Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 57

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What level of consensus is required to mark a policy as "disputed"?

WP:PLOT has been templated with "disputed or under discussion", so the meta-policy question is: what level of 'dispute' is sufficient for such tagging to occur. The practice is that anyone can label an article with some version of "disputed" (factual, POV, etc.). I see a new trend to label policies as "disputed", which is bit worrisome, as virtually any policy has some detractors, so this precedent could easily degenerate in a mass tagging of policies. VG 15:22, 4 November 2008 (UTC)I previously asked this at WP:AN, but I moved the discussion here per recommendation on that board.

This issue is kind of addressed at WP:Policies and guidelines. But I agree that these tags are overused. Or rather that they are misworded - rather than saying "disputed", they should simply state that there is currently discussion of the issue on the talk page. If the (as yet rather theoretical) process described on that page is followed, then the tag should be removed when a neutral editor closes the discussion.--Kotniski (talk) 15:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm rather concerned about the edit summary too; what part of the "!" in "!vote" makes it compatible with, like, basing arguments on tallies of them? Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 16:36, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
There needs to be a lot stronger consensus than 50% for a policy. If there are as many people who disagree with it that agree with it, then its obvious that there are some things that need to be worked out. Celarnor Talk to me 17:18, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Head count has very little to do with what WP understands as consensus, outwith Wikipedian Idol RfA. That's one of things which seriously irks me about the whole term "!vote"; it's meant to be a cute way of pointing out that consensus is not a head count, and then people go counting heads anyway. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 18:57, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
True. If you went by head count alone, WP:RS is one of the most disputed policies there is, but I don't think many serious or responsible editors would dispute the need for reliable sourcing.—Kww(talk) 19:06, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, and no. Head count alone doesn't mean anything (i.e, "Me toos", "I agree with X", "Per Y", etc), there are a great many more things that have to be taken into consideration, but it is a part of it. If there's logical arguments on both sides with support from roughly the same amount of editors, its probably a good sign that something shouldn't be tagged as policy. Celarnor Talk to me 22:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, I think there's a general understanding, though, that if there's no consensus in a particular discussion, then the status quo remains. We need some kind of stability in our policies, otherwise they serve little purpose.--Kotniski (talk) 08:08, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

The CC-BY-SA loophole.

Well, I have started a page where we could pool our whole "section 11" mayham. And until then, lets try not to transwiki anything alright? ViperSnake151 20:48, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

This will sound unlike me as a real-life attorney, but this strikes me as a purely theoretical concern that is unlikely to actually affect the operations of the project (in other words, is anyone genuinely likely to care enough to take any action against us?). Of course, I could be wrong, and any genuine compatability issues should be addressed by people with more qualifications than me (i.e., IP counsel) as soon as possible. Newyorkbrad (talk) 22:09, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
While its probably true those eligible to file suit against us for actionable material probably ... won't ... I really don't think "Oh, its okay, no one really cares, so we're alright" is the correct attitude to take with this. Celarnor Talk to me 22:27, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm just counseling avoiding panic. Of course it needs to be investigated and, if necessary, fixed. Newyorkbrad (talk) 22:32, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that it only takes one person to do it out of spite to cause a big mess. --Tango (talk) 22:36, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Wait... any GFDL'd content that comes from another (GFDL) wiki is kosher, because it is on a:
  • Licenced under the GNU FDL 1.3 (we're 1.2++), and originally published on a MMCS
ffm 22:34, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Can't I cite some articles?

Korean wikipedia prohibit to cite something. Becuase original article's copyright lisence is not GFDL.

I can't cite non-GFDL articles?

I saw many non-GFDL citations in english wikipedia.

What is wikimedia foundation's official policy? -- WonRyong (talk) 08:46, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

This is not a matter determined by the foundation, and we can't help you with the policies of the Korean Wikipedia. You should discuss this in the appropriate place over there. Algebraist 08:48, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Apart from Foundation issues, policies are up to each individual language project. With that said, unless there's a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, this sounds rather daft, as it effectively means you can't cite any sources. Perhaps you mean the problem is with hyperlinking, not simply placing a note that says, "see Book Foo, page 30"? Or is there some legal issue in South Korea (I presume) with certain citations? If the policy really is as you stated, that almost sounds like it would violate NPOV, which is a Foundation issue; how do you accurately determine what others say if you can't indicate your source material?
On a tangentially-related note, it would be really really really nice if the Foundation bothered to hire some translators, or at least set up some kind of relationship with a translation company. As it is now, interlingual project communication is like pulling teeth, as you either have to hunt down a very rare editor who's sufficiently fluent in each language, or attempt to work out what the other person is trying to say. —Slowking Man (talk) 10:30, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
There is the list at WP:Translators available. – ukexpat (talk) 15:30, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I wonder what exactly you mean by "Korean wikipedia prohibit to cite something". Do you mean that it is disallowed to copy large parts of non-GDFL source text directly into the article? Or copy small parts directly in some or all cases? Or is it also disallowed to formulate an article in the words of the editors and use a non-GFDL source as citation to verify the article? It's the last which English editors associate with the word "cite" and find really strange. PrimeHunter (talk) 16:17, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

If something bad happens to Jimmy Wales

What would happen with wikipedia?Mr.K. (talk) 16:28, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

We would all mourn, but that's about it. Wikipedia is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, which makes it able to operate independent from mr. Wales (even though atm, he still has a lot of influence by being on the board of that foundation). A new person would be sought within the community to fill his position and the foundation would live on, as would Wikipedia. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 18:43, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure that we'd need someone to fill his position, whatever that is. --NE2 19:00, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
According to Special:Listusers, his status is Founder. I'm not sure if that would need a replacement. –Juliancolton Tropical Cyclone 19:02, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
We could always get Larry Sanger 718smiley.svg --NE2 19:04, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
Were something bad to happen, I think I'd nominate Newyorkbrad as the next leader of the project. --Alecmconroy (talk) 05:49, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think his function of Founder, is specific to him. If there would be no more Jimbo, there would be no more Founder position in the board. But, the board in that case would slink 1 member, and the board would always have the option of adding a new member (with a to be determined "function") in that case. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 10:47, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
We could create a "vice-spokesperson" position. But please, let's not tell Sarah Palin that there's a new job opening. --A Knight Who Says Ni (talk) 04:34, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
While it can be argued that Wikipedia might even benefit from more or different leadership, I don't think the role currently embodied by Jimbo really has to be filled by just one person. Should something terrible happen, I expect Jimbo's authority would be redistributed across various people, boards, and committees. Dragons flight (talk) 07:58, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Let's hear it for beaurocracy : )
Joking aside, I wonder if he has an "heir", and presuming they were interested, I suppose they might fill the role, though I don't know if with as much community support. He seems rather unique in that respect.
There's also the issue of the fact that technically he is the last horizon as far as if arbcom needs to be disbanded or overturned. (Not that anyone forsees that, but still...) - jc37 08:22, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I think you mean "bureaucracy" (one of my fave gotchas in the English language). :) That said, the dramaz generated by the succession battle for the Benevolent Absolute Monarch (or whatever the vogue term is these days) would quite possibly violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 09:47, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I believe that this project has already reached the critical mass necessary to survive the death of its initial founder and leader (though, of course, I hope that day is not soon in coming). The Wikimedia Foundation is already established to provide for the financial and legal needs of the project, and the community already is largely in control of its day to day operations. I think that process has in no small part been thanks to Jimbo's increasingly presenting himself as "one more editor" in most issues here, rather than the God-King with unlimited veto power, and indeed his wishes have been overridden in some cases when this has been so. This project is beyond the scope of what any one person could hope to effectively control, but the many who assist in it do an excellent job. Jimbo, anymore, is more of a figurehead than an actual leader; day to day, a given arbitrator, bureaucrat, administrator, or even trusted and established editor has more to do with the direction the project goes. Seraphimblade Talk to me 10:12, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Contact information in articles

What is Wikipedia's policy on the inclusion of contact details (phone numbers, email addresses, snailmail addresses, whatever) in articles? I can't seem to find any statement on the matter by a quick search. I gather that they should never contain personal contact info, but what about contact details of a company/organisation?

Sometimes I see a broken phone number in an article, and I end up fixing it, but I'd like to know in which circumstances the right course of action is actually to remove it altogether. -- Smjg (talk) 12:59, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

In almost all cases, an external link to the subject's official website would include that information anyway, so there's no point in providing it here. It's also a bit unencyclopedic - we're not a phone directory, after all. UltraExactZZ Claims ~ Evidence 20:19, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
As far as I am concerned, not only is WP not a directory but contact details in an article invite contact and are therefore promotional, so I either delete them or in egregious cases tag the article for speedy deletion. – ukexpat (talk) 15:05, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Evan Kucera Incident revives sucide/violence discussion

this incident shows what can happen on the pages of Wikipedia. Various attempts to establish a policy have failed time and again. The problem was they all suggested to help the victim. I propose for this new policy we should just use IP geolocation (using checkuser if nessecary) and calling the police in the user's area. This should make WP:SUICIDE policy and the primary intent should be to sent the issue to the athorities as soon as possible. Any objections?--Ipatrol (talk) 20:38, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Several objections. View the discussion at TOV and its archives for reasons why this would be a terrible, terrible idea. Celarnor Talk to me 01:33, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Spelling of Colour on its entry

I think that the traditional and right spelling of Colour should be used for the entry on Colour. Sure, keep the URL the same for proper linking purposes, but at least for the entry have "Colour or color" and a link to the American/Brit spelling differences. That's the way it is for behaviour and neighbour. Please look into this. Regards, (talk) 15:49, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

I see you and other IP editors have gotten the page semiprotected with your edit warring, and there is plenty of discussion at Talk:Color. Please, no forum shopping (especially since it's unlikely to work in your favor here). Anomie 18:51, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
The comment about forum shopping isn't quite fair, as the Talk page note on color/colour specifies that "Proposals about spelling should be raised at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)". -- Mwanner | Talk 21:45, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
Of course, the issue is that in the US, it is both "traditional and right" to spell it "Color". As long as one spelling redirects to the other, I don't see that there is a problem with using either. Certainly it is not worth edit warring over. As a tie breaker... was the article started under US or UK spelling? I would Defer to the preference of the article creator. Blueboar (talk) 17:35, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Spanish surname MoS guideline discussion

A discussion is under way here on how to style Spanish surnames after the lead sentence of biographies. The outcome is likely to become Wikipedia policy. Interested editors are invited to comment there. Unconventional (talk) 16:48, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

The MoS is not policy, it's a guideline. Little Red Riding Hoodtalk 21:06, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Oops! I had actually forgotten it was only a guideline. Thanks for pointing that out. -- Unconventional (talk) 06:04, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Footnotes: "colwidth" parameter for reflist

There is a colwidth parameter that can be used with Template:reflist. This specifies a fixed column width (measured in em's) rather than a fixed number of columns. So, for example, {{reflist|colwidth=20em}} specifies that the footnote columns should have a width of 20 ems. On small screens or in small windows with large text size, this reverts back to 1 column, while on large screens, Firefox users get 3 or more columns, depending on the em value specified, and depending on their window and text size. I find the parameter particularly useful for articles that have lots of shortened footnotes (e.g. harvnb cites). It's possible to get 200 refs or so to display on a single screen, which saves users scrolling up or down.

For examples of pages that use this setting, see Muhammad, Millennium '73, or Frank Zappa.

Are there any objections to mentioning this in Wikipedia:Footnotes as an alternative to {{reflist|2}}? Jayen466 23:32, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Attributation for the purposes of meeting a copyright release

Whilst browsing through a series of articles on various space phenomena, I noticed a large number of captions which read similar to these:

"The "Pillars of Creation" from the Eagle Nebula. Courtesy of NASA/ESA" "Detail of Hubble image. Courtesy of NASA/ESA"

Emphasis mine.

The reason I make mention of this is that it is my understanding that all work taken by STScI (via Hubble) was done under contract to NASA and therefore any work would be immediately under the public domain.

I don't necessarily object to the tags per se, but there is quite a large amount of information in the form of pictures which are displayed without any accreditation on article pages whatsoever as they are being used under fair use. It would appear to be at least a little unfair that we're giving accreditations to groups (where one of the data for the picture on the file page states no such accreditation is required) whilst using images (at least theoretically against a company or person's wishes) and not giving any attributation at all.

I make no claims to knowing much about US copyright law beyond what I've picked up here, but if I've made some kind of huge error can someone point this out, if not would it not be a reasonable suggestions to remove any Courtesy of etc... unless specifically required to keep the image on WP? BigHairRef | Talk 04:06, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

NASA works are public domain. Works by NASA contractors sometimes are, some times aren't. Works by the ESA or ESA contractors are not. Which these images are, I don't know. --Carnildo (talk) 07:08, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
This may be of interest. Celarnor Talk to me 08:34, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
The Hubble material you see on these pages is copyright-free and may be reproduced without fee, on the following conditions:
  • ESA is credited as the source of the material (images/videos etc.). Please add other additional credit information that is posted together with the material.
  • The images may not be used to state or imply the endorsement by ESA or any ESA employee of a commercial product, process or service, or used in any other manner that might mislead.
  • If an image includes an identifiable person, using that image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy, and separate permission should be obtained from the individual.
We request a copy of the product to be sent to us to be included in our archive.
It seems from that that NASA are trying to have their cake and eat it. THey've said specifically that the material is copyright free, and then give a series of conditions to avoid paying a fee?
Assuming their assertion that they need attributation to be fee-free, would a notice on the file page not suffice? BigHairRef | Talk 15:57, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry substitute ESA for NASA. BigHairRef | Talk 15:59, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I think you're slightly mistaken. There's no option wherein you pay a fee; the second and third conditions aren't really copyright-related, and is a restatement of some principles of personality law (e.g, even using a public domain image identified as such in such a manner could carry consequences), and the first is simple creditation. Celarnor Talk to me 16:08, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
The last discussion I've seen regarding attribution for images resulted in a consensus that the attribution on the image page is sufficient. I also don't understand how it can be "copyright-free" and still require attribution, although it's always polite to give the attribution anyway. As Celarnor noted, the second is related to trademark and truth-in-advertising rather than copyright, and the third is related to privacy and personality rights; both are more of a "Coffee may be hot" type of warning than a restriction on those particular images. Anomie 16:55, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I obviously wasn't massively clear before. I am aware there wasn't an option to pay a fee, the point I was trying to make was that if a fee had to be paid (as in we couldn't use the images copyright free with out saying from NASA or ESA) then the imaes could be used under fair use.
As it stands it would appear that we don't need to attribute at all as they've already stated that the images are public domain, and even if we feel the need to an attributation on the file page would suffice. Anomie, have you got any idea where that discussion may have taken place? BigHairRef | Talk 03:13, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I should point out that even if, strictly speaking, the attribution "requirement" is more of a request, it's still polite to do so and I doubt many people have objections to their finding their way in the captions. — Coren (talk) 22:48, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
Normally I wouldn't object to 'any caption, but given thst I've never seen one for any other company or person, other than NASA I don't see why we should make them a special case.
Now if we were to caption all PD pictures then I wouldn't have a problem. BigHairRef | Talk 01:57, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
I'd say that crediting NASA/ESA makes sense, but for a completely different reason: readers might be interested in who created the image. The same is not true of a photo taken by a random Wikipedian or Flickr user. --NE2 01:59, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I was unclear again there, I wasn't suggesting the credit of an individual user, but if for example an AP or Getty photo was conceiveably used then we should also attribute them as well as NASA. BigHairRef | Talk 12:06, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
... and that failing to do so is plagiarism. Yes, it's more of a request but the intended audience is news media/academics, which are plagiarism-adverse. MER-C 12:02, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Psychological Prerequisites to Administratorship

Of course Wikipedia admins are going to be predisposed if not compelled to disagree with me, but it's become clear by brief examination that the level of participation, competency in policy lawyering, etc. required for adminship on Wikipedia could not be accomplished without also participating in digital escapism, whether such escapism was (originally) sought by an admin or not. Wikipedia should ask itself, what are the implications of this? What are the implications in scale for having this body's work shaped in the most fundamental ways by this demographic? The amount of scarce effort required invariably creates a sense of ownership, it's a fallacy to classify this phenomenon as a fluke; in being automatic the sense of ownership is quite the opposite.

Admins will be able to cite reasons why I would be predisposed to say so, but this would only serve to prove my contention that a tolerance or competency for lawyering and politicking drives the selection process for the overactive administrative elite on Wikipedia. I believe editors that may have a lot to offer are frequently dissuaded from participation because of the complicated, totalitarian bureaucracy Wikipedia has devolved into as the project has grown. There's probably little use in shedding light on the problem, because this particular flavor of corruption is self-perpetuating. It saddens me to see such a strong concept stifled by its own inertia. Trickrick1985 (talk) 20:47, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Please clarify what you mean by "digital escapism." Your post does not make much sense without such. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 03:17, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... Celarnor Talk to me 03:37, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Escapism is readily defined. Making it digital by using Wikipedia as the outlet doesn't change the definition. Trickrick1985 (talk) 03:46, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
(e/c x3) Ater going through your recent contributions to see what sparked this comment, I really can't figure out exactly what it is you're trying to accomplish, here or anywhere else. Wikipedia isn't THERAPY; how people chose to arrive at their positions here don't particularly matter. What matters is that they constructively contribute to the project. We don't care if you're a 12-year-old with a penchant for chess or a grandmother living on social security; the important point is that they're here to help build an encyclopedia. Celarnor Talk to me 03:37, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
How you arrive at your position matters tremendously. Those barriers to entry create the selection process that dramatically effects the group dynamics of Wikipedia's social structure, and resultant health. That someone wrote an essay describing that this outcome is not ideal doesn't hinder its growth whatsoever. Trickrick1985 (talk) 04:23, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
I gather that this is a rant - the argument is essentially that admins are elitists who are obsessed with Wikipedia and its policies and pour time into it in order to escape reality, inherently making them poor authority figures. This argument is of course ridiculous - many admins are sporadic contributors, admins need to know policy thoroughly to fulfill their job, and this user was probably embittered by a disciplinary action. Dcoetzee 03:48, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Not embittered at all. In fact it is my lack of investment in the project, for better or worse, that makes it so easy to be objective. Though it adds up to a small amount both ways, I've spent as much time intentionally conjuring Wikipedia's overactive defense mechanisms as I have contributing constructively, if that's what you could call, when the project's "constructive" advancement perpetuates its own demise. Trickrick1985 (talk) 04:03, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Is anyone else bothered by the fact that, in the above statement, he states that he is intentionally disrupting the project to prove a point?!? He says I've spent as much time intentionally conjuring Wikipedia's overactive defense mechanisms as I have contributing constructively. Seriously, dude... 04:56, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
This thread has nothing to do with that out of context communication. It is referring to a violation of WP:POINT which does not mandate value judgments about the point being made, only that the gestures are not "constructive" in Wikipeialese. Ironically, dismissive, summary judgments based on out-of-context or irrelevant evidence that questions the character of an individual and not the record of their actions is an example of a non-trivial symptom of the problem this very thread was created to counter.Trickrick1985 (talk) 18:09, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Lots of wild claims plus no evidence... Its interesting that you mention fallacies though. I also particularly like the "admins are going to be predisposed if not compelled to disagree with me" bit at the start. People can't disagree without somehow proving your point. Nice. Mr.Z-man 03:53, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
It's a single, non-wild (in fact, obvious) claim evidenced by the log of disciplinary communications and actions maintained by Wikipedia itself. Trickrick1985 (talk) 04:03, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Wikipedia is a dying, totalitarian bureaucracy ruled by corrupt wiki-lawyering admins, what's wild about that claim? Now you're pointing to 7 years of log entries as "evidence." While that's slightly better than "I observed this, so its true," its still not concrete evidence. Mr.Z-man 04:24, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Do you have something constructive to offer? If so please make some concrete suggestions. As it is your statement feels a lot like ranting. Dragons flight (talk) 04:10, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
I do. There should be a process for "speedy desysoping" with liberal criteria, violations of the spirit of m:DICK not withstanding. Admins should constantly be afraid that their rights will be stripped if they use them to get high or bully users. Presently Wikipedia has constructed large, slow, involved bureaucratic processes for such a purpose that, instead of ensuring responsible use, communicate to admins that unless its a severe case they have nothing to worry about. Trickrick1985 (talk) 04:16, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Please clarify if you yourself are engaging in said "escapism" through your own use of Wikipedia. If you are not, please tell us why. Thank you. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 04:20, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Escapism is achieved with the level of effort and participation mandatory for administrators, and in some sense inversely, not by the limited involvement documented by even the whole of my contribution log. Trickrick1985 (talk) 04:25, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
It is not a stretch to think that you are thoroughly enjoying this whole thread though. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 04:27, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

WP:DFTT, guys... and, uh, WP:CHIPSLAW, too. لennavecia 04:49, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

It's insulting and dismissive to call it trolling when the point is perfectly valid. Trickrick1985 (talk) 15:52, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
The "Chipslaw" theory refers to the original poster, not to the responders. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 04:52, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it says more about the person who invokes it than anyone else. Chip's Law basically states that anyone who reminds everyone else to get back to working on the encyclopedia, does so because they do not understand or are otherwise incapable of involving themselves in the discussion. In this case, I don't know what the hell the guy is talking about, thus everyone else should get back to working on the 'pedia with me. ;) I use it more as a joke, as Chip is my best friend. :D لennavecia 04:56, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
I just checked back at the page. I didn't write that version, although the history credits me. I need to get a better written version from Chip. That's Synergy's version. لennavecia 04:58, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Wait! I still don't understand the purpose of this thread. Are we supposed to have pyschological evaluations done on the administrators now? i'm confused. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 06:58, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Dude, just invoke Chip's Law. Srsly. لennavecia 15:48, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
The purpose is to highlight the imbalance on Wikipedia. There's CSD for articles but no similar such thing for admins, when the bankruptcy for merit in admins can be just as high and do at least as much damage. This is because the institution protects itself. Trickrick1985 (talk) 15:52, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

From what I read in the original post, Trickrick1985 is saying and/or implying a few things, which I'll quickly summarize:

  1. Admins are more likely to be using Wikipedia as a form of escapism
  2. Admins, especially those who are using Wikipedia as an escape, are more likely to be inherently comfortable with politicking and rules-lawyering
  3. Admins comfortable with politicking and rules-lawyering unavoidably create a totalitarian bureaucracy
  4. This totalitarian bureaucracy is disruptive to newbies.

In further posts, he goes on to suggest that:

  1. There should be an easy way to desysop people deserving desysopping
  2. Admins should be afraid that bad actions will result in their desysopping
  3. Bad admins can do high amounts of damage

On the one hand, many of the points here are reasonable. Point 4 (assuming its premise of totalitarian bureaucracy is sound, which is a separate point) is reasonable: bureaucracies are often disruptive to newbies. Point 5 is especially reasonable, but only in and of itself. Point 6 is reasonable, but can be easily made unreasonable based on context. Point 7 is obvious.

On the other hand, some of these points are debatable, some have critical weaknesses, and some simply seem useless. Point 1 is useless on its own: even if some admins are using Wikipedia as a form of escapism, unless we have reason to believe that that escapism is harming them and not helping them, we need take no action. Point 2 lacks evidence: I can't imagine how this would be testable, let alone justified. Point 3 is debatable: while on the one hand politicking and rules-lawyering are undesirable, on the other hand people who are comfortable with it are best equipped to counter it. It also is somewhat unproven, and it seems irrelevant to the later, more concrete normative points.

While points 5 and 6, the most normative points, are largely reasonable, practical implementations fail in a number of respects. First of all, any easy method of desysopping is potentially subject to gaming, perhaps even by (ironically) the same people who would be targeted for desysopping based on the suggestions made here—in particular, those most adept at rules-lawyering and politicking. While it would be nice to have an easy way to desysop people, it's unlikely that such a system could be created in such a way that it would not be gameable. If such a system existed, I would support it, but I'm doubtful that it exists. Secondly, admins often have to make unpopular decisions: in particular, I can imagine that deletion debates, discussions about the blocking of trolls, major internal discussions, can become controversial enough that the use of almost any admin tool with regard to them (which is often necessary) might be controversial enough that the action, breaking a dilemma, might create bad will towards that person's use of the tools to provoke attempts to desysop them.

I personally wish that Wikipedia could become slightly less bureaucratic, though the fact is that for many processes, it's almost the only way to handle the load: the advantages often outweigh the disadvantages. Building an encyclopedia is a task which needs a certain amount of organization, and while I personally believe that greater tolerance would be a good thing, some centralization is useful with regard to discussion.

What I don't see from this post is any concrete suggestion: how can we easily desysop people fairly and efficiently? How can we reduce the weight of bureaucracy we sometimes face? {{Nihiltres|talk|log}} 17:36, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

I have given the idea some thought overnight. What I see here is that Wikipedia has a small class of "Administrators" to enforce policies and norms on its editors. This class I read it nominally over a thousand but the actual number of administrators is about 150. That being said, there is no organization AT ALL among this class of administrators.

I think we should create such an organization.

The community and the admins should call a little "convention," lets set aside about 10 days later this month to discuss these changes. I favor the "strong executive" model for the admin group. The admins should be called upon to select or elect a President, who would effectively be President of Wikipedia, since he is the leader of the admins who themselves are the enforcers of community policy. This President should serve a two year term, which, in internet time, would be a lengthy enough term to really make a mark on the bureaucracy.

The President of the admins would have the power to:

  • Select a "cabinet" of admins as advisors,
  • De-sysop an admin for any reason, with the advice and consent of the cabinet and at least three other admins,
  • Review, sua sponte, the actions of any admin.

This proposal would lend some much needed structure to the administrator group.

Another problem is that right now the each admin is something of a "jack of all trades," in that he can perform any of the multifarious roles that admins have (part enforcer, part counsellor, part ambassador, etc.) Perhaps the new Wikipedia admin system would have defined cohorts within the admin body, where each group specialized in a particular role.

Brandon Rochelle (talk) 18:17, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Ugh, the solution to increasing bureaucracy is not to create a bigger one. This has several issues:
  1. "Wikipedia has a small class of 'Administrators' to enforce policies and norms on its editors" - Not entirely true. That's not the only role of admins and any user has the right to (and should) enforce policies. Blocking and other admin actions are not the only methods of policy enforcement. Discussion or warning is usually the first step before blocking anyway, and any user can discuss.
  2. "the actual number of administrators is about 150" - Not correct at all. Counting up the number of admins on the active lists on Wikipedia:List of administrators gives about 950 active admins.
  3. Who has oversight over the "president" and "cabinet?" What if they're the ones being corrupt and needing desysopping? What if the president just chooses his friends to be cabinet members?
  4. This is substantially similar to ArbCom, except only 1 person in it is actually chosen by the community and it deals only with admin abuse.
  5. Why is "each admin is something of a 'jack of all trades'" a problem? Wikipedia is run entirely by volunteers; people do what they enjoy doing and whatever they feel like doing at the time. Its worked successfully like that for 7 years. If you go around telling people what to do, they'll likely just do nothing instead (I know I probably would).
Mr.Z-man 19:21, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your questions. I was thinking about this as I was writing but I got busy and had take off, but I have two follow up points:
  1. Any president normally chooses his friends to be in the cabinet. Why is this a problem?
  2. The admins can "impeach" and remove the President with a 2/3 vote of active admins.
  3. Specialization of labor is usually a good thing.
  4. If the number of active administators is really 950, then the admins could really use some more organization.
Brandon Rochelle (talk) 23:26, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Its not a problem in the US gov't because the president and cabinet have different powers than this system. The powers this proposal gives are closer to the judicial branch than the executive. In this case the president+cabinet could easily turn into a mini-cabal causing more problems that it solves due to a lack of adequate checks and balances. What's to stop the president from simply desysopping all the admins who vote to impeach him? If the cabinet and 3 other admins are all working together, its certainly a possibility. Presumably Jimbo could step in at that point, but there shouldn't be easy-to-imagine situations where that would be necessary. Why do the non-admins get no say in any of this? This would have far-reaching consequences, but they're entirely disenfranchised. Specialization of labor works great, in theory, when people have an incentive to do what they're told (like a salary). The primary, if not only, incentive to do things on Wikipedia is enjoyment. If you tell people to do things they don't enjoy and give them no incentive, they won't do them. Wikipedia isn't a job for 99.9999999% of the world, its a more like a hobby. What you're proposing isn't really organization, its more like pointless bureaucracy. Organization would be creating WikiProject-like systems for admin tasks and places for centralized collaboration, not a miniature government to hand out tasks. Mr.Z-man 23:58, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
I think it unfairly mischaracterizes the proposal to say that its fatal weakness is lack of details: it's proposed to be discussed, where important but more granular issues like how the concept would fit with adequate checks would be hashed out.
It's also a strawman to say that specialization and compulsory enforcement of specialization go hand in hand, "tell people to do things they don't enjoy". People could elect or change their specialization. "[P]ointless bureaucracy" is what Wikipedia has now in a lot of cases, requiring egregious or highly significant missteps and tremendous red-tape to desysop; such that admins have little to no incentive to be civil to the less endowed.
Of the points you made
  1. Has no bearing on what's being discussed here.
  2. " "
  3. Election or consensus has control over the office and by extension, cabinet; the same mechanisms that control other risks at Wikipedia. If they're corrupt they wouldn't have enough support to reach the office, or the system is entirely corrupt anyway.
  4. The difference is the whole point. Slow-moving bodies with complex rules are the problem.
  5. Because resources are scarce and underspecialization creates incompetency.
Trickrick1985 (talk) 00:50, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I didn't say its weakness was a lack of details, I said its weakness was a lack of basic controls. It seems to assume that the people in control of the system - the president and the cabinet - would act fairly, which would seem to contradict your original post about how admins are corrupt. Unless giving people more power would make them less likely to be corrupt, which would seem to contradict history. Yes we have bureaucracy now, but how is adding another bureaucracy onto that, or replacing it with a bureaucracy going to solve anything? I fail to see how the election is a suitable control. Anything else on Wikipedia, the community decides everything. With this, the admins (again, non-admins are entirely disenfranchised) would only decide a small part, once every 2 years or so. You seem to be assuming that people won't become corrupt after they get "into office." "Slow-moving bodies with complex rules are the problem." - So the solution is to model our government after the US government? Wikipedia moves at lightspeed compared to the US government. Wikipedia didn't always have a huge bureaucracy, it built up over time; its inevitable (especially when using a huge bureaucracy as a model) that this will build up a bureaucracy as well. Finally, how is allowing everyone to choose their specialization and change it at any time any different than what we have now, except with extra paperwork and removing the ability to multi-task? Mr.Z-man 17:23, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

User Trick Rick fleshed out some important points in the proposal with which I agree, namely:

  1. Admins would choose which field of administration they would go into, and could switch fields if they wanted.
  2. Presumably an admin would choose the field that most interested him, or the field in which he had the most skills.
  3. As far as your argument that the President would simply de-sysop the admins that impeached him, I should have added initially that admins participating in impeachment and removal proceedings would have immunity from retaliatory de-sysopping, OR alternatively, that once impeached, the President's power to de-sysop anyone would be suspended until the removal vote was completed. Brandon Rochelle (talk) 01:35, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

We're giving away an encyclopedia, which is usually something that is sold. I think that right there is enough evidence to say we're all batshit insane. EVula // talk // // 01:47, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Was sold. Now it's all over the web. "We" give nothing but idle time. NVO (talk) 04:03, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
EVula makes a good point. It is true, however, that we need an easier way to get rid of problematic administrators. Not only because going through ArbCom involves a enormous amount of time and effort, but also because the result of said enormous time and effort can, as we've seen, result in mostly wasted time and effort. Mr.Z-man also made a good point that any system created to allow for easy desysopping of problematic admins would also be easy to game. Assigning extra power to any individual is, in my opinion, no good for this type of project. There are already several editors on this site with a various mix of extra bits that have an unruly amount of power. The last thing (okay, one of the last things) this project needs is more pretentious schmucks on power trips. Lastly, I'd like to point out that this project has reached a point that it is so large it's nearly impossible to make any change of significance. I doubt we could attempt to switch the water cooler from Aquafina to Evian without three months of heated debate resulting in no consensus. لennavecia 05:33, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Speak for yourself, NVO. I transitioned from "editing wikis in my idle time" to "actively making the time to edit wikis" a long time ago... EVula // talk // // 16:02, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Points to make: 1. communicating more effectively and comfortably by typing rather than speaking isn't necessarily escapism. Introverts who are constant readers could also be called fiction escapists by extroverts, just as extroverts could be called escapists from self-examination by their constant avoidance of silence and meditation. I happen to communicate much more comfortably by typing than by speaking for whatever reason. I don't find it such an abnormality that I must seek its root or reason, though. 2. There are many Wikipedians who dedicate a startling amount of time to whatever they do who here are not admins and do not wish to be. --Moni3 (talk) 17:36, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Requesting comments about blocking policy

An interesting RfC is ongoing about the actions of admin Slrubenstein (talk · contribs), who overturned a block of one of his allies, Mathsci (talk · contribs), without consulting with the blocking admin, Charles Matthews (talk · contribs). Specific questions being covered:

  • Should an admin be required to consult with the blocking admin, before overturning a block?
  • Is it acceptable for an admin to use tools in support of an editor, if that editor is one of the admin's regular allies in other editing disputes?

Comments and opinions are welcome at: Wikipedia:Requests for comment/SlrubensteinII. --Elonka 17:13, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

The assertion that these editors are "allies" is a question being discussed in the RfC. Tim Vickers (talk) 17:19, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Proposed: That Jimbo should have the powers he currently has.

Recently, I've heard a couple of people speculate that Jimbo's role on English Wikipedia lacks consensus. I suspect this is false-- I think there is strong consensus for his role. But admittedly, we don't actually have a policy that specifies this.

So I'd call for eyes at: Wikipedia:Project Leader, where I've attempted to just spell out what his special role currently is.

In particular:

  1. Did I miss any of the powers Jimbo has?
  2. Jimbo's current role does have consensus, right? A few dozen voices of support before the arbcom election would be helpful in clarifying that yes, Jimbo should in fact have the appointment powers that he has.
This was originally posted to Village Pump Proposals, but seems more appropriate here.

--Alecmconroy (talk) 05:15, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

That seems rather ... redundant and pointless. Celarnor Talk to me 05:20, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Redundant with what? Sarcasticidealist (talk) 05:24, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
With the status quo. Celarnor Talk to me 05:55, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Writing down our policies isn't redundancy, it's just good practice.
Why write a policy page on WP:NPOV? It's always been the status quo that Wikipedia is NPOV. So is it redundant to have the policy page WP:NPOV???
Of course not. The whole point of policy pages is to document our status quo policies, so that people can refer to them, understand them, talk about them, etc. --Alecmconroy (talk) 07:42, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
  • Note.. The "Project Leader" page has been listed on "Miscellany for Deletion." Thank you. PrezleyMaddox (talk) 06:30, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
While generally Wales has decent judgment leading this project (as far as I can tell) there have been circumstances where I've wondered what the heck he was thinking (Essjay, f'rinstance...but there have been others). Basically, I'm ambivalent. I don't think he's doing harm, neither have I seen decision-making and leadership that astounded me. --Kickstart70TC 06:14, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I think a few of the comments assume the proposal is something more than it is. I noticed that there was no policy page that documents the status quo, so it seems we needed one. This is not an attempt to alter the status quo. If you want Jimbo to have a different role than he currently does, then you have to make the case elsewhere-- this proposal isn't about that, it's just about writing down the status quo on a policy page, so that we can point to it and say: See-- it's policy. --Alecmconroy (talk) 07:38, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Good Articles

Good articles are reviewed and often have to be declassified due to new contributions. Shouldn't these articles be protected or semi-protected, or reviewed periodically by trusted users, so we can actually increase the number of these articles? If an article is unlikely to need regular changes, such as a cd, mathematical concept or profile of a deceased person, then users ought to need permission to edit it so it won't get abused, and wikipedia will slowly grow its stock of good articles, making it more acceptable as an authoritative source of information. (talk) 11:34, 12 November 2008 (UTC)wnsc


Sorry - I posted that the term heavy metal's origins were cited on DVD BLACK SABBATH-THE LAST SUPPER, and having rewatched it Ican't find it! I would amend the article but college network software Bloxx bars me from the page - please could someone check this fact isn't in the article. I may have mixed it up with the DVD Heavy Metal: louder than life, but I haven't checked yet. Thanks! (talk) 13:02, 12 November 2008 (UTC)wnsc

Planned or aborted geographical features

Since the names of geotagged articles are used on things like Google Maps & Google Earth (and others), should geotagged articles about planned (or planned, but aborted) features reflect their status? For example, Allandale railway station was recently moved to Allandale railway station (proposed), but that move was reverted. I don't think that this should be decided on a per-article basis, without an over-arching policy, so I've started a discussion at Naming conventions#Planned or aborted geographical features. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:01, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Mayors of small towns

Please see Minden, Louisiana. There are several articles about mayors of Minden, Louisiana who otherwise have no notability. Is the mayor of a small town notable enough to have an article? Little Red Riding Hoodtalk 02:22, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Just say No. Mangoe (talk) 02:36, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
No to special criteria. Use the criteria of WP:N, the same as for any other article.LeadSongDog (talk) 04:00, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Notability (people)#Politicians. PrimeHunter (talk) 04:05, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Comprehensibility of articles

I recently posted a proposal on the proposals section of the VP aimed at improving the comprehensibility of articles. Far too many Wikipedia articles are hard to understand even for well-educated readers. However, I think that before we figure out how to better address this major problem, we need to determine what Wikipedia's policy is or should be on comprehensibility. It is clear that not every article is going to be instantly comprehensible to every reader.

Below, I've posted some precepts that I hope we can agree on. If we can agree on the root ideas, we can then discuss how to ensure they are taken into account by editors.

  • Every article should describe at least the core of the concept in such a way that the least knowledgeable likely audience (hereafter "LKLA") can understand it.
  • If an subject matter is likely to be encountered in daily life (e.g., in a newspaper), the LKLA should be considered a general audience. In other cases, the LKLA might be an undergraduate student in the field or, in rare cases, even a specialist in the field.
  • Ideally, all of an article should be comprehensible to the LKLA, with more-complex topics in separate articles, where they can be explored in depth. If this is not possible, the part of the article comprehensible to the LKLA should be at the top, with the higher-level detail toward the bottom.
  • If an article is not comprehensible to a general audience, the general reader should be able to find elsewhere in Wikipedia the background information necessary to understand the article. The complex article should help point the reader in the right direction. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 05:50, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
This concern has been raised before, and resulted in the creation of Simple English Wikipedia. --A Knight Who Says Ni (talk) 11:35, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Simple english is (in my view) a still-born project and even if it wasn't, it's existance does not solve the problems we have with our articles. --Cameron Scott (talk) 13:14, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't solve our articles, no, but if there are people out there who can't comprehend a given article, it's better to dumb it down there and keep the more accurate, precise version here. Celarnor Talk to me 14:12, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
But at least 99.9% (and that's not a guess - they have 41,000 articles, we have over two million) of our articles don't exist there and never will, they don't have the manpower and our project is expanding quicker than they can create articles - Simple is a red herring in this discussion, it solves nothing and will play absolutely no part in solving this problem. You might as well just say "well they should go google". --Cameron Scott (talk) 14:19, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Their problems are not our problems. By the same token that an article gets deleted on some character on Heroes and were correctly told to TRY a heroes-related wiki, "Not a lot of participants" doesn't mean you get to put the article back in mainspace. By the same token, we shouldn't allow crappy, dumbed-down and oversimplified articles. That's not what Wikipedia is here for. For what it's worth, though, I don't even think this is a problem. I've never seen an article that was difficult for me to comprehend. All of them have had wiki links to any relevant problematic terminology right there in the article, so whenever I need clarification on a specific sorting method or what not, I could just go there. I really just don't understand what this is about. Celarnor Talk to me 14:29, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
I suggest the phrase "dumbed-down" and its equivalents should be banned from this discussion. The proposal is not to dilute the content of articles but to express it in the simplest way that is adequate. For example Richrd Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life don't hold back on the content, but are masterpieces of exposition - see for example Gould's description of tagmosis in arthrpods. That's the standard of exposition WP should aim for. --Philcha (talk) 14:39, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
  • We already have at least one policy on this, WP:NOT PAPER: A Wikipedia article should not be presented on the assumption that the reader is well versed in the topic's field. Introductory language in the lead and initial sections of the article should be written in plain terms and concepts that can be understood by any literate reader of Wikipedia without any knowledge in the given field before advancing to more detailed explanations of the topic. While wikilinks should be provided for advanced terms and concepts in that field, articles should be written on the assumption that the reader will not follow these links, instead attempting to infer their meaning from the text. Colonel Warden (talk) 13:06, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Re Mwalcoff, you're describing the way that many good writers here already work. We try to make each article accessible to the type of person who is likely to look it up; so addition should be written at a very different level than Peano axioms. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:55, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I strongly support any attempt to make WP more comprehensible to non-specialists. I've seen enough complaints on Talk pages from non-editors about excessivlet complex language and presentation. As Cameron Scott says, Simple English WP is not the answer.
Unfortunately neither is the extract Colonel Warden quotes from WP:NOT PAPER. Leads are particularly difficult, since WP:LEAD restricts them to 4 paras and some reviewers seem to come in with preconceived ideas about the maximum lengths of leads. In order to summarise a complex article the lead is often forced to become an abstract, and abstracts of scientific papers are generally incomprehensible to non-specialists. I suggest WP:LEAD be revised to prioritise its objectives in the the order (1) comprehensibility, (2) adequate summary, (3, by some distance) brevity.
I think Mwalcoff's idea of a least knowledgeable likely audience ("LKLA") is sensible, but needs to be tightened up. IMO the default LKLA should be an averagely literate 12-year-old - for example kids are enthusiatic readers of articles on dinosaurs, and I've seen questions from kids on dino-related Talk pages - sometimes quite intelligent ones, even if phrased in simple terms. So I suggest "averagely literate 12-year-old" should be written into all relevant policies and guidelines, including WP:MOS and the GA and FA review criteria.
However I acknowledge that some subjects cannot be expressed at the "averagely literate 12-year-old" level - notably in maths, physics and chemistry. In these cases I suggest the burden of proof must be placed on editors and (when suggesting copyedits) reviewers to show that more complex terminology, mathematical expressions, etc, are necessary.
Finally, as "averagely literate 12-year-old" implies, the actual English used should be as simple as possible and all the precepts of the many articles and books on writing for the Web (e.g. this one) should be incorporated into WP:MOS. Sadly at present many editors and reviewers are keener to show off their literary skills than to communicate with an audience. --Philcha (talk) 14:25, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Philcha, you missed one of the objectives of the lede - it has to be (0) correct. If a person just scans the lede, and doesn't read the rest of the article, we don't want them to leave with any false ideas. This is a particularly tricky requirement for technical subjects, because they require space to explain properly in a way that can't be misinterpreted. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:34, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Carl (CBM, I totally agree. That means brevity drops to a distant 4th and preconceived restrictions should be eliminated. --Philcha (talk) 14:42, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
As any good professional communications professor will tell you, successfully communicating a topic requires accuracy, precision, and conciseness. In scientific, engineering and math articles, you don't have the luxury of catering to someone with no idea what the subject is even about. You have to use terminology to be absolutely precise. Explaining every relevant of the field to the level of detail required would simply be absurd, especially when you reach advanced topics like logic theory, compiler design, multivariable equations, and what not. You simply can't; you can't accurately describe a derivative as anything other than the instantaneous slope of the curve arrived at via the limit process, at least not without mangling the meaning or expanding the article into something much longer and more confusing.
Our article derivative has a reasonable shot at summarising the topic in one simple sentence: Loosely speaking, a derivative can be thought of as how much a quantity is changing at some given point. This demonstrates that simple language can be used in such a case. Colonel Warden (talk) 23:24, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
While I disagree with you vehemently about dumbing down article content, I couldn't agree with you more regarding leads, although I've never seen a lead like the ones you mention. Most of the ones that I've seen, including those at pi and e (mathematical constant), have been quite good. Some of them have taken it too far (re Curvilinear coordinates) and have dumbed things down almost too far), but I don't really see that as a big problem; so long as the definition and information remains expressed more accurately elsewhere in the article, I don't see anything wrong with it. Celarnor Talk to me 14:44, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
"As any good professional communications professor will tell you" would not be accepted in an article, and I see no reason to accept it here.
I think you've forgotten something - "match your style to your audience". For example I've explained database concepts to managers without ever mentioning Codd, Date, etc. - in some cases I started with the disadvantages of the old multi-part form sets. Obviously presentations about databases to other audiences - e.g. (a) every-day commercial programmers (b) DB software designers (c) DB theorists - would all be different. The basic point is that encyclopedias are entry-points for non-specialists, while specialists use publications appropriate to their own specialism. --Philcha (talk) 15:01, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
I think this like many things is something that develops over an article's lifetime. Defining a technical term precisely is relatively easy, and can typically be ripped straight from a textbook. Defining it in an introductory, approachable, yet not-misleading way is extremely difficult and is a problem educators struggle with everyday. This should be considered a lofty goal for an article to aim for, rather than a requirement. Dcoetzee 02:21, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

OK, so most people agree articles should be comprehensible, yet many, especially in the applied sciences and computer science, are not. What can be done to better address this major shortcoming in Wikipedia? -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:30, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Not only there, I have seen FAC articles on Wrestlemania events that are only comprehensible for Wrestling experts (ie riddled with jargon). My comments were countered with the remark that you could look it all up in parent articles and through wikilinks.
I think this should go to GA and FA guidelines. An article should be understandable for someone not familiar with the topic, or the parent topic without referring to wikilinks for an article to be promoted.
Does this make any sense? That way we allow jargon filled articles (whether it is science or sports....) to start, develop content wise, but demand popular scientific rewriting to get in the higher quality levels. Arnoutf (talk) 23:17, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
On the proposals Village Pump, I suggested requiring that good articles pass a "dummies test" -- someone unfamiliar with the subject matter must read the article and sign off that it's comprehensible. That idea was rejected because people said they didn't want to complicate the GA process. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:52, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Mwalcoff, I wish I'd known about your proposal for a "dummies test". However I think you should have aimed higher, i.e. to make it a requirement for FA. FA reviews are arduous anyway, and adding another criterion would not complicate the review as much as it would for a GA. In addition there would be a "trickle down" effect, as editors who aspire to FAs would start writing simply, and would copyedit to simplify as they edit sections. ---Philcha (talk) 15:58, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Policy regarding not semi-protecting main page featured articles

I posted the following in the discussion page of the Wikipedia:Main Page featured article protection article, but I thought I'd post this here as well to get more thoughts on the matter. I just requested semi-protection for the article Joe Sakic, as it was a featured article on Wikipedia's main page today (November 12, 2008); however, semi-protection was declined, seemingly for the standard of not semi-protecting featured articles when they're displayed on the main page. As I pointed out in my request, though, there were many vandalized edits that got looked over; thus, they weren't reverted. A lot of backtracking had to be done. The majority of edits on main page featured articles are vandalism. When there are any edits that happen to actually be constructive, they're usually done by established editors. So, factoring all that in, what's the problem with semi-protecting main page featured articles until they're no longer on the main page? It seems as if more harm than good comes out of the current policy. -- Luke4545 (talk) 18:30, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I totally sympathize with you - several articles on which I've been the primary contributor have appeared on the main page. This policy operates under the assumption that many people first edit Wikipedia after seeing "an issue" with something they've navigated to through the Main Page. Semi-protecting those pages discourages these individuals from beginning to contribute and appears to be a slap in the face after we've already advertised ourselves as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. Generally, within a few days of an article appearing on the main page, the primary contributors to the article go back and check to make sure that everything in the article is properly sourced and that formatting is still okay. It can be a lot of work, but it's a small price to pay for seeing your favorite topic exposed to the masses. Note that the policy can be overridden if tremendous amounts of vandalism are occuring (as happened on Nov 4). Karanacs (talk) 19:36, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
It would be pretty hypocritical to say "The free encyclopedia anyone can edit", then a couple inches below that statement, give a link to an article that's supposed to represent Wikipedia at its best that only a handful of the users who visit it can edit. Mr.Z-man 19:39, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I certainly understand both sides of this argument. Mr.Z-man aboves sums it up nicely though. I'd be opposed to automatically semi-protecting Today's Featured Article. - Rjd0060 (talk) 00:06, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Glossary articles and WP:NOT

Wikipeida contains a lot of "Glossary" articles... These seem to contradict the first item in our WP:NOT guideline... Wikipedia is not a dictionary. Perhaps there is some subtle difference between a dictionary and a glossary, but if so it isn't outlined anywhere, so many of these articles are little more than mini-dictionaries with words and definitions (and in many cases the definitions listed are editor created which I think would violate WP:NOR and WP:V, as well as NOT). However, there is a strong argument that these pages are very useful... which calls into question the entire "Wikipedia is not a dictionary statement". In any case, we are currently discussing this issue at WT:NOT, and could use outside opinions... please stop by and add your comments. Questions needing resolving include: Is there a difference between a Dictionary and a Glossary? If so, what is it? If not, how do we justify having all these Glossary articles? Blueboar (talk) 17:29, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

I think that part of the problem is that, for many glossary articles, their primary purpose is to be a navigational aid rather than a true glossary. For example, this one, currently up for AfD, Glossary of alternative medicine is mainly a list of links rather than of definitions. Whether that's a good or bad thing, I am undecided. CIreland (talk) 17:33, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah... it was that AfD that caused me to start the discussion at WT:NOT... To help me form an opinion for the AFD, I looked to see what WP:NOT had to say about "glossaries"... and found nothing but confusion on the topic. Again, this comes down to a lack of clear direction over what a Glossary actually is (it is not spelled out anywhere that I can find). If Glossary = Dictionary, then we either have to take a second look at all of these articles (which will be a major hastle) or we need to rethink the entire "Wikipeida is is not a Dictionary" statement(which I don't think we want to do)... if not, then we need to give editors more guidance as to what the distinction is, what is acceptable and what isn't. The point being that we need major community input to resolve this issue. Blueboar (talk) 18:10, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
There are certain times where the line between dictionary and encyclopedia is blurred, to varying degrees. This is only natural, given the fact that both are reference pieces. EVula // talk // // 01:49, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Thoughts on what Wikipedia glossaries should and should not be

Well, glossaries have a long-standing place in Wikipedia, and there is a Wikiproject aimed at improving them (as well as how many are needed and not yet built). Perhaps what is needed is a better understanding of the different respective purposes glossaries and dictionaries serve. That would help to better clarify what belongs where – and I’ll append my thoughts on what material is best captured by Wikipedia vice Wiktionary.

WP:LIST gives a good succinct description of the purpose of an encyclopedic glossary: “A Glossary page presents definitions for specialized terms in a subject area. Glossaries contain a small working vocabulary and definitions for important or frequently encountered concepts, usually including idioms or metaphors useful in a subject area.” They can be simple lists of terms or presented in a contextual format that provides context for related sub-topics as a handy browsing aid (cf. Glossary of alternative medicine). Dictionaries are much broader in scope and besides simple definitions, addresses such things as a word’s part of speech, pronunciation, etymology, alternate spellings, the spelling of different tenses, and may provide usage quotes.

In essence, dictionaries focus on individual words, per se, while glossaries are more concerned with terms and their meanings within the context of a specific and explicitly focused topical area.

With respect to dictionaries, a glossary is indeed a sort of sub-dictionary that focuses on words and phrases frequently encountered in works in a specialized area of knowledge. Its chief value is that an extensive range of terms related to a given topic can be found in one place for handy reference and quick browsing, as opposed to repeated look-up in a compendious resource like an unabridged dictionary. These terms may often be unlinked in a Wikipedia article (including to Wiktionary), and one need not searching back through a long article for the first-time link, if there is one.

I think the dividing line between what better belongs in Wiktionary than in Wikipedia are lists strictly of slang terms (which is best handled as exemplified by Military slang and wikt:Appendix:Military slang), and lists of “general language” terms (words and abbreviations) not focused on a technical subject (such as are many provided in Wiktionary’s Appendices – although I notice a few there that should probably be here as glossaries). Acronyms are a different can of worms, and are probably best treated as glossary-like lists.

Thoughts? Askari Mark (Talk) 20:56, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

The nature and function of glossaries on Wikipedia - they are descriptive menus!

See Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not#The nature and function of glossaries on Wikipedia - they are descriptive menus!

The Transhumanist 22:10, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

WP's definition of death

I have a feeling I'm about to open a serious Pandora's box here, but here goes anyway. The issue at hand is Motl Brody. He has been declared brain dead, and therefore dead by the laws of the jurisdiction he is in (Washington DC). His parents claim that because he has heart and lung activity, he is still alive. Because this is America, the issue will be resolved by the court system. Until the courts resolve this issue, do we refer to Motl in the past or present tense? (For the record, please do not debate here whether he is or is not dead. The issue at hand is whether we accept the local jurisdiction's definition of death, the family's definition of death, or if WP has its own absolute definition) --Bachrach44 (talk) 21:38, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Please explain how he is dead by the laws of Washington, DC when he is still on life support. Was a death certificate issued for him? Postdlf (talk) 21:47, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not a lawyer, so I can't get into legal intricacies, but from everything I've read DC (and probably most other parts of the US) define brain death as death. The brain regulates the respiratory and cardiac systems, so without outside intervention, the lungs would cease to function almost immediately, and the heart fairly soon thereafter. In this case, the child is on a ventilator which continually inflates and deflates his lungs artificially. He is also on medications which maintain his blood pressure, which keeps his heart beating. --Bachrach44 (talk) 22:02, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I think we accept what the reliable source says. --Kbdank71 21:52, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
The Washington Post source is clear, now that I read it—the hospital and doctors declared him dead, and he's dead according to DC law. So I say...(flipping a coin)...past tense. Postdlf (talk) 21:57, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Sweet! Who has an unfree image? 718smiley.svg --NE2 22:00, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I absolutely disagree in the strongest possible way! To pick a side in this case is a horrible thing for wikipedia to do. And if you need a reliable source, then his - Motl's - Rabbi counts for a whole lot more than some random newspaper. Or even a controversial law (he's alive in New York, but dead in DC?). If you need a guideline I would suggest going by what the person themself would chose, and I'm sure Motl would follow his Rabbi. Ariel. (talk) 14:31, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

In terms of describing him as dead or describing him as not dead, obviously we shouldn't take a side; we should just report on the dispute neutrally, from reliable sources. As for the tense, we should keep it at whatever it was before this happened. To do otherwise would be to pick a side. So I guess that means present tense. Mangojuicetalk 15:18, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
There are exactly two sides. We must pick one. To claim that to pick one of those sides constitutes not picking sides is disingenuous. Algebraist 15:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I'd consider local law and the attending health care professionals more authoritative than the parents or the family rabbi as to whether someone is legally or biologically dead. The Washington Post, the "random newspaper" in question, just reported that the doctors and hospital declared death and that this was consistent with DC law; it's obviously reliable for that purpose. The WP article can obviously describe that the family and their rabbi have a differing viewpoint, but until a court, panel of reviewing physicians, or other relevant institution accepts that viewpoint, it shouldn't be given undue weight so as to authoritatively determine facts (or prevent facts from being determined) within a WP article. Postdlf (talk) 15:58, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Honestly, most of the dispute is avoidable. "He was declared brain dead." "His lungs and heart are continuing to function." Be specific and apply some careful choice of grammar and one can largely avoid the question of having to say that he either "is" or "was" alive. Dragons flight (talk) 16:23, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
The article currently takes this approach for everything except the lead sentence, where the problem is hard to avoid. Algebraist 00:58, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I think present tense makes the most sense - we shouldn't be taking a side on whether or not he's dead, and past tense indicates unambiguously that he is dead, whereas present tense can sometimes be used to refer to dead people. Dcoetzee 19:58, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Don't we have to take a side on such an issue when we decide whether WP:BLP applies? (The same question came up with regard to Natalee Holloway, where the question was whether a missing person should be regarded as dead. The "Possibly living people" category covers this sort of case.) *Dan T.* (talk) 01:07, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't see why we have to take a side. How does "According to A, B, and C ...[1][2][3], but according to X, Y, and Z ...[4][5][6]" violate NPOV in any way? If anything, "taking a side" would seem to violate NPOV. Mr.Z-man 17:30, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, obviously we should not take sides if we don't have to. As noted above, the only problem is how to introduce him: currently it begins "Mordechai Dov Brody (nicknamed Motl or Motyl) (born 1996) is a 12-year-old hasidic boy from Brooklyn" rather than "Mordechai Dov Brody (nicknamed Motl or Motyl) (born 1996) was a hasidic boy from Brooklyn". That is taking a side. Can it be avoided? -- Jao (talk) 17:57, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, you don't lose your gender when you die, so technically, "Mordechai Dov Brody (nicknamed Motl or Motyl) (born 1996) is a 12-year-old hasidic boy from Brooklyn" would be correct regardless, albeit a bit confusing. The easiest thing would just be to rewrite the sentence(s):

Mordechai Dov Brody (nicknamed Motl or Motyl) (born 1996), a 12-year-old hasidic boy from Brooklyn, suffered from a terminal brain tumor and was declared legally dead on November 4, 2008. However, his parents refused to accept the legal definition of death on religious grounds because his heart is still beating.

That would avoid tense in areas where there is a dispute. Mr.Z-man 18:04, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Any policies governing template creep?

Template:United States presidential election, 2008, IMHO, is a bit too wide - an accessibility issue, I believe - and quite huge. Do we have any clear guidelines to help reign this in or is this a non-issue? -- Banjeboi 14:02, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I've never heard of a policy against it, but that doesn't mean that more is mo' betta. Things that are too long are in many ways just as bad as those that are too short. WP:INDISCRIMINATE might be a useful sentiment to throw around, but it's not specific to the issue. SDY (talk) 16:27, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what to think but it reminds me of a comedy where someone accidentally pulls the plug on a self-inflating raft and suddenly this small yellow package unfolds into a massive thing. It is, after all a template but we can do better than this IMHO. -- Banjeboi 11:49, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Request comment on common knowledge

I am wanting clarification on the most basic stuff. The question arose from Talk:List_of_One_Piece_characters for statements like "Luffy is character in One Piece." "Zoro weilds three swords" "One Piece is an anime" which are considered common knowledge and could be easily verifable by someone who looked at a visage of the item. The article does not have any info on where to draw the line with popular culture, nor is WP:fict any real help here either.Jinnai (talk) 19:19, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't call these "common knowledge" (I've never heard of the show) but rather things that are not likely to be challenged. If the character appears in only one episode of an extremely long-running show, it may be obscure enough to require a reference, but if it's the main character and you could cite any episode in the show (i.e. Buffy is the slayer) then requiring a cite is silly. That said, if you can cite any episode in the show, just do it (tm). SDY (talk) 16:47, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I fully agree. This kind of statements must be verifiable, as must any others; but if it can be assumed to be obvious to the reader how to verify them, then we really don't need to tell him. Just be careful with using primary sources, such as the anime itself: the policy is that "anyone—without specialist knowledge—who reads the primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia passage agrees with the primary source". But I can't imagine that would be a problem in these cases. -- Jao (talk) 16:54, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
A lot of editors often tend to confuse the importance and appropriateness of sources. For facts that are obvious by an ordinary person from a primary source, the primary source itself tends to be the best reference if only that fact is being verified (secondary sources merely corroborate in this case, and would only be needed if there existed some doubt over the primary source). As for this specific case, most of the example assertions are without question acceptable, however it must be noted that "One Piece is an anime" is 'weak synthesis' - it requires understanding of the term anime. However, a lay person can easily verify this, and the wiki link itself to anime serves as a cite. LinaMishima (talk) 19:11, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Article content must be verifiable; it does not follow that it necessarily must verified in the article. Only statements that could plausibly be challenged in good faith need citations. Of course, that doesn't prohibit editors from including references for the blindingly obvious if they so wish. CIreland (talk) 18:07, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Should unreferenced material be moved to Wikinfo rather than being removed?

I have been watching a number of pages for some time now and I often see large chunks of useful information being removed from pages because it has not been referenced. Whilst I have no objection with people/bots enforcing this fundamental rule of Wikipedia, I sometime feel that the community in general is loosing by this form of control. Sometimes information that is not referenced is not always wrong or controversial but is in fact useful. An example is when historical information is recorded from peoples memories. Would it not be a good policy to request people move unreferenced material to Wikinfo[1] and put a link to it in place rather than just removing it entirely? I believe such a policy would be beneficial and consistent with the principles of both the Wikipeadia and Wikinfo sites. Also such cross promotion will bring awareness to the Wikinfo site and hopefully help overt such problems in the future. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildplum69 (talkcontribs) 23:41, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure that promotion of the Wikinfo site is something that's going to gain a lot of interest among Wikipedia contributors. It's not a Wikimedia site, and we don't currently even have an article about it—the article was apparently AfD'd as non-notable. See User:Ned Scott/Wikinfo. Darkspots (talk) 00:20, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Does Wikipedia have an authorised Wikimedia site for unreferenced information? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildplum69 (talkcontribs) 01:03, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
A place where anyone can add anything without having to be able to prove that it's true? Isn't that the Internet? But I think you're pointing out an important mistake some people do. Unsourced material should not be simply removed, unless it's obviously incorrect or very controversial. If someone wants a reference for a statement, the original poster (and others) should be given a little time to find a reference first. There are a lot of templates for this kind of requests, plus of course the talk pages. In other words: there's nothing wrong with writing historical information from one's own memory (we all do that), but we should be prepared to find a source if someone wants it. It's very seldom impossible. -- Jao (talk) 14:28, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Not all of the Internet is user editable, that's Wikiepdia's specialty. I agree with your view on unsourced material, however there are others who take a different view and, based on policy believe that any unsoucred material is violating policy and by rights should be removed. Also in an insatiable quest to increase their own personal edit count, they go through page after page removing any unsourced material in the name of doing good, but in reality are just doing it to increase their own edit count. If the policy was that unsourced material should be moved elsewhere as opposed to deletion, then this would have the dual benefit of still allowing people to go through pages and removing unsources material but still making the information available to other that may find it useful. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildplum69 (talkcontribs) 22:07, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Unsourced material should not be simply removed, unless it's obviously incorrect or very controversial. If someone wants a reference for a statement, the original poster (and others) should be given a little time to find a reference first. I entirely disagree when it comes to BLPs - articles should be stubbed rather than unsourced, I don't care how true the information turns out to be. --Cameron Scott (talk) 14:52, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, BLPs are special, of course, per policy. I should probably have thought of mentioning that. -- Jao (talk) 15:57, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
(agree with Cameron Scott, reply to Jao, leaving aside BLP issue) This hinges on the question of original research. Jao, I think your comment makes a good point but I think the possibility exists that you and the OP mean different things by "historical information from one's own memory". I assume that you're talking about information learned from reading reliable sources, but I think that the OP may be talking about people's direct memories of historical events. Some quick google searching makes it seem that this kind of material is mostly self-published on free website hosting services. Darkspots (talk) 15:09, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I was assuming it was referring to things memorized from secondary sources, be they history books written (and read) centuries later or contemporary news reports read the next day, and not to events to which the Wikipedian was an eye witness (or involved). But you may very well be right that I should probably not have assumed that. -- Jao (talk) 15:57, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes this does go to the question of original research, and it is fascinating to note that on that most important and relevant wiki page it says If you have original research or commentary to contribute to a subject, there are numerous other places to do so, such as at WikiInfo.. What I am suggesting is an attempt to codify this statement by a change in policy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildplum69 (talkcontribs) 22:34, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Ok, you add it to policy, then what? I come to wikipedia because I enjoy editing wikipedia - are you going to attempt to mandate that I have to spend my precious time here editing an unconnected site. You could add a *request* but who's going to follow it? --Cameron Scott (talk) 22:36, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
The benefit to adding it to policy is that when somebody comes along and wipes out whole chunks of good stuff in the name of it being unsourced without first moving it to another site (any site they desire) and adding a link to it, then it would become legitimate for someone else to undo the removal with a comment saying that the removal was not done according to policy.
Oh! I didn't realise that's what you meant. Then I'm afraid this proposal will go nowhere - you will never never get a change to policy to say that removal of unsourced material is not allowed unless it is removed to a 3rd party site - not in a million years. Even if it was introduced, the site would grind to a hold in days as POV pushers used it as a tool to keep their favourite crap in. This proposal is stillborn. --Cameron Scott (talk) 00:57, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
If you want to move content to Wikinfo, go ahead and do so, just make sure to follow the terms of the GFDL when doing so. A policy requiring people to copy content to an external site operated by a third party though is a pretty terrible idea. Mr.Z-man 02:09, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I've been browsing around and discovered that there is a whole spectrum of sites created in an attempt (IMHO) to solve this problem. At the upper end is Citizendium which required real user names and strict moderating to Scholarpedia which only allows a curator to approve edits to Wikipedia that has policies to control content to Wikinfo which has more open policies. All of them seem to be forks of Wikipeadia. The fact that there are so many sites suggests that there is a problem here that needs fixing. Particularly noteworthy is the fact Citizendium, a competitor of Wikipedia was setup by none other than a co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger. The crazy thing is that all of the sites are trying to fulfill a common need. What would be ideal (IMHO) is rather than having different sites with different rules, rather have one site that flags or classify information based on rules and then lets the user decide as to what they want to see by using a drop-down selection box for example. I realise this is moving slightly off topic as it is not a policy change but rather a feature change, but what do you think? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wildplum69 (talkcontribs) 03:01, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Substitution, substitution

Hi everyone. This discussion in a nutshell: should relatively stable, static templates such as {{unsigned}} with tens of thousands of transclusions be substituted? Recently, a few bots who were performing this function were taken down due to a lack of consensus, so you know what this means. Time to discuss 'til heat death of the universe!

Previous discussions can be found here and a bit right hurr.

  • Reasons to: saves the job queue's life because the template doesn't have to be loaded every time someone fetches a page (or something technical like that).
  • Reasons not to: If the template is changed the changes are not reflected; WP:PERF and apparently Brion hates substitution with a fiery passion.

If I may note, nobody actually knows what'll happen if we substitute all of these (speaking in technical terms, that is); after all, Brion has said that it probably won't affect performance that much, though I'm skeptical as this goes against everything WP:SUBST has taught me.

P.S. oh, I almost forgot to mention, WP:SUBST is the base policy that I'm talking about here. Master of Puppets Call me MoP! :) 23:56, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

I think I'd prefer to subst them. It should save time in loading pages, and as someone who is often on a dialup connection that's a big deal. I can't see that there are going to be major sweeping changes to this template in the future- and even if there is most instances of the old template are going to be archived pretty quickly. L'Aquatique[talk] 00:15, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
I think its pretty pointless. If people want to subst them when they add them or do it as part of other general fixes, that's fine, but making an additional edit seems pointless. I think short of Brion (or more likely Domas) telling us that this is a problem, its not a problem. Any performance gain is going to be minimal, if anything. The effect on page loading with regard to dialup vs. broadband is nonexistent, as all the processing for the templates is done by the servers, the HTML output would be the same. On an average page with just a few {{unsigned}}s, the effect will likely not even be noticeable due to the effect of other templates (like the {{tl}} I just used twice now) and fluctuations in server load. Mr.Z-man 00:31, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
The first lesson of performance tuning is, measure, don't speculate. Unless you have some way to evaluate the impact of this, it's not worth doing. Massive editing tasks based on pure speculation may have a positive, negative, or neutral performance impact, and will have a noticable usability impact by lengthening page histories, masking edits on watchlists, and so on. Let's not. Dcoetzee 10:13, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Hence me trying to draw Brion into this discussion. Master of Puppets Call me MoP! :) 19:51, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
I would also point out that these bots have been editing archived talk pages. Here for instance (that was on 13 Nov, how recently were they shut off?). I'm not sure they should be doing that, at least not without specific consensus. At least teach them to read the Do not edit this page notice first. SpinningSpark 16:07, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
They aren't changing content. It looks exactly the same except the code is substituted; no violation of archive terms as far as I'm aware. Master of Puppets Call me MoP! :) 19:51, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Are there valid exceptions for Original Research?

Now, before you jump on me, my first instinct is to say "no."

But let me paint a scene for you and see if, sometimes, circumstances alter cases. What I hope to achieve by this is a discussion based on the circumstances that may, in a minor way, have an influence on the policy. I'm not entirely sure where the best place to hold such a discussion is, so have placed it here as a start.

Let us take a piece of software that does something that a number of its users find to be objectionable rather than a simple bug. Those users ask for help on help forums, or blog about the issue. Neither of those styles of source are reliable sources according to our definition. However, Google and other search engines pick up the many separate areas of discussion.

From this one may see clearly that there is an issue. However it could be said that stating this clear fact (that there is an issue) is distillation to produce original research. I can see that with clarity.

Yet, if there are no reliable sources according to the WP definition, despite the forums and blogs being in themselves authoritative, and in some cases the manufacturer or vendor's own support forums, we appear not to be able to include the fact that there is contention, by definition.

I recognise completely that WP is not a newspaper, and its job is not to include news per se. Yet I am not sure that such coverage on forums is news, exactly.

You probably need an example. Please be clear: I am not lobbying for my edits to prevail when I point you at it. Consensus is consensus. Policies are policies. The example is Norton PC Checkup and the results, now removed (see its talk page) for some (many?) users' displeasure with its arrival as a bundle with other software. Obviously it does not record anyone's pleasure! That does not appear on forums etc.

So I come back to my question: Are there valid exceptions for Original Research? Fiddle Faddle (talk) 10:26, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

No - sorry, because what you describe is truth and we aren't interested in truth but verification. How do we know what you are describing is a problem - let's say that all of the forum posts add up to 0.00000001% of the user community, is it still a problem then? That's why we don't make those judgement ourselves, we just rely the "verdicts" of others. So no, I don't see an exception on the basis of the case you have outlined. --Cameron Scott (talk) 11:05, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Furthermore, if the problem is noteworthy, it will have been discussed in reliable sources. In this case, reliable sources would include PC magazines, reviews and articles on professional websites. If it hasn't been mentioned in any reliable source, we can't mention it because it would look like we're pushing a point of view. If it has been mentioned in reliable sources, we can mention it (with appropriate weight). —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 11:14, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Politicians and disambiguation pages

I have found many entries for politicians on disambiguation pages who do not have articles. There is often a bluelink to the legislature to which they belong instead, which on the face of it puts it in compliance with MOS:DAB. However, the article will often only list the name. An example is Mary Murphy where I can see that there is a Mary Murphy in the Minnesota House of Representatives. But following through to the Minnesota article I find no further significant information on Mary Murphy other than that she is listed as a member and her party. So the question is, is there any point of her being on the dab page? Are we just wasting our readers time directing them to look through an article which ultimately is going to tell them no more than they already knew?

I looked at WP:BIO hoping that might provide some guidance but found it laughably unhelpful on politicians. According to that guideline, politicians are intrinsically notable if they have held international, national or first-level sub-national political office. In the case of Guernsey, first-level would be parish councillors, and rather small parishes at that. The whole thing seems very US-(or at least big country)-centric. SpinningSpark 15:50, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Think about the intent of the guideline, and don't get bogged down in its exact language (WP:The rules are principles is an excellent essay on this) ... The intent is to say that politicians who are active at just a local level are not that notable. A small town mayor, or a local councilman is not really notable (or at least not notable simply for being elected/appointed to that office). Of course there are going to be exceptions... a mayor of a major city such as New York or of London is notable even though he/she is "only" a local politician. Common sense applies to all our policies and guidelines. Blueboar (talk) 16:52, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes agreed, that is the common sense approach I would take, although I am not sure I entirely agree with the guideline that members of state legislatures are intrinsically notable merely for being elected. But this is just a side issue and not really answering the question of should Mary Murphy be on the dab page. She is indicated by WP:BIO as being intrinsically notable and so could have an article but she does not. MOS:DAB would have us only point directions to articles we actually have. So on that basis she (along with many similar cases) should be struck from the dab page. Unless the small scrap of mention in Minnesota House of Representatives is considered worth the effort of our reader to trawl through to find. SpinningSpark 18:34, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Red links are fine on disambiguation pages, and useful for fixing incoming links to Mary Murphy that refer to the Minnesotan. --NE2 18:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
According to MOS:DAB, redlink entries are ok if they have incoming links AND an outgoing blue link to where further information can be found. What is troubling me here is does a basic list of names really constitute further information? If this was not a level one politician, but a level two or three, the local council might be notable enough to have an article, and that article might have a list of councillors - none of them notable in themselves. So what stops all those councillors now appearing on dab pages? Remember, there is no test of notability on dab pages, no citations, the dab page relies entirely on the article to provide those. SpinningSpark 19:59, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Suggestion of change in naming of stand-alone lists.

I'd like to start some discussion on maybe changing the naming convention on stand-alone lists as listed at Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists. I am doing this as the current way of how some lists are named has been problematic and has led to quite a few AFDs for lists such as List of X people, List of people who Y, etc.; the big one right now being Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of bow tie wearers (4th nomination).

I would possibly suggest a change to perhaps List of notable X people or List of notable people who Y or something along those lines. Otherwise, we are going to keep having these AFDs in which the arguments for and against deletion are the same each and every time. Any suggestions? MuZemike (talk) 20:04, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

"Notable" is presumably a word to avoid. If WP:N is to be believed, then all information on Wikipedia is presumably "notable". - jc37 20:14, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
It's an interesting term, isn't it. But it further illustrates the point that we need a clearer consensus on what constitutes a notable idea. There have been two newspaper articles I have read in recent months about the relative abundance of cheap road maps in the UK - but do we need an article List of cheap road maps in the UK? Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry (talk) 20:16, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

A discussion regarding the primary source or secondary source classification of highway maps

Wikipedia talk:No original research#Regarding maps being "primary sources" according to this policy --Rschen7754 (T C) 05:19, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

New discussion at Wikipedia talk:External links

At Wikipedia talk:External links, I have proposed a significant change to our guidelines on External Links, expressly discouraging the addition of certain kinds of commercial links, to give us a clearer policy to cite. I am specifically asking that we explicitily ban links in articles about general services or products that link to providers of those services. For example, the addition of the link "" would be an inappropriate addition to fast food. I understand that this is probably covered in a round-about way by other restrictions, but to make it explicit may help avoid the sorts of edit wars we see at numerous articles over the addition of links to MANY articles. Please carry on the discussion at Wikipedia talk:External links and not here. I am only posting this here to generate some interest in discussing the policy change. Thank you. 18:35, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

This exists: "Sites that are only indirectly related to the article's subject: the link should be directly related to the subject of the article. A general site that has information about a variety of subjects should usually not be linked to from an article on a more specific subject. Similarly, a website on a specific subject should usually not be linked from an article about a general subject. If a section of a general website is devoted to the subject of the article, and meets the other criteria for linking, then that part of the site could be deep-linked." --NE2 18:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps that page could use a few practical examples of what and what not to do. Fast food chains might be a good place to start. Mmmm I feel hungrier already. — CharlotteWebb 23:57, 16 November 2008 (UTC)


This has been common practice for ages, and I was surprised that no guideline existed for it. I created this a while back as an essay, and think it ought to be a guideline. Does anybody disagree, or wish to help me expand it? If general consensus here appears to be in support of proposing it as a guideline, I will. Dendodge TalkContribs 13:44, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Currently I think the content is a bit blunt, in its current phrasing being close to biting newcomers. Also I think this idea is worthwhile as an essay, rather than a guideline. Nevertheless I think it is worthwhile further development. Arnoutf (talk) 16:05, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Why do you think it should be a guideline? I'm open to being persuaded, but I'm not sure how having this as a guideline helps to improve the encyclopedia. With some expansion it does make sense to me as an essay. Darkspots (talk) 16:12, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I wondered if there was consensus to make it a guideline. From the looks of things, there isn't. If anyone wants to help me expand it... Dendodge TalkContribs 16:25, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Doesn't seem to be much point in this being a guideline. The help desk is only for help with Wikipedia anyway, and the reference desk already has guidelines which include dyoh. Algebraist 16:33, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I am totally against making this a guideline. I fully support the reference desk practice of not doing people's homework for them, you are not helping them by doing so, and I follow the practice myself when answering questions. However, it is no function of an encyclopedia to dictate who I should, and should not, help with homework and under what circumstances. Making this a guideline starts to hold out the possibility of sanctions, however remote, for someone who fails to follow it and insists on helping with homework. This is going beyond building an encyclopedia and moving in to put-the-world-to-rights territory. SpinningSpark 22:57, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Apart from the Ref Desk (which already has such a guideline), I can't see any reason anyone would help someone with homework, so why do we need a guideline on it? --Tango (talk) 00:20, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Don't think we do at all. It's irrelevant for the rest of Wikipedia. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 00:23, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

The real effects of advertising on Wikipedia

Meta-discussion about socking, archiving

Note: Swinglineboy G and JBackus13 are blocked sockpuppets of a banned user, JeanLatore/Wiki_brah. Darkspots (talk) 19:03, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks to whoever figured this out and blocked them. This is a much better discussion without them. It was becoming more and more obvious as Swinglineboy G and JBackus13 continued to comment that "their" contributions were becoming more and more about trolling than good faith discussion about the issues. Please see WP:Troll. --Timeshifter (talk) 12:39, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Three Wiki_brah socks, is enough already. Darkspots (talk) 04:10, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

I count 2 who participated here, and they were blocked early on. You are not an admin according to the full list of admins [2]. Please do not shut down talk by putting talk sections in archive format without some kind of authority. Please see WP:TALK. We are currently in a fundraising drive, and this talk is relevant now. --Timeshifter (talk) 10:15, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Brandon Rochelle is a blocked Wiki_brah sock. Please do me the courtesy of assuming that I can count. Also, nobody had contributed to the thread in three days. Once you hit that level of socking it's better to start a new thread, which is all I'm saying. Nobody can separate the good faith contributions from the socks after a while.
Also, we all have "authority" to archive a thread, it's clearly a reversible action, so I will archive threads in good faith in the future. Nothing in our talk page policy says you need to be an administrator to archive a thread. It's best not to invent new administrator powers, they have enough already. :) Darkspots (talk) 12:57, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I have archived sections of many talk pages, usually after those sections were months old or more. I archived them to a subpage of the talk page. Using {{archivetop}} and {{archivebottom}} is best left to admins in my opinion. It is unnecessary here most of the time since a bot automatically archives inactive talk sections after 5 days, and moves them to a subpage. I was busy the last few days, and so I did not check here for replies. Without talk section watchlisting it is difficult to know when a reply has occurred here. Anybody could be a sockpuppet, and normally we shouldn't let the appearance of sockpuppets in a thread determine whether a discussion is terminated or not. They are annoyances, and they should be pointed out so that their comments are not respected. --Timeshifter (talk) 16:38, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
And I'm not edit warring with you about it. It looked like the discussion was stale except for more socking, and JL seems like he's on a roll here, so I thought that archiving was the way to go. I'm just trying to keep the bullshit to a dull roar. I don't get what you mean when you say that "anybody could be a sockpuppet". Wiki_brah socks are super obvious trolls. And seriously, administrators are people who are around when you need an account blocked or a page deleted, not the decision makers on the project. Darkspots (talk) 17:11, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
There is discussion within the last few days other than that from the troll. I marked the last sockpuppet of the troll. I wish I had known before I had replied to that sock. It wasn't obvious. Some of the troll's comments are obviously troll-like, and some aren't. At least not at first reading. --Timeshifter (talk) 17:37, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Mischief managed. I removed his post per WP:BAN, and your responses, since you indicated you wished you hadn't responded. Cleans it up a lot so other users can contribute to the actual discussion. Any banned user's contributions (and this editor has been banned by Arbcom) can be reverted by any editor since they are assumed to be unwanted. Cheers, Darkspots (talk) 00:22, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Good job. Thanks. --Timeshifter (talk) 01:02, 11 November 2008 (UTC)


So yeah, I know that they say what will happen if Wikipedia allows paid advertising. Yeah yeah, like everyone will get upset and fork off, start their own Wiki, and all that. But its not like EVERYONE would leave. Some people, especially the newer ones, will stay. Even if a majority of editors left some would stay behind and continue to contribute to Wikipedia even with ads. But what would result? "Wikipedia" still would continue to get mad google hits and attract new users in its post-advertising era, and those disgruntled editors who left in the wake of advertising would be at what would become a wanna-be "forked off" project, not THE wikipedia, which would linger on in obscurity. Wikipedia will thrive even if many of its productive editors left -- no one is irrplaceable, and on the internet, people leave all the time anyway. How many of the productive editors and admins from four years ago (2004) are still here, for instance? The conclusion here is that if and when Wikipedia does decide to allow paid advertisements, it will not suffer one bit for it. Your thoughts welcome. Swinglineboy G (talk) 18:08, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

this has been discussed a thousands times and the answer is always NO, see here. --Cameron Scott (talk) 18:11, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe optional advertising (user decides) has ever been seriously discussed. It has been mentioned at Wikipedia:Advertisements. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:49, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

No, i'm just saying the main reason that advertising has been nixed is because of the massive editor opposition to it and their threats to boycott or leave. My point was that their threats have no weight to them. Wikipedia has a critical mass of its own now, regardless of its individual editors. I guess I was just using advertising as an example to prove that. Swinglineboy G (talk) 18:22, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

It has been discussed to a vast extent. However, the main issue is that as soon as advertising is allowed, advertisers would get pressure from readers to affect the encyclopedia. What company would want their ad on the page for penis, for example? (well...Trojan, maybe) Maybe American Express, if those photos weren't posted. So to please advertisers we could get rid of offensive photos. Then maybe questionable content. Then...what next? Money brings pressure. No money has pressures of its own, but when it's introduced, it has a bigger influence on distorting knowledge. --Moni3 (talk) 18:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Who needs troublesome advertisers? There are millions of advertisers. If optional advertising (user decides) is the mode of advertising used, then neither Wikipedia as a whole, nor the individual users will be effected by anything an advertiser does or demands. Each of us can turn ads on and off, and Wikipedia as a whole can tell troublesome advertisers to go to hell. Or we can move their ads off pages they don't like. There are millions more advertisers who would be happy to advertise on most of the controversial pages on Wikipedia. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:57, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

I am interested in that discussion. Do you know where to find it? What if wikipedia would allow ads but explicitly not entertain any demands. Just be like hey I got your money now naff off. Swinglineboy G (talk) 19:40, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Oh, my. I want to live in your world. Srsly. I am much too cynical. You might want to read this page, and its talk, and join along in the discussion there. --Moni3 (talk) 19:53, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Hey how much would the article advertising space sell for? Would it be specific by article? More importantly, you can say that every editor can "advertize" here on Wikipedia, for free, by editing it. Like if i wanted to talk about how great Zack Enfron is there is noboby that would stop me really -- and I would not have to pay any money to do so! JBackus13 (talk) 00:56, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Another point: Wikipedia is always "losing contributors" for one reason or another. That's one thing I like about Wikipedia: no commitment, no obligation. People come and go as they please. Originally Wikipedia allowed non-logged-in users to create new articles. In the aftermath of various editing abuses, Wikipedia clamped down a little by requiring users to register accounts and log in before creating new articles. Undoubtedly, that policy change caused some unregistered users to leave. So what? The number of new articles kept going up. Now it's up to 6,135,925 and still growing. However, only a tiny fraction of articles are up to featured status yet. Out of 39,648,119 registered users, only some tiny fraction have the editing experience necessary to bring articles up to featured status. For example: what percentage of people who edit on Wikipedia have a solid understanding of WP:CITE, WP:FOOT, and WP:CITET? Editing skill on Wikipedia probably follows something like a power law distribution or Pareto distribution, with the vast majority of contributors able to make only relatively simple edits, and drastically fewer contributors at each increasing level of skill. The problem is that getting up to a high level of skill requires an enormous amount of time and effort. Not many people can afford to sink in the necessary time unless they are fairly well off financially. Someone working two jobs to make ends meet won't have the leisure time or energy to become a Wikipedia expert. Wikipedia needs a lot more experts if it is going to get a large fraction of its articles up to high quality. One way to get more experts might be to start paying people a little something to get up to a high level of skill. I don't think the pay rate would have to be comparable to professional work, since Wikipedia does not burden contributors with overhead expenses like buying business clothes and traveling to a physical office. Wikipedia is already fun enough to do for free, so a lot more people might pursue it seriously if they could just break even on their minimal expenses. Of course once money enters the picture then lots of things start to change; I have no idea whether the net impact would be positive. I'm simply saying that while Wikipedia is not having any trouble attracting vast numbers of contributors, it's doing less well at motivating enough of them to learn Wikipedia editing in depth. This might be even more true in the poorer countries, such as in parts of Africa, where even a modest stipend for skilled editors could make a huge difference. In a place where the average income is $1/day, being able to earn even $10/day for editing on Wikipedia would be a dream job. --Teratornis (talk) 08:34, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
The last time advertising was seriously considered, the result was that the Spanish Wikipedia community split off and started Enciclopedia Libre. My best estimate is that the split set the development of the Spanish Wikipedia back by almost two years. Losing a few contributors is no big deal; losing 90% of the core community is much harder to recover from. --Carnildo (talk) 03:04, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Going with opt-in advertising (user decides) would probably only cause a small percentage of users to leave Wikipedia. Wikipedia really needs the money, and there is so much basic bug fixing and feature enhancement that needs to be done. We need to pay more developers. Better, more intuitive wiki software equals more users. So there would be a net gain in users. Probably a huge gain in users because there would be far fewer slowdowns. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:49, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Only a tiny fraction of users have an account and can set preferences. Even if every user turns it on, you're going from a few million people per day (based on the number of hits per day on the main page) to a few thousand people per day (the number of users who have made at least one edit in the past month) who will see the ads, not including the people who would leave the project if we add any ads, opt-in or not. We would still make money off it, but not nearly as much, it may not even offset the loss in donations from putting ads on. Mr.Z-man 17:01, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
People could opt in through cookies whether they are a registered user or not. The few ideological users who leave because of what other users choose to do (view ads) would be far offset by the many new users who would enthusiastically participate due to a faster Wikipedia, and more choices of things to do such as Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikijunior, Wikispecies, etc.. And whatever else the Wikimedia Foundation decides to start. The money could be used to create unified watchlists. Unified watchlists [3] [4] would greatly increase participation of both new and old users due to being able to more easily participate in multiple Wikimedia projects. I personally would like the option to unify all my watchlists other than English Wikipedia and the Commons. I like those 2 on separate watchlists. The millions of dollars raised from even a few users and readers opting for ads would greatly offset any loss in donations. Those who opt for ads are donating their eyeballs and their time. It is condescending and paternalistic to say that their contribution is not also worthy, and that ads would hurt them somehow. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:32, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Comment. I agree completely. Essays i just read on Wikipedia:Advertisements suggest that Wikipedia might be able to raise nearly $1,000,000,000.00 a year in advertising revenue. That's larger than the budget of some smaller states in the USA and most developing nations! I think Wikipedia should jump on this opportunity, put away a modest 10% for growth and investment in Wikipedia, then divide the rest up and sent something of a "dividend" cheque to each editor at the end of each fiscal year. Said payments could be based upon the number, and quality, of his edits throughout the year. Even if the dividend simply were equally split by registered users (8.1 million I read), the payout still would be in the neighbourhood of 80-90 dollars. But if the divdent were equitably split as a function of edit quality, edit count, and active service to the wiki, then each of the active 2,000 or so users would get quite a large payout each year. If wikipedia does do ads, then it is obvious that they should give most of the money not to charity, but to the wikipedians. This also would deflate much criticism of advertising! JBackus13 (talk) 02:08, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

I once saw an informal study suggesting that most raw content is contributed by occasional users, frequently anonymous users. They might not be as enthusiastic about contributing if some arbitrary set of "core" contributors is receiving big checks based partially on their work and they receive nothing.
However, I for one do favor paid full-time editors - particularly in developing countries where labor in cheap and the local language edition of Wikipedia is in urgent need of beefing up. Dcoetzee 06:19, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Wait! Profits from advertising on Wikipedia are that much?? Zomg! Before you know it we'd be clawing over each other like rats in a cage fighting over that money! I'm buying a pony with my dividend check, and you better be sure i'd be making like hella edits 24/7 on here to get a bigger cut! Hellz yeah! Swinglineboy G (talk) 20:29, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Turning a free and altruistic project into a cash cow (see above) is one of the best arguments not to allow advertisements. Arnoutf (talk) 21:14, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
These type of discussions frequently bring in some crazy ideas. As long as the Wikimedia Foundation stays non-profit and is run by experienced Wikipedia users who truly believe in WP:NPOV, then I think we are OK. Newbies are usually the main ones who go off on the money and glory tangents. Most people who know how much time and effort it really takes to put out all this WP:NPOV info to the world don't usually have these low-level goals. And ramping up the opt-in ads will gradually increase the ad revenue. I doubt it will reach ten million dollars a year instantly. I believe we are on a 4 million dollar a year budget now. We need, and could easily absorb a few million dollars more a year. I believe many registered users would opt for ads over time. Many know the need for the money. A lower percentage of non-registered users would opt for ads. They don't know the need. But there are far more of them. But most don't want to bother clicking an opt-in ad button that would put ads on their Wikipedia pages whenever they stop by Wikipedia. They just drop in from Google and leave. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:51, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
What's wrong with making a little money? The United States would like wikipedia to sell ad space for it would love a 28% tax cut (in the area of $250 million in taxes a year) of wikipedia's revenues to fund the war in Iraq, and Jimbo and the execs would love it because they could give themselves huge salaries and corporate expense accounts. The editors would like it because they would not even have to look at the ads (with ad preferences discussed above) and still get healthy dividend checks each quarter, and Wall Street would like it because with that profit margin (cash flow in the hundreds of millions v. operating expenses of 5 million?), Jimmy could take the thing public and soon be awash in billions of dollars in investor capital....maybe enough to buy a seat on the exchange or get listed on the Dow Jones index. These kind of millions generated into the economy would seriously do a lot to blunt the current financial crisis. So there, advertising on Wikipedia might be worth it to a lot of people, including our veterans and average americans who don't even use wikipedia. JBackus13 (talk) 01:39, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


Ads button.pngI support on/off buttons for opt-in ads on a nonprofit Wikipedia for all readers (via cookies).

--Timeshifter (talk) 14:53, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

The simplest and easiest managed way of raising ad money would be to use Amazon's existing partenership scheme. We don't need full ads, just a change that means anytime any book is listed with an ISBN in an article, the reader would see a little link beside it saying "review this book on Amazon". It's fairly useful for the reader to be able to do that, and if of course he then buys it, the foundation would get cash. If readers are annoyed by it, they can set preferences and opt out. Strictly speaking it isn't advertising, since there is no "hey buy this" on out site, just a link to where you can see if it is in print and what the cost is, if you want. Given that wikipedia is often the first port of call for someone interested in a subject, the number of people interested in buying on of the books listed might be quite high. It also solves the problem of add selection, as the "ads" would be selected by those constructing sources and further reading sections. And I imagine, all products linked from Penis would be genetailia or sexual health related.--Scott MacDonald (talk) 15:40, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Good idea, and fairly simple to implement now. There are more choices than just ads on every page, or no ads on any page. From Wikipedia:Advertisements: "In a comment dated March 7, 2008 on his Wikipedia talk page Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has stated"
While I continue to oppose the introduction of any advertising in Wikipedia, I also continue to agree that the discussion should evolve beyond a simple binary. I believe that if we looked at putting ads into the search results page (only), with the money earmarked for specific purposes (with strong community input into what those would be, either liberation of copyrights or support for the languages of the developing world or...). As the Foundation continues to evolve into a more professional organization capable of taking on and executing tasks (yay Sue and the growing staff!), it begins to be possible to imagine many uses of money that would benefit our core charitable goals. Lest I be misunderstood: I am not saying anything new, but saying exactly what I have said for many years. --Timeshifter (talk) 07:28, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Personally, I think the ISBN link is a terrible idea-- we're being spammed heavily enough as it is. If everyone with a book to sell thought they could increase sales by finding a way to use it in Wikipedia references, we'd go mad trying to clean up the results. -- Mwanner | Talk 20:03, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Good point. It was a creative idea, though. But you are right about the incentive it would create for authors and booksellers to reference their books on Wikipedia. --Timeshifter (talk) 12:45, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that is a terrible idea. We get enough spam and references to vanity publishing as it is. We certainly don't need to create a financial incentive to make more of it and further degrade the quality of the project. Celarnor Talk to me 13:11, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion many of the past discussions ended up in silly binary ideological arguments over capitalism. As in; 1: We use ads on all pages and we will have to bow to the evil capitalist swine, or; 2. We remain pure and chaste by having no ads on any pages. --Timeshifter (talk) 07:28, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Comment This thread is not up to the usual Wiki_brah standard. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 16:07, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't know about JBackus13 though. ;) --Timeshifter (talk) 07:28, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

So............... how much revenue will advertising bring? Is it $10 million a year, as suggested by another user above, or is it $1,000,000,000? That is obviously a huge disparity; does anyone know? I can see passing on it if its just $10 mil, but $1 billion? Man, gimme a piece of that shit! Does wikipedia know what it can do with that kind of money -- like buying Encyclopedia britannica, for example? Or funding its own military force like Blackwater Worldwide or some such other worthwhile endeavor. JBackus13 (talk) 22:53, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Dividends based on edit count? Any suggestions on how I should spend my $3,000,000? --Carnildo (talk) 01:15, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Well the thing is wikipedia can't keep the money, since its a non-profit. So the only thing they could do is pass the profits (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) to somewhere else. The U.S. government would prefer that the money be passed onto taxable entities-- the users, so the gov't could collect income taxes on it. And the editors do have a "stake" in wikipedia based on the equitable value of their contributions to wikipedia. Thus, Wikipedia will be a "pass through" non-profit where the revenue is taxed when it "passes through" to the users themselves. That way the government benefits, and the user benefits, for even after taxes, that's a lot of money. Like carnildo said, he would stand to gross $3m, which would still be about $1.8 million, post-tax. JBackus13 (talk) 04:31, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

In my opinion Wikipedia is not about making money for its editors. I think if we ever have enough money (highly unlikely) to think about paying editors to edit pages, then it should be editors from disadvantaged parts of the world. And it should only be concerning regions where we do not have enough Wikipedia articles. See also: WP:Countering systemic bias. A better idea would be to put out some public service ads asking for expatriates from those disadvantaged countries to do more editing. People in the poorest parts of the world don't even have computer access, so paying them will do little good. --Timeshifter (talk) 07:40, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

"Disadvantaged" parts of the world are rife with corruption and graft. If Wikipedia started paying Africans and other third-worlders money to edit chances are this money would be intercepted by the warlords and public officials, not doing the average "wikipedian" in Africa the slightest good. This money would simply be used to fund war and human rights violations. Swinglineboy G (talk) 15:14, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I wasn't clear in my last comment. I actually do not support paying editors. I think it is better to make greater efforts to recruit editors from countries that need more coverage in Wikipedia. There are now WikiProjects for many nations and regions. Their efforts have done a lot of good. I think we need to further extend their reach with free public-service ads to places with expatriates from those countries. For example; university press and media and websites. University-connected radio stations often air ads from nonprofits for free. The expatriate students can pass the word on to their friends and associates in their countries. Even though the poorest nations may not have internet access in most parts of their nations, even the poorest nations oftentimes have internet access in some of the cities. Personal internet access and internet access in libraries, businesses, cafes, etc.. I communicated with someone who used internet cafes in Laos, for example. --Timeshifter (talk) 16:23, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

There is nothing new under the sun... First, estimates of ad revenue are just that: Estimates. Revenues depend on supply and demand. All of Wikipedia suddenly being open for advertising would greatly increase the supply of ad space. Selling in bulk always decreases the price. And apart from editors leaving, there also is the question of donations. Would you donate to a Wikipedia that's raking in cash hand over hand via ads? Also, ads need infrastructure. So part of the revenue would immediately go towards more servers and bandwidth. Developers, currently often volunteers, would also expect to be paid. Assume US$250000 per developer per year if you have to pay real costs (and that is probably rather low). I would be surprised if a solidly argued business case even exists. And I'd only trust it if the author backs it by guaranteeing an increase in revenue - and a faster one than Wikimedia has managed on donations alone. As for the the idea of paying "dividends" to editors? Just image the overhead, and the possibilities for abuse. How do you evaluate the quality of contributions? If you reward quantity, be prepared for an invasion of bots. In short, this idea seems to be completely unworkable. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 17:46, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

We need more developers. And they don't cost anything close to US$250,000 per developer per year. Some would get paid, some wouldn't. Just like now. You are making several incorrect assumptions in my opinion. Ads do not require a massive infrastructure. Google ads for example are easy to implement. Google does most of the work. And there is no doubt that opt-in ads would raise more money than donations eventually over time. More money than donations alone could ever be reasonably expected to do. That is not a bad thing. We can ignore the dividend ideas. That was started by the sockpuppet trollers. --Timeshifter (talk) 13:00, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
If we need more developers, then the solution is to reach out to students and others interested in the development of Mediawiki, not to throw money it. Paying them simply isn't necessary; all that's necessary is that we rid ourselves of the elitist developer mentality that we have now and welcome the code commits of new people. There are other solutions to the problem than becoming corporate slaves. Celarnor Talk to me 13:07, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
We obviously need more developers. Good ones, too. Because some mistakes can be very damaging. Here is a message currently at the top of my Commons watchlist:
"On Friday September 5, 2008, a human error resulted in the loss of many images (most current list). Since then, the vast majority have been recovered by various means. Please see the post to the commons-l mailing list for technical details. Please do not request deletion of any of the affected images. If you have a copy of these images, please upload them at the image's current page. You may be able to find the images on, Google cache or similar sources. Further inquiries may be directed to commons-l."
I am distressed that we don't currently have the multiple levels of hardware and software backup that we need to prevent these types of serious losses. Imagine the huge amount of time that went in finding, uploading, describing, and categorizing these lost images. I have donated thousands of hours of time editing Wikipedia and the Commons. I am not surprised by this problem, though, because of the small budget that Wikimedia has. Relative to the huge number of hits that Wikipedia gets. --Timeshifter (talk) 13:20, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Backing up commons to disk would be a massive task, and would require a ridiculous amount of storage. Most of the images that you mention were found in the squid cache, leaving only around ~500 orphaned, which really isn't all that many when compared to the vast amount of data that resides there. But, yeah, we do need more developers. Why not ask them to accept more? Celarnor Talk to me 13:35, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
I am really glad that in the end only ~500 images were lost. I have websites of my own, and have worked on others. One gallery I helped out at recently lost most of its albums. The images remain, but without most of the albums the images might as well have been lost since they are no longer easily accessible by most people. Maybe 6 months from now and with a lot of work the gallery can be rebuilt from copies of the albums. purposely is always 6 months behind in its archiving of a site. I hope that the Wikimedia Foundation accepts more qualified developers. I have seen the damage that inexperienced web developers can do. I have asked Bugzilla to accept more reports. See: mw:Talk:Bugzilla#Email addresses do not need to be public anymore --Timeshifter (talk) 13:51, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
"rid ourselves of the elitist developer mentality that we have now and welcome the code commits of new people" - Do you actually know what the process is to become a developer? Its basically:
  1. Submit a few patches to Bugzilla that don't suck and get them reviewed and/or write up a nice extension and get it committed to SVN, to establish that you know what you're doing.
  2. Send an email to Brion or Tim asking for commit access.
  3. Get approved, exchange SSH public key, checkout a copy of the code.
  4. Start working.
If you use IRC, you can do the last 3 steps in a few minutes. As far as I know, there's no backlog of people waiting for access, just not very many people volunteering. Mr.Z-man 16:24, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, if not dividends (I am opposed to that myself), Wikipedia should then keep the profits. Become a for-profit corporation. Imagine what Mr. Wales could buy with all that money. Not to mention offering stock in Wikipedia, which would raise more billions of dollars. Seriously, this kind of money being put to use in the the economy would do a lot to stave off the financial crisis and coming recession. JBackus13 (talk) 04:13, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Big misunderstanding. Money is not being made, it is being redistributed. And advertising dollars that go into Wikipedia would go missing somewhere else. The real value that Wikipedia offers is the encyclopedia. This value is the higher the less strings - visible or invisible - are attached. And if Wikipedia became a publicly traded for-profit, the board would be forced by law to maximize investor returns, not encyclopedic quality. American Idol meets the WWWF - here we come. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 08:22, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
I see you fail to appreciate even the rudimentary aspects of capitalism. Your "zero sum" take on the economy hearkens back to simple Marixan ideology that has been defunct for at least a century. Get with the times... Swinglineboy G (talk) 17:59, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Semi-arbitrary break

Ads button.pngI support on/off buttons for opt-in ads on a nonprofit Wikipedia for all readers (via cookies).

The trolling by Swinglineboy G and JBackus13 became very obvious with their later comments. --Timeshifter (talk) 13:06, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

This user stands against advertisements on Wikipedia.

For balance. :) Celarnor Talk to me 13:08, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Comment. Direct advertising is not the only choice we have. Indirect advertising would work too. For example; the Google search box. See: Wikipedia:Advertisements#Income from search tools on wikipedia pages. For example; from AdSense#AdSense for search is this:

"A companion to the regular AdSense program, AdSense for search, allows website owners to place Google search boxes on their websites. When a user searches the Internet or the website with the search box, Google shares any advertising revenue it makes from those searches with the website owner. However the publisher is paid only if the advertisements on the page are clicked: AdSense does not pay publishers for mere searches."

A variation of this allows the non-profit Mozilla Foundation to raise around $60 million dollars a year. They put Google search as a dropdown option in their Firefox browser search form at the top of all their browsers. --Timeshifter (talk) 14:07, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

I emphasize again that paying out "dividends" is utterly infeasible for Wikipedia - our contributor base has many core contributors, but also a fat tail of occasional contributors who contribute a large proportion of all content. The administrative and transaction costs are far too high to pay all these people proportionally to their contributions (it's difficult to even determine the value of each user's contribution). There's a reason donation money goes to hardware, and not to us - any kind of compensation system would create perverse incentive to contribute for return without contributing any content of real value. Dcoetzee 20:05, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I don't know why you are replying to me, though. --Timeshifter (talk) 21:28, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not. I was replying to the original poster. Blame wiki-based threads and indentation resetting. Dcoetzee 23:48, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
We're not the Mozilla project. They make a browser. We're not a browser. That makes sense in a browser; it doesn't make sense here. Placing a widget to provide search functionality for an external website not connected to the project and that may lead to non-RS/blacklist/spam sites doesn't seem like a particularly good idea by any reasonable stretch, not to mention the ideological problems with an advertisement-driven Wikipedia, which I think are more than enough to keep this from happening. Celarnor Talk to me 18:46, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
There is nothing special about a browser searchbox. Nor is there anything special about a Wikipedia searchbox. There is one in the left sidebar. As I said earlier, the objections to opt-in ads and expanded searchboxes seem mostly to come from a few ideologues. But I haven't heard any objections to the Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search tools in Wikipedia's main search page at Special:Search. Click on the dropdown menu there. That searchbar could be moved to the top of Wikipedia pages. There would be no namespace table. So there would be a short searchbar using up half a line. Using space that is currently unused at the very top of Wikipedia pages. --Timeshifter (talk) 19:03, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
Where on the top of the page? The only empty space I can see is next to the page title, but that's only if the title is short enough. And that would be a really annoying place for a search box. Mr.Z-man 21:06, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
There's a big difference between a browser searchbox and a Wikipedia searchbox. A webwide search bar makes sense in a browser; it is, after all, a web browser. That's kind of one of its functions. On the other hand, Wikipedia is a web site; beyond that, we're an encyclopedia. We are not a webwide search engine. if someone wants to search the entire web, they should go to a search engine.
There's also a big difference between using another searching utility to crawl Wikipedia's contents (which makes perfect sense, and can be accomplished without advertising nonsense) and using advertising and adding more searchboxes to confuse users. I don't go to Wikipedia to search the web; I go to Wikipedia to search Wikipedia.
What you propose doesn't even make sense; why on earth would I want to add more steps to a simple process? If I wanted to search the web, I'd use my more efficient browser search bar, which sends my search directly to the wanted search engine; no unnecessary duplicated POSTS happening. I don't want to see all kinds of sponsored crap showing in my searches, and I certainly don't want any kind of corporate interests leveraging any kind of search on-wiki. Celarnor Talk to me 22:07, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
You obviously are ignorant about Special:Search, Wikipedia's main search page. The dropdown menu allows one to use search engines from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc. to search Wikipedia.
The left half of the very top line of any Wikipedia page is open. That is what I see right now to the left of my user name at the very top of the page. I am signed in. The searchform and dropdown menu from Special:Search could easily fit there. There is even more space if the Wikipedia globe on the top left is pushed down a little bit.
It is mainly ignorance and a few ideologues that are against millions of dollars of search engine money coming our way. Control-freak ideologues try to control others. They want to prevent others from viewing what those other people want to view. Such as ads. This is paternalism. A non-paternalistic attitude would not feel that optional ads are wrong. Wrong for who? Shouldn't readers decide what to view? --Timeshifter (talk) 05:33, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
You're obviously ignorant about what The search page is. Those items on Special:Search use existing utilities to search Wikipedia; they don't add interstatial ads, popup ads, or any kind of extra fluff nonsense. They're a search engine for here, nowhere else; they don't search outside domains. They're not there to make Wikipedia your "web portal". That's not what Wikipedia is. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. And again, like I said, there's a big difference between using someone else's search to trawl Wikipedia and using it to generate ad revenue by putting it in the worst possible place I can think of; the first is current practice. The second ties us to advertisers, as well as making searching clumsy and unprofessional.
If remaining independent from corporate influence and remaining untied to the ad market is 'ignorance', then I guess that's a label that I can live with. At least I'll have a clean conscience and a nice, readable, sensibly designed encyclopedia that doesn't rape me every time I want to find something. Celarnor Talk to me 13:33, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Such hyperbole. So you use Special:Search and the Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search engines there to search Wikipedia? Putting a half-line version of Special:Search on the top of every page would not "add interstatial ads, popup ads, or any kind of extra fluff nonsense." It is strictly a change of location for a search form that you already use. The big search form would remain at Special:Search. The truncated version would be at the top of every Wikipedia page, and would be much more convenient.
The search results page can be made to open up in another browser tab so as not to cover up the Wikipedia page one is reading. You won't be raped. :) --Timeshifter (talk) 05:26, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
So, then, you're seriously proposing a per-search revenue stream without any kind of advertisements wherein the search only operates on a specific domain? Where's the financial incentive for them to do that? You seriously think anyone would go along with that? Celarnor Talk to me 14:09, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
A variation of this allows the non-profit Mozilla Foundation to raise around $60 million dollars a year. They put Google search as a dropdown option in their Firefox browser search form at the top of all their browsers. For more info please see Wikipedia:Advertisements#Income from search tools on wikipedia pages. --Timeshifter (talk) 10:15, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Please re-read my previous comment. Mozilla's arrangement with Google involves webwide search; it isn't "(searchterm)". By your previous comments, you seemed to be advocating re-implementing the search page as a gadget at the top of the page, and inserting advertisements in the ensuing results. If you were referring to implementing a web-wide search, see my comments earlier about the problems of having a search that could return non-RS/blacklist/spam sites. Celarnor Talk to me 01:13, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

(Unindent) When Special:Search does a Google search of Wikipedia it uses a variation of this:

Specifically, it uses the following format:

As with most links there is no intermediary involved. The URL goes directly to Google. It pulls up a Google site-search page. That results page has standard Google text ads on the side. That is where the ad money comes into the picture. It is not a web-wide search, but it is still a Google search results page with ads. There is a possibility of a financial arrangement being made with Google to place the Special:Search form (without the checkbox table) at the top left of every Wikipedia page. Similar arrangements could be made with Yahoo, Microsoft and other search engine providers to be in the dropdown menu.

There is no problem with "non-RS/blacklist/spam sites" since those search results and ads are not on Wikipedia pages. Any source link or external link on Wikipedia (including searchforms) can lead to "non-RS/blacklist/spam sites" being linked on the external link page. Wikipedia can not control what other pages link to.

Even more money could be made by putting an option to search web-wide too. --Timeshifter (talk) 02:41, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

There are several big issues with this:
  1. Google is not free software - Wikimedia uses free/open source software for pretty much everything possible. The current "advanced search" thing is JavaScript based and maintained entirely by users. If we make it "official" and organized through the foundation, then it potentially becomes an issue. Especially as we have a developer actively working on the MediaWiki internal search.
  2. Any source/EL can potentially lead to "non-RS/blacklist/spam sites" but we would probably try to avoid those in favor of sources that don't contain links to problematic sites, those other sources aren't paying us for prime placement, and they aren't officially endorsed by the foundation. We can't control what they link to, but we can remove them from our site if necessary. We can't control what Google puts in their ads (Google may not be able to either [5]) so we'd basically be stuck with whatever they want.
  3. We avoid the same scale of potential COI/NPOV issues as we would have with ads directly on pages, where advertisers may attempt to exert control over pages, but there would still be some potential issues. Even if they don't actually exist, people have a tendency to see conspiracies given any shard of potential evidence.
Personally, I think the first issue (closed source + proprietary technology) would be the biggest for the Foundation, though the second and issues (we have no control over what appears in search results and Google has potential leverage over us) would probably be an issue with the community. Mr.Z-man 03:23, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
It does not seem to be an issue now with Special:Search, Wikipedia's main search page. I have not heard of anyone complaining about the options there in the dropdown menu to choose Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. to do site searches of Wikipedia.
Site search by Wikimedia's own non-proprietary search engine (MediaWiki search) is not effected by any of this. It is currently the default search engine at Special:Search. I think it should remain the default search engine no matter where the search form is placed.
The other site-search options (Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, etc.) have to be selected in the dropdown menu. People need to try Special:Search themselves to fully understand. --Timeshifter (talk) 04:20, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
You act like none of us know it exists; there's just no reason to complain about it now. It's not our revenue stream, so we don't get leveraged by ad providers. It's not widely advertised or used here, so there's no need for SEOs to manipulate the project to optimize ad placement for their clients. It's more "these are better search tools than MediaWiki's internal search, which isn't particularly intelligent, you may want to use it." If the Foundation started gaining sustainable income from sites not based on OSS, you bet I'd start complaining. Celarnor Talk to me 09:06, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
The Wikimedia Foundation board would not let anyone pressure or manipulate them or us. The fact is that ads are already on pages found via external links and source links. Same as on Google search result pages. It is just another external link. We might as well make some money from it. --Timeshifter (talk) 15:58, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
As I said, the current Google search thing is maintained entirely with JavaScript by users here. It is not the default search engine, and you only see it when the internal search doesn't work. If we put a Google search box on the top of every page, we can't argue that it isn't the main search form anymore. Currently, all external links are voluntarily added to pages, the community, or in most cases, any editor, can remove them at any time. If Google is paying us for prime placement and we build the form into the software, we lose that ability, and Google gains leverage. If Google were to want to exert influence over us now, the only thing they could really do is stop indexing Wikipedia pages, which would mainly hurt them. If they have monetary influence, then they have a much stronger bargaining chip. Mr.Z-man 16:06, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Why would Google care to pressure us? If they exert pressure we can ignore them. What can they do? Not renew the contract? So what? We can always go back to donations. But it would not be in Google's interest to try to manipulate Wikipedia. They probably know how independent-minded we all are. We can also make this very clear during the initial contract negotiations.
We can build in a "kill switch" into the MediaWiki software. So that if Google, Yahoo, or Windows Live pressures us too much, or does not renew the contract, we can easily remove the relevant search engine from the dropdown menu.
I don't quite know what you mean by "you only see it when the internal search doesn't work." I see Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live all the time in the dropdown menu at Special:Search. I assume you are talking about the sidebar search form? --Timeshifter (talk) 16:36, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Ads are not already on our pages, and saying that they are because external links have them is a non-starter. We don't make money from them. We can't do anything about sites that do have them. While it would be nice to be able to link to sites that don't have advertisements, the sad thing is that many of them do, and its more important to have a good source than a bad one. But that's an entirely separate issue. It seems like you're grasping at straws at this point.
Also, you still don't seem to quite understand the problem with SEO and what not. It's going to affect the project whether you want it to or not; SEO companies will see it as a new manipulation vector when we start encouraging people to use ad-ridden external search utilities.
Also, have you given any thought to the look-and-feel issues? Apart from putting the bar in the proposed location (which would be gross, and in at leas 8 point font), searches aren't going to look the same as regular searches. They're going to be browsing Google's index of Wikipedia rather than Wikipedia. Is that really what we, as a project, want? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Celarnor (talkcontribs) 18:33, 11 November 2008

Site-search form example

(unindent) The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Search engine optimization (SEO) only works if companies are able to add links to their sites and products. Spam links are currently controlled by the many spam admins and spam-watching editors on Wikipedia. Most editors keep an eye out for questionable external links. Wikipedia results are already at or near the top of many, if not most, searches on Google. A site-search engine will matter little concerning already ongoing SEO-motivated spam links.

Here is a schematic of a possible search form at the top left of the page.

|___________________________| .Dropdown menu. Go. Search

There is plenty of room for the search form at the top of the page. The left half of the page is available on my 17 inch monitor.

The search form at Special:Search combined with the dropdown menu there is not that long. "Advanced search" can be shortened to just "Search". The form itself can be shortened slightly. The whole thing would then fit fine at the top of the page.

It would use currently unused space (unused by registered users). The Wikipedia logo at the top left can be pushed down a quarter inch. The sidebar search form can be removed to keep the sidebar short. The sidebar search form would be unneeded because it would be a duplicate search form. The "Go" button can be moved next to the top search form. --Timeshifter (talk) 03:39, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

And you'd want to use the portlet size fonts for this? You'd have to scale them down by about 20% to fit them with a a text input and buttons to keep them from being gross and looking like it was hacked together as some Freshman's intro to multimedia project. At that point, you're talking about 6-point font. I can't even read six point font. If, by some craziness, this actually does get implemented, it should be implemented as a gadget that replaces the current search bar, with radio boxes or a dd menu underneath it for selecting which search to use; this way, there's no unnecessary ugliness, and it only gets used by those users who expressly choose to by installing the gadget. Note, however, this doesn't deal with any of the secondary, indirect problems that are created for the project by becoming advertisement-supported that effect everyone, regardless of whether they opted in or not. Celarnor Talk to me 04:12, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Also, I don't quite understand the points you're making regarding SEO; the fact that it exists in another vector doesn't really matter. What matters is that, with this implemented, you're talking about a huge influx of people who think that the external search is the "right" one to use, so we're going to get inundated with spam links and edits trying to link products in adwords to individual pages and searches for a vector that was heretofore unused (or at least, practically so). Its already bad enough it is with regards to spam links and the like, it really doesn't need to get any worse. Celarnor Talk to me 04:15, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Readable font sizes should be used. People can choose any search engine they want for site searches of Wikipedia. They can do that now. More people will find what they want to find this way. Competition between our own non-proprietary search engine and other search engines will make both better. Both types of search (ours and theirs) can be selected from the dropdown menu. Ours is the default search engine. All is good, all is fine. The sky is not falling! --Timeshifter (talk) 04:56, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand what I said, so I'll reiterate. Normal size fonts could not be used by any stretch; the biggest you could use without being completely ugly would be the portlet fonts (the "My watchlist", etc links in the upper right), and in order to keep it from looking like its attached to the rest of the page, and in keeping with the rest of the monobook theme, there should be about 20% of the widgets distance in empty space between it and other elements. That leaves you using six point font in a search form and a drop down menu.
Users can do that now at the search page, but we:
A) Aren't making money from it, and as a corrolary, not encouraging users to use it,
B) Don't have it directly doable from the main page, also not encouraging users to use it.
In fact, I imagine a lot of people don't even know its there. As I've said before, its a small, small subset of people who use Google in such a way. Wikipedia is one of the top 10 most accessed sites. We also give anyone the ability to edit content that gets crawled and indexed. Are you seriously so naive as to think that there won't be any kind of repercussions from encouraging the use of a advertisement-driven search engine isn't going to result in them trying to ramp up Wikipedia's content for their clients? If I were them, I'd be drooling over this conversation and eagerly waiting.
Also, MediaWiki's internal search can be quite intelligent when configured properly and with sufficient power behind it; it has a lot more analytical capability than most people give it credit for simply because it isn't enabled beyond its most basic functions here on Wikipedia. Its code doesn't need much in the way of improvement, and I really don't see how simply having a link to another search engine is going to spur developers to write a better search engine. At the moment, the reason it sucks is that we just don't have the computing power necessary to run it at its full potential. And, really, I don't think that its particularly necessary. Between internal links, lists, categories, and what not, its quite easy to find what you need without an extremely intelligent search engine. Celarnor Talk to me 07:47, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I hardly ever use MediaWiki's search engine. Google is fast, consistent, and has a multitude of equally fast advanced options for site-specific search.
There is no need to use a small font for the search form. I gave an example previously:
|___________________________| .Dropdown menu. Go. Search
Look at how little space it needs. The search form itself could be shortened more if necessary. The Wikipedia logo could be moved down a quarter inch. That leaves a blank space between the search form and the User name (when logged in).
Many people like me are already using their Google toolbars to do site-searches of Wikipedia. So the incentive for SEO addition of spam links has long existed. --Timeshifter (talk) 16:14, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't know where you're getting that you think something that size is going to fit in that space, especially taking into account the need for ~ 20% of its height in empty space, or at least 10% in one direction. If you really do think it can fit there, you must be using a different skin than anyone else. Celarnor Talk to me 22:20, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
It is 4 words of text: Dropdown menu. Go. Search
Plus a search form of variable length: |____________________|
I am using the default monobook skin.
"Dropdown menu" is placeholder text for whatever the name is for the default search engine listed at the top of the dropdown menu listing search engine options for site searches of Wikipedia. At Special:Search it is "MediaWiki search" which is our own non-proprietary site search engine.
The search form can be shortened even more. The Google Toolbar is optionally installed on browsers of all kinds (MS Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc). It combines the "Search" button with a dropdown menu of more search choices. One of those choices is to search the site one is currently viewing. The Wikipedia search form I suggest putting on the top left of every page could be shortened by combining the search button with the dropdown menu.
The Google Toolbar on my browsers (MS Internet Explorer and Firefox) uses one quarter to one third of a line. It depends on how big I choose to make the search form. I can drag it to make it any length. --Timeshifter (talk) 12:24, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
It's not about the length; its about the width. There's just not enough vertical room there unless you're going to use the portlet fonts, and that's ridiculous. Celarnor Talk to me 01:40, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with vertical room for
|_______________| Search. Go.
The text size can be made any height we decide. Space under the text can be as wide as we decide. Relax. Be happy, don't worry. :) --Timeshifter (talk) 13:19, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
You should probably familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of UI design if you can't understand why having something smaller than those portlet items is completely okay, because I don't seem to be doing very well in getting that point across. Celarnor Talk to me 02:04, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
There is space in the user interface on Wikipedia pages for placing the search box above the Wikipedia logo at the top left. The Wikipedia logo only needs to be pushed down a little. --Timeshifter (talk) 09:04, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Indirect advertising

If somebody is proposing something, could they start a new thread at WP:VPR, please? This appears to be a very confused discussion, that is taking up almost half the VPP page... If there is still relevant ongoing discussion about advertising, could we perhaps have a summary? -- Quiddity (talk) 23:56, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

It is about indirect advertising. Please see: Wikipedia:Advertisements#Income from search tools on wikipedia pages.
From the lead section of Wikipedia:Advertisements:
In a comment dated March 7, 2008 on his Wikipedia talk page Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has stated
"While I continue to oppose the introduction of any advertising in Wikipedia, I also continue to agree that the discussion should evolve beyond a simple binary. I believe that if we looked at putting ads into the search results page (only), with the money earmarked for specific purposes (with strong community input into what those would be, either liberation of copyrights or support for the languages of the developing world or...). As the Foundation continues to evolve into a more professional organization capable of taking on and executing tasks (yay Sue and the growing staff!), it begins to be possible to imagine many uses of money that would benefit our core charitable goals. Lest I be misunderstood: I am not saying anything new, but saying exactly what I have said for many years."
This is not at the proposal stage yet. The previous talk section is about getting some of the money from the ads on Google search result pages for site searches of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales was talking about putting ads on MediaWiki search result pages for site searches of Wikipedia.
I think Jimmy Wales idea would work if people opted in for those ads on MediaWiki search result pages. Then people like Celarnor would not have to view them. Only people who chose to view the optional ads on MediaWiki's search result pages would see the ads there this way. --Timeshifter (talk) 04:51, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
We could even make the dropdown menu of outside search engines be an optional addition. Then no one would have to view the indirect ads that did not want to view them. --Timeshifter (talk) 13:29, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Oh, that. Not this year. The sky is falling, and we'd like to not think about the economy right now, please and thank you. Also, considering all the variables, it might become more realistic to officially/foundationally consider such things in the near future. Lastly, they're in a better place (organizationally, professionally, and SanFranciscanally) to consider such things than you or we are... I'd suggest dropping it for at least 6 months (Unless you're getting traction above. You didn't mention support, so I assume not). -- Quiddity (talk) 08:56, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, let's not think about the economy right now. ;)
The Wikimedia Foundation could do this right now if they wanted to. They need the feedback of this kind of discussion. I only see minor opposition to indirect advertising or optional ads. There is support here and in other talk pages. It will be interesting to see if we reach $6 million in donations. The number of weekly page views of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia project pages is probably increasing so fast that $6 million may not be enough to prevent frequent slowdowns in the next year, and to resolve all the new bugs in a timely manner. A constant battle. --Timeshifter (talk) 10:15, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
You're only seeing minor opposition because nobody seriously expects it to happen, and therefore, it's not worth getting worked up about. If a member of the Foundation were to post a proposal, I'd expect people to start screaming bloody murder. --Carnildo (talk) 00:39, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I, and others, have discussed various aspects of this in multiple places, and there have been only a few opponents. The wholesale opposition, myself included, is to direct ads on all pages without user or reader choice in the matter. --Timeshifter (talk) 04:13, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I think when, and if, it comes to a site-wide vote of some kind--god forbid--, then it would become quite obvious that pretty much everyone is opposed to the idea; at this point,it just isn't something most people need to worry about. If a member of the Foundation posted something, or if it started garnering wide enough support for something like that to actually *happen*, then you'd probably start seeing people screaming. Celarnor Talk to me 02:03, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
There would be a few people screaming. But looking at our discussions here and elsewhere, I believe that the actual percentage of Wikipedia users that would be opposed to optional ads (direct or indirect) would be fairly small. Especially after thorough discussion, and after the screaming ended. --Timeshifter (talk) 09:01, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Moving search box to the top of the sidebar

Additional input is sought. Please see this discussion:

The Internet Movie Database as a Reliable Source

Over a year ago, an attempt was made to set a policy on the situations in which IMDb could be used as a reliable source (if any). The discussion is here WP:CIMDB. A heated debate on this has just started up again. Anyone wanting to contribute is invited to do so: here. GDallimore (Talk) 11:22, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

WP:MOSNUM and date delinking

There's currently a section on WP:MOSNUM (MOS:UNLINKYEARS) that reads (as of this comment):

  • Linking: Dates (years, months, day and month, full dates) should not be linked, unless there is a reason to do so. More information can be found at WP:CONTEXT#Dates.
  • Autoformatting: Dates should not be linked purely for the purpose of autoformatting (even though in the past this was considered desirable).

As the edit history for the page shows, the section is currently very much disputed by those discussing it on the talk page. Despite this, bots have been run and other people are using semi-automatic scripts to mass-remove date linking. The community consensus on this issue is not clear at all. I'm starting this thread to (hopefully) resolve several issues:

  1. Does the community actually care about any of this?
  2. If so, should dates be linked in articles?
  3. Is linking of dates for autoformatting really no longer desirable?
  4. If date linking is undesirable, should date linking be simply deprecated or should date linking be actively removed by bots?

It would be more conducive to discussion if people running date delinking scripts could stop pending an actual resolution to this debate. Mr.Z-man 03:24, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

I would agree. I wish I knew about this debate earlier to be honest as I think it's a mistake. Otherwise how would the user's date and time preferences be honoured? Nja247 (talkcontribs) 20:40, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Then consider this your lucky day: whether they should be honoured or not is one of the questions in an upcoming RFC. -- Jao (talk) 21:24, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Separating out vandal edits in article edit history

Vandalism usually does not last long in high traffic articles, but it leaves clutter in the edit history, often constituting the majority of edits. This makes it very difficult and time-consuming to sift through when anyone is actually looking for constructive changes or earlier versions. So I'm wondering if there should be a way of separating out, or highlighting, edits leaving no net change (vandal edits and the edits that revert them) so those can be overlooked. Either admins or any confirmed registered users could tag edits as nonconstructive. Then the edit history could be split into two columns, one for each; or the nonconstructive edits could be marked in grey highlighting. As long as the end result is not to cause edit warring over whether edits are constructive or nonconstructive, or to make edit histories even more unreadable and unsearchable... Thoughts? Postdlf (talk) 19:13, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Maybe an "after the fact" way to change an edit to "minor" and the accompanying filter? Being able to "un-minor" things that were not minor is a feature that would be nice to have as well, since sometimes there are some disagreements. SDY (talk) 18:53, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
That certainly sounds like a good idea, so that users looking at a page history can somehow remove reverted vandalism from their view of the history. However, I'm not sure how it would be possible to implement a policy that didn't lead to continuous disagreement or further edit wars over whether an edit was in fact an act of vandalism. If implemented, I think it would need to be made clear that only edits which were clearly of destructive vandalism could be tagged in such a way. It would not be appropriate to tag disagreements over content in this way. Rjwilmsi 19:02, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
One solution would be not to tag the edits as "vandalism," but something more neutral that would encompass reversions of vandalism, test edits, self-reversions, or even certain edit warring that had reached a complete stalemate back and forth—anything that has cumulatively left no net or lasting change to the article. Postdlf (talk) 19:10, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
I think this sounds like it will be more trouble than its worth. As SDY says, there are sometimes disagreements over things like whether or not an edit was really minor. Right now these disagreements are rather academic as once an edit is marked minor it will be marked so forever regardless of any dispute. If we allow people to change things like whether an edit is minor or nonconstructive, I can imagine tons disputes over the markings. Mr.Z-man 20:11, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't know what the statistics are but all of my reverts due to vandalism comes from unregistered editors- and not one has come back (yet) to argue about it. On some articles they almost out numbers legit edits. --Aspro (talk) 20:28, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Postdlf that any "value judgment" flag on the edit is not productive, hence marking them as "minor", which retains the assumption of good faith. I also agree with Mr.Z-man that another thing to dispute is considered harmful. Maybe if anything changed by the "undo" command (or twinkle and whatnot) was flagged as "undone" and could be filtered? That would remove a lot of vandalism spam, as well as some edit wars. It would not, however, allow for further disagreement on the "productiveness" or "minorness", since there is no conscious decision unless someone deliberately chooses to manually revert the change. SDY (talk) 20:36, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

I think people who are trusted with certain tools should be able to simply remove an obviously disruptive edit from the history altogether when they revert it. There's no reason we should allow vandals to harm us by clogging up the database and lists of changes, often with offensive or illegal material. Clearly we would have to be careful about who we give such a privilege to, and some system of monitoring (at least a temporary dump of such changes) would have to be in place, but it would have numerous benefits.--Kotniski (talk) 11:42, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

I guess I can see the advantages of removal but it would make the site a lot less transparent and seems like a really bad idea. Who of us has not at some point been accused of vandalism or disruption by somebody? A clear page history that everyone can trust lets you unravel who said what when. Also, there are times when what seems on the face of it to be ordinary annoying vandalism lets somebody else track down an abusive sockpuppet. See Wikipedia:Suspected sock puppets/Footballfan190, where a single vandalism edit by an IP led to the discovery that a registered user was making a slew of "bad hand" IP edits. Lastly, the removal of edits can have tricky, unforeseen consequences. See Wikipedia:Oversight#Usage, the paragraph that begins "Hiding revisions can create inaccurate diffs". Darkspots (talk) 13:11, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting that we remove or even hide edits from the history, but rather utilize some kind of visual device to segregate/highlight them within the history. All edits in the history would still be visible and accessible to all, but the "zero net change" edits would be shaded in grey, or in a column to the right, something like that, so when browsing it would be easier to ignore them and identify the edits that have actually contributed to the article's content. Postdlf (talk) 20:39, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree. A filtering mechanism (i.e. a "hide reverted edits" check box) would be analagous and probably easier to code and format, but in all cases every edit on an undeleted page should be retained and accessible. Sometimes the "undone" edits at the start of edit wars contain some text which is actually useful, and deleting it from memory would have adverse effects on any changes that might actually be justified. SDY (talk) 20:46, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Fair use disputed but no actual dispute

User:Thatsineed uploaded a number of images with pre-emptive template:Replaceable fair use disputed tags. See Image:Kamal Hasan-Dasavatharam10.jpg for an example. I've already asked to identify said pages but would it be better to remove the tags (and thus from Category:Replaceable fair use images disputed) or leave them there in case someone actually does dispute the rationale? Perhaps a bot could move the argument to the talk page with a link to the old text from the front? -- Ricky81682 (talk) 07:47, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

It seems this user is just misinformed on the proper application of tags. {{Non-free use rationale}} is likely what he intended to use. That said, all those images for a single page is a violation of fair use. Better they just be removed. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 07:56, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I've had enough time just trying to keep up his (possible) copyright violations, and getting fair use tags on the pages. If you want to go after the fair use images, go right ahead. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 08:06, 20 November 2008 (UTC)