except when they are in doubt about a point, that weakens the nature of the implicit consensus. In practice, it would be much easier for a concerted group to foist a doubtful change on the MOS than on any other policy or guideline with such wide implications.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I'm the exception for never having paid much attention to the MOS. The claim of the regulars on the page is that it is widely read and agreed to. Maybe the consensus is stronger than I suspect. But, if I am right, perhaps we need to encourage more Wikipedians to pay more attention to it. I can think of no harm it could do, and it might do good. Robert A.West (Talk) 01:47, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I for one have never so much as looked at the majority of MOS pages, let alone read them completely (and I'm getting along just fine). The only time I look at a manual of style page is when I'm unsure of how to properly format something, or there's a disagreement over some inane detail. For the most part, MOS pages appear to be surrounded by the same group of editors who seem to get an adrenaline rush at featured article noms and GA reviews when they find some obscure rule to enforce, declaring "non-compliance". You've linked too many common words. That should be a non-breaking space, not a normal one. Dashes, not hyphens. Leads must have 4 paragraphs or less (remove the space between paragraphs 4 and 5, making one long paragraph, and you're good). WP:PUNC!!! More people should pay attention to the discussions on MOS pages, but fewer people should actually pay attention to the MOS itself. Then again, I'm bitter from all the rain and could just be rambling. - auburnpilot talk 02:15, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I find it somewhat amazing that copyediting for style has become an adversarial process in the review discussions. One would expect that normal authors don't know the manual of style, and so a copyeditor would handle putting the page into compliance, after which the discussion could move on to more interesting points. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The MOS thing has gotten me to the point where I don't want do FAs anymore. Time was when I could slip articles past FAC based on whether they were any good or not. But after a mammoth FA last year (bird) I lost the will to do them anymore. If there were legions of copyeditors out there willing to do all the pedantic bullshit then it wouldn't be a problem, but there aren't. And my time would be better spent dragging a subpar start class article up to B class than fixing ndashes and making sure that numbers and the following words have the right kind of fucking space between them in the reference section. Sabine's Sunbird talk 02:59, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Interesting how different editors have different recollections of events; here is a perfect example of how a meme takes hold if readers don't carefully check their facts. SS, you approached me on my talk page a year ago, asking for help because you had encountered concerns at peer review that bird was undercited. First, let's not confuse issues that come up regarding Wiki's best work: WP:V is policy, unrelated to WP:MOS, a guideline. Two different things. And peer review is not FAC. Second, your request made a lasting impression. I have never put as much effort into cleaning up MoS and citation issues on an article at someone's request to help them prepare for FAC as I did for bird. I worked on that article for a good 24 hours; it was one of the biggest cleanup chores I have ever done on Wiki.[1] To this day, I figure in the top eight contributors to that article, even though I only worked on it for one day. That sort of work was routine for me (and many editors who are happy to roll up our sleeves and help address MoS, citation, and copyedit issues at or before FAC) until I assumed other FAC duties, which diminished the time I can spend helping others. Most of the editors who requested my assistance thanked me for my efforts, leading Giano to joke about my box of chocolates. (Did you? When you nommed the article, you did mention that I had "picked over" the citations.) Third, when you came to FAC a few months later, the concerns raised about that article, by numerous editors, were almost entirely copyedit concerns, with at least four editors raising concerns about the prose and performing copyedits. So, the two issues with that article at FAC were referencing and the quality of the prose, yet in spite of the thankless time another editor put in to MoS and citation cleanup on the article, you now ungraciously claim that "the MOS thing has gotten me to the point where I don't want do FAs anymore". This is classic. Every time I hear a complaint about MoS at FAC, when I look into the facts, I find something exactly like this: editors whose articles ran into fundamental WP:V policy referencing concerns or had basic copyedit issues, but blame "MoS". To this day, I have never known an article to fail at FAC over MoS issues, and there is always an editor willing to run through and clean up any issues once copyediting and citation are dealt with. Yes, MoS is too big and needs to be tamed and consolidated, but never have I seen a valid complaint about MoS and FAC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:27, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I accept that I mixed the two up. I found the process stressful and I guess I misplaced the annoyance. And I certainly apologise if I came across as ungracious or didn't consider your efforts, and the efforts of the other editors worthy of thanks. I was very grateful for all the help. Sabine's Sunbird talk 09:18, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No problem, SS, and I'm sorry for making you the example. I'm just concerned because I see this meme often. FA is rightfully demanding, but the increased demands lately have been in the policy areas of sourcing and images (where almost every article is checked), and there has been increased scrutiny of prose (because there are more copyeditors participating there now), so it would be incorrect and unfortunate for the idea to take hold that MoS is what makes FA demanding. It really isn't the case. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:48, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree, and further I expressly avoid discussing MOS issues in most situations due to the aforementioned "MOS-warriors". I think the MOS as a whole has suffered from instruction creep as people try to "fix" various content disputes by getting one side or the other written into guideline, and a good bit could probably be trimmed back.
Regarding the GA/FA complaints, and seemingly some of the reverts Robert A West experienced, it seems some of these people think they're too "busy" biting people pointing out the MOS non-compliance to actually fix the issues they see. Perhaps that attitude needs adjustment, although I have no idea how to do so. Anomie 03:15, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
In all fairness, my personal experience has been editors who do fix things, just sometimes a bit gruffly. And I did make a few edits without being logged on, so I may just have looked like a clueless anon. And, to be fair, there are lots of biters out there: one recently tagged a stub as unsourced 90 seconds after it was created, causing an edit conflict when I tried to save my citebook reference. I bit back and we made nice. LOL. Robert A.West (Talk) 04:59, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Response from Tony1: I'm apparently one of those "MoS warriors"; I'm also an FAC dinosaur, having reviewed there for three years, especially WRT standards of prose. Just like the English language itself—"big and baggy", Clive James called it—style on WP will always be a matter of dynamic tension between centrifugal and centripetal forces; this is not something that should upset us. Nor should the shifting of the balance towards the centripetal (standardisation, cohesiveness) over the past two years, with MoS main and its jungle of subsidiary pages the focal point. Nowhere is this more evident than in the FAC room, where compliance with the style guides is explicitly required.

Why has there been such a shift? There may be three reasons:

  1. MoS main and its most important subsidiary pages (particularly MOSNUM), are now significantly better written and organised than the sloppy mess they were in two years ago.
  2. The culture on the talk pages—of those who specialise in the maintenance and improvement of these style guides—has become more competitive and dynamic, and includes more people with notable expertise in English-language style and formatting.
  3. The featured-content processes—especially FAC and FLC—are far more competitive than a year or two ago (let alone four years ago, what a joke), and the standards have increased to a level that, in many cases, WP can be proud of. In many cases, our featured content sets the standard on the Internet for summary-style, non-OR information. Reviewing is more detailed and systematic WRT to the criteria, which have evolved to be more detailed and stricter. These changes have seen the relationship between the style guides and featured-content processes become intricate and mutually reinforcing.

I'm interested to hear the views that are expressed here; this type of dialogue is important for the project as a whole. I'm sorry that there are negative feelings about the modern FAC process, but competitive processes are usually accompanied by a certain degree of angst. I encourage the users here to form strategic collaborative allliances with others who have a range of the necessary skills and knowledge to produce fine FA nominations: we look forward to reading them.

Concerning the cries that no one reads the style guides; well, that's like me and equipment instruction manuals—hate 'em and often try to do without. The style guides nevertheless play pivotal roles in educating and guiding our diverse community towards what is mostly regarded as the optimal product for our readers out there. People may have quibbles with this bit or that bit (I do ... no one agrees with it all, in its entirety), but as a whole, they're the beacon that knits WP together, along with its policy. Over time, and that's what we do have in this evolving project, these forces for cohesion will touch everything. Might I say that my own style improved significantly after properly digesting MoS main and MOSNUM.

If I were to criticise the style-guide infrastructure, it would be to say that there's a lack of overall coordination and auditing of the myriad of small, subsidiary specialist pages that have grown like topsy. We already have a WikiProject in place WP:MOSCO, and it's only a matter of time before it becomes more active in the task of vetting, trimming, rationalising and coordinating the style guides. Tony (talk) 06:31, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Tony has recently begun producing monthly summaries of MoS changes for those who want to keep track without following those pages. They can be found in the Signpost, with old editions listed at {{FCDW}}. And, although standards at WP:FAC have increased over time, the differences are mainly in image review and review of reliable sources. These are policy concerns, and they are now more systematically reviewed then they were in the past. With respect to MoS, the process has not become more strict; it's a simple matter of asking someone to run through and make MoS adjustments once prose is up to standard and the policy issues of referencing and image compliance are addressed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:38, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

My short take: MOSes only matter for FACs and GANs, so ignore them (i.e. use your common sense) when that's not your area of wiki interest. I may have read the main MOS once as a newbie out of interest, but the fine details only stuck in my brain when I unknowingly violated them in a FAC and had to read them up (I still learn new stuff that way). I'll use that MOS knowledge in my own reviews then, but I'll probably never become a true MOS-warrior because that's neither my area of expertise nor interest. – sgeureka tc 07:44, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

And even with that easy going attitude, when I read through your last FAC, I found only two trival MoS adjustments needed ... must not be so hard to learn or to find collaborators to help you bring articles to FA status :-) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 07:55, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Sgeureka, I agree with that – it's very true. Gary King (talk) 08:09, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Since you want to hear the views of the community, let's air the views of the community on the entire MOS process. I'm not going to comment about the guideline pages themselves, but WT:MOS's atmosphere has become a cesspool of invective vitriol that pushes away contributors from participating in debates. My first edits in Wikipedia were to the Manual of Style, but I stopped following it when users began being told that they won't be taken seriously if they don't use en dashes on talk pages. When users' arguments are derided solely on formatting issues, it is a clear indicator, at least to me, of a gangrenous consensus-gathering process. When I think of MOS, this is the first thing that comes to mind, as it is the most salient example of the chronic incivility that permeates these talk pages. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 08:34, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
    • Oops. I actually feel guilty about starting the dash discussion there (and not following up). I think when someone asks "How should I write this?", one is justified in saying exactly how it should be written; one cannot know if an error could be because the inquirer focused on another element of the phrase, or because of overall ignorance (that is, until the inquirer explains afterwards). Demanding general en-dash usage in talk-page messages is not something I'd do, given how even good users of the language are often in a hurry or simply feel like being informal; on the other hand, asking for en-dash usage in articles does no harm, as long as it's not too pressing—MoS remains a guideline. (It should be noted, however, that sloppy writing, even in talk pages, makes a certain impression when a newcomer to WT:MoS discusses style; you know how people are about first impressions.)
    • Personally, I think the problem is that the talk page serves a dual role: that of answering people's questions, and that of discussing changes to the page. Separating these roles in some way would provide a friendlier environment for otherwise uninvolved editors to ask questions, without running the risk of getting caught in a dispute or simply becoming the unsuspecting target of an experienced regular who's had a bad day on the page. (Don't forget that the regulars take many things about style for granted that most other users do not.) If we also consider that WP:MOS acts as both a central page for the Manual (with many summaries of supplementary pages) and a style page of its own (with parts unique to that page), we can see why the situation is so complicated.
    • I have hopes that MOSCO can at least partially resolve the problem if used correctly. More specifically, I am thinking of two examples of successful organisation which could provide ideas. One is WikiProject Good articles, where the good-article system is discussed (while Wikipedia talk:Good articles serves only as a venue for discussion of the GAs' directory). The other is the WikiProject Council, which is a forum where general co-ordination between WikiProjects is discussed and advise can be sought. All we need is a good recipe. :-) Waltham, The Duke of 11:12, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
      • We need to invigorate MOSCO. The organization of the MoS pages is a mess, there are warriors at every page making progress difficult, and there needs to be some centralization of goals towards taming the beast that MoS is becoming. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:48, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
        • I agree with this diagnosis. There is a great deal to be said for detailed Style guidelines, and although I sympathise with Carl regarding the copyeditor/writer distinction unfortunately this is not that encyclopedia. What worries me is the mess and inconsistency within MOS and its general instability. As someone who still doesn't know the difference between an 'n dash' and an 'm dash' (and who doesn't much care either way), how can I support the invigoration of MOSCO other than offering you my good wishes? Ben MacDui 08:03, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

The only issue I have is when the MOS (apparently) requires things that make the wikicode annoyingly verbose, such as NY 373. --NE2 08:09, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

That's why using two commas (,,) for hard spaces would be so handy. But people seem not to want extra wiki-code. Waltham, The Duke of 14:35, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Break 0001

The size of WP:MOS is a problem that annoys editors. Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#Holes_in_GA_.2F_FA_review_process_for_.22academic.22_or_.22technical.22_subjects was about a different problem but one contributor pointed out that reviewers tend to be "rule experts" rather than topic experts. That leads to proliferation of rules, nit-picking interpretations of the rules and often differences in interpretation from one reviewer to the next.
Finding solutions is of course harder than complaining. A few suggestions to discuss:
  • Automate as much as possible. That has a few advantages:
    • It depersonalises comments on MOS issues.
    • It reduces the workload of editors and reviewers.
    • In cases where a program can only raise a query rather than make a change, it gradually informs editors of the rules.
  • Trim MOS ruthlessly, using a "Zero-based budgeting" approach where every rule has to be justified only on its own merits, with minimal reference to precedents and no appeals to the authority of external MOSs, etc. The dominant criterion should be "How does this help readers to understand the content?" The danger here is that the exercise will be dominated by existing "rule experts" who have an interest in keeping MOS large and complex. I can suggest a ruthless way to deal with that:
    • If 10 or more editors complain about a rule, suspend it until a vote has been held.
    • The quorum for a completed vote should be too high for "rule experts" to dominate the voting - e.g. 10x the number of FA reviewers. Only registered editors should be eligible to vote, and only once per issue. I'm assuming that it's easy enough to ensure no-one votes more than once on an issue, otherwise Wikipedia elections would be a farce.
    • When an item is placed on the "votes for removal" list, place banners on pages whenever they are accessed by registered editors, as is done for e.g. Wikipedia elections. The banners should link to the list of open issues.
    • If a MOS item gets less that e.g. two-thirds of the votes, scrap it.
  • Make reversion of edits on MOS grounds a disciplinary offence. Early in my Wikipedia career someone reverted on the grounds of his interpretation of MOS an edit in which I'd corrected some significant scientific errors in a high-profile article. After a protest that was ignored I walked away from the article. -- Philcha (talk) 12:45, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Personally, I have much more faith in the MoS than I have with Wikibureaucracy. What you're proposing sounds like an absolute train wreck. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 12:48, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
It is a train wreck, though I like the idea of reverting edits solely on MoS grounds being a no-no, so long as the edit has other content (i.e. just changing "1960s" to "1960's", which is against the MoS, could obviously be reverted.) {{Nihiltres|talk|log}} 14:07, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Anyone who reverts productive edits based on trivial MoS infractions contained therein is being a nuisance anyway - we don't need additional rules to deal with that. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 14:29, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Part of the reality of WP:MOS is that grammar and pedantic fanaticism have a long and established history. WP:MOS helps in that it keeps the arguments over "correct grammar" at WP:MOS instead of spilling over into mainspace. I believe that about 90% of MOS is useless instruction creep, but it's simply not worth fighting because the people who take matters of style seriously take it very seriously, and in the end consistency of style is a good thing. Answering WP:CREEP with bureaucracy is not a helpful solution, though, and I think the current system works reasonably well. SDY (talk) 14:38, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Hi, SDY. I'm pleased you agree that "about 90% of MOS is useless instruction creep". But I'm less happy to accept that as a fait accompli because it establishes a ratchet effect by which the MOS can only become larger, more complex and more of a deterrent to editors - and possibly contribute to the shortage of reviewers, as becoming a reviewer requires learning of all this stuff. IMO we need mechanisms to roll back some of MOS's complexity and nit-pickling and to and prevent further WP:CREEP.
While "consistency of style is a good thing" sounds indisputable, editors will write in different prose styles that affect most readers more directly than minutiae like what kind of dashes we use. -- Philcha (talk) 14:55, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

...editors will write in different prose styles that affect most readers more directly than minutiae like what kind of dashes we use."

Let the people say "Amen!" My main objection to WP:MOS is that it seems that it's primarily used as an excuse to deny FA or GA status. I've previously recommended downgrading the majority of it to an WP:ESSAY since consistency of style should be enough to justify it without the imprimatur of officialdom and the "holier than thou" attitude it engenders. For the most part, though, I don't get particularly attached to the way I've phrased things, and if someone wants to get all hot and bothered about "fixing" it, that's fine by me. SDY (talk) 15:07, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
My main objection to WP:MOS is that it seems that it's primarily used as an excuse to deny FA or GA status. Please present one example where this has happened at FAC (hint: there isn't one, I can't speak for GAN, but I doubt it there either), and please don't spread false memes on the Village pump. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:07, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
As Robert A.West pointed out, there are lots of biters out there (25 August 2008). Even if MOS is reduced to a WP:ESSAY, they'll use it as a pretext, especially against those who are not familiar with the distinction between rules, guides and essays. I'd prefer to give them less to bite with.
OTOH I think a few parts of MOS are very valuable, e.g. about 80% of WP:LEAD. Such items should remain as guides for editors, copyeditors and reviewers because they improve the service we provid eot readers. -- Philcha (talk) 15:44, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
As an anecdote - until today, I believed that the MoS said that editors are free to choose whether to use "straight quotes" or “curly quotes” as long as an article is consistent - it certainly would be in line with what it says about other more important things like spelling variations. As it turns out, someone just mentioned in passing today that it demands straight quotes. Who decided this? --Random832 (contribs) 15:58, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Somebody very sensible. Straight quotes make it much easier to edit article in non-Unicode editors. It takes three seconds of search-and-replace to fix and is never going to cause GAs to fail, editors to be issued permanent blocks, or the sky to fall down. Where's the problem? Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 20:22, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Prescriptive policies are fundamentally opposed to one of the core values of wikipedia: WP:IAR. Changing the quotes does not make the article more encyclopedic. It does not make the article more neutral. It does not aid in civility and the "biteyness" of the enforcers of MOS means it may actually harm civility. (Being free is obviously unaffected.) Rules should only exist when there must be a rule to meet one of the five pillars or they are a logical extension of the five pillars. WP:MOS is vaguely related to encyclopedism and has its place, but it should only be restrictive when absolutely necessary. SDY (talk) 20:47, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
What it does do is make the typography more consistent and the article easier to edit. People who dislike the MoS because they dislike style prescription seem to think that the invisible hand will solve all of WP's readability problems. I don't follow the MoS because I have some ulterior motive; I follow it because I hope that others will, and that by doing so it will mean that if I randomly look up duck-billed platypus or tax evasion or vertical take-off and landing I won't have to spend the first ten minutes figuring out the idiosyncracies of the last editor's typography. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 21:20, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
There is some common sense value in WP:MOS so that articles are intelligible, but 90% of the current guidelines are "write numbers this way" and "use bold here" and similar rules which dictate which of several equally reasonable formats could be used. Curly quotes vs. straight quotes does not change whether the article is intelligible to an average user. Where the reference is in relation to punctuation does not make the article uncited. Issues such as date formats, where 08/01/08 can mean at least two different days, have a reasonable argument for a rule to enforce consistency. If there is no reasonable or likely barrier to comprehension, a style guideline is pure WP:CREEP. Editors will remove truly OuTrAgEoUs style as a matter of course without having to look up a guideline. SDY (talk) 21:39, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
The Manual of Style exists for several different reasons. Clarity is one (and remember that we have an international readership, so things are not as simple as one might imagine). Formal and professional writing style, as befitting to an encyclopaedia, is another. Consistency is yet one more reason; as one work, Wikipedia should be cohesive, and allow its readers to read the articles without having to adapt to a very different writing style in each case—in scientific articles, consistency becomes even more important. Accessibility is also a reason (curly quotation marks adversely affect searching for a word or phrase). I accept that MoS might need some rationalisation in its structure, and perhaps some trimming in places, but it should also become clear that this is an encyclopaedia, and by definition covers very diverse subjects; it is only natural that it should have a big style manual to cover all these scientific fields and their often widely differing conventions.
And, in any case, as you mention, outrageous style will be removed anyway. It's in the details that one will most likely need guidance. And in this case there should be a place to offer it. Waltham, The Duke of 08:48, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

To summarise the pros and cons of the current system, as I see it:

  • Pros: improves consistency and readability of rendered text; creates a more professional appearance for WP. Better user experience.
  • Cons: Difficult to implement - both time consuming for content-producing editors, and likely to cause ill feeling between editors with different perspectives on the MOS. Also may clutter wikicode. Worse editor experience.

Some people like to think that one day, Wikipedia will be comparable to leading encyclopaedias such as the Britannica. Featured articles are considered to be articles that are of that standard, which are "as good or better" than published encyclopaedias, if I recall their description in the assessment guide correctly.

If a featured article is a "publication standard" article, then much as it pains me, it would be eroding the FA standard to mark non-copyedited text with the golden star. And a consistent style is to be found in all semi-professional publications - each publication chooses its style and sticks to it. It makes them look smarter, and also avoids inconsistencies within articles. Say that an editor wants to add the detail that so and so happened in the 1960s to a long article. A consistent style across WP means they don't first have to scan the whole of the rest of the article to work out whether to type 1960's or 1960s - they know that 1960s will always be correct.

The difference between WP and real publications is that we don't have a paid team of editors to do the grunt work. However, in many fields - such as preparing a manuscript for publication in a scientific journal - the same is true, and even the leading professor who should be lecturing and researching has to worry about whether his numbers are separated by en-dashes or hyphens if he doesn't want his manuscript returned.

Having an FA star is for many the only motivation to fix small but annoying errors - such as nbsp-ing numbers and units and making sure references actually work - which would otherwise simply never get done.

So I think, actually, much as I hate the effort of complying with it, that the MOS has a purpose. I won't debate the size of it here (but has anyone ever picked up the Chicago MOS? That's a workout for your biceps!) but given the premise that the MOS makes for a better reader experience - surely that's what all us editors are trying to provide, in one way or another.

And I think that requiring a "loose" adhesion to the MOS for GA, and a strict following for FA, editors receive the prod that they need to do the work that no-one wants to do. I often do wonder whether some reviewers spend more time pointing out each individual flaunting of the MOS than it would take just to fix them, but I guess that's a matter for individuals.

The FA and GA mark aren't just recognitions for content, but for article quality. Some editors like to collect "FA" stars like trophies, but a wise man warned me early on that this was a way to become embittered against WP. If an editor is expert enough to add useful content, then in an ideal world that's what they'd spend their time doing, and let others without such in-depth knowledge worry about style. However I suspect that most editors like the occasional pat on the back in the form of an article reaching a milestone, and if we didn't require FA articles to be of publishable standard, then I'm pretty sure WP would have much less articles of that standard.

So to sum up, I'd say - if the MOS bothers you, then ignore it, and let other people pick up the pieces. If you're adding useful content, that's gold dust to Wikipedia, is warmly received by readers, and is very unlikely to be simply removed for flaunting guidelines. However, ignoring the MOS completely will rub some people the wrong way. Further, the only reward you'll get will be the contentment that readers worldwide find your contribution useful and helpful. If that's not enough for you, and you want to earn a little gold star, then you'll have to "play the game" and jump through the stylish hoops!

As for the value of GA and FA, I'll leave you with this illustration of the traffic to an article I brought up to GA standard (on the 19th), and ask - was the effort really worth it?

Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 09:16, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

I have to confess, I've found the FA process very frustrating to. I think you need a whole host of {{sofixit}} in your back pocket. I know people are trying to help, but do they not seem to realise it is very frustrating to be told to remove one word for better flow. That's stuff people should just fix, if you ask me. Hiding T 10:56, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Mostly I'm just interested in deprecating the MOS because it consists of rules that do not make a better encyclopedia, just a prettier one. GA and FA should focus on substance, with style a distant eleventh as a concern rather than the primary objective. SDY (talk) 15:06, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
The insistence on MOS is one of many factors resulting in the promotion of articles to GA and FA which would not be publishable because they are badly written, badly sourced, and misrepresent the available scholarship. (The lack of FA reviewers who know anything about a particular field is much more serious; but the use of MOS to say something about an article on a field of which one knows nothing is a significant distraction.)
This, however, is a fixable problem: the mention of MOS at WP:WIAFA dates back to before MOS grew to its present length and mind-numbing opinionated detail; simply removing the mention of style guidelines from point 2, while leaving the express requirements of that point, would suffice. (Nominators would have to remind reviewers it is gone, but they could do so.) This would require the consensus of a large number of editors; but there are more than enough here to accomplish it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:39, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I would support that. SDY (talk) 20:25, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I will too. I proposed it solo some months ago. It's someone else's turn. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:10, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
How about a group proposal, "We, the undersigned ..."? -- Philcha (talk) 21:36, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I do think some sort of reduction of MoS is in order: where do I sign? Deamon138 (talk) 22:44, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I cannot begin to describe how wrong this is. A diamond in the rough is also known as a "bit of ore". Equating the MoS with its worst bits is ridiculous. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 21:54, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
MoS has an implied severability clause: if there are "worst bits" of the guideline, we should entertain why they are bad and, if appropriate, either improve them or remove them. SDY (talk) 22:01, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Break 0001a

Pmanderson has been spreading this story about the application of MoS at FAC for a very long time, but not once, although he's been asked many times, has he produced a single FAC that has failed because of MoS issues. It is also my opinion that the trainwreck that is the MoS will not be cleaned up until/unless something is done about Pmanderson's participation on those pages. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:11, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Oddly, it's Sandy who does the most revert warring at MOS, mostly withour regard for discussion. But the personal attack is noted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:09, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm guessing it's more of an example of a chilling effect rather than actual failures when it comes to FA, the only real rigorous user of the criteria. MoS could arguably be called arbitrary and capricious: it has rules because someone wanted a rule to win an argument or to satisfy some personal demon, not because the rule was a good idea. The discussion with VeblenBot (probably archived by now) above may result in some actual control over the process since there will be less guidelines slipping in "under the radar." SDY (talk) 22:35, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
It certainly is. Sandy can make this claim only because xe counts the most obvious case I've seen, an article on which the nominator was harassed over year links (he liked them, a reviewer didn't) until he gave up and abandoned the nomination, as "not failed because of MOS." Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:04, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Some parts of MoS may well be "arbitrary and capricious", but MoS guidelines are not arbitrarily and capriciously applied at FAC or FAR (I can't speak for GAN, but my sense there is they aren't even aware). What makes MoS "arbitrary and capricious" are a couple of MoS warriors who impede any progress. Now, the real origin of this false meme about FAC (as I pointed out in the example above) is that editors would probably much rather claim their article failed FAC because of some "arbitrary and capricious" MoS rule, rather than saying that mutliple reviewers said their prose was sub-standard, a copyedit was needed, or sourcing, image and neutrality policies weren't met. No FAC or FAR has ever failed, to my knowledge, on MoS concerns. Period. There are too many editors who will simply and quickly run through and fix those items themselves if policy and prose issues are resolved. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:41, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Sandy, you have a conflict of interest here. They are randomly applied, if only because it is chance whether the reviewers who care about MOS choose to review a particular article. They are applied inconsistently, because reviewers who do care about MOS remember different bits of it and interpret them differently. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:01, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
If that's your definition of "arbitrary and capricious", you could say the same thing about any element of review. You've singled out MoS because it's your hobby horse. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:05, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
No, only about some. Neutrality and verifiability are applied to almost all FA's, because they are single concepts, most reviewers think about them, and most reviewers agree about them, so they are neither random nor inconsistent. Source quality is a random criterion, because only some reviewers are qualified to address it, but it is applied consistently when it is applied at all. Other arbitrary and capricious elements should also be fixed (but are not part of this discussion - that's WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS); you have yourself fixed one by establishing quick closure, which has eliminated the random amount of time articles were at FAC. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:02, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm interested in getting a copy of the list of "editors who will simply and quickly run through and fix those items themselves if policy and prose issues are resolved". When I see editors/reviewers make comments that tell nominators to move a period, I've never understood why they don't just move the damn period. A list of editors who will actually move that period would be beneficial. - auburnpilot talk 23:06, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
The reviewers who do that (write out instructions on the FAC) do it apparently in the hope that frequent FA nominators will learn and not repeat the same issues on subsequent FACs. At FAR, I personally will fix MoS issues on any FAR that has overcome everything else (prose, sourcing, etc.) and there are several others active at FAR who simply fix things (Maralia, Ceoil, DrKiernan come to mind, but there are many others). On the other hand, if no one is fixing the more substantive issues, I just leave a long list on the FAR, and save my time for working on an article that has a chance. At FAC, do please have a look at User talk:Epbr123 and his talk page archives. I believe Karanacs, Moni3, Maralia, Awadewit and others fix MoS issues as they encounter them. When I do my first read-through on each new FAC, I check for WP:ACCESSIBILITY, as I consider it shocking that no one at FAC reviews for this and considers our readers who use screen readers; I fix those issues on sight. And when I do my final read-through on an article, I fix anything trivial I see, and leave an edit summary to remind the nominators what else needs fixing. Then I promote in the next batch, if everything else is in order. I don't hold up a FAC for trivial MoS issues, although I do give nominators time to fix them all so they can have the best possible diff stored in articlehistory on promotion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:56, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
For a sample of just how trivial, quick, easy and not even worthy of breaking a sweat this work is, someone notified me they had finished citing John Millington Synge so it could avoid FAR, so I did the MoS cleanup in a matter of minutes.[2] Look how hard that was. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:42, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Break 0002

To give this discussion a slight freshening and look at what consensus may and or may not exist:

  • 1. Many editors have expressed concerns that the MoS has problems with instruction creep.
  • 2. Polish and professionalism such as compliance with a MoS (not necessarily the existing one) is an expectation for FA.
  • 3. FA should not be failed for trivial* reasons.

(*I'm using a definition of trivial that includes compliance with pure style requirements that do not change the readability of an article, but I don't think there is a consensus for that definition, I'm only assuming that there is a consensus for not failing FA on issues which are not considered important).

Any disagreements with these statements? SDY (talk) 23:01, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, strong disagreement. You would be the first complain if at the cinema or in watching television if there were even minor editing glitches. Ironically, good prose and formatting is that which the reader doesn't "notice", because it reads effortlessly—consistent in usage, style and formatting, no bumps, good punctuation (and yes, en dashes, not squidgy little hyphens in year ranges). It gives the mark of authority to a fine article. And in the process of cleaning up these aspects, matters of content normally come out of the woodwork, even to complete non-experts. Tony (talk) 01:46, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Another section heading to draw attention to a negative incorrect meme. No FAC or FAR has ever been failed on MoS concerns alone: should not be failed is spin about a non-existent issue. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:00, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

I enjoy that I'm being treated like an idiot or a troll for actually discussing this, which I find offensive and inappropriate. I really don't care that much, but I think I'm beginning to understand why WP:MOS is so broken. SDY (talk) 02:22, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Your misgivings are being treated with great seriously, even though many people here don't agree with them. Please assume good faith. Tony (talk) 02:26, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. SDY, when you start a new section with the statement that FAs shouldn't be failed on trivial issues, the implication to new readers could be that this has happened. Therefore, I clarify; not treating you like "an idiot or a troll". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:33, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I will respond on talk pages and withdraw from this conversation, as it has become pointless. SDY (talk) 02:41, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

←So many things to respond to, but I'll keep it short and just respond to the questions in the first post:

  • Maybe I'm the exception for never having paid much attention to the MOS.
    • No, I don't think so; most Wikipedians learn the minimum and learn mostly by seeing what other people do.
  • The claim of the regulars on the page is that it is widely read and agreed to.
    • There are around 500 archive pages of style guideline talk pages, 100K to 450K each. I don't think they were written by elves. Have a look; you can find a lot of stuff just by doing a search in the headings and subheadings on the main archive page at WT:MOS. It's good stuff. I can't speak for my predecessors, but since I've been paying attention, I can tell you why so many people have been coming to style guidelines talk pages to make their case: because people generally take the time to follow people's arguments, look things up, and give assistance.
  • Maybe the consensus is stronger than I suspect.
    • Per WP:SILENCE, whatever is decided by the people who show up to debate is the consensus. WT:MOS isn't a members-only club; come ask a question, or object to a guideline, and you'll see.
  • But, if I am right, perhaps we need to encourage more Wikipedians to pay more attention to it.

No one ever pretended that writing English prose was easy

It's just the opposite: a hard slog, especially in English, which is big and baggy and needs to be corralled by a set of locally determined guidelines attuned to the context, mode and readership of the publication. All serious publications set out these codes, usually in a manual (all publishing houses), and at least in a dedicated location in writing (academic journals, for example—see their "advice to authors" sections on their websites). That these guides are often not perfectly written is legendary; the Chicago MOS, the pre-eminent guide for US English, fails to take its own advice in numerous places. WP should be proud that it now has a MoS that, while not perfect, is pretty good for the purpose. Unlike most publishing houses, we aim to improve the skills of our writers with such instruments, not just to maintain standards and cohesion. FAC has the same dual purpose, as a solid investment in the skills of our editors. MoS and FAC come together to do this in Criterion 2. Let me say that my own writing improved considerably after reading WP's MoS a number of times, and that as an FAC reviewing has had the same effect—to tighten up my technical ability at writing and editing. I'm fairly sure that editors at large who take both seriously will derive such benefits too. That is partly the intention.

It's easy to moan about "trivia", and yes, sometimes it must seem pernickety to get all of the style details right. But as I implied in the comment above about cinematic editing, the devil is in the detail, and is essential to delivering a smooth reading experience to the people out there we serve. Heaven knows, expressing a lot of information for everyday readers is challenging enough without presenting them with inconsistent and what I and many others would judge to be suboptimal stylistic details. We owe it to them and to WP to get the prose and formatting consistent and good. Without MoS, that would be just about impossible.

As for the relationship between content and style—there's no hard-and-fast distinction, in my view. And our nominators are our content experts, not our reviewers, by and large, although non-experts in a topic can and often do sniff out shortcomings in content. Publishers usually don't employ content experts in-house (akin to our reviewers), but send submissions out to experts (akin to our nominators in the first place). Tony (talk) 02:26, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

But does anybody aside from the handful of regulars think it a pretty good process? User:David Gerard long ago wrote an essay on the way Wikipedian processes fail. It includes the hallmarks of broken process; several of them have been exhibited in this discussion:

  • Susceptible to being used as a bludgeon [to POV-push or] to intimidate other editors out of arguing Brackets added; MOS is only POV on English usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:23, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Prescriptive when it could be phrased as a guideline
    • This actually reduces its effectiveness.
  • Fails to assume good faith; excludes non-regulars
    • Regulars assume bad faith or stupidity of non-regulars (other Wikipedians or anons), and other regulars consider this acceptable behaviour.
    • Outsiders frequently complain of exclusionary process or ill treatment by regulars in the process; regulars are dismissive of these concerns.
  • Process actions that are taken as personal attacks
    • If regulars keep having to say "don't take it personally" over and over and over, there's something deeply defective in the process that will be damaging to the encyclopedia project, even if you have a ready list of reasons why you absolutely have to do whatever the thing is people are taking personally.
  • Works through a committee or inadvertent committee structure
    • Even ad-hoc committees can only work if they scale with editors and articles.
    • Forms an in-group susceptible to the above problems.
    • Has named offices, especially Director; Directors direct committees. Not yet, although FA does. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:23, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
    • Any process with regular voting or straw-polls is susceptible to this.

"If a process is potentially good, but smart and well-intentioned people keep screwing it up, then it's a bad process."

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered. — Lyndon B. Johnson

Break 0003

Some observations:

  1. A lot of contributors to this debate feel strongly that MOS is too large and complex.
  2. "There are around 500 archive pages of style guidelines, 100K to 450K each" (near end of #Break 0002). That does not say anything about the current size of MOS, but it shows that: MOS is big (100 KB = approx 50 pages of print; some are 450KB); it changes quite frequently.
    • Sorry, I have corrected this to "style guideline talk pages". - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 15:35, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
  3. To put this in perspective, MOS is bigger than most academic journal articles that we use as sources - so far I've seen only 2 that are in this size range; most are under 10 pages.
  4. There's concern about inconsistent application of MOS. I'm not surprised, since MOS is so big and changes fairly fast.
  5. (Personal observation) It's too difficult to find stuff in MOS - the navigation / indexing / whatever is atrocious.
  6. "whatever is decided by the people who show up to debate is the consensus. WT:MOS isn't a members-only club; come ask a question, or object to a guideline, and you'll see." (near end of #Break 0002) I think the reasoning here is fallacious for a number of reasons:
    1. "whatever is decided by the people who show up to debate is the consensus" did the UK Labour Party a lot of harm in the 1980s, as a result of which it remained out of office from 1979 to 1997. Left-wing extremists took control and created policies which were totally out of touch with public opinion. One of their tactics to gain control, as reported in the press at the time, was for militants to tie up meetings with minutiae until moderates got bored and went home.
    2. On matters that are binding on everyone, decently-run organisations have rules about quorums for important votes, partly to avoid the problem I've just described.
    3. I had not heard of WT:MOS until this discussion. There's no automatic notification of discussions, and new members of Wikipedia don't get told about it or advised to watch the page. These are perfect conditions for take-over of MOS by a group of zealots, which is what some contributors to this discussion seem to think has happened. I wouldn't go so far as "zealots", but these conditions are also ideal for instruction creep, frequently known in the real-world as bureacratic strangulation.
    4. Do we want thousands of editors involved in WT:MOS discussions? Discussions would never finish, editors' productivity would slump and Wikipedia would have buy more hardware just to store the extra terabytes.
  7. Personally I think some sort of MOS is needed - for example I commented above that most of WP:LEAD is valuable.
  8. However the current MOS contains items I consider arbitrary and of dubious value. One is WP:LEAD's "maximum of 4 paragraphs", which produces artificial difficulties in writing leads for subjects that have an unusually large number of aspects. Another is the Chicago MOS' insistence that refs should follow punctuation, which forces editors to distort sentence structures and / or use unncessary punctuation just to get the ref close to the clause it supports. I won't bore you by adding more.
  9. There have been a few complaints above about MOS being used as a weapon by "biters". I've been a victim of this and admit I'd like to de-fang such people.
  10. Excessive focus on MOS has led to articles being promoted despite having significant content weaknesses such as gaps in coverage. I'm planning to rewrite one of these shortly.

I'm sure I've missed out a lot of important points from the preceding discussion, and apologise to the contributors. -- Philcha (talk) 13:32, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Point 5 above "(Personal observation) It's too difficult to find stuff in MOS - the navigation / indexing / whatever is atrocious" is something I would think almost everyone can agree about, and really should be and can be fixed. The attempt to cram the contents into a side-column just doesn't work. Some form of full-page Table of Contents or Index, however un-wiki in style, is needed. Like, I'm sure, most users, at least 50% of my attempts to look something up in the MoS end in a baffled retreat. If the thing was more accessible, debates on issues there woiuld not be restricted to a small priesthood who know where things are. Johnbod (talk) 14:32, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
With regard to refs and punctuation, the only requirement in the MOS is that each article adopt a consistent practice. Christopher Parham (talk) 15:54, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
I've had reviewers tell me to put refs after punctuation per Chicago MOS. In fact these cases were finger-slips, but the reviewers said "per Chicago MOS", not "for consistency". The Chicago MOS should be de-sanctified. -- Philcha (talk) 17:17, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
You didn't realise it had a talk page? This discussion appears largely to be a waste of time. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 15:50, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Chris Cunningham (not at work)'s last remark looks like a complete non sequitur:
  • "didn't realise it had a talk page" is a problem that should be discussed.
  • Do we actually want everyone arguing MOS points at WT:MOS?
  • Such discussions would be open to abuse by the "entryist" tactics I described above.
In the real world the standard solution is the election of accountable representatives. -- Philcha (talk) 16:40, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Everyone, errr, does argue MoS points at WT:MOS. A while back, I noticed that there had been a change to the guidelines to where to place an article's introductory image. So I went and found the talk thread in question, saw that it had been prematurely concluded, and argued my case to have the bits I wanted reinstated. What I didn't do was see that the MoS had been changed and then head off to the village pump to request that it be sanctioned. I fail to see how the solution to "the MoS may be gamed by people who play personal politics" is "have elections to see who controls to MoS". Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 22:44, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
What % of "Everyone"?
Your reasoning would imply that ArbCom elections should be abolished. Elections are not a perfect solution, but they're the best way of controlling rule-makers that anyone's thought of - going back to 5th century BC Athens. -- Philcha (talk) 07:35, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Are you kidding? ArbCom are a final solution for the few issues that the community cannot work out. The Wikipedia form of governance is group discussion and consensus in almost all cases. There would be practically no support for moving current community control of the MoS to some elected body, and for good reason. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 08:03, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
"for good reason"? -- Philcha (talk) 10:10, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

(<-)If ref after punctuation is something that concerns you, you can use Harvard-style Author/Date citation, at least in a new article. -- Avi (talk) 18:06, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Comment Any chances that en-wiki will ever have a stable MOS? With MOS pages being blocked for edit warring [3], the whole topic becomes pointless. Follow MOS? Which MOS? NVO (talk) 00:59, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Not unless it is radically simplified.
As long as MOS can be used by two or three editors to install their pet notion of language reform in some obscure corner, and then inflict in on FAs and GAs, the appeal of being a Secret Master of Wikipedia will ensure that such controversial ideas are imposed there. Since these are rarely, if ever, the actual consensus of Wikipedians, there will be strife over all of them, every time one of these pedants tries to ride his favorite hobby-horse. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:56, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Break 0004

I think the key to this discussion is respect. We all have different roles to play. Some of us write well, some of us read well and some of us write correctly. We need the clarity and organization of a real writer, the accuracy and central sources brought by a real researcher and the careful eye of a real copyeditor. We need all these skills and (let's face it) they don't usually come together in the same person. I, for one, am a better writer and researcher than a copyeditor. I'm indebted to those who have helped me with mdash or ndash or whatever it is. I would hope they forgive me my failings because they appreciate my strengths. I forgive the occasional gruff sideswipe from an MOS martinet because I appreciate their skills and knowledge.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:02, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Here here! (Bangs fork on table). P.S. Some of the conclusions reached in this very long thread seem wrong to me. Anyone who feels a current guideline shouldn't be a guideline is welcome to remove the guideline cat, so that we can see whether it does in fact have support as a guideline. Anyone interested in how WT:MOS and similar pages work is welcome to join us. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 21:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
"gruff sideswipe from an MOS martinet" - where's the respect in that kind of behaviour? -- Philcha (talk) 21:41, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
I was applauding Charles's attitude, which is exactly right if his goal is to write articles rather than ... other goals. I never applaud gruff swipes, and sometimes I condemn them, but for some reason, people don't let me run the world, so there's not a lot I can do about that. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 23:34, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

The respect is in my forgiveness. Good copyeditors are typically gruff martinets. So what? We need their contribution.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 23:18, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Notice boards

Who is running the various notice boards? It seems like I keep running into the most useless people there. They sound like lazy crybabies. I am seriously fed up trying to be a model citizen only to get treated like the exact opposite. If I take the time to present valid information then I expect someone to take the time to give it fair treatment. I am tired of following the rules and then getting slapped in the face for it. I can't have people waste my time and turn around and say that I am wasting their time. Can we please get some competent people working those notice boards. I feel like this is kindergarten. Those people need to show some respect. I have even been to this board several times trying to find solutions to sock puppets and vandals only to have people like him come out guns blazing and shoot down everything I say. What kind of site is this? Are there any rational people here? I do not think it is appropriate for a notice board attendant to come out saying get out or get blocked. Where is the civility in that? I think there need to be some level of qualifications to be able to service those boards. We need a great deal more professionalism there. Libro0 (talk) 19:47, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

I assume you are talking about the Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboards? — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 19:52, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes et al. Most of those boards are seldom checked. I think it is innapropriate to go there and get threatened. Not productive. Libro0 (talk) 19:54, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

I think there should be provisional mediation. If you are successful at it then you can qualify to deal with more problems. Otherwise you are relegated to serving in some other capacity. Libro0 (talk) 20:57, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

People are simply overworked. Digging into cases like this takes a long time and is not very fun. I suggest you ignore Baseball Card Guy and see if you can work out the content disputes with Your Radio Enemy. I know it's hard to keep your head cool when you get harassed, but please try. Especially, don't make sock puppet accusations against Your Radio Enemy unless you have very strong proof. --Apoc2400 (talk) 12:00, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

This is the reason I brought up this thread. This is a presumptuous statement, it is also incorrect. The statement was probably interpreted as such because of his mood. He made the statement to an admin who is likely in a similar mood. I could get blocked for an irresponsible comment like this. How does one make an interpretation like that from plain text? Like I said, people need to be more respectful and responsible because the interpretation of someone's intent in their written dialogue is skewed by your own mood and personality. Libro0 (talk) 22:26, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Did you read the top of the admin board that says that it's not for dispute resolution? Have you looked at WP:DR? Corvus cornixtalk 23:35, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes I have. I am currently using several of them. My concern though is people being hot headed or making incorrect judgements regardless of the board. Libro0 (talk) 23:50, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

An example of why this is important. On Wikipedia:Third opinion it says 'The third opinion process requires good faith and civility on both sides of the dispute.' If an admin 'assumes' that one or both parties are making a hostile exchange when in fact they are not then it is the admin who has compromised the situation. I consider it a comendable achievement for one to become an admin. However I have noticed that some are better at dealing with situations than others. Respect is a two way street and an admin has to work harder to maintain the respect garnered by the position. I want to stress the difference between being 'authorized' to do something and actually being 'qualified' to do it. To think they are the same thing is to think the system is perfect. Although nothing is perfect, please consider an upgrade to RFA. Libro0 (talk) 18:42, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Request for Adminship? Did you mean WP:RFC? Or perhaps WP:Request for Arbitration? Robert A.West (Talk) 20:18, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

At the risk of offending even more people, I did mean being more strict with Request for Adminship. Libro0 (talk) 21:41, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Well, I for one am glad you clarified, because I had no clue that is what you meant. Robert A.West (Talk) 21:45, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

use wikipedia as source

I am writing a book and I would like to learn if I can use your encyclopedia as one of my sources. Please reply me as soon as possible. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:21, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Indeed, anyone can use Wikipedia as a source. However, be aware that Wikipedia makes no guarantee of validity. Resolute 18:27, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
If you are seriously writing a book, you probably should NOT use Wikipedia as a source. Everything in Wikipedia that is worth citing will provide you with a source article, that is much better to use (ie more stable, and more elaborate argument), everything in Wikipedia without such source cannot be trusted (according to our own guidelines). Beyond these (severe) limitations you can indeed refer to Wikipedia. Arnoutf (talk) 19:15, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
You really never should use wikipedia as a source for anything. Wikipedia is mainly a fun endeavor for stress-release. Any work that uses wikipedia as a source probably will not have any credibility. Halli B (talk) 03:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Citing Wikipedia. PrimeHunter (talk) 05:06, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
The simple answer is: Never cite Wikipedia, cite Wikipedia's sources. --Golbez (talk) 15:05, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, just as any professor worth his salt would tell you: encyclopedia should not be cited, but are an excellent point to start a search of the literature that can. — Coren (talk) 04:12, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposal for a new WP:CSD criterion for redirects


I have noticed that there are some redirect pages in Wikipedia which are, in effect, subsets of others and which are therefore unnecessary and possibly even unhelpful. As an example, both UK and Uk redirect to United Kingdom. This may seem reasonable at first glance, because people might reasonably either type "UK" or "Uk" in order to get to the United Kingdom page, depending on how lazy they were feeling, but the Uk page is actually unnecessary. This is because, if it were deleted, then the UK redirect would pick up all instances of "Uk" anyway. Thus, we should create a new {{db-r4}} category for speedy deletion of redirects which are, in effect, subsets of others. This is especially true of Uk as it is not only superflous, but is actually less correct than UK (as the latter is the correct abbreviation of United Kingdom), and so it should be UK that stays. When I encountered such problems in the past, I used {{db-r3}}, but it does not seem to be wholly appropriate in such circumstances. Thus, I think we need a WP:CSD#R4 for such uncontroversial deletes. It Is Me Here (talk) 10:06, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Such redirects are of some small use for people who navigate to pages other than by using the search box. I, for example, routinely enter page names directly into my browser address bar, which doesn't provide the try-alternate-capitalizations feature. There shouldn't be any links to Uk, but in other cases alternately capitalized redirects make it easier to link to plausible articles titles without creating redlinks. I admit that these are small benefits, but since I can't see any benefits at all in deleting such redirects (one of the purposes of redirects is to link from less correct titles to more correct ones), I think they should stay. Algebraist 10:54, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Algebraist. I sometimes use my address bar to browse articles. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 11:45, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't think this is worth a policy as there are relatively few subsets where it is clear which spelling has preference; application of the guideline to less clear-cut cases might easily lead to arbitrary deletions. And anyway, what would we gain from this, too many redirect pages take up little space while they deliver some lot additional reader-friendliness (which imho is most important). Arnoutf (talk) 11:51, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I see - I didn't know about the address bar issue before, but if that's the way it is, then fair enough, let the redirects stay. It Is Me Here (talk) 12:12, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
And so, It Is Me Here proclaimed, "Hark! Let the redirects stay!", and so the redirects did stay, and the people saw that it was good, and unto this day the redirects remain. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 13:01, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
That is a pretty megalomanic way to say that after a fair exchange of argument consensus to keep the redirects was achieved. ;-) Arnoutf (talk) 13:04, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

special purpose nominations for deletion

After finding a large number of templates posted on Wikipedia discussion pages claiming the associated article as "...within the scope of WikiProject Robotics..." I wonder if the purpose of a robotics student in sacrificing an article is that only humans need it as a tool like polychotomous keys, and if such actions are contrary to Wikipedia goals? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:50, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

What? — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 12:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I also wonder what you mean so I don't know whether the following is relevant. A Wikipedia:WikiProject doesn't own an article it has tagged. Anybody can still edit it. PrimeHunter (talk) 15:15, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
It may be they have sized up the article for deletion before placing the tag on the discussion page and the tag is merely the first step in that process. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:04, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
What are you talking about? Algebraist 16:17, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
You know better than I whether for instance a professor who can assign student volunteers also have special purpose projects like eliminating articles which disagree with their own or their own POV. I know many such volunteers who work for "points" by doing biography articles as an example on their professors or the department head. While one person with administrator privileges can not do very much a whole gang can do pretty much whatever they want. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:47, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The above anon seems to be riding a hobby horse. His/her only other recorded edits are on Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#Decision table, advocating reducing policies and guidelines to a programmable form and making references to some chart that got removed as original research. Robert A.West (Talk) 17:49, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Your comment is so typical of the Wikipedia... can't win the point of discussion, go after the other user's credentials, history, etc. You are not about issues and which side is right. You are about you and that you and not the other person is right. How typical. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:05, 7 September 2008 (UTC), at no point have you said what this thread is about. We can't help you if you don't say what you want help with. – iridescent 18:11, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Right? Wrong? About what? You are obviously ticked off about something, but you have dropped only hints. If you have a complaint, please be specific about the article and identify your edits that you think received short shrift; otherwise, I don't know what we can do except scratch our heads. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:13, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Is it just me, or are threads at VP/P making less and less sense as time goes on? Celarnor Talk to me 18:35, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed I have no idea what this thread is about and everybody else seems to be wandering around in the dark about the aim of this thread as well. It would really help if the anon IP can explain what the issue is. Arnoutf (talk) 18:37, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Apparently I know better than the OP what this is about, but I'm still baffled. Algebraist 21:48, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
See also (talk · contribs), almost certainly the same user (.2.227 started the "decision table" section). — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 03:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Required Reading

I propose that before an editor is able to open an account, he be required to read several guidelines first, most notably MOS (thoroughly) and What wikipedia is not. Just as in a licensing agreement, the prospective user should be required to check the "I have read/accept" box before his account will be activated. That way we will have better users, with still small barriers to entry. Halli B (talk) 02:17, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

How would you prove that such an editor read the required material? Simply checking a box doesn't prove that material was read. SMP0328. (talk) 02:22, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

We couldn't. But at least some of the editors WOULD read it. There are no drawbacks to this plan. Halli B (talk) 02:23, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

The drawback is that plenty of users would just choose not to contribute. Reading MOS thoroughly takes hours, no-one is likely to do that before opening an account... --Tango (talk) 02:25, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, the ones that do will be more likely to grow into productive editors. Those that can't invest the time in wikipedia don't deserve to be here anyway. Might as well weed out the malingerers and myspacers early on rather than later. Halli B (talk) 02:28, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
This proposal wouldn't "weed out" anyone. Most would check the box without doing the reading. This proposal would simply add a little piece of busy work to the account opening process. SMP0328. (talk) 02:41, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Would WP:POINT be on the list? Anomie 02:50, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

No, that is more advanced reading. Halli B (talk) 03:01, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't like this proposal. Yes, for the looks of it it seems like you are asking people to read it, but whom of you carefully studies the lengthy agreement when installing software before pressing "I agree". I never do (and may have signed away my fundamental human numerous times for all I know).
In my opinion this is just a nuisance for new editors, and a lot of useless bureaucracy for the project. Arnoutf (talk) 08:19, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

I have no intention of ever reading the MoS thoroughly. DuncanHill (talk) 21:44, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Don't expect an average citizen to know all the laws professionally, especially when he/she has just been born. Same applies here to MOS. Wishful thinking. NVO (talk) 23:50, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Like DunanHill, I don't think I'll ever read the MoS thoroughly. Celarnor Talk to me 23:53, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
This is directly contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia. We encourage people to be bold and ignorance of the rules (within reason of course) is a perfectly valid excuse for messing something up. Mr.Z-man 00:02, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
this idea is too bureacratic I like the open wikipedia we have now —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zaharous (talkcontribs) 17:32, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Editors who are very weak in English

Question: Is there a Wikipedia policy regarding literacy levels of English. It is extremely difficult to collaborate with editors who do not have a good grasp of English. This leads to misunderstanding of Wikipedia policy and methodology. This is very disruptive and impacts the development of articles.

If there is no guidance on this subject - maybe a new policy is required in this area.

Bobanni (talk) 14:01, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

I am no fan of creating too many rules, but I do recognise your problem and encounter it myself frequently. I have reverted un-intelligly written contributions in the past, just because the level of English was so low it made the article worse, regardless whether the ideas behind the edit were worthwhile Arnoutf (talk) 20:51, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
This only becomes a problem if the user is being disruptive. There's literally no way we can require everyone to have a given level of English ability. Plus, many editors with less than stellar English skills (including some native speakers of English) edit very usefully. Perhaps what we need is something along the lines of what they have on some other language versions, the "English Wikipedia for X Speakers" page, where people can post questions, read information and get assistance in their language. Exploding Boy (talk) 20:55, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
And what do you know, we already have it. It's called Wikipedia:Local Embassy. Exploding Boy (talk) 21:08, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Same. I've reverted people before because they've added unintelligible nonsense. This is, after all, the English wikipedia. If you can't speak the language, then you probably shouldn't be editing an encyclopedia in that language. Of course, there's probably a Wikipedia for whatever language they do speak fluently; ideally, they should be there, since those need a lot of work. Celarnor Talk to me 21:24, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
This whole thread confuses the two issues of those foreigners who just don't have a good enough grasp of english (per Celanor) and those native english speakers who just are illiterate and poor writers. The first group we can just kick off completely as long as they are invited to contribute in their own native-language wikipedias..The second group, I'm not sure about yet. Maybe put them on "literacy probation" or something? Remedial training? Halli B (talk) 23:23, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
And I think that that last remark is, of course, nonsense. "Foreigners"? Good grief. This is the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, not that anyone can edit provided they have a given level of fluency in English. As on other language Wikipedias, we welcome anyone here who wants to edit constructively, and we correct their writing if and when necessary.
And just as a side note, Halli B, you seem to be someone who is very familiar with Wikipedia but whose edits are almost exclusively to this page and to other talk pages, and some of your comments, like the one above, seem a little extreme, which leads me to suspect that you may be an established or banned user using a secondary account to have a little fun. Whatever the case, you are obviously familiar enough with Wikipedia to know that "literacy probation," "required reading" and some of your other suggestions are not how we do things around here. Exploding Boy (talk) 23:35, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
If you can't write in a language, then you shouldn't be editing an encyclopedia; I don't really see any way around that. Simple Wikipedia may be a better place for them in terms of writing style, but they still have to be at least somewhat literate; you simply can't get around that. If you can't write effectively, people aren't going to be able to understand the point that you're trying to get across; and if you can't do that, well, then what's the point? Celarnor Talk to me 23:32, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
Its as simple as this: If you can't write standard english, then you're out. Go stumble-bumble somewhere else. Halli B (talk) 00:55, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Ha ha! What?! Who is this Halli B character? — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 01:08, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, its not like i get on German wikipedia (I have 1 year of college german) and even attempt to write articles on there in a good faith yet subliterate fashion. If i did, i would understand if i got kicked off. The english/american wiki should be no different. Just because it is vastly larger than any of the other language wikis should not make it more tolerant of broken gibberish. Halli B (talk) 01:24, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
The "broken gibberish" should be removed, but we shouldn't deny people the right to edit an article. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 09:20, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Agree. Note however, although sometimes removing broken gibberish is taken as a personal insult or even vandalism by the original editor; which shows some people have no sense of their own weakness of English (but no reason to block I agree). Arnoutf (talk) 09:28, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

No, You guys are being too harsh and close-minded. The issue of poor writing is a very serious issue affecting a lot of Wikipedians, myself included. What happened to "Assume good faith"? It would be insulting and discouraging to remove some statement written poorly without any explanation to the original author, as it implies that he committed vandalism, which is not the case. This kind of action just drives people off from Wikipedia, while the job of established editors should be to encourage new people to contribute. I agree with Exploding Boy about his proposal, but Wikipedia:Local Embassy seems too inactive. Maybe we should revive it a little bit. Eklipse (talk) 09:39, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

I only remove such texts as it is truly gibberish, in general I try to improve it; but sometimes I just don't understand what the intended meaning is. Such texts, (often provided by anon IP's who may not respond to a query) are likely to be Good Faith contributions, but if they are resulting in a worse article immediate removal is necessary (I use an AGF summary something like Revert Assumed Good Faith edit, the english in the added line is too poor to be understood, please copyedit or ask help on talk before re-adding).
So no, I would not suggest to ban users for lack of control of English, but I do understand some of their edits being reverted (as Good Faith edits) as it is the responsibility of the editor to provide at least intelligable edits. Arnoutf (talk) 10:18, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
What's so difficult about fixing poor writing? If it's truly incomprehensible, then remove it by all means. But if it's just poorly written, ungrammatical, or atrociously spelled, then fix it. Japanese Wikipedia, for example, has a convention whereby people unsure of their Japanese skills are invited to summarize their edits with 校正お願いします (Please proofread/correct). Japanese Wikipedia has Chatsubo for Non-Japanese Speakers, a Meta guide to the Japanese Wikipedia in English, plus their own version of our Local Embassy. In my opinion, we should be encouraging cross-Wikipedia participation and involvement from as wide as possible a cross-section of people. That is, after all, why we have the "globalize" tag, isn't it? Exploding Boy (talk) 15:33, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
To be honest I don't think we disagree on the big picture, only on the details, I would only like that some non-native English speakers (I am one myself - and am editing a lot of Europe related articles where the proportian non-native Engish speakers tend to be very high) would take accept that their English is not perfect, and would just think a bit more thoroughly baefore editing mainspace; as copyediting other editors English language (and it is sometimes truly un-intelligable) is not the task of other editors per sse. Your Japanese suggestion would be an interesting way to invite, in a polite way, other editors to help, so I would applaud a similar guideline for English wiki. Arnoutf (talk) 17:03, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I think the assumption has just been that people know English, so we haven't made a huge amount of effort to accommodate those whose English skills aren't at near-native levels, whereas other language Wikipedias seem to make the effort to provide assistance and instructions for people who are editing in their second (+) language. Possibly this makes sense historically, but it's probably time for us on English Wikipedia to start making a bit more effort. We could start by expanding the Local Embassy as a place where questions can be posted in any language, and perhaps by making a link to it it more prominent on the main page. "Embassies" with many users could develop sub-pages with specific instructions, and the "Please proofread" edit summary could be promoted for users unsure of their English writing skills. Exploding Boy (talk) 17:10, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not that easy. I have seen my own (non-native) writing copyedited to the point where the essence of a paragraph is either distorted, or played down or completely disappears. All in good faith and without <substantiated> reason or logic. Volunteers who are not well aware of the topic or who haven't read the whole text prior to editing word by word - do more harm than good. NVO (talk) 21:51, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Poor writing is poor for a reason; if you can't make sense of what the writer was trying to get across, then you can't simply "fix it" like you would like to. If someone's lax in vocabulary, then sure, you can improve the verbiage so it is somewhat more in line with the text of what an encyclopedia should be like, but if you can't make heads or tails of the point that the writer was trying to get across, then another editor isn't going to be able to improve it any more than a reader will be able to understand it. Accepting all contributions may be a nice idea, but we're here to write an encyclopedia; that does not include giving grammar and vocabulary lessons. If you can't edit, then don't try.
Of course, this isn't the kind of thing that we can hard-code into a policy, or even a guideline, really. It's just a bit of common sense, and I think that we're better off keeping everything the way it is in that department. Nonsensical contributors generally don't last that long anyway. Celarnor Talk to me 21:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

User NVO just admitted to a serious conflict of interest in this issue. I am with Celarnor, although I think we should simply indef block those incompetents in English. I doubt if anyone would really unblock. Halli B (talk) 22:52, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, well I think we can safely ignore anything Halli B suggests. As for Celarnor, isn't that more or less what I said above? Revert unintelligible nonsense and fix poor writing? (as we already do anyway...). I know of plenty of editors whose English skills aren't great who edit very usefully. Exploding Boy (talk) 00:21, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Meh. my experience is that some wikipedians (unfortunately) are a short-sighted and intolerant, and its usually the ones with the loudest voices. the solution to this problem, obviously, is for decently literate editors to take the time to suss out what less literate editors are talking about, and then revise edits to clarify what the less literate editor is after. that makes everyone happy, and shows the less literate editor (by example) how they can be more literate. but there's always going to be some editor who's first reaction is to snap the less literate editor's head off, and then spit it back out at them in a fit of pique, and that spoils any chance of a decent editing environment. the real problem isn't what do we do with less than literate editors; it's what do we do with the grumpy bears that jump on them. --Ludwigs2 00:41, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
The thing is, you can't necessarily make anything out of what they're trying to say. I certainly don't snap people's heads off. I just don't like the idea of coddling editors who add ambiguous, nonsensical things like "(Subject) is A-number-1 (some Kanji characters), doesn't afraid his criticism-ers and bravely heroically charges in front of 3 televions" or something when they're talking about a political television figure. It's simply too difficult to extrapolate a meaning in some cases--even this example could be changed into something meaningful, but the point is, they're out there, and I don't like the idea of keeping them around just for the sake of keeping them around.
Naturally, sanctions are far beyond a reasonable response to such things, but I don't think its appropriate to be berating users who revert such nonsense, especially when the subjects are BLPs. Celarnor Talk to me 02:23, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Exploding Boy, please keep your comments civil. I do not wish to be victimized just for voicing my thoughts and opiniong. Halli B (talk) 01:02, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Let's see. So far you've advocated blocking anyone who doesn't edit enough articles; banning anything on user pages not directly related to articles; blocking anyone who has a guestbook; requiring new users to read and agree to all our guidelines before being allowed to edit; allowing blocked users to pay to be unblocked; and now blocking anyone who doesn't meet some standard of English writing ability. Are you telling me you're serious? Because the way I see your contribution history, out of 50 edits, fully half have been to this page, and most of the rest to essays and user talk pages. Combined with your obvious knowledge of how things around here work, that suggests very strongly that you are, as I mentioned above, an established or banned user using a sockpuppet account and trying to make a point about something. I'm sorry if you find my comment above incivil, but I simply do not see how your suggestion of automatically indefblocking people with poor writing skills is sensible, fair, or in the spirit of Wikipedia. Exploding Boy (talk) 01:25, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Not all editors who reside mostly in the project space are sockpuppets; that doesn't really make sense, as anyone can find out "how stuff works here" by reading essays, policy and guideline pages, and other meta venues. I don't do much article editing myself outside of vandalism reversion; most of my edits are involved in the political side of Wikipedia, trying to keep BLP in check and trying to keep power in the community; that doesn't mean that I'm a sock of an established user. It just means that I'm not involved in article editing very much. Celarnor Talk to me 02:23, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Not every editor, no. But this editor? Very probably. Exploding Boy (talk) 02:52, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

See also generally, m:Poor language skills; Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/International Churches of Christ; Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Stefanomencarelli. Newyorkbrad (talk) 02:56, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Methinks Halli is Ouijaouija in disguise. Corvus cornixtalk 20:11, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Interesting possibility. Either way, s/he's now begun creating hoax articles in addition to the generally disruptive editing. Exploding Boy (talk) 20:14, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Style questions

I have a lot of questions about how we're going to proceed with style guidelines and copyediting between now and WP 1.0. Opinions welcome at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Groan. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 22:51, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Okay, work has begun at WT:WPMOS; please join us. Here's a snippet:
  • How do we overcome the known downsides of working in a nonprofit environment? The fun stuff gets done, the boring stuff doesn't. Working on your own articles is fun, copyediting articles you don't have a connection to is boring. Promoting style guidelines you feel passionately about is fun; reviewing existing guidelines you don't care about to see if they've been superceded by later work is boring ... and also thankless, since every page will have at least a few champions. There's around 99% agreement with the statement that current style guidelines are not likely to be read and absorbed even by all the very active editors; there's an impression that they are too difficult and extensive and not sufficiently reflective of consensus. How much pruning do we have to do to get a much higher rate of "buy-in"? - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 20:36, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia "probation" and "parole."

I see here that sometimes troublesome editors are placed on "probation" and/or "parole," where they have restricted editing privileges and are monitored full-time by an admin or other established editor. In keeping with the spirit of the whole system, I propose that editors on probation or parole are made to change their user names to a number, just like a prisoner incarcerated in a correctional system. The users would only be referred to by their "wikipedia corrections number" for the duration of their probation. Changing the probationers' names to a number would re-inforce their lower status as editors without full privileges, just as in real life correctional systems. Furthermore, it would make keeping track of them easier. These troublesome users would reform faster if treated in such a manner.

Of course upon successful completion of their probationary terms, the user would have the right to resume using his old user name. Halli B (talk) 02:50, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Halli: please stop wasting everybody's time with nonsense. Something like this is never, ever going to happen on Wikipedia, as you well know. Exploding Boy (talk) 02:54, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
No, i dont know. I thought this was the place to bounce around new ideas. Please turn that frown upside down, man. Halli B (talk) 02:58, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
It is still a bad idea. Humiliation is not what we do. Robert A.West (Talk) 03:12, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
How would reinforcing "their lower status" help them to "reform faster"? I was under the impression that treating a person like shit doesn't help them become a better person. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 03:18, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Is there a single sane thread on this page today? – iridescent 03:19, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't know what happened to VP/P. Celarnor Talk to me 05:00, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
vandalists should be banished anarchal grimlins should have a good eye on them you dont want to alienate them from wikipedia, there is a thick line from paradigm wikipedia adder and wikipedia destroyer, you might alienate contributors from wikipedia the best way to handel these people Is non harshly, not as a number. --Zaharous (talk) 17:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Please tell me that the above was a joke.Robert A.West (Talk) 19:02, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Deletion of material from talk pages

I have noticed recently, a tendency for editors to delete material from talk pages and to cite WP:Talk as a reason. This concerns me. My reading of that page is that such actions were to be confined to BLP violations or manifest and extreme personal attacks. In Talk:Bristol Palin (article a semi-protected redirect on the theory that a bio article would violate undue weight), I have reverted some recent deletions by two different editors of comments not their own.

Am I misunderstanding our policy on talk pages? Is it OK to delete comments just because they are ranting, accuse Wikipedia of censorship or violate Godwin's Law? Robert A.West (Talk) 12:13, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

  • I've been seeing a lot of it, and I'm a torn. For most (nearly all) talk pages, I think blanking comments is highly inappropriate. But some things, like the various Palin pages, I've been seeing people post things to the talk pages not to discuss the page, but to communicate to the masses about the topic. I think if we don't blank that stuff more and more of the talk pages for highly popular and controversial topics will be rants and raves not actual discussions about the articles. So I think we need to blank (or even delete) in some very rare cases. Otherwise the talk page just won't work... Hobit (talk) 12:55, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Per WP:TALK, a valid reason to remove comments includes "Deleting material not relevant to improving the article (per the above subsection #How to use article talk pages)." Mind you, I would tend to limit that only to new sections that have not received any comments, and never to secondary comments to a new section unless they were completely inappropriate (BLPs, personal attacks, etc.) --MASEM 13:18, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
I ma very hesitant to remove stuff, but have seen and supported removal of trolling remarks (of repeated trolls) before other editors responded to the bait. So far I have hardly seen removal reasons being abused or if they were texts were usually placed back very soon thereafter. Arnoutf (talk) 13:33, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
    • I am sure that the deletions were in good faith -- well, one may have been WP:POINT -- but I just think we need to be very careful about doing this. What bothered me was the deletion of comments that suggested that Wikipedia is engaging in right-wing censorship. (When I was working to delete Al Gore III, I was accused of being part of a left-wing censhorship conspiracy.) People can feel disenfranchised or angry without being trolls. Robert A.West (Talk) 15:08, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
    • The problem is that one person may think it's irrelevant, and another may disagree. On the Sarah Palin talk page one or more people kept adding comments about a letter written about her that has gotten lots of attention, and others kept removing it. It was clearly on topic and potentially relevant to improving the article (if you think the letter was relevant to the article which is a content issue). But my sense was that the letter material was added just to get it into wikipedia somewhere. That's not AGF, but that was my guess (and AGF is why I didn't blank the material). Hobit (talk) 15:47, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

It's entirely appropriate to remove off-topic discussion, per "How to use article talk pages" > Keep on topic: Talk pages are for discussing the article, not for general conversation about the article's subject (much less other subjects). Keep discussions on the topic of how to improve the associated article. Irrelevant discussions are subject to removal. Exploding Boy (talk) 15:16, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

  • But, as pointed out by User:Hobit, irrelevancy is often in the eye of the beholder. It is deceptively easy to convince oneself that an argument with which one disagrees is simply irrelevant. A screed on the legitimacy of the 14th Amendment would be clearly irrelevant to the Bristol Palin page. A screed on how the absence of a full biography proves that Wikipedia is controlled by a censorious right-wing cabal would merely be dumb, not irrelevant. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
True, but sometimes it's clear. "This article is non-neutral because XYZ" is relevant. "You're all a bunch of faggots and this article is just part of the homosexual agenda because XYZ" might be relevant, although I wouldn't fault anyone for removing the incivility. "ZOMG Zac Efron is SO HOT" is obviously irrelevant and should be removed on sight. Exploding Boy (talk) 18:24, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

In the past I've deleted comments on Talk pages about actors with such comments as "ooh, he's so dreamy". Even if they're responded to, they're not there to improve the article. Talk pages are not chat rooms. Corvus cornixtalk 20:13, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposal: derestrict page creation by unregistered users in Wikipedia namespace

I have made a proposal on the technical board, but perhaps it should have been posted here. Anyway I'm just drawing attention to it. Please post there to avoid duplication. Thanks, MSGJ 19:53, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Notability RfC

There is an ongoing request for comments regarding the notability of spin-out articles and the relationship between the main notability guideline and the subject specific notability guidelines at: Wikipedia talk:Notability/RFC:compromise. In order for the eventual results to be viable, a broad consensus will be required to move forward on any of the proposed compromises. As such, additional input from more editors would be greatly valued and appreciated. Thanks! Vassyana (talk) 17:32, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Just a note about Range Blocks

Something that I have read about on blogs and the television is that if someone really wants to edit wikipedia there is nothing the administration can do to keep them out. For instance, your even the hard-blocking of IPs and IP ranges has no effect on crafy Brazilians and their cohorts. I look forward to editing Wikipedia much today and in the future. Thank you for your time. W.B. Wiki Brizhans (talk) 17:09, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

How so? Unless they have access to a number of open proxies that are unbeknownest to the ret of the world, I don't quite see how that really works. Celarnor Talk to me 17:20, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

{{Di-missing article links}}

Please see this. I was asked to post this somewhere, so here I am.--Rockfang (talk) 06:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Is there a problem with it? The only thing I see is it's uncategorized. It tends to be a rarely used template. Undead Warrior (talk) 13:53, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, there are a couple problems with it. I've noted them on the template's talkpage. Also, it is more highly used than one would think.--Rockfang (talk) 15:36, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Date formats after autoformatting

With the recent deprecation of date autoformatting, "raw" dates are becoming increasingly visible on Wikipedia. Strong views are being expressed, and even some edit-warring here and there. A poll has been initiated to gauge community support to help us develop wording in the Manual of Style that reflects a workable consensus. Four options have been put forward, summarised as:

  1. Use whatever format matches the variety of English used in the article
  2. For English-speaking countries, use the format used in the country, for non-English-speaking countries, use the format chosen by the first editor that added a date to the article
  3. Use International format, except for U.S.-related articles
  4. Use the format used in the country

The poll may be found here, as a table where editors may indicate level of support for each option above. --Pete (talk) 18:41, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

What is a "raw date"? Thanks, Halli B (talk) 21:52, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

I can enter a date as follows: "September 10, 2008" without using any special media wiki tools; that is considered a raw date. Alternatively, and up until recently, a feature of the mediawiki software allowed one to enter [[September 10]], [[2008]] which, for logged in editors that had set a date preference, would have autofortmatted the date to their liking; all others would see "September 10, 2008" (with both day and year linked. --21:56, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
In fact this software feature remains active, but the community has decided (at WP:MOSNUM) to phase out the links on which it relies. While autoformatting is felt by many to be at best useless, it is actually the associated links that are felt to be positively undesirable (se WP:OVERLINK).--Kotniski (talk) 08:07, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Ok, thanks. But I see the wikipedia date/time stamps on our signatures uses the DD/MM/YY format preferred in the English-speaking world. Why not just use that style all the time? Halli B (talk) 22:07, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

That isn't the format preferred in the American-speaking world. Corvus cornixtalk 20:40, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Uh, i beg to differ. And since when is "American" a language? If it is, I'm moving to Chelsea. Halli B (talk) 21:55, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Please provide proof that 11/09/2008 is the preferred format in the US. Corvus cornixtalk 22:37, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
If your contention were true, today would be 11/9, not 9/11. Corvus cornixtalk 22:39, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Set edit:autoconfirmed for entire Template namespace

Given the recent spate of IP vandalism to templates which don't qualify for protection as "high-risk" yet still affect high-profile pages, I propose semi-protecting the entire template namespace. It has no real downside - the very few constructive IP edits to templates can be done via {{editprotected}} - and will stop most of this inane template vandalism.

Thoughts? Daniel (talk) 06:36, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Previous discussion, at which this idea was rejected. Algebraist 11:31, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps Algebraist means Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 31#Proposal: Semiprotect the entire Template: namespace? (archive 31, not 13) — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 12:05, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, of course. Wrong copypaste. Algebraist 12:16, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
A different approach may be to test out flagged/sighted revisions on the template namespace. It would actually let more templates be unprotected and open to editing by anyone, since problematic edits could simply be knocked out by the reviewer. MBisanz talk 12:17, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
I remain opposed to semi protecting the whole namespace as I stated in the previous discussion, however I would certainly support any reasonable way of bringing in flagged versions on templates. Davewild (talk) 17:29, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

We're currently averaging about 30-40 complaints per day on OTRS relating to vandalism to templates, in particular the one with the giant highlight text which covers the article title and the edit tab. I think the previous consensus needs to be reexamined. Daniel (talk) 13:25, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

The previous discussion seemed pretty short. I would support this idea, myself. Exploding Boy (talk) 14:22, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
And it would blow in your face. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-D)
Personally, I am against such blanket protections. I believe we have proven that we are capable of managing the current system, where vandalism-magnets are protected and the rest of the templates are left in peace. Or is there the impression that IP users do not edit templates in good faith? I have advocated the extension of the auto-confirmation period, but I am firmly against further erosion of free editing.
PS: Daniel, I'm not sure I know which template you are referring to. Is it transcluded in the mainspace or is it just a toy for editors to play with? Waltham, The Duke of 06:02, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I can't begin to say how opposed I am to the idea of further eroding the abilities of editors who have not yet reached the heightened autoconfirmation, which I think is already too much; I can't really believe that there isn't another solution to this problem that doesn't involve cutting the tendons of our new and inexperienced users. If you have a list of templates that regularly receive vandalism, it should be posted so it can get watchlisted and examined by more people; software solutions like this are far too much, and will only further reduce the ability of non-autoconfirmed editors to contribute to the encyclopedia. At this rate, it's going to be impossible to reach autoconfirm. Celarnor Talk to me 17:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
What is with this reluctance to put restrictions on IPs? It's very strange. It may have been desirable or workable in the early stages of Wikipedia, but now it just makes no sense. We already restrict IPs from starting new pages and performing certain other actions. IP vandalism is in general harder to deal with. And it's far more likely that IP-only editors are casual users anyway; why would such a user have any need to edit templates at all? In other words, there is obvious benefit to semi-protecting templates (since they appear on thousands of pages) and no apparent drawbacks to preventing IPs from editing them. Exploding Boy (talk) 15:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Because it doesn't make sense. People who edit without creating an account (or people who have just recently created an account) have to deal with a lot of problems. If you've had your account for a while, your heightened abilities are probably something that you take for granted. IP vandalism is very easy to deal with, actually; most of the anti-vandalism tools out there filter based on those who haven't reached autoconfirm status yet and those who have not yet elected to make an account. It is much more difficult for the users of Huggle and the like to catch small vandalism (i.e, changing birth dates, accent marks, etc, that don't show up as obvious when compared to the "This guy is awesome" vandalism that we typically get from IP editors) made by 'better' editors who have the autoconfirm bit. We used to be the encyclopedia that anyone can edit; now we're the encyclopedia that you can only do anything useful on once your account has been alive for about a week and you've made ten edits to the mainspace. Do you really want to make that any worse than it already is, especially when there are better software-based solutions (flagged revisions, abuse filter) that can be used that will achieve the same effect or better without discriminating against a particular caste of users? Celarnor Talk to me 17:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Personally? Yes. I'd rather everyone was required to register a user name before being allowed to edit. It might prevent some people from editing, but it would make vandalism much easier to deal with, because a name is much easier to track than a string of numbers, and it would probably prevent a lot of the casual vandalism we have to deal with all the time. Exploding Boy (talk)
I wish to make this clear: ever since the auto-confirmation threshold was raised, semi-protection has been more meaningful, and its misuse more damaging. The previous four-day delay period was just that—a delay. Now, auto-confirmation requires a minimum level of participation, creating a clearer distinction between unregistered users, new registered users, and auto-confirmed users. Therefore, semi-protection is not something that one simply has to wait out, but something only active (even only to this level) editors can overcome. I still believe that raising auto-confirmation requirements to ten edits was a good idea, but this must be followed by prudent and careful application of semi-protection, which must be treated every bit as seriously as normal protection. The proposal suggests anything but this. Pre-emptive protection must be avoided at all costs; the practice is that even if a big wave of vandalism to a page is imminent, no padlocks are placed until it arrives. This is how things should stay. Waltham, The Duke of 22:06, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
To be fair, I've preemptively protected several articles in my nearly two years as an admin. Sometimes it is needed.
For those that are curious, they were all Colbert-isms. One of them saw vandalism as I was protecting it (ie: it was clean when I loaded the page, but was vandalized between then and when I hit "save" on the protection page). EVula // talk // // 22:12, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
We already have one namespace which is protected (fully protected, in fact) because of the damage that could be caused by allowing open editing. It is extremely easy to vandalise large numbers of pages using template vandalism - a vandal can put their "work" on several thousand pages for several minutes. I find it very surprising that when something like this is proposed there is strong opposition to it but when the proposal is equivalent to semiprotecting the entire article namespace editors fall over themselves to agree. Hut 8.5 16:13, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
"Semi-protect the entire article namespace"? This is preposterous. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly shouldn't "fall over myself to agree". Waltham, The Duke of 03:35, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
How is a string of characters easier to track than a string of numbers? Please, tell me; I could revolutionize memory addressing.
In any case, you should probably review the five pillars and your understanding of Wikipedia; the idea is (or was, at any rate), that someone could pick up their computer after going to their 300-level CS class and help improve the article on computational complexity theory. It doesn't work this way anymore if its semiprotected, which pages frequently are (you have to wait five days if you want to do that, and make 10 edits to some other page); I don't think its enough of a problem that we need to make that situation any worse. Celarnor Talk to me 16:27, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
I should have thought it was obvious that it's easier to remember the unique username User:Foo than When IP talk pages you've left messages on appear in your Watchlist, can you identify them without going to their talk page? I know I can't.
Second, I'm familiar with the 5 pillars and with Wikipedia, thanks. This proposal is about the ability to edit templates, not articles. What possible need is there for an anon user to directly edit a template (they could still edit the template talk page) and how would the inability to do so be detrimental? Wikipedia is much, much bigger than it was when it began, and it's run entirely by volunteers. Anything that lessens the amount of work that needs to be done by volunteers is a good thing. The benefits of preventing anons from making simple edits that can result in major vandalism across thousands of pages far outweigh the potential drawback that some anon IP user, frustrated by being unable to edit a template, might decide not to bother editing Wikipedia at all. Exploding Boy (talk) 16:49, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Vandalism takes a few seconds to revert. Responding to a request for edit takes minutes (and the IP user also has to take more time to write the request than make the edit themselves—or, worse, they might simply not bother). What is more work for the volunteers? Waltham, The Duke of 03:35, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Except it may take several minutes to find the affected template, then it may take several minutes after the revert for all the affected pages to re-render a new cached version, and several more minutes to respond to clueless readers on OTRS and the help desk. Mr.Z-man 03:48, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
That I did not know. But surely this is not always the case?
Anyway, the level of the problem (both the possibility of vandalism and its visibility when it happens) is directly proportional to the transclusions of the template. In the previous discussion, it was proposed to set a number of transclusions above which a template would be semi-protected. (500 was suggested, to be specific.) If the number is reasonable, why not? Much better than ending up pre-emptively semi-protecting templates transcluded in ten articles. Waltham, The Duke of 16:53, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
It would be very easy to make an admin bot that would go around and semi-protect all templates not full protected with above 500 transclusions. I wouldn't know how to do it, but I know that it would be easier to code than a good many of our existing bots. There are two hurdles though. 1. You'd need to find an admin willing to run it on their primary account or get it through RFA. 2. The moral hazard of people making dummy transclusions to userpages to get from say 450 to 500 transclusion. MBisanz talk 17:00, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Special:Contributions doesn't have any problems with doing it; why you'd be examining that by hand is beyond me... Celarnor Talk to me 17:26, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words has been marked as a guideline

Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as a guideline. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 18:51, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I would note in passing that it was remarked a guideline after a group of editors being bold downgraded it to an essay. See Wikipedia talk:Avoid weasel words#Demotion to essay and prior and following. If anyone has links to where the demotion was discussed here, I'd appreciate it. LaughingVulcan 00:17, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

GFDL, 4A section

GFDL [4] states under 4A: "Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission."

All articles in MediaWiki based platforms have the same title in each version. Doesn't this conflict with the above section? or do the users of Wikipedia specificly give their permission in a local policy (Which, I might add, does not exist in the Hebrew Wikipedia; Should this be added to our policy?)?

Thanks, Yonidebest Ω Talk‏ 08:01, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

I am not a lawyer; that being said, it is my understanding that our specific GFDL excludes those issues: Wikipedia:Copyrights says that "Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts." By specifying that there are to be no Invariant Sections or Front or Back-Cover Texts, I imagine we escape the problem. I'd have to ask someone more qualified, however, to be sure. {{Nihiltres|talk|log}} 12:52, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
The term 'title page' is defined thusly in the GFDL: ... For works in formats which do not have any title page as such, "Title Page" means the text near the most prominent appearance of the work's title, preceding the beginning of the body of the text. We seem to be in violation here. Algebraist 12:58, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, the real answer is that we basically ignore parts of the GFDL we don't like. More than a few of the GFDL's formal requirements don't reflect the actual practice on Wikipedia. To date, no one has really tried to enforce those provisions. Dragons flight (talk) 13:01, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
The answer is of course to write a new license designed for Wikipedia and use that (perhaps dual licensed with the GFDL or something). I'm not sure how we could work this with revisions prior to the changeover, though. The most direct method would be to get the Free Software Foundation to approve our Wikipedia license as a version of the GFDL (since everything's currently licensed as GFDL 1.2 or later). Algebraist 13:07, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
If you really wanted to...but there's really no reason to do that, since we already say "... with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover texts" ... Celarnor Talk to me 16:23, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
As defined in the license, the "Title Page" is a different concept from the "Cover Texts". Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
It could be argued that the HTML of the page up to and including the title thereof constitutes our title page. Celarnor Talk to me 06:33, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
There's no unique name there, either. Algebraist 09:58, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Some of you seem to be a bit confused about what's going on here. Firstly, the GFDL doesn't require a distinct title page; the text most prominently near the title of the work (re: the index page) is fine for that purpose per 1.8, as long as the title page is distinct from the documents therein. Second, we don't want or need cover-texts, since we...don't have covers. Nothing new is required. Celarnor Talk to me 18:57, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Image sourcing

I have recently ran into a problem regarding a source for images. In my opinion, an Http:// source must be present on non-free media, including album covers, to provide valid proof that it is indeed a copy of the album art and not some kid's photoshop experiment. Image:Thescore.jpg is the image that started it. A lot of images claim that the source is the record label, but this one does not. On my talk page, the uploader lists her rationale for not including a valid source but I don't think that it's a good enough reason. (I'm half tempted to take it to IfD) So my question is this: If you upload an album cover, is it required to add that the image can be obtained from the label and/or provide the http:// source? Basically, if an image is uploaded and has no http:// source or no label present, I don't think it has a valid source. (unless it was scanned by the uploader) Undead Warrior (talk) 13:49, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

So... I think you just negated your argument with that last sentence. A source is required, yes. Sometimes that source is a web link, sometimes it's "scanned by the user". What's the issue? I'm kinda confused... EVula // talk // // 16:42, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
The issue is that some users are claiming a source is just saying it's the cover of the album. The image I just listed above states that it's the album cover for (insert name here). The uploader is claiming that it is sourced being like that. I disagree. Undead Warrior (talk) 17:01, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
That an image is the cover of an album is no more difficult to verify than the claim that a bit of information came from a certain book. Anyone can independently look at the album or the book if you doubt it. So I think simply identifying the album should be sufficient. If you disagree, it's a very simple matter to get a link to an online entry for that album at Amazon, Allmusic, etc. (or in this case, the band's official online discography linked to from the band's WP article) which would illustrate the cover and confirm that the image is what it purports to be. I don't know why you'd need to argue with the uploader about whether you could add that URL as a source; was he deleting it? Postdlf (talk) 17:24, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
She kept deleting the no source tag and would never add a proper source. Sources are required. I tag many images that don't have the source and notify the uploader. It is the uploaders duty to make sure all their non-free media is properly sourced. Undead Warrior (talk) 17:41, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Saying that it is the album's cover art is a proper source. Dragons flight (talk) 17:52, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
To be more explicit, the question of whether it came from some website, or was scanned by the uploader, or something else, is nearly always irrelevant to the question of who owns the copyright. In this case, all that really is relevant is that it is a copy of the album's cover art. Dragons flight (talk) 17:54, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes. But even if one needs another source, apart from the album itself, to verify that it is in fact the cover of that album, it took me all of 15 seconds to find the URL I linked to above. How long was spent posting and reposting the no source tag? Please don't get so hung up on browbeating an uploader into fixing something anyone could easily fix. Uploaders don't own images, and have no more privileged knowledge regarding non-free mass media images than anyone else. We're all volunteers here. If an image is useful to an article, then it's everyone's duty as WP contributors to ensure that it was properly uploaded and is appropriately used. Postdlf (talk) 17:58, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
I never said that I think they own the picture. I just stated that if you upload a picture, especially a non-free picture, you are required to post a source. Saying that the cover of the album is the source for the album art is not enough. How did you find the album? What source. Do you own it and scan the picture? Or did you find it from a website. Undead Warrior (talk) 15:42, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
The point of sourcing and image tagging in general is to provide protection and respect for copyrights. The details you are focusing on are irrelevant to that process because they don't affect the copyright ownership. It doesn't matter who scanned an album's cover art. The source is the album. Beyond that we don't need to care. Dragons flight (talk) 15:55, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

RfA Review - Recommendation Phase

As you are aware, a detailed review of the Requests for Adminship Process has been ongoing for some time. In June, 209 editors provided their impressions and thoughts on the current state of the process; these responses were reviewed and analyzed. The results, including a statistical analysis of responses, are now available for review at Wikipedia:RfA Review/Reflect. Based on the results of this analysis, we have prepared a new set of questions for editor input.

Unlike the last round of questions, this questionnaire is drawn specifically from the responses we received from editors, and is intended to generate recommendations for addressing the most common concerns about the RfA process. All editors are invited to participate by following the instructions at Wikipedia:RfA Review/Recommend. Editors who did not participate in the first questionnaire are welcome to participate in this phase - and all editors should feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions as you wish. Any input is valuable. Responses will be reviewed, and the most common responses will form the basis for possible changes to the RfA process itself.

On behalf of the editors who have helped with the project so far, thank you for your participation. UltraExactZZ Claims ~ Evidence 18:20, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Redirecting user to mainspace

I'm currently I'm in a small dispute with Everyme over his redirecting his User:Everyme/user page into User. I removed it without notifying him; today he reverted back, citing that the cross-name redirect strictly applies from the mainspace to the user. I based my action on Angry Aspie's user page, in which the user tried redirecting to Asperger syndrome but was redirected. That train of thought follows that it makes people confused and access contributions if they're being led to another page. I maintain that the rule is designed to prevent the mixing of the two namespaces, regardless of whether main to user or user to main. Is my action in the spirit of the rule? hbdragon88 (talk) 19:01, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

My counter-argument is that the redirect is harmless because I am not redirecting my main userpage into article space, but a specific subpage. Wherever someone clicks on my username or a link to my main userpage, they will be redirected to my talk page, not out of my userspace. user:Everyme 19:06, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Everyme's action seems harmless. I would allow it, unless there is a policy or guideline to the contrary. SMP0328. (talk) 19:10, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
There isn't, otherwise I wouldn't have done it, or alternatively would have removed the redirect myself if presented with such a rule. Admittedly, the fact that Hbdragon edited in my userspace without letting me know pisses me a bit off. The fact that he didn't say sorry after I told him it would have been polite doesn't really improve that. As a result, I'm quite determined to keep the redirect in place. Had he simply contacted me about it and shared his concerns with me, I would probably still argue that it's harmless, but might have considered changing it just to alleviate any concerns. But not like that. I've been active on Wikipedia for two years now, too long to let some admin act as if he knew more about policies and their spirit than me. I won't be treated like some stupid child. user:Everyme 19:16, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Lolz, tone it down, man. I'm a user. I didn't use my administrator tools to delete or protect or revert to my preferred version, so don't try to make this as a great BIG ADMIN vs. LOWLY USER debate, because it isn't. This is like any other disupte: make the edit, revert, discuss. If the communtiy decides I'm wrong about it, then I'm wrong. I'm not going to hold a grudge against you. "Spirit" isn't meant to mock you, it's my interpretation, which isn't a fact, but one view, which can be wrong. hbdragon88 (talk) 19:38, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't edit in another user's userspace on a hunch, and certainly not without informing them. Like it or not, that's a typical admin "prerogative". You wouldn't have done that before you became an admin, now would you? Maybe you just don't notice how being an admin affects your judgment and behaviour towards others. user:Everyme 19:45, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
You think it's an admin preogative? I don't think so. I can't provide any concrete examples before of doing this before. I have removed fair use images, categories, etc. from user subpages before. i'm racking my mind for actual examples, because this kind of thing rarely happens. But I considered this to be a very routine thing, like typos or corrections (since I beileved at the time that it was R2-like) and would have done it. I didn't think I was affecting actual content. Look at my logs, I haven't used the tool in over a month. I'm not very enamored with the sysop tools, to be honest. hbdragon88 (talk) 19:52, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Or else, it may be just be a matter of basic politeness, a distinct possibility. Whatever you think applies more. user:Everyme 19:55, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Why don't you just have your signature link to user instead? Or can you not do that? If that's the case, then I don't see a problem with it. Celarnor Talk to me 19:12, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I used to link directly to the article from my sig, but then thought that people may find a link convenient to "return" to my userspace if they so wish. So I created that subpage and redirected it. user:Everyme 19:15, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Technically speaking...more research over at's required that a signature links to at least the user or user talk page, which Everyme does. Further, the guideline prohibits "disruptive links," like an autograph page. The only reason why I even did this to begin with was because I was pretty confused on why I got hit to User when clicking the apparent user page. That can be constructed as some disruption, though in practical reality I knew exactly how to get to the right page since I've been here for so long. hbdragon88 (talk) 19:19, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

"constructed"? Do you mean construed ? Also, I replaced the direct link to user with that link precisely so as to provide users with a link back to my userspace. Also, it's a weird reaction to your own confusion to just edit in my userspace instead of letting me know. user:Everyme 19:23, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Explain that, to me, expect people to click on the redir, then click the top link to bring them to User:Everyme? Is that it? don't even have a userpage either, that page just redirect to your user talk. So click user in signature > base redirect > User:Everyme > User talk:Everyme. A three-step process to get to the same page. Also, you think it's weird? I see a problem, I believed I was "fixing" it. hbdragon88 (talk) 19:30, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Fixing it by turning the redirect into a link to an empty subpage? I could have done better than that had you informed me of your concerns. Also, the Asperger situation you cited was truly problematic mainly because any raw link to the userpage (i.e. in article history etcpp) would be redirected out of that userspace. The alternative would be to link directly to user again, like I used to do. user:Everyme 19:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)


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

Hello, does anyone think there are any pages on Wikipedia that would exist were it not for the threat of trolls vandalising them? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:19, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

No, I don't think so. Algebraist 20:21, 12 September 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.

The [citation needed] template: Overuse, Inappropriate Use and Drive by Tagging

I see the [citation needed] template used in every manner of situation even ones that are highly inappropriate where the statements made are entirely uncontroversial and purely factual or descriptive in nature. These tend to be along the lines of: "The allies won the second world war[citation needed]" and are just annoyances to the editors of wikipedia who actually do the useful work of adding new material.

The presence of a fact template suggests that there is something wrong with a statement or that it is doubtful or controversial.

I think that fact templates should only be added when the factuality of a statement is seriously in doubt or of controversial nature. In order to deal with incidences of drive by tagging I think there should be a reqiurement of anyone who makes a [citation needed] tag must write in the talk section exactly what they think is wrong with a statement.

There is also the issue of things which may not be documented, though they might be generally held as being true. If I wrote that "Alice Springs in Australia is not inhabited by four legged martians[citation needed]" I doubt I'd be able to find a source anywhere on earth that will specifically agree with that fact. In a more practical sense, if in a mathematical context one were to write 2 + 2 = 4[citation needed], there is no mathematical proof for the truth of such a statement (a point made by Roger Penrose) but the statement is almost universally held as true and certainly not controversial or doubtful in any way. Some statements are really difficult or impossible to find references for, not because they are wrong or 'original research' but because of their nature. Although there are statements where references can be found (sometimes only in print) wiki editors are not paid and many useful contributors don't want to waste their own time looking up references and writing them in when the statements themselves are completely sound.

I don't understand the motivations of people who add fact tags in inappropriate places (although I sometimes question their intelligence or character in my own mind) but anyone who adds a fact tag should be required to make a note on the discussion page of the article saying why they thought it was necessary to have the tag in the first place. I think it's important to use common sense when tagging the fact tag because it can do more harm than good in some cases. The potential harm includes: discouraging editors, wasting editor's time and fostering unfounded doubts in the minds of readers. Sometimes the [citation needed] tag seems to be the wikipedia analog of vexatious litigation.

I hope that the policies can be changed to retain the advantages of this tag without all the downsides which I have just outlined. --I (talk) 16:14, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree. In the sciences there are some essential points for which it's extremely difficult to find refs, because they're uncontroversial and scientists don't write articles about them. For example it took me two hours to find a decent explanation of protostome and deuterostome. I think the minimum standard should be that people who apply [citation needed] tags should be required to provide an adequate explanation on the article's Talk page, and [citation needed] tags without convincing explanations should be treated as vandalism. -- Philcha (talk) 16:24, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
(e/c)This is almost a perrenial proposal. If someone puts a {{fact}} tag on an obviously true statement, that's just being a dick (though you might want to use WP:DE if you bring it up with them). There's no reason to make editors who are truly concerned with the factual accuracy of articles do tons of extra work summarizing their thoughts simply because of some morons tagging everything that doesn't have a ref immediately adjacent to it. Mr.Z-man 16:28, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I can't pass up the opportunity to point out this tagging again. – iridescent 16:36, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
How does one tell the difference between a dick and "editors who are truly concerned with the factual accuracy of articles"? And what should be done about dicks? My proposal about requiring an adequate explanation on the article's Talk page may be a workable criterion. Can anyone propose alternatives? -- Philcha (talk) 16:44, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
If common sense is sufficient (i.e, the above example where someone put a fact tag on "Normally, there are five fingers on a human hand"), then it might as well be vandalism; just revert it and go about your business; however, fact tagging is very important, and doesn't really require an explanation when it is properly used; I can't support the idea of forcing editors to go through more work just to point out that something is uncited. Celarnor Talk to me 16:48, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
(e/c)No, all it will do is discourage people who are actually trying to help, while people just trying to inflate their edit count will just say they tagged a bunch of stuff because they didn't think it was true. Say I find an article which is entirely unsourced. I have a few options, I can: leave it as is, tag it with a generic {{unref}}, or tag individual statements that seem dubious with {{fact}}. Which is the most helpful, and which is the most unlikely if I'm required to explain why I think something is wrong? Also remember, not everything that's obvious to you is obvious to everyone else. "The Allies won WWII" - that would be obvious, but protostome? I haven't taken a biology class in about 5 years, I have no idea what that is. Because of that, I wouldn't go around tagging individual statements with {{fact}}, but dismissing concerns about accuracy by saying "its obvious" isn't much better than the people going around tagging things that really are obvious. Mr.Z-man 16:58, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
In order to answer your point about dismissing concerns about accuracy - the case that drove me to make my post in the first place was some person putting a cite tag on part of a synopsis I posted on a short documentary. The whole doc is only a few minutes long and freely available on the net and all I did was outline the content in a neutral descriptive manner. At some stage I feel the need to question people who can't be bothered to just check things out themselves should at least explain why they are tagging cite - it may seem like a easy fire and forget solution when you think something's fishy but seeing cite tags on their work can be exasperating to editors who are trying to add good information. It's the wiki equilvilent of being visited by the tax authority and having to dig up and sort through mountains of receipts. --I (talk) 17:49, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
The term "drive by tagging" is quite appropriate. I sometimes dispair at the times it is used, mostly by IP editors. I am not sure that the "common knowledge" argument is helpful, but if there are ways to remove [citation] tags without being flamed for it, please suggest ideas! By way of showing what happens when editors are determined to cite sources for everything, see Glenrothes by-election, 2008, where the usually blank results box is now full of sources for all to wonder at. doktorb wordsdeeds 17:57, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
The way I see it if they had to say why they needed a citation for something then the "common knowledge" argument wouldn't even have to be made - bad cite tags are ones that cannot be justified in discussion. This is not to say that there may not be other types of bad cite tags, but ones that challenge common knowledge (or common sense) would have no leg to stand on if they had to be posted in discussion pages. --I (talk) 18:31, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Argh. There is nothing wrong with "drive-by tagging". If something is unsourced and needs a source, then tagging it is an improvement to the encyclopedia. Frivolous tagging is already covered by our rules for disruption. No work is needed here. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 18:42, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Echo this. Celarnor Talk to me 18:51, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Ditto. Corvus cornixtalk 22:56, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Extrapolating from what I've seen here and at WT:V over the last year, there may have been >100,000 relevant posts on this, so I wouldn't mind adding the relevant information from WP:V and WT:V to WP:PEREN. If something is at PEREN, it means that a clever argument and a little handwaving is almost certainly not going to accomplish anything, but sometimes very detailed, community-driven processes such as WP:RfA Review can clarify details. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 15:25, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Content in the User page

Hi everyone. I wanted to know if Wikipedia has any policy regarding to the removal of hate links and comments from user pages? --Kaaveh (talk) 04:22, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Would WP:USER be of any significance? ~user:orngjce223 how am I typing? 05:17, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Could you give the exact situation? Such things have to be carefully decided case-by-case. Many different considerations come into play there, among them WP:NPA and WP:HARASS. Everyme 06:37, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, of course. In the Persian Wikipedia, a user who has a long history of anti Jews/Israel/Zionism edits. has put an external link to a hate website, and to encourage other users to visit the hate webpage, he describes the link as (یک نمونه دیگر از وحشی گری اشغالگران صهیونیست) [5] which means "An example of savagery of zionist occupiers". I removed the hate link + the comment, but some other user reverted my edit in just a few seconds. [6] So I wanted to see if there is a genral policy with regard to this type of misusing the user page. Many thanks --Kaaveh (talk) 09:08, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
There should be a hate-free Wikipedia, regardless of what language, but nobody here can do anything about the Persian Wikipedia, you should probably discuss it with somebody in the Foundation. Corvus cornixtalk 20:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)


Hi, can someone please comment on the {{PD-Yugoslavia}}? Does this Agreement on succession issues really make the images owned by »SFRY State archives« public domain? Does it really apply to images like Image:Jakob Aljaž.jpg? --Eleassar my talk 14:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

There was no SFRY before 1920. Doesn't this image qualify for PD-old since the author is unknown? --Tone 15:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

As the author is unknown it's impossible to know if more than 100 years have passed since his death. What about this PD and Agreement issue? --Eleassar my talk 09:42, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

The meaning of "Free"

A few weeks ago i wrote the essay Wikipedia:The Free Encyclopedia. It tries to explain the meaning of "free" in "The Free Encyclopedia". Its main point is that "free" refers to the licensing of Wikipedia and it cites Jimbo to prove it.

I propose to promote it to be a policy. I found no other document that clearly presents Wikimedia Foundation's policy mission statement on the matter. The documents that would come the closest are Wikipedia:Copyright, which is too legalese and the third of the five pillars of Wikipedia, which is too short.

Here is a previous discussion about it:

Opinions are welcome. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 18:54, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

wikimedia:Mission statement? Mr.Z-man 19:02, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

The relevant part of Jimbo's word-by-word explanation of our deliberately-ambiguous mission statement (intended for those translating it into foreign languages) is "is given free access" - here we probably run into the problem of the word 'free' in English, which means both "gratis" (free of charge) and "libre" (liberty). We mean primarily the 2nd meaning, but it will depend on the particular language as to whether "libre access" is a concept which can be smoothly expressed. Since we also mean "gratis" as a secondary meaning, that can be used. I'm not sure we need a whole essay to cover what Jimbo's summarised in three sentences. Incidentally, "Free Encyclopedia" does mean "zero price encyclopedia" forever. – iridescent 13:42, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Sorry, User:Amire80, I can't really see the point of this, or how/why this is needed to be a policy. - fchd (talk) 14:52, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
It can be written in three sentences. I do think that we need a policy on it, because people often misunderstood the meaning of free as "the freedom to write crap". There is WP:FREE, and while i agree with its content, it is written in a very negative tone.
Besides, why should anyone look for something that Jimbo said on some talk page once?
And you can be sure that i am not doing to promote the essay i wrote. Feel free to write anything else - something positive about the freedom of Wikipedia. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 18:23, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
"Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge" isn't "something Jimbo said on some talkpage somewhere", it's the very first sentence on our homepage. Seriously, you're reading way too much into something that's deliberately ambiguously worded. If you insist on chapter-and-verse sourcing, this is the definition of "free" we work to. – iridescent 18:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Deletion process

Just a note of change, comments are welcome. link. NonvocalScream (talk) 21:23, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Pardon me, but it looks like your change (removing the caution for non-Admins not to close anything but clear cases) was reverted and the proposal you reference was withdrawn. Robert A.West (Talk) 18:38, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to limit the creation of new articles

I've written down some thoughts about a proposal to limit the creation of new articles, while allowing anonymous users to create articles (which is not the case now). Your thoughts and comments are highly valued, see User:Plrk/On the creation of articles. Plrk (talk) 21:23, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Should we move this discussion to the talk page? — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 23:19, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

This has been done. Please see User talk:Plrk/On the creation of articles for comments, everyone. Plrk (talk) 23:23, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Required Reading 2 -- MOS

I thought about the objections to my "required reading" proposal (supra) and have this addendum to my proposal. Before you laugh my original idea out of hand, please consider this rejoinder to your objections that there would be no way to know if the user had indeed read the manual of style even if he checked "I agree." I propose that a new user would be required to take (and of course pass) a small "test" of his MOS knowledge before his account be activated. The test would be ten to twenty questions drawn from the MOS with multiple choice answers. The correct answer would be the "best answer" out of the four options given and the prospective user would have to score a 80% (this is subject to debate of course) passing score on the MOS test before his account would be activated. I think a multiple choice objective test would be easier to grade than an essay test, although I agonized over this issue for a while before coming to my conclusion.

A sample question would be like:

Q. Which of the following article titles conforms to Manual of Style guidelines? (select the best answer):

B. Josiah a. Harper (film)
C. Josiah A. Harper (Film)
D. Josiah A. Harper (film)

Correct answer: D

And so on... Or we could divide the test into different sections, one dealing with MOS, and one dealing with WP:NOT, and whatever other guidelines and texts we wish a new user to be familiar with.

So that's how we know the user has indeed read the texts. Now that this objection has been answered I think its time to implement this policy. The next step is writing the questions -- and I am up to thirty-five different MOS questions and answers so far. Please help. Halli B (talk) 22:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Um, no. Unless you haven't bothered to read the responses to your proposal above, you must know that nobody supports this idea at all, and it is never going to happen.. And in case you have any doubt, let me caution you now that "disruptive editing" (per your unblock) also refers to disrupting the Village pump (policy) and other pages with nonsense like this. Perhaps you are the one who needs to do some reading, to learn a little more about Wikipedia. Or better yet, why not turn your attention to doing something useful like editing some articles. Exploding Boy (talk) 22:10, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. Please stop with these nonsense proposals so that real proposals dont get lost in the flow. Resolute 22:13, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I have no use for the test, but if you put together a short (that is, terse) condensation of the MOS (on the lines above, "This is how an article title ...") that would be very handy for reference. A cheat sheet. (I wonder if anybody has actually found all the suggestions for the MOS, let alone read them.) Saintrain (talk) 16:20, 11 September 2008 (UTC) Celarnor Talk to me 16:24, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Back to the drawing board, then. :-)
I must say, though, the fact that MoS is discussed a lot these days is, on its own, a good sign.
(Saintrain, either you follow the Manual or you do not; there can be no cheatsheet. What we can do is make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. We are working on it.) Waltham, The Duke of 02:55, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Ummm. I want a "terse condensation", you want to "make it easier for people to find what they are looking for". The difference is ??? Saintrain (talk) 06:29, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't really understand the distinction, either. I've only used the MOS as a reference work, I've never actually read it from one end to the other; however, I do think that a highly condensed version would be useful for someone looking to familiarize themselves with some of the basic concepts or looking for a starting point for their understanding of the MOS. Celarnor Talk to me 06:35, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
It should be noted that the proposer has been indefblocked for sockpuppetry. I think we can safely assume that his or her proposals were more attempts at disruption than improvement. Exploding Boy (talk) 15:11, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Wiki brah? I wonder if that means Wiki brah was also Ouijaouija? Corvus cornixtalk 22:52, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
And's kind of sad he keeps getting blocked, I kind of enjoyed it. Celarnor Talk to me 19:15, 15 September 2008 (UTC)