Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive G

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Capitalization in bird articles

What's going on with capitalization in bird articles? I thought Wikipedia style was to capitalize only proper names and the first word of an article name; under that assumption I recently moved Barred Owl to Barred owl. But then I got to poking around other articles about birds and discovered a huge number of them have persistent capitalization: look at the names on the List of Oklahoma birds and List of Canadian birds, for example. It's really surprisingly consistent. And in one case at least, there are two different articles distinguished only by capitalization: Barn owl is about the family of Tytonidae, while Barn Owl is about a specific species, Tyto alba. Is there some special policy regarding capitalization in birds' names that I'm unaware of? Should I move Barred owl back to Barred Owl to be consistent? --Angr/comhrá 01:03, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

In biology, the common names of birds (unlike all other animals) are capitalized. Thus, it's probably proper for us to reflect this in article names. My old ichthyology professor explained to me that this comes from ornithologists' fear that that their discipline will one day vanish on the basis of taxonomic inadequacy. Demi T/C 05:41, 2005 Apr 15 (UTC)

Okay, thanks. Dsmdgold has already moved Barred owl back to Barred Owl for me. But I still think it's weird to have Barn owl and Barn Owl be entirely different articles. --Angr/comhrá 07:20, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Well, I agree with reasons why these two articles with very similar names exist. It would, however, be nice to include a notice on top of the articles for those of us who don't have a clue (if I, a person who knows next to nothing about ornithology, searched for "Barn owl", I would have never realized that there is another article at "Barn Owl"—the one I perhaps wanted to find instead).—Ëzhiki (erinaceus europeaus) 21:17, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)

Can I...

There is an article on here about Star Wars, right. So would I be allowed to post an article about characters or planets from some sort of fan-made thing about Star Wars? Just wanted to know so I don't throw it on and have it knocked back off, I'd prefer it to just never be.

In general, no. People are annoyed enough with the number of articles on canonical aspects of Star Wars etc., and an article on a fan work is likely to be deleted. --Carnildo 18:54, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
However, there is a special Star Wars Wiki at Wikicities. Fan fiction related material may be more welcome there. Eugene van der Pijll 19:03, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Criticisms sections in articles on religions, sects, NRMs, and cults

Is there a standard for the size of the criticisms sections in articles on religions, new religious movements, sects, and cults? Most religious movements have documented notable criticisms and vocal ex-member critics in the real world but only some of them have a criticism section here in Wikipedia. Some criticisms even have their own article, like Scientology, Prem Rawat and Sathya Sai Baba. This could be interpreted as unfair.

I am very well aware that this is a highly controversial subject and an almost endless subject of debate among scholars and scientists who study cults. Andries 16:55, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Depends on your understanding on "criticism". If the critics have done something very remarkable, like try to kill the Guru, or are an organization themselves, then a separate article should be considered. But in the majority of cases it is not the question of a separate criticism article or even a separate criticism section. Implying, that the main article or most of the main article is "pro". We are not writing in "Sympathetic Point of View" style, but in "Neutral Point of View". So the main article itself isn't allowed to be an advertisement or overly gloroius picture. --Pjacobi 17:30, 2005 Apr 14 (UTC)
I think that in many cases the main article is implicitly pro, because it describes the beliefs and practices from the viewpoint of the people who believe in it. The beliefs are rarely accompanied by sentences like "the existence of Ascended Masters has never been a serious theory in science" [User:Andries|Andries]] 18:00, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Just try to read around in the Wikipedia, especially how "mainstream" religions are presented. The articles on Jesus try to keep the NPOV without citing scientific doubts about walking on water etc. The difference between the mainstream religion articles, and those for smaller groups stems mainly from the number and encyclopedic competence of contributors. Try attracting more editors, ideally neitehr "pro" nor "con". --Pjacobi 18:21, 2005 Apr 14 (UTC)

"Suspicious" images

The image about Ugaritic alphabet was taken from a PDF file, provided by The uploader does mention the source but the first page of that document says: "You may freely use these code charts for personal and internal business uses only. You may not incorporate them either wholly or in part into any product or publication, or otherwise distribute them without express written permission from the Unicode Consortium. However, you may provide links to these charts". In my opinion it does not allow to publish it even under fairuse until the Unicode Consortium allows it and nothing is mentioned about that. What is a general policy about such cases (any place to report it?) and should I mark the image with {{vfd}}?

List the image on Wikipedia:Copyright problems. Follow the instructions in the section "Actions_to_take_for_images". to wit: add the following text to the image page: {{imagevio|url=<place URL of allegedly copied image here>}}, and then list it on the page under today's date, and don't forget to politely notify the uploader about what you've done, using his talk page.
If you are feeling energetic you could write to the copyright owner and ask for permission to use the image on Wikipedia. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 12:48, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Voting via templates

The discussion as to the appropriateness of using templates or tranclusion as votes (notably in VfD debates), has been moved to Wikipedia talk:Survey guidelines#Voting via templates. Please read and reply there. -- Netoholic @ 14:41, 2005 Apr 14 (UTC)

Automatic Internet Redistribution

I'm new, and this may have been discussed before, but would someone please explain to me why so much dubious stuff gets shot out of here to reappear under aliases like I tend to wander around the lists, and I have found a dismaying trend where someone thinks a list of something is a good idea, starts it, does little if any research for it, gets bored with it, abandons it, and there it sits. Except it doesn't.

Sidebar: Why start a list at all if you aren't going to make an honest attempt to finish it? My own opinion is that it's fun to do a list (it really is), it's not so much fun to keep working on it once you run out of ideas you can just pull from your head, and it is actual, god forbid, WORK, to do the research.

It's one thing to have this kind of stub pretending it's a real boy hanging around here. But they pop up in too many other places on the internet. Just one small but painful example - the List of Egg Dishes. Go look at it. Then go google egg dishes. What is the point here? Why oh why oh why? I do not even dare to check up on where the Wiki "List of cookbooks" may have gone.

Is anyone checking passes at the exit door?

flummoxed, Mothperson 19:48, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It would be useful to be able to stop some stuff from being propagated to the mirrors, attack pages discussed on VfD for a week, for instance. / Tupsharru 20:20, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
This touches on something that's been bothering me for a while. Anyone who hangs out in VfD long enough and uses the Google test at least occasionally knows that anything that gets put on Wikipedia is very quickly mirrored on scores of places. This is all well and good, of course, except that even things we delete stay on a lot of the mirrors. Want your name or product plastered all over the internet at zero cost? Easy - just make a Wikipedia page, and if it's not egregious enough to be speedied, it'll hang around in VfD limbo for two or three weeks, and on most of the mirrors forever. Maybe we should be blanking and protect to-be-deleted articles for a month or so before actually deleting. —Korath (Talk) 01:25, Apr 13, 2005 (UTC)
Almost none of the mirrors (possible exception: has anything like the pagerank weight that Wikipedia does. I wouldn't worry too much about it. --Carnildo 03:24, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
But that just means they don't even benefit that much from dragging our name through the mud. People'll still stumble into this on searches and wonder why Wikipedia tolerates such nonsense, even though we don't. —Korath (Talk) 03:46, Apr 13, 2005 (UTC)
In theory, Wikipedia doesn't tolerate it. In practice, the sheer volume of information and quantity of people involved in this project means nonsense gets on and stays on for a long time, VfD notwithstanding. I don't understand why it's allowed out. I haven't been here very long, but already I've developed extreme skepticism about Wiki info. So, uh.......what Korath said. -- Mothperson 11:33, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

After I finished wiping the tea off the monitor, I thought - hey - great idea. Or not. I have been doing some test googling, and here's what I found, just looking at a teeny tiny topic. At least two sites are running very early goofy versions of the list I'm working on. Another site is paraphrasing an earlier list. I left too quickly to know how much it used, because I didn't want to know. Then I found that the one site that had been keeping up with my changes literally minutes after I had made them had given up and no longer runs the list! It got too long, it was changing too often, whatever. That's one way to solve the problem, at least.
I finally got up the nerve to google the list of cookbooks, and there it is, second from the top, in all of its six(6)-entry glory, with the title "Everything you ever wanted to know about..." Even if these so-called mirror sites run the stub business at the bottom, who actually goes all the way to the bottom of the page once they've found or not found what they were looking for?
Maybe that's the answer - don't let the Wiki name be put anywhere but at the absolute bottom of the page, in some hard-to-read color. Mothperson 20:41, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Image:Autofellatio 2.jpg

moved from WP:AN/I (by User:Dbachmann):

does anybody agree with me that a 57% majority for deletion, while constituting an "utter lack of consensus" for both keeping and deleting, should be enough for the 'keep' voters to accept a compromise, such as, reduction of size and/or a black/white version. After all, the image is being kept against the will of the majority of voters. dab () 07:31, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No but I does mean there is more case for holding a revote in futureGeni 07:47, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Turns out that Timwi deleted the picture in error during a vandalism cleanup. dab, I think your suggestion should probably be made on the image talk page. As you are probably aware, image size can be adjusted on the including page. Dropping color would surely result in loss of information from the image. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 07:42, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
and to think back when I said the original image would be used for vanderlism people dissagreed.Geni 07:48, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I know, Tony. That's what 57% of people want: less information. Can you imagine? T.M.I.! not every one is fond of looking at hires penises. I am saying, don't make the image larger than required for its use as a thumbnail on the article page. Any additional "information" is a courtesy to vandals. dab () 07:52, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The attempt to delete the picture, despite an attempt to pack the vote, failed to gain consensus. Those who don't want to look at the picture should refrain from doing so and stop using vandalism as an excuse to try to subvert the decision-making process. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 12:23, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree the picture should be kept for now, possibly in a different format, but if nobody supports me on this, I'll just drop it. Deleting an image perceived to be disruptive, i.e. in a good faith attempt to clean up WP may be edit-warring, but it is not vandalism by our definition of the term, so I wish you'd stop calling it that. dab () 19:26, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Obviously a majority of people support you on this, and on even stronger measures. Just not a large enough majority. Jayjg (talk) 19:51, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I realize a majority wants the image gone. I am referring to the more general idea that when an ifd vote reaches a majority, but no "consensus", that it should then be looked into if the image can be modified to address some of the concerns of those who want to delete it. It strikes me as obvious that the voters of 'keep' should be open to such modifications since they can see a majority disagrees with them. It seems straightforward to me, but do we have anything like this in the guidelines, and if not, does anyone else think that we should? dab () 20:26, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
That has been done: in particular, work's been done to address the concerns of the many people who wanted it deleted as a vandal magnet. It's no longer possible to inline the image. Demi T/C 01:11, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)
It being no longer possible to inline the image solves any vandalism concerns, does it not? How was this done—is it a software change, tied to the specific image name? I suggest in the vote for the previous image that we have a software change that prevented a suitably tagged image being displayed inline (and the image could be protected to stop the tag being changed), but I see no obvious tag on the image page.-gadfium 03:51, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Never mind, I've seen Tim Starling's post on the Village pump saying how it's been implemented.-gadfium 09:20, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The inlining was done by a "fr:en:" hack, and support for this kind of interwiki redirect has been turned off. I must say I find the idea that one must delete images simply because they've been used for vandalism somewhat mind-boggling. If you delete one, surely another will be used. We'd end up deleting every image that could be regarded as even remotely shocking, when all that is required is to revert the vandalism. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 07:23, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
— very cool, I didn't realize this was implemented. Is this a hack for this particular image, or can we apply that to any image? This does satisfy a lot of my concerns. Now, if we could also prevent redirects to it (or, for that matter, redirects to any image page; I do not think they are ever needed). dab () 06:29, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
dab - Actually as far as I can tell redirects to an image (any image) don't work either. Demi T/C 19:27, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)
Of course since you followed the IfD discussion you already knew this, but you must have forgotten. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 07:15, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
dab, I already suggested that if you want to get a consensus on degrading the image in some way you should raise it on the image talk (and please, don't try to do any vote-packing as others have done--if you want to advertise it list it on current surveys or Violetriga's public watch system). I just don't see any chance of the idea flying, somehow, but give it a go if you must. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 21:24, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Even easier, produce a degraded version of the image under a different name and try to get consensus to replace the image link on Autofellatio to a link to that one instead of the original. If you get consensus for that, the original can be deleted as an orphan. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 21:26, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
reading your comments, one wouldn't think you are aware that you are in a minority position. dab () 06:33, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I am aware that you keep suggesting changes for which you are blatantly unwilling to even pretend to want to obtain any kind of consensus. Frankly I'm shocked at your attitude. If you want to degrade a photograph, obtain a consensus. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 07:04, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
the concept of consensus is based on respect for minorities, i.e. avoid the "tyranny of the 51%". I have no respect for minorities who lack respect for the majority, entirely. Such an attitude leads to a "tyranny of the 21%", which is certainly even worse than the 51%'s. dab () 07:58, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
dab, for now you're alone, the only person suggesting degrading the picture. You're not even trying to get a consensus. Yes, you're showing disrespect. No, a minority that fails to support deletion for a picture is not required to support your proposal to vandalize it as an alternative. Put this as a proposal and get consensus on it, and stop trying to treat that slim majority, blatantly gerrymandered as it was, as anything other than a badge of shame for the vote-fixer who gleaned it by spamming editors who he thought would support deletion. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 10:13, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
so you're saying the people who voted 'delete' would not want a less offensive version rather than the present one? And, by accusing me of 'not trying to get a consensus' you are implying that you are desperately looking for a way of accomodating the majority who voted against you, after got your way through lack of consensus? In that case I am happy to leave the matter in your competent hands. dab () 16:47, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No, unlike you I'm not making assumptions about the preferences of delete voters--much less whether they'd agree with your presumption that a degraded picture is in some way "less offensive" than one that hasn't been doctored.
By accusing you of "not trying to get a consensus", I am simply saying that you seem to be proposing a change unilaterally without even pretending that you intend to canvas for consensus.
You falsely accuse me of "getting my way" though lack of consensus. Please do not do that. I did not create the picture, I did not upload it, I was not involved in linking the picture from the article (an act, incidentally, which seems to have been achieved by consensus), and I have not, indeed, edited either the picture or any article containing it. Nor have I called for the picture to be kept if there should be a consensus to delete it. Your statement that I got my own way, either with or without a consensus, is a falsehood. Someone proposed to delete the picture but their failure to obtain consensus to do so is their own concern. Those who did vote to delete were not voting against me or against any proposal of mine. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 17:12, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Can you get consensus to keep the picture? Until you can the issue on deltion remains undecided.Geni 18:54, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • I believe the fact that picture is not an orphan is consensus among the editors of the article that it needs to stay. If I read you correctly you're suggesting that a supermajority would need to agree to keep content, which I would find troublesome. Demi T/C 19:34, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)
Not really. The record for something appearing on VFD is at least 4 and that has stoped being listed because there were finaly enough keep votes to settle the matterGeni 20:20, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You know, it seems to me (and frankly I'm quite new here) that one reason why a supermajority is required for a "rough consensus" is that there is a huge skew in the sampling. Sure, we can say that 57% of the people who voted support deletion--but that's 57% of what? I'm sure there's a lot of self-selection going in who votes--I don't think anyone can claim it's a fair sampling of "the community." Anyway, I think this error is one reason that hasn't been mentioned in this discussion about why 57% isn't the same as consensus. Demi T/C 19:34, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)

I really hope you are not going to use the silent majority argument with abosolutly no evidence to back it up20:20, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
this is the problem with any vote on WP. All I am asking is that the keep-the-porn camp (notably Tony) acknowledges that there is substantial opposition to hosting porn images, even when illustrating rare sex acts, among respected, good-faith editors. In this particular vote, the opposition was a majority. In the vote on Autofellatio 1, there was an 80% consensus to delete. Acknowledging this would include stopping the accusations of vandalism, and openness to compromise (compromise, in the pro-porn view, would of course mean "degradation" of the image). Failure to acknowledge that the image is suffered to remain on WP by virtue of tolerance of the majority towards a minority im my view is a breach of wiki principles, not essentially different from GNAA where a 20% minority of self-declared trolls managed to impose content on WP. dab () 13:21, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
In the middle of ongoing vandalism involving the original image, and considerable doubt about its copyright status, the deletionists only just squeaked the 80% consensus required to delete that image in last March. The mechanisms that permitted the redirect vandalism to occur have been eliminated and the new image has no copyright problems at all and is apparently more attractive to many users. In the light of that a concerted attempt was made to pack the poll, but consensus to delete failed. In the absence of consensus to delete, Wikipedia policy is to keep an image.
dab, I've said this before. If you want to degrade the current image or replace it by a separate, degraded version, give it a go and see if you can get consensus. But don't pretend that I'm being uncompromising by asking you to do so, and not just assume that because a majority didn't want to keep the picture that gives you, personally, carte blanche to do whatever you want with it. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 14:09, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If that is a picture of what autofellatio then I see no problem with having a picture of it there, in fact I am offended that people would try and censor an article and image of this particular sexual behaviour just because... well I'm not quite sure why, hopefully a very very good reason and arguement exists :).
Please let me know if any of these images are up for deletion again, I was not aware there was an active censorship campaign occuring but I'd be extremely interested in countering it with every effort I could possibly muster. --ShaunMacPherson 03:11, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Nudity in Wikipedia

While I enjoyed very much the nude picture of Kate Winslet on Titanic (1997 movie), I wonder if it's necessary to show such a screen shot on this page of the encyclopedia. It's rather irresponsible to just leave it there with just a 'spoiler' warning, for any nine year old kid to see it. -- 23:56, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I see nothing wrong with it. --Carnildo 00:06, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If you disagree with an image being there, you can propose it for Wikipedia:Images for deletion (update: I've done so). Meelar (talk) 00:10, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not censored. See also talk:Titanic (1997 movie), which is the best place to discuss that article. Those who have worked on the article are most likely to see your comments there, and they will be able to put there case for its necessity. I haven't been involved with that particular article and I'm therefore not familiar with the arguments either way. Thryduulf 00:15, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Do you really consider that to be a nude picture? I mean, really? When I was 9, I don't think I'd have bothered to print such thin stuff and hang it on my wall. (Always assuming we had Macintoshes, wikis, and color inkjets back in the Stone Age.) The entire scene in the movie, yes -- I remember paying attention when I snuck into The Graduate. That little JPEG? Pshaw.
Warning: This is a reference work for adults, not rated for children. If you think Kate Winslet's marginal nudity offensive, I beg you not to look at Image:Autofellatio 2.png. — Xiongtalk 00:41, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)
If it helps, I agree with you. But we can't count on people being as reasonable as we are, and it's best to avoid fights when it doesn't help the encyclopedic value of the article. Same arguments that apply to the Charlotte Ross montage. Meelar (talk) 00:42, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)
      • Oh, look. It's one of them things just about every infant recieves his first nutrition from. Quickly, let's put it somewhere out of sight - lest children might see it.--TVPR 06:50, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC) (update: In case anyone wondered, I was being sarcastic... --TVPR 10:51, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC) )
      • Where does this weird obsession come from? The idea that a child of nine must not see what every infant sees?
        • Because if they see it, maybe they'll start asking questions. And adults feel uncomfortable when those questions get asked. --Carnildo 07:30, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
          • Questions like, "Why would Wikipedia preferentially choose to illustrate an article with a nude picture when it has a very minor relationship to the article being illustrated?" - Nunh-huh 07:34, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
          • Because it's a very pretty picture. Gosh, was that one such an uncomfortable question? --Tony Sidaway|Talk 07:39, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
            • No, it isn't uncomfortable in the least. Of course, I prefer to answer children honestly, which would preclude me giving your answer, and I also wouldn't append a snide comment to the answer I'd actually give. - Nunh-huh 07:42, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
            • I'm not being snide, I'm being utterly hornswoggled and mystified. What on earth is the problem? --Tony Sidaway|Talk 11:59, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
          • Questions like "Mommy, why isn't that woman wearing any clothes?" A simple question, with a complicated answer. Adults don't like complicated answers. --Carnildo 08:09, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

On Wikipedia, we have a lot of material that could be actually shocking from the point of view of a 9-year old. We have graphic photographs and textual descriptions of torture, wars, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other crimes. For instance, we have a famous image of a little girl burnt by napalm and fleeing naked her destroyed village.

I think that in comparison to all of this, a scene with a pair of blurry tits is really.. tame and not shocking. I also wonder why nobody seriously suggests we bowdlerize history and remove all the very shocking and gory detail, include some details that children may easily relate to, while a little sexy stuff gets heated reaction.

Furthermore, in my experience, young children (elementary school age and below) don't have a prurient interest in naked bodies. This comes later, with the beginnings of puberty. David.Monniaux 08:26, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Of course, a photo of napalmed children is pertinent to the articles it illustrates, while the blurry tits are not. - Nunh-huh 08:29, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Exactly. I'm all in favor of images that actually enhance the encyclopedic values of the articles they inhabit (e.g. autofellatio or the napalm pic above). What I don't understand is why people are apparently going out of their way to pick a fight over this, when another image would do just as well and offend fewer readers? Meelar (talk) 08:37, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)
I argue the autofellatio people love going out of their way to offend people. We have a nice drawing that illustrates the concept perfectly. Acts of autofellatio can be reproduced indefinitely and have no encyclopedic value. The napalm pic, obviously is a historical document and does have encyclopedic value. Mind you, if we had a photograph of Pol Pot performing autofellatio, I would be all for including it, just not some random porn actor. These images are a dime a dozen and belong on porn hosts, not here. dab () 08:44, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
dab, you've just accused those who disagree with you of going out of their way to offend people. You have done so on no more evidence than that they disagree with you about the appropriateness of usings a photograph to illustrate a sexual act. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 11:59, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps. But some people seem to be opposed to any nudity on Wikipedia, on the motive that it could shock young children. I myself counter that 1) young children are not that much shocked by nudity, at least not as much as some people would like them to be, nor are they that much interested in it (again, the interest on nudity comes later) 2) we already have far more shocking material in any case.
Now, of course, we could discuss the appropriateness of certain images: are they really needed to illustrate a point? That's of course debatable — if we discuss a movie where the nude painting of a woman by a man plays an important role (I haven't see Titanic so I don't know whether that's the case), then a picture of the scene may have some interest. Of course, you could say that the picture is not really necessary (the reader can imagine what it's like to have a naked woman posing for a painter) — but neither are many of the war pictures where we see bodies strewn across the place (again, the reader can imagine what it's like to have dead bodies on the ground). David.Monniaux 08:57, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
More generally: I think that many here focus on nudity on grounds that it could be shocking to small children, whereas their real motivation is that they are themselves embarassed with nudity, but do not wish to admit it, or are afraid of the reaction of people who think that children ought to be shocked by nudity. I see, for instance, many complaints beginning stating that such or such could be shocking for small children, then following on by stating that public libraries would not give access to Wikipedia because of this. I think that these are two different problems: whether or not certain content (nudity or otherwise) is shocking; and whether or not public libraries, especially in the United States, would preempt criticism by blocking access to Wikipedia because of nudity.
Of course, there may be some genuine interest in having Wikipedia's editorial line following some guidelines in order to placate some censors — for instance, we could judge that the encyclopedic interest of some of the nudity images is not worth a ban in US public libraries or K-12 schools. But the debate should be set in those terms, and not in considerations about hypothetical 9 year olds browsing the web alone and being shocked by pairs of naked tits. David.Monniaux 09:12, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
There seems to be a minority of very dedicated users determined to censor nudity for unclear reasons. The arguments which are usually given to explain this position are varied. They usually include "shocking little children", "labeling Wikipedia as a porn site", or "being unnotable and insignificant". The way these arguments contradict each other (how could something insignificant traumatise a child) and their vagueness (which little children ? Why, who, how ?) are a very strong clue that the decision that the images should be removed is taken viscerally, before making exposing reasons, and that the arguments are only there to back a pre-concieved decision.
David.Monniaux makes an excellent point in underlining the fact that very few (if any) users admit to being shocked themselves, but always invoke some confused "other people", "children" or whatever, who they will "unquestionably" be traumatised.
Upon this situation, where a tiny minority of people want to censor a specific content for un-admitted pseudo-moral reasons, I would like to issue a general word of caution. Many legitimate and respectable religions forbid specific content (for instance, Islam forbids the depiction of living creatures); yet, I have not seen anyone campaining toward a general interdiction of photographs of personalities or biological schematics. Two immediate corollaries follow:
  • focusing on sexual or naked images in inherently POV -- probably biased toward conservative protestant Christianism such as seen in the United States of America. Wikipedia aiming to transcend particularisms, we should not stop for this kind of reasons (other reasons might or might not be acceptable).
  • Surrendering to this particular minority will open the door to censorship of all sorts of particular content, under the pressure of such or such groups (Wikipedia would become the hostage of groupuscules of looneys whose children will be said to be raised in the dread of the words "featured article", or the Standard Model knows what).
For these reasons, I recommend that any point about an image of nudity resorting to such vague and genereal statements as "little children" should be taken with vigilance. Rama 11:53, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Actually, it is quite easily possible to distinguish between informational use of offensive material (nudity, violence, etc.) and entertainment use. For example German television did show pics of Abu Ghraib, though only one, with offensive parts blurred. That showed exactly what kind of act happened under what circumstances, while avoiding large-scale voyorism. Boulevard media showed in contrast all the material they could get their hands on. Same with nudity: if an artist does a performance with naked people, it is shown. Nudity (and soft porn) for its own sake won't show up on TV before ca. 10.30 p.m.
I think it is consistent to be against offensive pics in a serious information source, while not being against sex, porn etc. in other places. YMMV --J heisenberg 15:30, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • I've seen Titanic, and regardless of all other arguments surrounding nudity, I really don't think we need it to illustrate the article. It has no added value. Mgm|(talk) 09:25, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Mgm; nothing at all wrong with nudity or images that some may find offensive, as long as it adds value. This clearly doesn't. --Khendon 10:39, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'm not at all convinced that the best treatment of the film includes a breast. There is a difference between illustrative and gratuitous nudity. For example, the precise scene which is such an important turning point in the movie has many views of Winslet's and DiCaprio's characters that happen to interpose something over her breasts. How would they be less illustrative? In any case, I really do think the right place for such a discussion is the article itself--I'm not sure there's a 'larger issue' at work here. If forced to vote, I'd keep the image because it's in use. If forced to take an interest in Titanic, I'd support the use of another image instead. Demi T/C 11:26, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)
Well, the question of whether this scene is significant one in Titanic is one that we can have a difference of opinion on without invoking the fact that nudity is involved. The scene is the dramatic climax of a phase in the character's relationship with an artist she has just met. The Titanic explorer, decades later, opens a safe hoping to find riches, but instead finds the nude portrait. On these grounds I can make a strong argument that the nude drawing scene is a pivotal one in the film because it links the present (an old woman with a few mementoes) with the past (a beautiful young girl full of the promise of her life). In the movie, Jack Dawson's example sets her free from the tyranny of her mother's ambitions to marry her off to a millionnaire. It's central, the nudity is an act of transgression against the straitjacket of her relationship with her mother and a symbolic act of liberation. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 12:17, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Something that is missed in many of these discussions is that while Wikipedia is not censored for minors, the thrust of that guideline has to do with noticing and reverting vandalism and the lack of centralized control over content. It doesn't marry us to avoiding common sense and discretion when deciding how best to treat a subject. Demi T/C 11:26, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)

hear hear! 1. common sense; 2. taste! don't be offensive when you can acheive the same (or a better) result in style. dab () 12:24, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes, but the definition of "common sense" seems to have varying geometry. Many people would argue that it is "common sense" to censor, for instance, neo-nazi speech. (And there is arguably a better case for this — so far, we haven't seen evidence that some people ever died because some 9 year old saw a pair of tits, while we have evidence that millions of people died because some people were too enthusiastic after having read Nazi stuff.) David.Monniaux 12:37, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Well, yes, and if someone ever inserted a Nazi speech into the middle of an article (as opposed to describing it and/or quoting bits in an NPOV manner), I would want that removed too. Meelar (talk) 03:04, Apr 14, 2005 (UTC)

Demi: "If forced to vote...". The image has been nominated for deletion at wp:ifd under yesterday's date. Thryduulf 12:34, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The debate on that image has been moved to Wikipedia:Images_and_media_for_deletion/KateWinsletTitanic --Audiovideo 00:15, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Where are the sources? Where are the citations?

Every article in Wikipedia that doesn’t cite at least one source for the information in the article hurts the credibility of Wikipedia. From my browsing, it appears that most, at least many, of Wikipedia’s articles have this problem. I assume I don’t need to go into how the lack of sources for any article hurts Wikipedia’s credibility, as that is fairly obvious. An, perhaps not so noticeable, effect is that time spent arguing VfD and other issues, would be reduced by a focus on sources over “Importance” etc. and the focus of these discussion should be around verifiability. However, for the purpose of this post, I want to address how Wikipedia can resolve this potential for crisis.

My first proposal is an innovation in the coding for pages to contain tags to identify the integrity rating for the information. Information not sourced is given a 0. Information with a source that hasn’t been checked is 1. A source that has been checked and is still questionable is given a 2. Checked, Accurate and Impeachable sources earn a statement(s) a grade of 3. This way, editors know if a source/statement has been checked. Perhaps color-coded text or background could readily relay the status of the statement as in relation to verifiability. Not only must we ensure that the referenced source exists, but that information attributed to source is actually included in the source.

Second is prevention of unsourced contributions. A better interface to help contributors add footnotes, references and sources would help. Perhaps a prompt for source before new information is added. Find someway to make adding sources easy enough contributors aren’t “put off” by being required to provide citations.

Thirdly, combining the “What’s In; What’s Out”, “What Wikipedia Is Not” and “Importance” is one coherent document based on verifiability as the first level of assessment as opposed to the 5 point system we currently have. (NOTE: I propose keeping the 5-point system as the second level of assessment.)

Finally, I would like to say that I see checking our sources and insisting on the data to verify the information in Wikipedia as being paramount over other tasks we encourage editors to perform, especially deletions. The problem is: source checking isn’t as fun as starting a deletion debate and in fact is real work. Therefore, fact confirmation should be given the same level of division of tasks as other areas: (based on the above 0-3 coding system) such as “find articles without sources”, “verify sources and information”, “review questionable sources.” By implementing the code system, we can auto generate lists of articles with statements coded 0, 1, or 2 to facilitate these lists. Additionally, we should give contributors a chance to revise their articles and include source information before we proceed to the drastic step of deleting articles.AboutWestTulsa 20:32, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You are looking for Everything2. You can find it here. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 21:44, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)
Thanks for responding to my proposal. Everything2 doesn't really enforce citations either, but thanks for the suggestion. You have helped bring to light a point I glossed over in my initial post. I am not proposing a new set of tags or expand the existing methods much. I don't think we want to develop our own form of HTML like Everything2. Every paragraph (new idea) already should have a citation, and citations already contain links. So, what I mean to recommend is including in citations a simple element as to veracity. The "make it easy for contributors" idea is to offset the fact that people won't want to vigourously cite sources. Software/code enhancements aside, Wikipedia should do better on insisting and checking on sources one way or another. What good are articles without one source, and how are they not candidates for deletion?AboutWestTulsa 22:05, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You might want to have a look at Wikipedia:Cite your sources and Wikipedia:Reliable sources, where some aspects of these issues have been discussed. Pages without sources can be decent stubs that can be turned into useful articles. IMHO the criterion for inclusion should not be whether an article is any good (by anyone's standard), but whether a topic is encyclopedic. That would mean that if you see a bad article on a worthwhile topic, you'd try to improve the article, rather than deleting it. --MarkSweep 22:30, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have had a hard time coming to terms with "encyclopedic". This is either a vague term, full of subjectivity, or a very narrow term which violates the "Wikipedia is not paper" ideal. Can you define "encyclopedic"?
I cite things every day. I made a tool which makes it easy to do this called WikiBib. You really shouldn't worry though. As you can tell from the raw data generated by WikiPulse the quality of the encyclopedia is going up rapidly. On March 21 there were an average of 8.99 edits per page, and now only 20 days later it is up to 9.14 and it is continuing to rise. --Alterego 22:33, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)
Are you seriously suggesting that number of edits is a direct measure of quality? That sounds like extremely wishful thinking. More changes doesn't necessarily equal better content, it can also mean we have more people trying to add spam links, put grainy photos of their own pets in articles, and try to advance their political agenda over any notion of fairness or neutrality. Thinking of the hundreds of articles on my watch list over the last month I'd say that overall the quality has probably gone down, despite my personal efforts. DreamGuy 02:56, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)
  • shrug* Assume good faith. The fact of the matter is that both article/page creation and edits are increasing yet edits have taken the lead in this. There is no reason to think that this is because more people are vandalising. --Alterego 03:41, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

A serious question What level our citations are we looking for. Wikipedia is not (as far as I can tell) like a peer reviewed academic journal. Here is an article Lewis B. Schwellenbach. If you don't feel like looking, it is a biography of about nine paragraphs about a guy who held several U. S. government positions in the 1940s. The sources listed are a cover article from TIME magazine from 1945, McCullough's biography of Truman, and the Department of Labor website. Do you want each sentence footnoted? Do you want a citation for the fact that he was born in Superior Wisconsin? He had a minor connection to the Manhattan project, can I just say that it was the secret project to develop the atomic bomb without citing a source for that? The article says that he replaced Francis Perkins as secretary of labor; do you want a citation to show that she was indeed the previous secretary of labor? I realize these sound like silly questions, but if you want to make a policy, I think that we have to draw a bright line.

Many of the articles I work on are biographies of U.S. government officials from (say) 1930 to 1980. Certain common facts come up often, but I don't bother citing (e.g. Johnson became president after Kennedy was killed in November of 1963) because I don't think that tracking down a citation for that would be terribly useful. It sounds to me like you are looking for a redesign of the whole system. Morris 01:34, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

Citing sources and references is important. I'd like to see much more of it. I just want to point out that traditional encyclopedias are not particularly punctilious about this either. Encyclopedias are not expected to meet the same standard as scholarly journals. And in traditional encyclopedias It's not always possible even to find the name of an article's author, let alone contact them. For example, Encarta's article about Jack London has no source, and the author is not identifiable. Dpbsmith (talk) 01:58, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Traditional encyclopedias are supposed to rigorously fact-check articles before they go to publication. Of course, they don't publish the annotation, but it exists. I know if I were editor of one of these encyclopedias, I would create a system to double-check and ensure that everything we print was correct, and be able to prove it if challenged. I would encourage my staff to question every assertion to find errors. I dont' see how Wikipedia is questioning content, fact-checking these questions or record the progress/decisions. I suppose this is supposed to be the Discussion page, but I dont' know if we have a a comprehensive system to manage fact-checking here, as this is what I am proposing.AboutWestTulsa 03:18, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
    • This has all been thoroughly discussed back and forth a million times before. Isn't it, perhaps, time to stop kicking a dead dog? It's a simple, brilliant principle of philosophy as well as anthropology, reading as follows: "Man can know more than that he knows where he knows it from" - and this is very much the case for much of the material submitted to Wikipedia. Would I _ever_ bother to write some lines about the Pterygotus if I had to go what, 10 years back in time and ask myself which books I had available then? Hell no. And yet, as far as I can see, there's been no major fights over the plausibility of my Pterygotus, despite my lack of sources. This goes for most of WP, and my situation is, like it or not, the same that most more-or-less casual users share. As for the little dinosaur example, let's say it doesen't hold up here in court because nobody gives a damn about the Pterygotus, except maybe me. OK, let's take something more aimed at the "popular culture" - Christian terrorism. After I wrote that, it caused tons of controversy - but not one word of it over my (unquoted) sources. It's still not citing anything at all, but I'll be damned if it hasn't turned into a nice, NPOV article in its own right. Mostly due to people contributing with "stuff they just know", which can then be trialled by his or her peers. Jeez, was that so hard? --TVPR 10:49, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • Hear, hear. And I would have just said "Lighten up!" or "Why question success?"  :) — Stevie is the man! Talk | Work 16:45, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • Thanks for contributing. I found parts of your response vague and hope you can clear this up for me, as it may be the answer for which I am looking. Can you provide a link to these previous thorough discussions? I would very much like to read them and see if any consensus was reached or other lines of debate opened. Also, how can “stuff they just know” not be “original research”? Can you explain what you mean by “trialled”? I do not advocate mass deletion or warnings or any sudden, catastrophic change. I think Wikipedia can create an even better encyclopedia by developing a system to improve fact checking and gain better credibility for being so thoroughly fact-checked and cited. Why is this a bad idea? Finally, what do you mean by “Jeez, was that so hard?” It came off as slightly uncivil (as you are making some accusation), but as Wikipedia has policies against incivility, I’m assuming you mean something else. Please restate and elaborate, if you will?AboutWestTulsa 17:32, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • Aye, I tend to be rather volatile on issues where I'm strongly emotionally involved :) Take no offense, as I never really mean any, and I did not mean to be uncivil. As for the matter at hand; I'm rather miserable at searching the archives, but during my relatively speaking brief stay, I've witnessed at least 3 discussions on this very subject, and on this very page, without involving myself in them. I never said that the stuff people know is necessarily not original research - but the anonymous user, identifiable only through his IP-address, can full well create an article on some odd subject, and then quote a website for sources - although this website can easily be his own, making the quoted material original research after all. Assume good faith - this is critical - that whatever users contribute because they "just know it" may well be something they've picked up more or less semi-consciously from a TV-documentary or whatnot. Requiring quotations, or "rewarding" articles citing sources by flagging them differently than the majority (which will again make them "more reliable" in the average user's eyes without needing to be so), will add another level of bureaucracy to the WP structure, without adding any real value - indeed, by making the quoting articles appear more reliable we could even risk a decrease in quality. I will explain my reasoning:
      • We have now flagged all WP-articles by a 0-3 value. Users look to these flags and consider them reliable on a scale from 0 to 3. Now, all editors will want to "achieve" a 3rd-level flag on "their" articles, and do this by quoting everything from Time Magazine to John Wigalabago from East Weston, Downhill, Upstate. With millions of articles being edited every single day, there is no way to validate the reliability of these sources. People will link to bloggers, or even their own blog, thus not improving the actual quality or credibility one bit. However, the flagging (which will have to be automated, with said volume of page-edits daily) will make them appear as lvl 3's. What we suddenly have is a WikiPedia where the content is in no way better than previously, but we have a lot of misleading flags telling us which articles might be more trustworthy than others.
      • This is in fact very closely related to the "should unregistered anonymous users be able to edit"-issue - which I assure you has really been thoroughly beaten to death, with nothing vaguely resembling consensus having been reached. I cannot make up my own mind here, for many different reasons. On one hand, I'm against anons, because of the whole trolling and vandalism issue. On the other, I am for it, because removing it can potentially be ruinous to the entire community, one could potentially lose vast amounts of quality material. And I don't want that, no matter how much trolling we're going to have to endure. And now we return to your other question, of "trialling". I apologize if that came across vaguely; English is not my native language. What I mean is that a "jury of peers" can, and constantly do, review everything posted to WikiPedia. Vandalism is rarely allowed to survive more than a couple of hours, even on the most irrelevant articles. I am not a very active Wikipedian myself, and yet I regularly add new items to my watchlist, and check that list out for any major changes whenever I get online. I try to weed out vandalism as best I can, and thousands of other users do the same, constantly. If someone contribute "something they just know", and it turns out to be rubbish - or even somewhat questionable - rest assured, it is rapidly removed, and the issue is then debated to death on the relevant talk page. If something is horribly biased, a NPOV result emerges after some time of hacking, slicing, and finally nitpicking on the details. If something resembles original research, it is brought up on the talk page, and the author is asked to provide citations that way. It's how it's been for as long as I've been using this site, and hopefully the way it will remain.
      • Now, despite all this, and despite my last (less than civil) response, I am not all out against your proposal. I'd cast my opposed vote if asked, but I clearly see some of the better points. However, as with the anonymous-user-allowed-to-edit, one would, honestly speaking, be quite dumb not to recognize both "sides" have their quality arguments. But in this particular case, as said, I am against the proposal, uh, proposed. --TVPR 18:07, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC) (PS: Do excuse my horrible spacing, but my keyboard is acting up lately)
        • I appreciate the time you have taken to answer my many questions concerning your response. Thank you, especially considering your troublesome keyboard issue. You bring up a good point: who assigns the scores? If it is the contributor, then you do indeed have an important and valid point of people will do anything to get a high score, even lie. I do not think people should be able to give their article anything more than a 1 (which says the article has a source but doesn’t qualify the source). However, this would create more work for admins or require a beaurucracy to administer and I don’t want that either. Therefore, as I stated above, I think that Discussion pages should be used to notate the fact checking of sources and contributors/editors who falsify ratings should be taken to Arbitration (is this the correct first step? I hope I never have to learn ArbCom policy). If we make any effort to show that we are fact-checking, Wikipedia will be better than it is now, and if Discussion pages are used to validate the legitimacy of the sources, then we are giving readers/users the ability/info to decide for themselves, which really, is better than a 0-3 grade. I did not intend and do not want to get into the anonymous users issue, as I support allowing anonymous edits as that is how I got started here myself. I do not propose treating acctholders any differently than anon-users. On trialing, I assumed that was what you meant (VfD’s etc.), but didn’t want to confuse misunderstanding with more misunderstanding, so I thought I should ask. This is the whole impetus behind get Wikipedia’s facts checked and monitored. The VfD and other trials are a waste of time, when with better guidelines for contributors and a up-front policy of 1) we will insist on sources, 2) sources will be checked, then vandals and vanity-pushers may be subtlely discouraged from even creating articles which then have to go through the process. We have editors who spend all their time finding and deleting articles over the vast majority of other tasks, which in my humble opinion, are far more important. We should help these people find the trash quickly and get it out. Removing trash articles this way would take some of the human “automation” out of the VfD process. By human automation, I mean that VfD is so swamped with trash on a daily basis, that when an article that should be more thoroughly examined comes along, the “debate” about the article often isn’t, because deletion is such a common practice, it has almost become a “kangaroo court”. Our current VfD system/methodology violates Wikipedia’s ideals on preserving content. If we did more to help control the volume of VfD's generated, the VfD process could do more of what it was meant to do, focus in detail and with great debate on questionable articles.AboutWestTulsa 19:00, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • Aye, I see what you mean. But as for the VfD swamping, that's what speedies are for - and although it may not be working optimally at the moment, I think that by shaping new policies through means such as this very page, we are slowly but surely getting there. Wiki is evolving - constantly so - and I like to hope for the better. However, a demand for sourcing is, in my opinion, a bit above and beyond. Maybe on some other project, but with WikiPedia as it is, where a great deal of the original information has been edited beyond recognition to achieve true NPOV, and where a large number of the original contributors (who may or may not have been able to provide sources - I refer again to my beloved anthro\philosophical principle) have left the projects years ago, never to return - I suspect it would be simply too cumbersome to go through with it properly. Implementing it in new articles only would lead to a horrible, and to newcomers inexplicable gap in the flagging of articles. I do not presume to have all the answers, nor do I suggest we sit back and let Wiki run along in its own paths - as I see the need to improve a "shitfilter" - but I do not think a source demand is the way to go. --TVPR 07:08, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I do appreciate everyone's comments. We seem to have gotten a little off the prelim. proposal I started which really only had 3 points. VfD is ONE area where I see that better policy of sources and verifiability may help, but is not the main point from my original post and being is discussed elsewhere. I really wanted to try to spur policy discussions on 1) Creating a SIMPLE system to track fact checking, 2) Make sure any new policy is concisely presented to new users, 3) Reconcile diverging policies on what's in Wikipedia to be centered around verifiability.

In trying to reach consensus, as based on the objections above, I don't think the first element has really been addressed. If someone bothers to check facts, why not record the results on Discussion pages? If we do, why not have a policy/template for how to record fact checking results? The second element is also a must but should incorporate the reconcile part of the third element. As a new user myself, I am telling the community that we need to better prepare new users for contributing to Wikipedia. Trying to get a grasp on the 10 different policy articles about what articles are appropriate for Wikipedia (which sometimes conflict each other) is too confusing, and new contributors are likely to disregard. However, I think if we do reconcile these conflicting documents, then perhaps you are right, we don't have to go too far in making demands for a source for every statement in every article.AboutWestTulsa 16:42, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Double Jeopardy Policy on votes

Recently, articles about Taiwan were under massive votes for changing the titles from XXX of Taiwan to XXX of ROC. Although the initial votes could be justified based on the Naming convention, the results of these votes almost invariably failed to be passed due to the POV nature of the topic and also the lack of a consensus on the issue. However, in the past few days, another round of voting attempting to change the titles of Taiwan-related articles again was waged by the same single Wikipedian and this really affects the pace of many Wikipedians who concerns about this issue and have to make efforts to engage into the same arguement over and over again.

Without suspecting any ulterior intention for this Wikipedian, who I believe to be a truely enthusiastic editor, I believe this tireless efforts targeting on Taiwan-related articles and making other wikipedians have to repetitively engage into the same dispute over and aover again is really problematic. From the previous voting experiences, I believe that the same wikipedian know it very well that such repetitive vote would not only be another futile attempt butl also be irritating to other contributers.

As a general rule, I wonder if we can enact a Double Jeopardy Policy on votes so that once a debate is over, no one should wage another vote based on the very same reason for a certain amount of time, unless a general consensus was gathered from the discussion page. I have never started a village pump discussion and I wonder how would this work. However, I do believe such a policy would greatly promote the process of editing and cut down frivolous votes. This proposal may also be beneficial to the whole Wikipedia society and is not particularly for Taiwan-related topics. Any comment would be greatly appreciated.

Reference(incompleted, please kindly help me compile the lists)

Mababa 23:55, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What you're talking about is not "double jeopardy". You may want to know this is a criminal law concept. We are not sending anyone to the electric chair. A similar concept in civil litigation is called "res judicata" or "claim preclusion".
Wikipedia polls are not trials. A poll is more like a referendum where a lost proposal is usually not allowed to be raised again in some years defined by law. Why? The most important reason is social costs. Referendums, not unlike other elections, are designed to test people's opinions. Wikipedia is exactly the reverse. If you create an article for "Tommy Ed" and talk about the life of an inventor who invented bulbs, people in the know may want to rename it to "Thomas Edison". This is bad analogy but you got the point. It is, possibly, not a good idea to bar the same lost issue again if it involves with fact. We cannot afford to let false information to sit on top of the shelf for very long just because of a procedual bar.
In a word, the polls are nearly costless. It is not an election that's going to cost taxpayers millions. The idea of today's election system is based on the presumption that it takes money to get everyone to vote. There's no money. Nor do everyone vote. We are even talking about a fact, not an opinion. So what can we do? -- Toytoy 02:38, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
Disagree. These polls are not costless. The people who are interested in China (I am not one) feel that have to be constantly on alert, because if they ever take a day off or miss a poll, that the consensus will be deemed to have shifted to the other side. I could go either way on calling it double jeopardy, but from the original writer's point of view it is a correct analogy. I feel that at some point, a decision should be deemed to be made, otherwise, the concept of a poll closing has no meaning. Morris 03:15, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
It does not cost money to run a poll on Wikipedia, but it certainly costs time, and that is the only currency we have to use to improve and contribute to Wikipedia with. And in general, time is a precious commodity. 03:59, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Mababa, this is your best suggestion since turning Chihiro's parents into pigs! I would support this whole-heartedly. It's a waste of effort to flame in talk pages over the same repeated issue when that energy could be put into creating content. What's worse, is how often I see new facts being used to flame - facts that would be useful in the article but aren't because the focus of the editor is on "winning" the debate in the talk page, not improving the article.

When this happens across dozens of pages, with the same arguments, what a waste.

I haven't thought this through, but some considerations of a mixture of these maybe?

  • A minimum of 30, or even 90, days between votes.
  • A minimum to even raise the issue again for discussion by anyone who participated last time
  • A "poll to re-vote", of one non-argumentive sentence and a strict no advocacy, no argument, no debate, no talk-page spamming restriction, responses of more than "yes" or "no" would be disallowed.
  • a "call to re-vote" or even just "call to poll to re-vote" that must be seconded by someone who previously voted the other way.
  • A restriction on raising the same issue on another page. If a poll to rename the category "Fish that live in water" to "Fish that live in the sea" utterly fails, there should be some obvious restriction to also prevent the same user from continuing the argument at "Mollusks that live in water".

This kind of policy is increasingly necessary as the project scales. I wonder if there are statistics about casual editor turnover, but my guess is that for many it's 6 months to a year. So not only do we need something that prevents a single user from repeating a poll until she wins - we also need something that promotes article stability over the most controversial pieces of it from a new user re-proposing an issue that was recently decided. SchmuckyTheCat 03:07, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the encouraging comments. Certainly, I am awared the difference between a poll and a trial but I do feel that these votes are just as tiring as getting through trials. For sure we want the content of this encyclopedia to be as accurate as possible. However, I would like to quibble that it is not accurate to say a poll cost people nothing. It still cost the participants who care about the dispute their time and energy to engage into the discussion, to search for informations to bolster their position. And I belive these are the cost for votes. Though these were only polls in wikipedia, I feel the Taiwan-related articles are repetitively being polled or trialed for the very same arguement. Polls are great to gauge opinions in the community; and everyone should enjoy the right to exert freedom to initiate polls. However, it should not be abused. Having the same articles to be voted over and over again based on same reason is a waste of the Wiki resource and keeps participants away from their editting. It is not appropriated and should be stopped.

If the information is inaccurate as you suggested then the majority in the vote should have already voted for the more accurate side based on the information provided by both side. (The biggest problem of today is that we are talking about are opinions, not about the facts.) If the information is POVed, then the majority in the vote should have already voted for the more neutral side. If the result of the vote turned out to be against the so-called naming convention policy, it only indicates that the convention policy is problematic and not necessarily has included all aspects of different views. What would repetitive votes change the neutrality status of the previous vote result in the public eye? I wonder.

I also wonder why's that the result of previous poll was not respected and could be disregarded to initiate a second vote on the very same topic based on the very same reasoning logic whih has been either accepted or rejected in the previous poll?

As I proposed earlier, I suggest a limited protection period from this type of frivolous votes. I also propose this protection could be overidded if a consensus is gathered to safegaurd Wikipedian's right to initiate votes and to circumvent a potential flaw generated from the previous vote. As SchmuckyTheCat suggested, either time period or a poll on the reinitiation would be some options that we could think of. Without a general consensus, everyone should accept and respect the voting result before any new or major evidence/event be presented/changed.

Take today's votes as examples, they are initiated because the previous ones failed to be passed. If today's votes fail again, can one still wage the same votes based on the same reason over an over again every single month until they get passed? Or perhaps if today's votes should passed, can we initiate counter votes over and over again until the result get reverted? As you suggested earlier, since not everyone would participate a vote and also that people's patience weans, would the vote being held later be more accurate than the previous one? So should we keep on engaging everyone's time and energy whole year round until one side is tired, since wikipedia regard participants' time as free and costless? Facts should be always updated, but the consensus generated by each opinion polls should be treasureed and can not be afforded to be disregarded.

BTW, if the name of this proposed policy is inaccurate to descibe the intention of this proposed policy, res judicata policy on voting might be a better name as Toytoy suggested.--Mababa 03:33, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Forming policies in light of this issue aside, it does seem to me, that in the above instance, a revote is constantly made on the basis that "voters are misguided", that "votes dont count because they dont agree to previous concensus" and that kind of thing. This will not do. I have seen some of these voters sticking to their positions even when the same wikipedian tried to explain the situation to them in their individual talk pages. Does this actually mean the original convention should be the one now coming under review instead? If subsequent change requests gets voted down despite these "conventions", surely it means something has to be done about the conventions themselves?

Nontheless, I agree a limit has to be set to guard against repeated votes, especially useful in cases whereby the vote margin is simply too small, and in which I am pretty sure some folks will initiate a new round of votes...and the process repeats itself again and again so long that the margin remains small. Perhaps we should simply remind ourselves that Wikipedia is not a democracy|. Majority votes dont always count. It is the arguments made which are more important sometimes.--Huaiwei 09:30, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the general intent here, but I'm not sure about the specifics. I'm also thinking we don't need to restrict it to just votes. We could call it just Wikipedia:Give it a rest. Maurreen 09:57, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Although I do appreciate that this topic has been brought up, is it really a problem that a policy needs to be set concerning it? Other than the ROC/Taiwan + China issues, has this been a problem elsewhere? In the aforementioned case, it looks as if the current situation has arisen due to a large amount of misunderstanding, and it looks like it will soon go through arbitration to sort out all the details. If it's not really a problem elsewhere on the site, policy is probably not necessary. Perhaps some general guidelines will be enough. Maurreen's "Give it a rest" sounds like a good idea. --Umofomia 02:26, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Policy on including non-notable objects

Would someone please explain to me to me the official policy on the inclusion of very non-notable items in the Wikipedia? I'll give you two examples, Pencil Case and Cleat.

Both pencil cases and cleats are entirely mundane, non-notable items. There is so very little that can be said about either. Cleat is currently on VFD at Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Cleat and it appears that it will survive. Never mind the fact that it is a collection of dictionary definitions and has already been transwikied to Wikitionary.

Here's what I'm wondering: is the threshold for inclusion in the Wikipedia set at being a noun? If that is the case and we are going to have articles for all mundane things like Fingernail clippers and door knobs then why do people, books, elementary schools, albumns, etc. require notability?

Just wondering aloud. Kevin Rector 20:54, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Presumably no individual pencil case, cleat or set of cleats, nail clipper, etc. would deserve an article. However, as classes of objects, I think these all are potentially encyclopedic topics. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:19, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)
A century or so ago there were things called "object lessons" which discussed a single mundane object and brought into the discussion a variety of educational topics associated with it. More recently, we've had wonderful books like John McPhee's Oranges, Henry Petrosky's The Pencil, Mark Jurlansky's Cod and Salt, etc. I don't know where I'd draw the line but I rather like these topics and I think they have considerable potential for growth. As Jmabel | Talk points out, I think the proper parallel would be between an article on a kind of object, like Cleat, and a kind of institution, like Kindergartens. The institution of the kindergarten is highly encyclopedic. Individual kindergartens are not. Just my $0.02. Dpbsmith (talk) 21:39, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
So what you are saying is that any noun can be included in the Wikipedia, even if it's only a dictionary definition (because it could potentially be expanded). But a proper noun must pass the notability test? Kevin Rector 22:00, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)
We're talking common nouns here; proper nouns are another matter. And many common nouns would be redirects at best. I can't imagine, for example, that a radiator grille deserves an article separate from one on a radiator; similarly, while bookbinding certainly deserves an article, very few specific types of binding would deserve their own article. Probably there are other classes of exceptions that are not coming to mind. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:37, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

This discussion would not be complete without a mention of bread clip, which has been on Wikipedia:Unusual articles for quite some time. I can find absolutely no reason why this article on an "entirely mundane, non-notable item" should not exist. Wiki is not paper, and concerns of notability will never leave the realm of personal opinion—in my opinion. :-) Worry about verifiability instead. JRM 20:19, 2005 Mar 27 (UTC)

I find it very easy to believe that someone could write a wonderful article on Radiator grills, quite separately from that on Radiators. The article on (internal-combustion) radiators would talk about thermal properties, coolant flow, air flow, materials, etc.; the article on radiator grills would talk about their aesthetic development as part of automobile design, their materials (chrome etc.), their effects on pedestrians in accidents, etc. However, just because someone could write such an article does not mean that someone has. I don't see much point in having stubs around which aren't encyclopedic while we're waiting for a John McPhee to come around and make them so. By the way, there is a tradition of beautiful decorated pen/pencil cases both in Turkey (kalemtraş) and in Japan (enpitsu ire). --Macrakis 23:16, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Bias: I'm an inclusionist, at least as far as article mainspace goes. When I want to know all about something, I go to WP. I don't want to have to guess beforehand, "Gee, is this important enough to be in WP?"
WP is not paper, and we won't run out of server space. It could be argued that short articles on trivial topics somehow degrade the overall quality of the project -- but -- that assumes such a measure is valid, that one could somehow add up the value of each article and divide the sum by the total number of articles.
In practice, when a user looks to find something on WP, he will find something -- article, stub, or an invitation to start a page. Whatever he takes away from the experience will represent his valuation of WP as a tool. If he searches for "notable" things, and finds much good work, he will value WP highly. If he searches for trivial items and finds nothing, he will value WP less highly. This is all that counts.XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 03:05, 2005 Apr 3 (UTC)

Portable soup is an example of a mundane object with an interesting history that survived a deletion vote after being improved. Including these things is in line with the modern trend of Social history.--Samuel J. Howard 06:33, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)

Some meditations on consensus, utility, presentability and inclusion

The frequent debates and controversy over the question of what criteria - other than neutrality, verifiability and well-formed prose - information included in Wikipedia should fulfil, is at once a bone of contention and also an (often unconcious) attempt by the community to form a consensus. Although the intention may be good, and the interests of all concerned be noble, there are always pitfalls on the path to consensus and here are some that we have fallen pray to in our combined theorising efforts:

  • Dichotomy creation: In any field where decisions must be made using analysis which is at once complex and lead to polar conclusions, there is an observed effect where psychological attractors (personality types) cause the "gut-feelings" - conclusions made from incomplete reason and thus drawing heavily on psychological makeup - of different demographics to polarise on the issue. Once this polarisation is observed by the parties to the discussion, it offers the often irresistable temptation to take an "easy way out" of the difficult analysis by postulating that the polarised demographics' conclusions are set in stone by their (personality types) and thus it is impossible to achieved a reason-informed shared-premised consensus. (Think "liberal"/"conservative"). Inclusionist/Deletionist? I beg you please to say: "No, it's not that simple." With grace and dedication difficult issues can be ellucidated by theory, but only if their investigators can be persuaded from opting out of the struggle.
  • Subjectification of premises: As the above pitfall, this problem only occurs in debates which are not easy. That is to say, they cannot be solved using linear logic from the most common shared premises. Because of the higher order of complexity of these problems (mathematicians may use the analogy of computational complexity), the decision making aparatus of the mind - being not designed to come to only rationally informed conclusions, only to make the best decision most of the time and quickly - defaults to (what we analyse as) premises which are subjective. Normally, one notices when using a premise for decision making that is impossible to agree on, and rejects it offhand. However, the subjective decision making components of this pitfall always seem self-evident to those who are party to them. This again makes it far to easy to use this unfortunate phenomenon to avoid the difficult task of finding better foundations for a consensus. "Notable/Encyclopedic"? I beg of you, say "It's not a useful critereon". If people are willing to accept arguments without objetive premises, then there is no chance for better ones to be made.

Unfortunately, the two pitfalls are linked, and each only strengthens the other. A concious effort to avoid both must be made, and constant effort maintained to prevent falling prey same pitfalls later on the path. This is difficult to do without a first step being made, if only to point out a vague direction to the analysis. I will attempt one below, but beg you to bear in mind that this is only a first tentative step towards an destination unknown, and that only those theoretical constructs which help the analysis need be kept.

The analysis of inclusion

Wikipedia has a reasonably clear, though variably stated deontology. We are here to do something we call agree is a good cause. Some state this cause as narrowly (without qualification) as "Building an encyclopedia", whereas others (like our founder) have used a more poetic phrasing: "We are here make the sum of human knowledge available to the world." It is almost universally agreed, even further, that this is a task - like govermnent - without an end. In order to achieve great things, one must always strive for the impossible, thus never reaching a point where one can give up. This concept is called Eventualism, and informs a large field of Wikipedia's philosophy. This does not of course preclude milestones, such as the creation of Wikipedia 1.0, but only admits that we will never finish the task of chronicaling all knowledge. We have inherited a stewardship that can be traced back to the Library of Alexandria and will no doubt continue past Wikipedia - at least in its current form.

This does not, of course, mean that there are not rules can be made concerning how knowledge about the world is to be contained in Wikipedia. As is often pointed out, we are not a repository: there will never be articles which contain information formated in a manner that doesn't conform to our well-developed stylistic guidelines. Let me tabulate some of these almost universally agreed upon rules of our formating of the world's knowledge:

  • Descriptive: This is a useful heading under which many of our stylistic rules can be grouped. Roughly stated, it dictates that Wikipedia information must be writen in prose, make statements which are about ontological "facts" and are reflected in evidence about those "facts", which is agreed upon by external sources. This precludes things like peotry, except as an example, etc. And leads to some other important sub-rules:
  • Verifiable: in order to be descriptive, writing must reflect agreed beliefs about the nature of things. This also prevent describing (in detail) something which is either not previously written about by external sources, or otherwise hard to verify. (For example: subjects of narrow interest). While at first thought, this might lead on to eroniously narrow the scope of Wikipedia to only describing those things that are universally agreed upon, a useful tool allows use still to desribe all things in this way: Abstraction. Where something is not agreed upon, one may instead "abstract a layer out" and describe the disagreement, instead of the conclusions of those who disagree. This in an important technique for articles to be:
  • Neutral: In order to be descriptive, an article cannot postulate something that is not a universally agreeable statement of truth. The technique of abstraction allows this, and is a great skill developed in Wikipedians. For example, while most people would say the Mona Lisa is a historic and invaluable work of art, we can simply say "most people would say the Mona Lists is ..." or another phrasing thereof, therefore actually encapsulating more information (what a set of people believe, and which set of people believe it), while being more universally agreeable. This is a very important component in the Wikipedian's toolset.
  • Well formated: Again, this is a heading under which many rules and guidelines of our policy can be grouped. The manual of style and other visible policy theory are a large part of this criterion - and I will omit these from my dicussion, as they are already well-theorised. However, there is also a large element which has thus far escaped theory- and consensus-forming: The article schema. This is an example of editorial value, a very important concept in Wikipedia (and thus knowledge management) theory. While Wikipedia's primary task is to house all knowledge, it's secondary - though more difficult and important - task is to present it in a way that allows people to take the shortest and most pleasurable route from:
  1. Wanting/Needing (Wanting but not knowing) knowledge about a subject
  2. Deciding (or have it decided for them, by Google, etc.) to use Wikipedia to get this knowledge.
  3. Finding it
  4. Reading it
  5. Knowing it

Editorial value plays a huge roll in all the stages of this process. At the first stage, is when people find something interesting that they then progress through the other stages with. We achive this by compressing our content: Through portals like the Main Pages, WikiPortals, disambiguation pages, and even the main articles on large scoped subjects, which compress content by summarising it and linking to sub-articles, we make judgement calls to provide summaries and pointers to important sections of our knowledge content. While this is not necessarily subjective, it is based on a complex analysis of the utility of various parts of the wide knowledge content to different people.

Thus due to its complexity, psychology and experience are again prone (by the pitfalls explained about) to informing these decisions instead of objective shared premises. One person may be convinced of the utility of knowing about a high-school, or a band's album, or a particular character in a computer game, while another person may consider these trivial, in comparison to a historical constitution of a particular nation, or a mathematical formula - and vice versa. In the future, this will not be a problem, as developments in technology (such as the mediawiki software, or a future platform) will allow complete customisation of Wikipedia - the Knowledge value will be seperated from the Editorial value as open access and a (perhaps) meta-tagging/folksonomy-informed system will take the intelligence of stage 3 to a new level. (I digress, ask me about this if you are interested, I have a lot of pretty well-formed ideas)

However, the problems of editorial value where there is only one centralised and thus necessarily agreed upon article schema, can still be theorised upon until this new system is in place. I hope that editorial value will be a field of theory that Wikipedians will perform a lot of work in, thus contributing greatly to society in yet another way.

A tentative conclusion

I will now use the above theory to come to a tentative conclusion regarding inclusion. This conclusion is based on the following (hopefully) shared premises:

  1. Wikipedia's great strength is its ability to tap the knowledge and eagerness to teach, of almost anybody in the world. The low barrier to entry is what has enabled us to grow exponentially, a miraculous achievement.
  2. Wikipedia is not understood by many people who have not experienced it from the inside, or read about it thoroughly. There are people who judge Wikipedia based on subsets of its articles, or the ratio of available knowledge on various topics. A large number of people also jump to the further eronious conclusion that the accuracy (in decribing the world factually) of articles is reflected by these subsets and ratios. This is not a correct way to judge Wikipedia, but it is not doubted (by anyone I know) that it exists.
  3. The judgement of Wikipedia in these eronious ways, is a judgement of Editorial Value, and not of Knowledge value (What knowledge about the world we have and haven't written about decriptively).
  4. The presentability of Wikipedia, as judged by various factors, including the skin, uptime, attitudes of editors, announcements and even bad judgement-calls like the above, is important to its continued growth, and reputation, which will be all-important as the web is (dilluted) by mirrors of Wikipedia content. While we maintain our status as a secondary source, people will more and more begin using us as a primary source as the proliferation of our content increases.

Therefore, I conclude that: Until the freedom and open-ness of our content is high enough for the free creation of 'Wikipedia content' portals, and our own article schema(s) become[s] lost in the plethora of schemas, the editorial value of our schema is vital to Wikipedia's mission. However, the question is not of making some way to slice up the sum of human knowledge into two subjective sets (notable and non-notable), but of how best to describe (see above theory) and arrange (the article schema) all knowledge.

I hope that this theorising will be of use to as many Wikipedians as possible, and must apologise that it was written extempore in a public library. Please correct my spelling, grammar and phrasing if you feel bold enough, and please, please, please feel free to use this as a base for further theorising. Together we can ellucidate this problem, and by doing so remove one of the biggest sources of conflict between well-meaning Wikipedians. Also, if anyone found this useful, and is able to, they should register for [ | Wikimania 2005], where I will (unless something comes up) be presenting a paper and speech on this and other aspects of Wikipedia theory. -nsh 11:12, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Could someone summarize the above? I cannot bring myself to read through it. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:48, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry for the lengthiness - I believe this is an important issue and needs to be approached academically. I did however style the writing so that the conclusion was given metadata to denote that it had summary value for the entire post, by making its text bold. This incidentally, is an example of editorial value (the emboldening of parts of a string of words).
  • I think someone's advocating the abolishment of deleting articles due to lack of notability, but I can't be sure. --Carnildo 00:39, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Look, I'm not a dumb guy, but just to take one bolded sentence—"Until the freedom and open-ness of our content is high enough for the free creation of 'Wikipedia content' portals, and our own article schema(s) become[s] lost in the plethora of schemas, the editorial value of our schema is vital to Wikipedia's mission. However, the question is not of making some way to slice up the sum of human knowledge into two subjective sets (notable and non-notable), but of how best to describe (see above theory) and arrange (the article schema) all knowledge.":

  1. What is "open-ness" and how does it differ from "openness"? I assume that there is a distinction being made with this neologism, but it escapes me.
Apologies, there was no distinction to be made, I just have a habit of using hyphenation to avoid unsightly letter doubling.
  1. What does it mean for "freedom and open-ness of content" to be "high"
This means there are no subjective restrictions on the range of content. Wikipedia achieves greatness by connecting people who want to write about things, with people who want to read about them. Any restrictions on the former or latter, except to provide editorial value (the utility of lengthy content compression), are injust and antithetical to our mission (Providing the sum of human knowledge); they discourage contribution, cause discomfort, and are only proposed to save people from reading things they don't want to. Editorial value is not to be confused with content value (the descriptiveness of text and media).
  1. What is an "article schema"?
The article schema is the subsectioning of our content into articles, and the directed graph that results from the hyper-linking of these content slices. At the moment, the article schema is necessarily static and must be agreed upon. This is likely to be subject to conceptual extension in the directions of both limitations. Facts can be agreed upon, the relative utility of facts for different end users cannot be agreed upon centrally.
  1. If "describe" is qualified by "see above theory", with no further explanation, how is this a useful summary?
I expected people to take 10 minutes and read the post. Perhaps I was expecting too much. Descriptiveness can be summarisied as indisputability and good prosaic style. We have much extant policy on this matter, and as such I only touched the concept en passant.

Not that I really want answers to these specific questions, I'm just pointing out at slightly greater length why I have no intention of slogging through this. And I'll ask again: Could someone summarize the above? -- Jmabel | Talk 03:17, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

I'm sure in the time taken to write an uninformed objection, it would have been possible to read the entire post and apply thought to it - but it is not for me to presume the efforts of others. The utility of asking a set of questions to avoid reading something complicated, then stating that one isn't actually interested in the answers is lost upon me however. Again, this is more my fault for being verbose, than yours in any way. *Disappointed but understanding*, nsh 17:48, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC) Useless and potentially offensive silliness struckthrough. Demi has summarised well, please have a look at their summary. I would greatly appreciate your opinion, jmable, and apologise if I seemed patronising. WikiLove, nsh 20:24, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)

A tentative summary?

As I understand it, nsh would like us to identify notable and non-notable information (instead of deleting that which is non-notable), so that a reader can "view" content on this basis: it's moderated, in other words. Though I would guess he would like different scales of moderation honored, so, for example, you could choose which criteria for "notability" you'd be using when you view Wikipedia.

Also, he's possibly thinking of a wider effect of shared sets of standards--an effect deeper than inclusion/exclusion of individual articles or sections on the basis of notability. So, for example, if I'm a "lumper," then I could merge articles together, while a "splitter" breaks them apart. When viewing, I could choose to view the "lumpy" or "splitty" versions, because the editors and I are agreeing on a shared standard for those things: a standard on which universal, or near-universal, agreement, would not be required.

Demi T/C 11:58, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)

An excellent summary! Thank you kindly, Demi, for doing what I could not have done. I guess I had content to bring to this discussion, but it required your editorial input to make it more useful. Interesting how this reflects the ideas put forward though. Demi's summary was a compression of the (long and boring) content I posted. An infinite number of summaries were possible, but the first one given was already of great quality. If Demi's summary can be imagined as the compression of all Wikipedia content on some topic, I would have approved the editorial metadata, and thus this condensation would be strengthened. nsh 20:01, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)
Sorry to double post, but it's probably a good idea that I explain some more. The editorial schemas need not be enforced on anyone (anymore than the current article schema is), but there ought definitely be multiple interacting condensation systems which can be used to reduce the signal:noise ratio when looking for information on Wikipedia. Imagine being able to pull a query like this: "Pull all information that has the quality relates_to("Brass Music") and has the quality time_period("Early Baroque"), phrase for prior_knowledge("Music theory"), ideal length 2000 words". nsh 20:14, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)

I think of mundane entries as seeds

My 2 cents: taking the long view...thinking of Wikipedia in say 15 or 20 years, many articles viewed as mundane today will surely be developed into detailed, useful, and relevant entries. The analogy that works for me is that these articles are seeds that need to be planted to grow. Sure, some of the articles will be dull as all heck, but the ones that grow up into wonderful and rich content will make it worth it. Tobycat 00:38, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Inappropriate WikiProjects ?

Some WikiProjects are said by some users to be inappropriate (possibly because of POV-pushing, or being a personal attack magnet). Is it possible for a WikiProject to be inappropriate? If so, what are the criteria, and how do we decide? What should we do with said projects?

Please join the discussion on Wikipedia:Wikiproject/Inappropriate projects.

Radiant_* 11:01, Apr 13, 2005 (UTC)

Proposed 3RR modification

Please see my proposal at Wikipedia talk:Three-revert rule#Proposed modification. Don't consider it final by any means. Instead suggest possible modifications. --brian0918&#153; 01:47, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Banning users

I and several other users have endured the troublesome attitude of a certain user. S/he uploads copyrighted material and makes sweeping changes across the Wikipedia:WikiProject Arcade games articles without a concensus from other participants in the project. Other participants have gone through and reverted his changes, but he usually just goes back and reverts them back to his version. We've tried to reason with him, but he continues to make unpopular changes and reverted to his preference. Since we've already tried to reason with him without any success, what can be done to ban him? He's really just causing more work for the rest of us. Frecklefoot | Talk 17:20, Apr 12, 2005 (UTC)

If the user is refusing to communicate, list on WP:AN/I. If the user is willing to communicate, open an RFC to try to get other editors involved. --Carnildo 18:15, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia Board of Directors

Hello everyone. This is not a finished proposal, but rather a "discussion point"


The proposition is to have a Wikipedia board of directors, elected every year, in charge of daily operations. This would not replace the arbitration commitee in tasks of personal disputes or the administrators in their daily tasks.

It would rather be an efficient and fast way to deal with

  • Policy proposals
  • Technical developments (roadmap)
  • Public relations (lower scale; other than J.Wales)

(Next section highly speculative) The J.Wales and the Wikimedia foundation could have the powers of

  • Dissolving the board if a fundamental disagreement arises. Should be a last resort.
  • Weighing in very fundamental topics (user rights, editorial system yes/no, static version etc.) These topics would be preprepared by the board of directors with the foundation making final decisions
  • Large scale financial decisions and corporate alliances.

All other matters would be done by the board independently. No direct influence (beyond those mentioned above) should be exerted by the foundation or J.Wales.


The board would meet every 2 weeks on a fixed day, discussing the current proposals and events and voting on them.

In order to bring a proposal to the board, it must get a minimal number of "support votes" on some lower proposals board. Discussions/votes would be open to the community to read afterwoods.

The board could have "officers" responsible for specific tasks s.a. public relations, communication with other languages, "technologist" etc.


  • Transparent decisions with a fixed number of votes.
  • More efficient: fewer proposals, faster decisions
  • Easily understandable admin-structure, transparent to outsiders
  • Open & democratic: All board members need reelection every year.

Certainly, this would be anti-cabal, but those most involved would have the best chances to get elected. It would just be more transparent. It could be a "meritocracy".

-- 16:18, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC) (Anon: this is just a proposal; all details negotiable.) See also Debian proj. - Gnome - Apache - PG apparently needs not much admin

PS: Maybe the name "editorial board" would do too or "executive board"

Wikimedia has a board that fulfills many of these functions. If you think changes need to be made to its structure or activities, m:Talk:Board of Trustees is probably the best place to propose them. —Charles P. (Mirv) 16:46, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Fictional Events

I have removed the fictional events sections from the year articles in the immediate future (up to 2020). These articles are widely linked to, and viewed, and I do not think having events from Robotech etc. really helps our credibility very much. If someone wants to create 2009 in fiction etc. feel free, but I do not think this kind of information should be in the relevent year articles. Rje 15:48, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

My opinion: feel free to remove these useless SF contents. -- Toytoy 15:59, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)
It's also a good idea to paste removed contents to Timeline of fictional future events. -- Toytoy 16:18, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)
I've cleaned up through 2050 --Carnildo 20:51, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Down the memory hole

This comment originally appeared in Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) 10:54, 2005 Apr 7 (UTC). It was not only removed from the Pump, but from the Pump's history itself -- pure Orwellian censorship, and not by a common user, either.

If you think this is unacceptable, I hope you will work to preserve not only these remarks, but to discover the actor who obliterated them. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 03:13, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

Hrm, I believe you'd have to have direct access to the database to pull this off. Administrators can't, and I think stewards can't either. If it was malicious that's a very small pool of suspects. I'm suspecting a software error — see Wikipedia: Village pump (technical), section Serious software problems for some similar errors encountered while editing articles on other Wikipedias. Deco 03:57, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
This was posted to the talk page of this page at the time given. I suspect that's where it went, and remains. —Charles P. (Mirv) 04:29, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'm striking my accusations of this complaint being "disappeared". I am not convinced! It is just as easy to make me look foolish by altering history as to eliminate all reference to the complaint. But perhaps I misfiled it -- just because Somebody's out to get you doesn't mean you're not paranoid -- in any case, as usual, one act of ill will cloaks another. I only wish Someone would address the substantive issues. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 06:18, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

Please answer my complaint here.

Just to get the facts straight: if I understand you correctly, you suggested a new policy on how to treat deletion discussions where consensus is not reached within a week. The previous policy was to let them stay on the Tfd page longer, to see if consensus could be reached later; your policy would count no consensus as a keep, right? There was no reaction, so you changed the rules unilaterally, but noone complained.
Then, at the first vote where consensus could not be reached after a week, you removed the entry, as per your new policy. Then people reverted that removal, and reverted your policy changes. Yes?
My interpretations: It would seem that people didn't object to your proposed changes in procedure, not because they agreed, but because they did not notice the changes. They only noticed that you changed that part of the procedure when you acted upon it. It is not a good idea to assume that silence means assent. I don't blame you for changing the procedure when noone objected, but when later on people noticed the changes, and started objecting, the best thing you could have done was to revert to the old procedure, and discuss your proposals again on the Talk page. It's no use saying: "but you should have said that sooner". If the majority doesn't want to follow your procedure, you cannot hold them to it, just because you've changed the policy "behind their backs".
One other thing you might keep in mind: You closed the discussion on {divbox} because of "no consensus", but you were one of the most vocal supporters of that template. That makes your decision to keep the template and to remove the discussion look biased. It would be better to let others, who are not involved in the vote, make these decisions. Eugene van der Pijll 11:52, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • You've got a hard spin on the ball, EvdP, but you are substantially correct. I did not consider my rewrite to be a change in process (not policy at all, these are less authoritative guidelines with much narrower scope). I believed I was formalizing existing process, not altering it. I did not think retention of nominated templates was process, but failure of process -- lazyness, difficulty understanding poorly-written instructions, lack of clarity. It simply does not make sense to leave nominated templates in the tank to slowly rot away -- there must be a cutoff, and there was discussion of extending that cutoff from 5 days to 7, which I incorporated -- and noted elsewhere, near that discussion. I did nothing sneaky -- I edited boldly, and spoke boldly of it.
My refactoring was extremely extensive -- all of it, to my opinion, structural rather than procedural rewrite -- clarification of existing process, removal of ambiguity. But however you like to characterize it, the fact remains that nobody saw fit to fool with it, question it, or attack me for doing the work -- so long as it inconvenienced them not. In the end, it was two users only -- those two alone -- who took it upon themselves to, in one short editing period, restore {divbox}, regress to the old, badly-written process, and cite it as justification for throwing {divbox} back in the tank. Please check history carefully before jumping salty on me; everything I have said is backed up by the diffs.
I don't really know how to make this point clearly without being insulting. Let's say you are playing a card game with us, for which we are constantly changing the rules. There is a piece of paper upon which the rules are written; you change it, I change it, he changes it, she changes it. You change it again to specify that anyone dealt the Ace of Spades wins the hand if it is the last card he holds at the end; a few hands are played and nobody modifies your new rule. A new hand is dealt, and lo! you have the Ace of Spades. I do not, but I still say nothing about your rule, even after I peek in your hand and see that Ace. We play out the tricks and you are left with one card. You lay it down, saying "I win the hand!"; I grab the offending card, shove it back in your hand, grab the rules, cross out the Ace-of-Spades clause, and say, "Now let's play." Are you really so sure there is nothing about this that seems just a bit stinky to you?
I do take your meaning about the propriety of my removing {divbox}; I have another opinion on it, which I have given at length at User talk:Korath#TfD and Xiong. I shall comment here, and not to duplicate my remarks, either.
The TfD process is a Wikibackwater; few users go there for any reason. I think few users even create any templates that might Someday be deleted; most users have other interests. Like any dark corner, it is a place where bullies hope to catch the weak, friendless, and unwary. Perhaps I was mistaken for someone belonging to one or more of these categories. In any case, I was soundly beaten by a certain user, who pummeled me unmercifully, dragging every template I ever wrote into it. I don't know whether like minds congregate there; or whether that certain user has made this thankless task even more unamusing for anyone who dare stand up to him; but I know few voices were raised in my defence -- and truly, few users are seen near templates in any capacity, as creators, editors, deletionists, inclusionists, or maintainers of the workflow.
So, where is the disinterested user? We have a chronic demand for admin attention on the page; we cannot even get enough admins to come by often enough to delete templates upon which consensus is very clear. Nearly everyone there wears two or three hats. Both of the users who participated in the action to which I refer in my boxed complaint above voted in strong terms on {divbox}; did that give them the right to monkey with the removal, or forbid them to do so? Should I omit to comment on templates I touch, so that I may vote upon them when they come up on TfD? Should I abstain from voting so that I may refactor the workflow with clean hands?
It all comes down to clear intent and demonstrated action, not theoretical mudslinging and hopes that Caesar's wife will come to work. Process at the time called for removal absent consensus, and I want to see anyone argue that this constitutes consensus. Process at the time also called for 7 days' debate, and I removed {divbox} in the 169th hour. If my rewrite to process was illegitimate, then it was all illegitimate; if you side with the deletionists in upholding the deprecated "Disputed" subsection of the workflow, then why did you not move {divbox} there -- after 5 days had passed?
Instead of trying to turn the question around and point it at me, why don't you try to defend those who acted so offensively (in the literal sense). It all boils down to a tool that some users find useful, and some users who simply insist on snatching it away from the rest of us, even to the extent of perverting a system put in place primarily for simple garbage collection. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 21:41, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

You can't grant your work into the public domain

Hey all, I probably should've posted here sooner, but I've done some research recently and collected authoritative evidence that, in fact, it is not possible in the U.S. or U.K. for a person to release their own work into the public domain. This creates some potentially dangerous legal situations. I've explained all the details on Wikipedia:You can't grant your work into the public domain, along with what I believe should be done about it. In short, I'm proposing to deprecate some of the public domain image and text contribution tags, and asking contributors who used these tags to use "free use" tags such as {{CopyrightedFreeUse}} wherever possible instead. You might suggest just modifying the public domain tags, but this isn't okay; it would be effectively releasing someone else's rights without their permission (regardless of intent).

I posted about this on Wikipedia talk: Image copyright tags, Template talk: PD-self, and Template talk: PD-user a number of days ago, seeking consensus on the matter, and there was no objection. I posted at Template talk: MultiLicensePD and some others today, hoping to move forward on these after a suitable period.

I've already added suitable warnings to {{PD-release}}, {{PD-self}}, {{PD-user}}, and {{PD-link}}. I'm beginning to think some heavy machinery (bots) will be necessary to notify everyone who has used these tags. Although this action is rather drastic, I hope we can mostly agree that it needs to be done. If someone can bring in a professional lawyer I would really like to hear what they have to say on the matter, as I am not one. Deco 02:17, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is needless pedantry. Can you point to a single appreciable difference between public domain and a license that says I-own-the-copyright-but-you-can-use-it-any-way-you-want? →Raul654 03:20, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
I totally agree with Raul. Everyone who has ever slapped a PD template on their work understood that what they were doing was irrevocably giving up all their rights to it. Lots of these people will have left Wikipedia and be untraceable. If someone starts going round deleting perfectly good PD photos on the basis of pedantry I will be very annoyed, and I certainly won't be the only one. — Trilobite (Talk) 03:36, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
So instead of a "public domain" tag, we need a "I will let anyone do whatever they want to with this work, and won't ever prosecute anyone for copyright infringement in relation to it" tag? What's the difference?

You technically "grant" anything in the public domain if you forfeit the right to copyright the text. It just means that such a decision is non-reversible. Basically, you give up the right to profit, own, etc off whatever you "claim" to release into the public domain. -- AllyUnion (talk) 08:30, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I totally agree. There's no discernable difference. Wikipedia clearly states what happens if you label your image PD. I don't think for a second these templates should be replaced. The few days this has been posted isn't nearly enough to gain consensus about such a drastic change. Don't rush and certainly don't delete images yet. It's irreversible. Mgm|(talk) 08:46, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

For Wikipedia at least, it doesn't much matter because in addition to tagging, the uploader agrees that "I affirm that the copyright holder of this file agrees to license it under the terms of the Wikipedia copyright." If under some interpretation public domain doesn't do it to it, GFDL is still there as a fallback. --iMb~Meow 09:48, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I disagree in the strongest possible terms with this deprecation of PD tags/licensing. I am one of the people who dual liscences my text into the public domain (and a couple of photos as well, but they are the minority). What I am saying by doing this is that I give everybody the right to do whatever they want with it, and that by doing so I explicitly forfeit (sp?) all rights over the work. Even if it is technically not legally possible to do that, there is absolutely no lawyer or court in the UK that will challenge a person's de facto right to do this, or who will attempt to enforce copyright on something that somebody has so released.
Although I am no lawyer, I do know that in common law juristictions like the UK and US, case law is equally as important as statute laws (if this is the correct term), and I would be suprised if there wasn't case law that effectively says that people can release things into the public domain.
From Public domain: A copyright holder can explicitly disclaim any proprietary interest in the work, effectively granting it to the public domain, by providing a licence to this effect. A suitable licence will grant permission for all of the acts which are restricted by copyright law. Such a license is sometimes called a free use or public-domain equivalent licence.
From Wikipedia:Copyright FAQ#Public_domain: A work which is not copyrighted is in the public domain, and may be freely copied by anyone. It may have been placed in the public domain by its creator, it may be ineligible for copyright (not original enough or otherwise excluded), or the copyright may have expired. (my emphasis).

I'll do some research later. But based on what I know, if I have a pencil and I'd like to disclaim it, I can easily give that pencil to anyone else or drop that pencil in a trash can. I don't even need to write a notice or any legal document to give up my rights to that pencil. Copyright shall not be very different.
One thing that tells a pencil from an article is that copyright is usually easier to trace. My pencil is mass produced by a pencil factory. If I put it in a telephone booth and leave, it will be very difficult for me to prove my ownership even if I come back 10 minutes later. I am usually capable to claim my authorship to something written by me even after 10 years. That doesn't mean the public cannot prove that I had already granted all the rights (except for moral right) to the public domain. Moral right (such as authorship) is not transferrable. I can by the right to mass reproduce Dan Brown's next book. I cannot legally buy his manuscript in secret and tell other people that I am the author of Da Vinci Codes II (see ghost writer).
Copyrights can be disclaimed. -- Toytoy 16:11, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

Sure you can. I hereby release this edit into the Public Domain --Alterego 20:55, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

The idea that you can't put your own work into the public domain makes no sense at all. The pencil analogy makes no sense because a pencil is tangible property while rights are intangible. The difference is parallel to the difference between ownership of a book and the material within it. Certainly moral rights are more permanent than copyrights, but they too can be transferred. President Bush's speech writers quite regularly transfer their moral rights to him. The real difficulty with putting one's works in the public domain is a question of evidence. Jean Giono's letter putting his "The Man Who Planted Trees" into the public domain was addressed to a very obscure British magazine, Trees and Life; it's not even easy to verify that the magazine existed. The copyright on that publication has been the source of some controversy. If your claim is that the author has put the material into the public domain you have the burden of proving that fact, and even if the material has been frequently reprinted in many places that alone does not discharge the burden of proof. Eclecticology 22:39, 2005 Apr 9 (UTC)
The pencil analogy is valid. I can disclaim intangible property in a way similar to the way I abandon my ownership to a pencil that is tangible.
Moral rights are not transferrable. I can buy the right to publish Dan Brown's next book. I cannot buy his finished manuscript and tell others that I wrote it. If I do so, Dan is allowed to reclaim his authorship. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is in public domain now. I cannot claim that I was the author even if I am allowed to publish it.
As to GWB and his gang of typewriter monkeys, it's a question about work for hire. GWB or his men wants to say something. They hired some typewriter monkeys to do it. These monkeys are not allowed to say their own words, they are hired to say GWB's words. And actually, GWB is used to represent the whole U.S. federal government. The federal government is the copyright owner of his words spoken as the president of the U.S.
This is a minor point, any works created by (US) federal government employees in the course of their employment are not subject to copyright, and are in the public domain. (but the point about GWB's writers is correct) Morris 15:32, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)
If my company hires someone to write a song for it. My company is the author of the lyrics and the music. Personally, I think the authorship belongs to the employer since the very beginning. It was not transferred from the employee to the employer. Unless the employer says yes, the employee's work is not considered finished.
Works Made for Hire. -- In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright. 17 U.S.C. sec 201(b)
See, the authorship belongs to the employer since the very very very beginning. -- Toytoy 11:05, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)
The legal citation clearly refers to "rights comprised in the copyright". Being recognized as the author is a moral right which is not so comprised. It is additional to copyright. Eclecticology 22:45, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)
To respond to all of the above, it is true that we have GFDL as a fallback, in the case where the uploader is the copyright holder, but not in the case where they have merely uploaded a work that someone else claimed to put in the public domain, as is often the case for the {{PD-release}} template. Also, a person who believes the work is in the public domain may creative a derivative work and not place it under the GFDL, which is illegal.
The Creative Commons public domain dedication does not release the work into the public domain in the U.S. and U.K., but contains other language releasing all rights so that it does make the work free use, which is good enough. Our public domain image tags do not contain such language, and this is why a problem exists. The Copyright FAQ is simply wrong, a victim of a widespread misunderstanding.
I'm not saying it's unacceptable to make a statement releasing a work into the public domain. I'm saying that, for jurisdictions where this is not possible, we need to incorporate language releasing all rights, so that downstream users will not be victimized by an ineffective claim, just as the Creative Commons dedication does. This might seem like pedantry, but I think we're really better safe than sorry.
Finally, I have no intention of deleting any images. I am an inclusionist and there are very few images that I favour deleting, much less ones that the author wished to be freely used. I only suggest that a suitable warning be inserted, and that where possible we add free-use or other tags to strengthen the freedom of the image in jurisdictions not recognizing such a statement. I hope this is clearer.
Also, you cannot "forfeit" your right to copyright a text, you cannot "disclaim" a copyright. Some of these responses really sound like they haven't even read the page I linked, or else misunderstood it severely. Public domain is totally okay — the issue is when someone thinks they put something in the public domain, but they really haven't. Deco 22:56, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
After some further reading and thought, I am willing to accept continuing to use the PD tags and not converting them, mostly because the GFDL is available as a fallback in most cases. At the least, though, I think a link to Wikipedia: Granting work into the public domain should be given on {{PD-release}}, and maybe also {{PD-self}}, {{PD-link}}, and {{PD-user}}, so that everyone can be aware of the potential issues around this. Does this sound okay? Deco 00:34, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Apparently not. Oh well. Sorry to annoy everyone — I'll forget about this. Deco 06:21, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I believe that Deco is correct. At least one copyright attorney I've spoken with (on non-Wikipedia matters) has said that there is, in the U.S., no provision in the law for an author to disclaim copyright or deliberately make a work public domain. If you take a look at Creative Common's "public domain" license, it is in effect a contractual agreement that attempts to do the same thing. As a result, Deco's conclusion that true public domain works (where the copyright has expired, or where the work was published without a copyright notice before the law was changed to no longer require such a notice) should perhaps be seperated from recently contributed works where the author's intent is to license without limitation.

As for what the implications are for Wikipedia in particular, I have no idea, because I'm not a lawyer. The Uninvited Co., Inc. 15:09, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The fact that there is no provision in the copyright law does not mean that it can be done. The prevailing rule would be that anything which is not explicitly forbidden by the law is permitted. This is a question of common law rather than statutory law rights. Saying that you have no idea because you are not a lawyer strikes me as a non-sequitur. Eclecticology 22:45, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

Redirects to Presidential nicknames

I had previously attempted to create redirects from presidential nicknames Smirking Chimp, Commander Codpiece, and Whistle Ass to George W. Bush. All of these are notable nicknames with thousands of Google hits. The Wikipedia:Redirect page specifically states: "For example, redirecting Dubya to George W. Bush might be considered offensive, but the redirect aids accidental linking, makes the creation of duplicate articles less likely, and is useful to some people, so it should not be deleted." Furthermore, we currently redirect Slick Willy (another nickname often considered offensive) to Bill Clinton, so I don't see why this should be any different. These redirects were deleted by User:Danny and User:SlimVirgin in what I believe is an abuse of administrative power. At no point were they ever listed on Wikipedia:Redirects for deletion. They were simply deleted summarily. Furthermore, I was blocked for 24 hours by User:Danny with no explanation nor warning. None of this is acceptable. If these users feel that a redirect is unacceptable, they should go through procedure just like everyone else. It isn't acceptable for them to use their admin powers to delete whatever they don't like. 23:17, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The difference is that "Dubya" has entered the common vocabulary and gets a million and a half Google hits, while the only place I've heard "Commander Codpiece" is here, and it only gets 1,300 hits on Google. --Carnildo 00:13, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
1,300 Google hits is still relatively noteworthy. Most VfD'd articles have far less backing than this. "Smirking chimp" nets over 288,000 hits; even if not all are about Bush, most of the top matches are. By the way, I'd like to thank User:Meelar for going through the appropriate deletion process on Wikipedia:Redirects for deletion rather than trying to summarily execute the redirect for Dumbya. Since the vote has just begun today, feel free to express your opinions on the WP:RFD page. Note that Meelar also listed the Slick Willy and Butcher of Baghdad redirects for consistency. 02:15, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'll list other insulting redirects as I notice them. These don't belong here--nor do yours, for that matter. Meelar (talk) 02:36, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
Google implies that by far the most popular references to 'Smirking Chimp" are to a website instead, and not to Bush. So if anything, the article of "Smirking Chimp" should be about that site, not a redirect to George W. Bush. Aris Katsaris 14:20, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

Canadian publication ban

An interesting situation is developing with the article Adscam blog disclosure. The article discusses how an American blog is reporting information on a Canadian criminal case in contradiction to Canadian law.

In Canada, where press freedoms are somewhat more limited than in the U.S., a judge can issue a "publication ban," prohibiting media from reporting certain details about a case. In the case at issue, the proceedings are public but subject to a publication ban. That means I can go watch them, but I cannot go on the radio and say what I saw. (I don't know about yelling really loud on the street.)

The article on the case itself, sponsorship scandal, carries a warning telling Canadians that editing or linking to the article could put them in legal jeopardy.

The Adscam blog disclosure article carries no such warning. But earlier today, the user Denelson83 took it upon himself or herself to edit the article. He or she cut details from the article and replaced them with the line, "As of that date, such information is covered by a publication ban, and as such, cannot be mentioned here." The user also deleted the link to the blog in question.

I am reverting the edits. Wikipedia is not, as far as I know, based in Canada, and therefore can, like Captain Ed's blog, publish whatever it wants about the case. (I do not live in Canada.)

I think it might be worthwhile to develop a policy on such matters to avoid edit wars. Mwalcoff 21:52, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

China doesn't want us reporting that the United States recognizes Taiwan as an independent nation. Should we delete all references to that? Canadian law doesn't apply to servers in the US, and we have no need to care. RickK 05:58, Apr 7, 2005 (UTC)

  • Rick, the United States never recognized Taiwan as an independent nation, and it's been several decades since we recognized the ROC government as the legitimate government of China. Oh, and Mwalcoff, I think you are entirely correct on that our situation is the same as Captain Ed's. No view on what our policy on warnings should be. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:42, Apr 7, 2005 (UTC)
    • That doesn't answer my objection. Should we remove all photos of women from all articles they're in because Saudi Arabians are offended by naked female faces? This is an international site, with servers located in the United States, Canadian legal systems do not apply here and should not be applied. RickK 20:56, Apr 7, 2005 (UTC)
What would the legal position be of a Canadian who reverted vandalism (say, a page blanking)? His/her name would be on the edit summary, the diff would show that the person would have "created" the content (or at least, have "posted" it). Is it really responsible of Wikipedia to put a well-meaning editor in that position? Guettarda 19:24, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
So you're saying we should meekly bow down to any government who says we have to remove content? RickK 20:56, Apr 7, 2005 (UTC)
For the record, as far as I am aware, the Canadian government has not requested the removal of any content from Wikipedia, nor of any material published in other countries. There is no "Great Firewall of Canada" along the 49th parallel. Canada recognizes the right of other countries' press to conduct themselves as they see fit, in accordance with local laws.
Material covered by publication bans in Canada typically includes a)information that might taint jury pools or otherwise harm anticipated criminal proceedings, or b)information that might severely and adversely affect innocent parties (information about rape victims and the like). Bans in the former case are typically lifted as soon as is reasonably possible (and I gather that this has happened in this most recent case); bans in the latter case are often permanent.
With respect to warning Canadian editors about potentially infringing a court order, I can't see the harm. Wikipedia shouldn't be censored, but it doesn't hurt anybody to aid our editors in staying on the right side of their own laws...does it? --TenOfAllTrades | Talk 04:14, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Disambiguation merging policy

So, maybe I'm in the wrong here, but I don't think so. Whenever I come across two or more dab pages because of mixed case (or helpful misspellings) I merge them and make sure the other is correctly redirected. There are two policy docs that seem to make this pretty clear on Wikipedia:Disambiguation it uses the example to share one page "TITLE and Title". Wikipedia:Disambiguation_and_abbreviations is even clearer, "Usually, there should be just one page for all cases (upper- or lower-case), e.g. MB for MB, mB, mb, Mb."

However, I commonly run into editors who revert these mergers because "these are different from those!". and thus, there are three dab pages, one with chemicals (mixed case), one with Titles (Leading cap) and one with abbreviations (ALL CAPS). My most notable failures to merge recently have been Sar/SAR and Tea (disambiguation)/TEA (disambiguation). No content on either page, just dab links.

Am I being dense, or is there a legitimate reason to inconvenience readers with seperate dab pages for mixed case? SchmuckyTheCat 15:28, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The only reason I can see for more than one disambiguation page is if one would otherwise be too long, but this is rare. If there are lots of options then group them by context, see for example Nexus. In all cases where there is more than one disambig page, I would expect to see all the others linked prominently at the top of each of them, e.g.
Foo can relate to many topics, geographical places are listed on this page, for Chemicals see Foo (chemicals), for works of literature see Foo (literature) and for all other uses see Foo (disambiguation). Thryduulf 16:52, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree with SchmuckyTheCat. There shouldn't be two disambiguation pages that differ only in capitals (or in punctuation or pluralization), for the following reasons:

  • Real-world usage is often ambiguous (e.g "Mb", "mb" and "MB" are all used for "megabyte").
  • People won't in general type the exactly capitalized and punctuated form into the search box. For example, someone looking for "SAR" will probably type "sar" into the search box and so get the Sar article. It seems rather pointlessly pedantic to make them click on a "see also" link before they can choose which SAR they want.

Gdr 16:56, 2005 Apr 6 (UTC)

There are a few.
  • Users may get more dab topics than they were expecting, since a person visiting TEA will not be looking for the caffeinated beverage (assuming their CAPS-LOCK key wasn't stuck, of course). This is a negligible drawback and offset by the fact that it's a dab page anyway (so who cares if there's more than you expected) and following a link to a new page just because you didn't get the case right is annoying.
  • If the topic of a merged dab page is ever made the primary topic, the page has to be unmerged. For the sake of argument, say the most common thing named Sar really is the river Sar, and almost all links expect that. Then Sar will redirect to that, but SAR should not (just as TEA should redirect to Tiny Encryption Algorithm, not to tea—which I've just fixed). Unmerged pages are a lot easier to fix up in this case.
These are the only reasons I can think of, and they're not very convincing. All in all, though, the issue is too minor to get worked up about—unless I've missed something important. JRM 17:03, 2005 Apr 6 (UTC)
  • If you think the issue is too minor (as do I), go merge and redirect Sar-->SAR or SAR-->Sar and get flamed. SchmuckyTheCat 00:06, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No. If the issue is too minor, then obviously I'm not going to do anything that will provoke others, because that would show that I care. I don't. Things I see no reason to make my mind up about can be safely left to others. Wikipedia is all about distributed editing and picking your battles. JRM 16:51, 2005 Apr 9 (UTC)

Citing Wiki in an online test

I want to use extracts from Wiki in online tests assessing students' English proficiency. Our online system generates random test forms from a large item bank. All candidates get different questions and only see the extracts for the brief moment that they are answering the question. It is not practical to provide links back to Wikipedia directly from the extracts because the candidates are not allowed to surf the Web during a test for obvious reasons. Would it meet the requirements of the license to explain on all candidates' home pages that extracts used in our questions come from Wikipedia, and tag the extracts with a Wiki label in the same way that an extract taken from Reuters would simply be tagged 'Reuters'? If not, can you suggest a better way?

  • I forgot to sign my request for comment. --Gleavd 13:25, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • One thing to note -- be careful to give an eye-over on the Wikitext before you hand it to your students -- unfortunately, not everyone on our site has good grammar/spelling/style. --Improv 16:36, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
    • You neglect to say what country you are in. If you are in the U.S., then (as long as you give that minimal citation) you are clearly within fair use. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:52, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia may not be a good choice as an example of English form. We have few hard standards and all content is subject to constant change. Britsh and American usage is freely mixed at times. Before you could use confidently our text as an examplar, you would have to edit it yourself to be assured of conformance to whatever standard for which you plan to test. You may as well just write the text yourself. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 08:17, 2005 Apr 3 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the advice but I wasn't asking about the grammatical quality of the entries, which I am quite capable of judging for myself, only the appropriate way to follow the copyright rules in the context of our online testing system. Gleavd 11:04, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • If you are running a business, then it depends on exactly what you're doing with the WP articles and if they contain images or illustrations that are under certain GFDL or other restrictions. So you should really consult Wikipedia:Copyrights. If it is not for profit then you could just cite the source of the article according to the The MLA style manual. Paradiso 04:23, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • We are running a business but, so far as I can see, that doesn't prevent us from using Wikipedia extracts in our online tests. The problem for us is - as I stated it in my original question - how do we provide a direct link back to the source when our students are not allowed to escape from our server while they are taking a test? I assumed in my original question that a general reference to Wikipedia on the students' Homepage and a tag on the extract to say that it came from Wikipedia might be enough. I asked if that would be correct and, if not, for suggestions as to a better way. Nobody has come up with an answer so far. In the meantime, I think we can make the tag more specific e.g. 'Wikipedia: Bank of China (Hong Kong)'. This is simple enough to remember and specific enough for the student to be able to find the original after the test if they so wish. I understand the special copyright problems with some images etc. On a related matter, some people were worried about the 'unfinished' nature of a lot of Wikipedia content in terms of grammar etc. Having browsed for several days, I realise that this is a real problem. I suppose the answer is for us to edit all the extracts we are intending to use by correcting the grammar where necessary. This may turn out to be a lot of work but seems a fair exchange for being able to use the material. Anyone got any more comments for us?

Gleavd 06:53, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Most Wikipedians contribute in the hope that what they write will be freely distributed in all sorts of places for all sorts of reasons, and they know that they will never see a penny profit from it. In fact, in most cases of reproduction of our content, someone else is making a load of money from advertising on a Wikipedia mirror site. There are hundreds of these and the practice is entirely legal and acceptable. It would be a great shame then, if we ended up restricting you from using Wikipedia extracts in your tests, a far far less dubious practice than duplicating the entire encyclopedia and filling it with advertising. Don't take what I say for legal advice, or assume that I speak on behalf of all of Wikipedia's authors, but I would say it would be absolutely fine to reproduce our content in the way you describe, perhaps with just the briefest of notes to say that it came from Wikipedia. The chances that anyone will object on the grounds that you're violating their copyright are miniscule. If I wrote a book that I sold for profit, I think I would be quite happy for you to use an extract in that way, so it would be ironic if Wikipedia, which is supposed to be freely distributed, ended up being more restrictive. As with all copyright issues on Wikipedia, it's up to whoever's making use of our content to decipher the GFDL for themselves and come to their own conclusions about what's permitted, but in this case I doubt any of us will ever know or care that in strict legal terms the licence has not been complied with. I'd say go ahead and use our content. — Trilobite (Talk) 16:43, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • Thanks for that advice which confirms our own view. We will make clear hyperlinked reference to Wikipedia on our registered students' Homepages and also tag all extracts we use in such a way that students can easily locate the original later. We will become contributors and do our best to improve quality by editing the items we use wherever this is necessary. Gleavd 01:37, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What's the deal with the missing images?

There are missing images on the Main Page and elsewhere. Have they been removed because of copyright issues, or is it just a technical futz? Lee M 16:05, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Squid servers are down. See Talk:Main Page. Smoddy (Rabbit and pork) 16:09, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Page where blocked users could propose their case

Listen fuckers, I'm tired of all the anonymous accounts who come here and vandalize, obviously with no intention of being a useful contributor. I think people without accounts should get one warning, and if they fuck up again, permanent ban. A zero tolerance policy toward vandalism would cut back on so much work. So I think that blocked users should have a page to go to that they would be able to edit, to plead their case. For instance, my account was hijacked, and I had no way to explain myself in a way that would actually accomplish something. So, under this policy, I would be able to explain what happened to admins, and they would check my contribs, and reverse the block. Problem solved! It keeps the vandals out, and the wrongly accused in. It sure would be better than the anarchy we have now. So, I'm going to create that page now, and link to it. Please go to Blocked User Page for details on this proposal

Try emailing the blocking admin. Smoddy (Rabbit and pork) 22:24, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
  • People might take you more seriously if you did a little less swearing. Calling people "fuckers" isn't exactly going to inspire confidence in you. Unfortunately, there's no technical possibility to block someone from a specific page, so if someone's blocked they can't edit that page. If it ever became possible, it's a nice idea, but please think about naming policy and put it in Wikipedia:Blocked users or something similar. Mgm|(talk) 08:56, May 13, 2005 (UTC)

Semi-policy should not exist

On Wikipedia talk:Semi-policy I argue that the concept is redundant and the name misleading. Comments welcome. Zocky 18:55, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

new article about POV fork

I created a new article Wikipedia:POV fork. If you think that this new article is a form of instruction creep then just redirect it. Andries 08:51, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies)/Survey on Style-Prefixed Honorary Titles, less than 3 days to go.

This is a survey about whether biography articles should start with "Her Majesty", "His Holiness", and such. For everybody who has an opinion on this matter, here's a chance to speak your mind. Zocky 15:39, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Sock puppet responsibility

Should people be held responsible if they create a secondary account with the sole purpose of disruption or harrassment? Because that happens more often than you might think. Please see the examples, and give your opinion at Wikipedia:Sock puppet/Proposal.

Wikipedia:Block on demand

I am opening the proposed Block on demand amendment to the Blocking policy up for discussion. Please add your thoughts on the Advantages and Disadvantages of this plan. The gist of it is that admins would be allowed to block a user for a limited period of time on that user's request. Given the frequency with which admins themselves seek to block themselves, this is not as silly an idea as I think it may sound at first. Thank you. 23:42, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Actually, self-blocking is not allowed. I found out the hard way, and was forcibly unblocked. Pcb21| Pete 08:46, 11 May 2005 (UTC)
lol, we should add self-blocking to the list of blockable offenses. This would be morbidly reminiscent of the death-penalty for attempted suicide. dab () 08:51, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Did You Know


I'm relatively new to Wikipedia, so please forgive me if I'm stepping on well-trodden ground. However, I have a comment regarding the main page. I think we should tinker with the "Did You Know" section that features new articles. Most of the time, the facts in the section are not that interesting. I think the point of any "Did You Know" feature is to provide interesting information -- more specifically, surprising information. (That's how the popular "Did You Know" segment of ESPN SportsCenter works, for example.)

Any new article at this point is likely to be something quite obscure (such as the first mayor of San Jose) and, therefore, quite unlikely to be surprising. (If the first mayor of San Jose was a transvestite or something, that would be surprising.)

I suggest that we keep Did You Know, but don't use it specifically to feature new articles. Instead, Did You Know would be used to point out interesting facts from any articles, new or existing. For example:

Did You Know... that even though the Legislative Council of New Zealand was abolished in 1951, its former chamber is still used for the speech from the throne, since a sovereign cannot enter an elected house?

...that in an average day, 100 billion to 10 trillion e. coli bacteria pass out of your body?

As for new articles, we should still feature selected ones on the front page, perhaps with a list like the following:

New Articles:

  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Josiah Belden -- California pioneer
  • medieval hunting

Just a suggestion. -- Mwalcoff 20:52, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

One side effect you may not be considering -- featuring information from new articles gives a few people a day immediate recognition for adding to our encyclopedia. Feedback like that, especially for new contributors, can help to hook... I mean addict... I mean, keep them coming back to add more, and make them part of the community instead of a drive-by contributor. (Not a Wikipediholic. I swear. I'm not!) — Catherine\talk 20:52, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

Do anon IPs "own" their talk pages?

I just reverted User talk:, which (an AOL user) had blanked. The previous content included numerous warnings about vandalism along with a {{sharedip}} template. I know many users with Wikipedia accounts edit their respective Talk pages as they see fit. But is an anonymous editor "allowed" to do this? Seeing how the comments on the talk page might apply to numerous people, I don't believe one of the users should blank the entire page just because s/he doesn't like the criticism. So on the other side of the coin, am I "allowed" to revert someone else's talk page? FWIW I'm seeing different AOL "User talk:" pages being blanked by other AOL addresses (i.e. the IP of the edit doesn't match the IP of the Talk page). I'm guessing this is someone who has left quite a trail of destruction and is somehow catching up with, and then deleting, the various comments left for him or her. The fact that I had this page on my watch list means that I was keeping an eye on him or her at some point, for some reason. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 04:33, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

I would say you are allowed to revert anonymous talk pages. First, an IP has no fixed, identifiable identity that could claim ownership over anything. Yes, there are dedicated IPs, but we have little way of knowing that there is one person behind it beyond apparent conformity in edits over time, but that's obviously a tricky thing to judge. Second, preventing anonymous users from reverting warning messages supports our strong policy need to record, warn, and sanction vandal editors. If I'm the third admin to revert a blanking vandal, I'm probably not going to know that unless those earlier warnings are still there, particularly as time goes on. Postdlf 05:20, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
That's what I figured, and actually I feel silly for even asking. Thanx. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 06:33, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
  • What Postdlf said. You can always encourage anons to register. Mgm|(talk) 18:08, May 9, 2005 (UTC)
  • I can imagine two scenarios. One is that a person is trying to hide his/her misdeeds. The other is that someone just started on Wikipedia and was given an IP address that previously was used by an offender. That person doesn't want to be misjudged by another's misdeeds. To deal with both cases the old history could be restored to an archive. A new user could note that the old history (now in an archive) belonged to a different user. If there were new misdeeds the note could be changed if the person is suspected of perpetrating a coverup. -- Samuel Wantman 19:33, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
    • In general, while registered users may control their talk pages, I consider anonymous talk pages under community control, for the reasons above. That being said, I understand Mr. Wantman's points as well. I would probably revert blanking, but I'd have no problem with archiving. A link on the talk page, either to a subpage or to a history version, would suffice for me. — Knowledge Seeker 17:31, 10 May 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. FWIW this has already happened again, in spite of the warning Postdlf left for the user in question. I've added the user to WP:VIP. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 23:57, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Mediation (2005)

There have been some recent comments in Arbitration regarding the lack of any meaningful mediation going on and that cases that do go to mediation seem to be abandoned or loiter there without any attention. After discussion with a lot of people it appeared to me that this was the time for a new proposal on overhauling mediation. We've unveiled such a proposal at Wikipedia:Mediation (2005).

Inter did a good part of the initial work on this but I added the informal mediation portion which I think is a key part of the proposal. I have the proposal up and active but it is very much under construction. Comments are encouraged!! --Wgfinley 02:05, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Usenet as a secondary source

For the last few days, there's been an extensive discussion about the suitability of Usenet as a citeable or reliable source for articles on Wikipedia at Wikipedia-EN. As a result one of the participants has added his opinion on the matter at WP:NOR -- & another has now removed as I write this. Because this page is marked as Official Policy, I invite people to enter into the discussion there -- before the matter sinks into Yet Another Edit War. -- llywrch 19:18, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

  • At least at the moment, the word "Usenet" is nowhere on WP:NOR. llywrch, is there somewhere we can look to see a summary of what is being argued about? -- Jmabel | Talk 20:47, May 8, 2005 (UTC)
The paragraph that was deleted reads:
Usenet is an example of a source whose "reputability" is highly questionable. Most posters to Usenet are effectively anonymous, unaccountable, have unknown expertise, and often have opinions and beliefs outside the mainstream. However, other posters are well-known and reputable authorities in their fields, and the ability to correspond with them over an extended period of time is valuable. Accordingly, Usenet is no more or less useable as a source (not only as a primary source about itself, but also as a secondary source about any subject) than any other popular medium, provided the usual standards of verifiability are applied.
My own position in this dispute is that citations from Usenet should be avoided, unless the the information cited can either be verified from other sources, or the article is reproduced elsewhere. While I can live with this statement -- with some modifications -- I still feel the matters needs to be hashed out by as large a group as possible before it is added to one of our Official Policies. And I'd be happy to discuss my opinion at Wikipedia talk:No original research. -- llywrch 23:23, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
Llywrch, I'm going to change this header to Usenet as a secondary source, because I don't think anyone objects to it as primary source. It's using it as a source about matters other than itself that's at issue. If you object, feel free to revert me. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:42, May 8, 2005 (UTC)
Wow, Sarah, you've got my head spinning. I thought that you were arguing on the mailing list not to use Usenet as a primary source, since the article in question was about using alt.usenet.kooks to discuss itself. RickK 05:24, May 9, 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is it reliable or not?

In these weeks pt.wikipedia has made over than 4.000 articles using a simple tool that has created articles with one or two lines and this only to climb the hit of wikipedias (but this expedient is used also by others).

In Italy, otherwise, we are working hard because we have charge about unreliability of articles in wikipedia from other media's network and we cannot use these self-defeating means.

IMHO I think that the current rules about the results of wikipedias are not favourable to quality and these standards should be revised to support quality and not good classification. --Ilario 11:50, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Bit rot and accuracy: a modest proposal

It seems to me that W. is working (to accumulate useful, informative articles), because of the now-cliched effect that given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. The fact that anyone can edit and deface pages is countered by the fact that many contributors watch the pages they have contributed to, so that pages susceptible to vandalism are also susceptible to anti-vandalism. The vandals that attack anything attached to the front page are thwarted because people notice things that are on the front page.

The problem is that, as time goes on, the original community associated with each page will decay -- this is part of any open contribution project. In open source programming projects, one often sees whole modules languish when the part of the team with expertise in that module all move on to other things.

That is a long-term (though perhaps not yet immediate) problem with Wikipedia and accuracy: obscure pages are much more susceptible to vandalism, precisely because nobody is watching. Furthermore, there's no simple way for a user to know how well the page is being watched.

I suggest keeping track of the number of active contributors watching each page (for some value of 'active' -- perhaps 'has logged in during the past week'), and listing that at the top of the main article, perhaps together with the number of mods in the last week, year, or whatever. That -- or some similar sort of information -- would help give casual users an idea of where W. is most watched (and hence hopefully most reliable).

Since the information is already present on the servers, such a thing would only require modifying the Wikicode, and not the database itself.

I am relatively new here, so it could be that there is some other anti-vandalism measure I'm missing: are all pages watched by a few elite administrators, in addition to the benevolant quasi-anarchy of normal editing?

zowie 18:17, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

All pages are watched by the RC patrollers, who specifically target vandalism correction across the encyclopedia using Special: Recentchanges. The active contributors count may be less useful than you think, since it could be exploited by vandals to find quiet pages, and sometimes active contributors contribute to a page in a biased way. Deco 19:12, 7 May 2005 (UTC)
  • It's a good idea, but as Deco said, nothing prevents vandals from searching for quiet pages using this info if implemented. Mgm|(talk) 21:37, May 7, 2005 (UTC)
  • obscure pages are much more susceptible to vandalism, precisely because nobody is watching.
This is a fallacy - see also User:Pcb21#Unpopular articles - negative value? where I was talking about a similar problem in different context. Pcb21| Pete 13:22, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
    • Very good point, Pete. Your insight that value is linked to number of vandalized page views rather than duration of vandalism is a good one, and I see that it more or less moots my line of thought on this stuff. Er, thanks! zowie 19:34, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Date of birth - date of death

The article Adélaïde Labille-Guiard shows dates as follows: (1749-04-11 – 1803-04-24)

Other articles show (in full) day/month/year and, as best as I can see from other biographies, apparently the standard was Month/Day/Year for a very long time. All this is rather confusing (not to mention that the (1749-04-11 – 1803-04-24) system varies from country to country) and it seems to me that consistency in presentation is of importance. What is the actual policy please so that I may dutifully obey? Ted Wilkes

The standard format is (April 20 1945January 14 1998). --Golbez 20:39, May 5, 2005 (UTC)
The 1749-04-11 format you quote there (an ISO format) is rare, but not wrong. Editors are free to write dates in any format from yyyy-mmm-dd, dd-mmm-yyyy or mmm-dd-yyyy. The important thing is to enclose them in [[ ]] so they'll display in accordance with everyone's preferred format selected on Special:Preferences. And the en dash in a DoB-DoD range can be either spaced or unspaced, per editor's preference. See MoS:DoB-DoD. Hajor 21:21, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
It is really annoying that we are supposed to like like [[Day Month]] [[Year]] rather than [[Day Month Year]]. The [[Day Month]] and [[Year]] pages end up with thousands of links to them (and thus you can't even look at them), instead of building up a fabulous set of [[Day Month Year]] pages that would lead to a fabulous set of "On this day" pages. And all because of some date preference display logic. :((( Pcb21| Pete 13:27, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
Also because I don't think anyone wants to create ~730,000 articles for every day since the AD time scale began. Maybe it could be done automagically as a date was made, but that would probably require something like my semantic wikipedia proposal (2.0 of which I need to work on =p) --Golbez 16:44, May 8, 2005 (UTC)
It would be trivial to come up with a cutoff date before which we don't have individual days. (1800, 1900, whatever we vote for). Not a good reason not to have individual dates for recent days. Pcb21| Pete 17:25, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Irrelevant links

Are there any guidelines on what to link and what not to link when writing an article? Web pages that are full of links are hard to read and distract from the information. An example: I was looking at the definition of quark (soft cheese) - the text linked to Germany and Finland, where I'm pretty sure I won't find any additional information on cheese. Also, I think we can assume that most people reading this article will not be interested in learning what milk or cheese or bacteria are (other 'useless' links).

Can we add a suggestion on the Editing FAQ page, asking people to only link relevant articles?

The guidelines are at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (links). Pcb21| Pete 10:46, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Well, since they're related products I'd argue to keep links to milk, cheese and bacteria in that article. Also, it seems to be a custom around here to link the first instance of relevant countries as well. Of course, one can take linking too far, but I'd say linking it's a good thing. It causes people to follow links and learn new stuff. If it's the underlines that are bothering you, you can shut those off in your preferences. 21:06, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
  • I very much disagree, as links are supposed to be used on any terms where we think someone reading the article might want more information, so as to further understanding of the article they're currently reading; therefore, the links can go to seemingly unrelated articles. I do however take a strong look at redundant linking; that is, if a term has already been linked, there's usually no reason to link it again in the article. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Work 21:54, May 6, 2005 (UTC)
  • These country links seem perfectly appropriate to me. What I don't like is when someone arbitrarily links words like book or wall when they are used in passing, or, worse yet links a common word when it is used only in a metaphorical sense (for example, "this gives us a window into life in this period" or, worse yet, "this gives us a window into life in this period."). -- Jmabel | Talk 20:35, May 7, 2005 (UTC)

Manual of style for numbers


I started a discussion about the Manual of style for numbers, about the possible confusion for non native English speakers between the comma as decimal separator and the comma as separator for groups of three figures.

Cdang|write me 07:42, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Proposed policy on disclaimer templates

I have created a policy proposal on the use of disclaimer templates. --cesarb 23:47, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Content Permissions

Before working on the Cal Poly SLO page, I was unfamiliar with the copyright laws and other legal procedures of releasing information. I wanted to improve the article on Cal Poly and I requested permission from the school. Below is the reply I received from the public affairs office stating that they will not allow me to alter any more pages concerning the university. How should I go about this? Other people have already added content to the article. What are the legal technicalities? Someone please advise me on how to go about this dilemma. Thanks.

>While we understand your concern for posting more information about Cal 
>Poly on Wikipedia, we cannot allow you to alter their site with more or 
>less information about Cal Poly. We have policies and procedures set up 
>to handle the dissemination of information to outside sources that 
>requires specific staff to provide a common data set. We receive a large 
>number of requests for information about the university and not enough 
>staff to handle the requests.
>Thank you for your interest and concern for Cal Poly's image.
>Stacia Momburg
>Communications Specialist
>Cal Poly Public Affairs
above post by User:SamxliWahoofive (talk) 22:00, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
(IANAL) Information is not copyrightable. You can talk about them all you want, as long as it is your own words. And they can request you stop editing all they want, but that's all it is - a request. →Raul654 21:37, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
...unless you happen to be an employee of theirs. —Wahoofive (talk) 21:58, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

They're blowing hot air. So long as you're not copying information off their website or any other university publications, they can't control what is said about them. RickK 21:56, May 3, 2005 (UTC)

If you're a student there, you might have waived some of your rights regarding this... Ambush Commander 22:49, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
This is bullshit. Even if you're an employee or student, as long as you're not copying their copyrighted content, any attempt to punish you for disseminating general information about the school is liable to make them look really bad (much against the spirit of research for one thing). To be safe, though, I would edit under an anonymous handle and don't edit through their web proxy if they have one. Deco 03:06, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
I am almost a lawyer, and I want to restate that information cannot be copyrighted, and no person or entity has the right to stop the free expression of others writing about them if it is not libelous. Unless you are under a nondisclosure agreement of some kind due to secret information you may have access to (doubtful), any restrictions that they attempt to impose upon you will be unenforceable, not only under basic contract law, but also because their hands are significantly tied by the state and federal constitutions because they are a state school. There simply is no valid public policy reason why a student should not be able to speak about his school, including to fairly criticize it. Though they could not take legal action against you, practically speaking, however, nothing stops them from screwing with you through internal disciplinary action unless you are willing to litigate with them over it or are confident that you can threaten them with a PR stink. So be careful. Postdlf 20:42, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
IANAL: Unless it is covered under an employement agreement such as a union contract, if User:Samxli is an employee and has been ordered to not edit on the Wikipedia, then the User can be fired if they edit even if done on their own time. People have been fired for blogging, for example, even when the person was bloggin on topics that had nothing to do with their work. Employers have a very wide latitude in their hiring and firing as long as it doesn't involve any form of discrimination that is covered by law. 04:47, 7 May 2005 (UTC)
It seems to me that we have only half the story here. The reply quoted above looks at first sight not only unhelpful but bizarre and bureaucratic, but we don't have the text of the question, only of the answer, nor as some others have pointed out do we know the relationship between the requestor and the University. We need to understand the question in order to understand the answer.
We know this about the question: It was a request for permission to update Wikipedia articles. IANAL either but it seems to be agreed above that no such permission is in general needed.
The University could have reacted in several ways:
  • They could have ignored the request. That's probably contrary to their policy, as it should be.
  • They could have approved the request. That's also clearly contrary to their quite reasonable policy, shared with every other major organisation in the world, of appointing spokespeople.
  • They could have replied at length, stating their understanding of Wikipedia and the GFDL, and pointing out that no permission is necessary. That would have been very helpful, but for an organisation of this size, it would have required approval of senior staff, and input from their legal area. Whatever reply they give they risk having quoted back at them; University administrations need to be particularly mindful of this.
  • They could have denied the request. That's what they did, using probably a standard, pre-approved text. On the evidence we have, it's probably a reasonable response to the question asked.
You now have three options:
  • Ignore the reply. That's what I suggest, with a few qualifications if you have some special relationship with the University (student or employee, for example). The problem was not the reply, it was the question.
  • Reply to them, thanking them for their reply, apologising for wasting their time and pointing out what you have now learned about Wikipedia. I'm not saying you have really wasted anyone's time, we are all learners here. But in the University's terms, I'm afraid that's what has happened. So that's probably not a helpful course of action, although it would be good if they could change their wording from allow to authorise or similar.
  • Conform to the reply. This might be the right course of action in some circumstances, as noted already above and by others.
I hope this helps. Andrewa 20:52, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

One voice

I'd like to propose a policy that we often tacitly assume but I think would be helpful to state (unless it actually is policy but I couldn't find it). The idea is that an article should have "one voice", meaning that it should read roughly as though it were written by a single person. In particular, an article should never contradict itself ("but the above is wrong") nor should there be severe stylistic differences between parts of an article. Some of this is mentioned in the Manual of Style. I could see violating this in some special cases, such as using different style for two large independent sections, but I think it's a good guideline. Deco 17:57, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that it's good style. Is it obvious enough that we might not need an explicit policy? Dunno. One "exception" is that sometimes it's desireable to move into much more technical detail for some sections, and that can often require a dramatically different "voice" (for example, moving from wordy descriptions to maths formulae). — Matt Crypto 21:40, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Style of disambiguation pages

A few of us have started working on a Manual of Style supplement for disambiguation pages. The Wikipedia:Disambiguation policy has lots of detail on the content of dab pages but says little about the layout. Dab pages are all over the map in terms of layout, and this proposed manual is intended to be a guide to make the pages as useful as possible, keeping them focused on their primary objective of getting users to the page they want easily and quickly. As far as we can tell, there have been no proposals on this topic in the past.

The proposal is at Wikipedia:Disambiguation/Style. Comments on that proposal are welcome on its talk page. —Wahoofive (talk) 00:09, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

policy poll on Manual of Style for biographies

A poll has been set up at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (biographies)/Survey on Style-Prefixed Honorary Titles that may require changes to thousands of articles. I thought the editors should know about it. Gentgeen 21:02, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Policy for bots

More and more bots are on loose. While they eliminate manual work, they in fact create much more manual work for me instead. They interfere with my vandal hunt.

I pay a special attention to modifications made by anonymous users. On my watch list I have pages which I monitor for all edits, but much more are simply pages where I cannot really contribute, but I know enough to recognize vandalism. 95% of vandals are anonymous editors, whose name is just an IP. Therefore I check every edit made by not registered editors. Becase of bot runs I have to check 20 times more articles. And I am not always doing this.

I propose the following solution: make it a policy for bots to report in the edit summary the username of the author of the previous edit.

Still better, the edit summary of the ppevious edit would come handy, and bot's message could be done via link to it, like this: "bot:1026", so that it will take small space. Mikkalai 04:59, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Mediawiki 1.5 ???

Does anyone know when Mediawiki 1.5 will be released or what new features it may have? Thanks.

It will be released on 1 June 2005, according to Brion VIBBER. You can see some of the features on the test wiki. —Charles P. (Mirv) 02:40, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Screen shots and fair use

I've been thinking about adding more screen shots to movie and TV show articles (the ones in my DVD collection, at least), and wanted to get some feedback about how much might be too much regarding what we could claim as fair use. Can a good argument be made for adding them when we already have a movie poster or DVD cover image, and how many is too many for an article? Could we justify illustrating several major scenes from a film? Consider this if the screen shots are taken by a digital camera from a large screen TV, rather than DVD rips, so the image quality obviously could not substitute for the original in any way. Postdlf 20:57, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am not copyright expert, but I would think no more than 3 images per article. My recommendation would just be two images per article.Zzyzx11 | Talk 22:39, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I see no reason to put a specific number of screenshots on it. Insofar as WP articles go, I don't think you'd want more than half-a-dozen. Insofar as copyrights go, there is no magical number. In terms of # of frames out of the whole (% used is a one criterion for determining fair use vs. infringement), 6 is nothing. For a feature length movie we're talking easily over 100,000 frames (66.7 minutes @ 25 fps). Cburnett 22:57, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

A somewhat related issue I've been thinking about regards images from DVD and other media covers. Do you think it is still justifiable fair use, less, or more so, if only part of the image is used? What if the title and other text is part of what is cropped off, so it no longer functions as a product identifier? I added Image:SMG Buffy season 2.jpg to Sarah Michelle Gellar, and cropped everything but her face, but I'm somewhat uncertain about how this affects the fair use argument. I don't remember reading any case law that would give me a clear answer to this, and I will try to research it more when I have the time, but I wanted to know if this has been discussed before or if anyone has any thoughts. Assume that the image is clearly identified as coming from the original product, both on the image description page and in its captions in any article. Postdlf 21:03, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think its fine, as long as you identify the source. Zzyzx11 | Talk 22:39, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Modifying a screenshot pushes it in the direction of a derivative work, but cropping is a very weak form of derivation. Just remember that fair use is a defense not a license and it's no where near a black & white issue. If you're talking a few frames out of a movie...that's nothing. Cburnett 22:57, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry that my phrasing was awkward, but my two questions were first about using screenshots, and second about cropping cover scans of DVDs, CDs, books, etc. The Buffy image I mentioned was from the box of the second season DVD collection. Postdlf 04:42, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, for reference purposes, you're only allowed sufficient leeway to cause recognition when copying something that is copywritten. In a worst case, this would meet the guidelines for parody use, if not fair use. You may want to keep clips <=6 seconds, since this tends to be the threashold for de minimus,[1] granting you another layer of protection as it did the Beastie Boys. Although recognition may invalidate de minimus. The medium used for copying is less relevent than the use, and may cause you more grief since it could put you at risk of other infractions. So, the camera's a bad idea. When used as part of a reference, you must also provide references to the original work & author, and be prepared to remove the item or stick to your guns if challenged by the copyright's holder.--ghost 02:38, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Why is the camera a problem, and what "other infractions" would it implicate? I remember at least one federal court case that stated that the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA were not invalid limitations on fair use, because, for example, the fair user could still acquire a copy of a protected DVD by pointing a camcorder at a TV screen on which it was playing. Dicta, perhaps, but I certainly don't see how using another medium to take inferior, second-generation captures is more of a copyright problem than ripping a perfect copy directly out of the original medium. The less able a copy is able to substitute for the original in the marketplace the better, as far as fair use is concerned.
I don't really understand your other comment, as the case you linked to dealt with sampling of music in a song, which is a totally different fair use context and issue than illustrating an academic reference to further inform. And what did you mean by "recognition"? Postdlf 04:42, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The use of a camera could be a problem, depending on the time and place used. For example, if done in someone's home, then the recorder could simply be accused of copying a larger section than what was displayed. Not a major issue, but still a hassle. If they're gonna come after you, they'll come after you regardless of quality. However, copying something in a theater not only hazards conflicts with the owner of the theater, but also could violate several state and local ordinances. As to sampling, it is considered relevent to any digital medium. Whenever copying a section of a digital file, one is in effect sampling, whether video, audio, data, voice, or whatever. So the protections offered under sampling guidelines are relevent to all digital files. This was part of why the Beastie Boys stuck to their guns, and rightly so. Finally, if a large enough sample of a copyrighted work is taken that an average person can recognize it, and relate to the original, it crosses a threshold. Prior to that point, it can be considered to fall under de minimus non curant lex (the law does not consider itself with trifles - a traditional legal maxim). If the taking does cross the test of recognition, only then must it fall under the guidelines of a parody or fair use.
My intent was to provide guidelines that allowed one to do most of what you suggested, while providing additional protections. It doesn't guarantee that you can't be hassled, but hopefully helps you CYA enough.--ghost 22:09, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining your comments further. The sampling issue is certainly interesting, but as one would only add screenshots from a movie to an article because they were recognizeable as part of that movie, I think we're well beyond that realm of claiming de minimis copying (which would be applicable, for example, to taking a screenshot of an outdoors movie scene just to use the grass as an element in a digital collage) and necessarily into the fair use argument of illustrating an academic work about a visual work in a manner that cannot commercially supplant that visual work. As for the camera, I certainly wasn't suggesting taking it into a movie theatre, but merely taking still images from a video presentation in my own home. Postdlf 23:04, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Special characters in titles?

I couldn't think of any existing titles that I could search for off the bat, but I've been updating the new and started to create an article called AEnon. Then I realized that it's really Ænon. Can English titles only take the common 26 letters of the alphabet? I can't find anything that mentions this in Wikipedia Help (Help:Special_characters, for example). Update: I notice that I can create a title with Æ, but is it the best policy to use the regular alphabet instead? I've also noticed that I can use ! (like Yahoo! in the tile, but haven't looked for any other punctuation in the titles other than a period.

  • Until the English Wikipedia gets upgraded to Unicode, many titles will have to stay incorrect. User:Anárion/sig 22:03, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Cricket article turned into wikiportal, in main namespace

The article Cricket has been turned into a Wikipedia:Wikiportal in the main article namespace. A controversy has arisen about whether or not this is desirable or in line with policies and conventions, and at least one user is opposed to having the article returned to its regular state (which I think is a simple disambiguation page between the insect, sport, and some other miscellany). Please see Talk:Cricket. -Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:45, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Incidentally, it's previous regular state was to show the article that's currently on Cricket (sport), and for that article to have a small disambiguation notice in italics at the top, jguk 07:20, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • It seems like an appropriate disambiguation page to me. RickK 23:55, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)
    At the risk of making a fool of myself, you were looking at this revision, right? JRM · Talk 00:09, 2005 Apr 29 (UTC)
It's an experimental approach with the reader very much in mind. It is also hoped that it will increase the number of cricket pages that will be read by a reader. WP is a web-based encyclopaedia, and we should harness the technology available to us to improve it. The idea is to allow the reader to be easily directed to the main articles we have on the subject - something which we do not do well at the moment.
Also, contrary to what is said above, whilst it is a different approach, it is not against any WP policies.
I was intending to let it settle down and improve a bit before giving it wider publicity - but this does not seem possible. Certainly adjustments will need to be made, but the general principle seems good - and crucially it offers something different than Encarta or Encyclopaedia Britannica, and offers readers who wish to learn more about cricket than what's in the main cricket article a chance to see what WP has to offer. All suggestions for improvements would be welcome. Kind regards, jguk 07:20, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • It is just another click people will have to make to get to the article they are looking for. All portals are at a a subpage of the wikiportal page. So I don't see why this one should be any different. Why not put a link on a prominent place in the regular article to make the portal easily accessible? Mgm|(talk) 09:37, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

Who's Who and notability

Since we couldn't get this one resolved on Votes for Undeletion, I'm going to pose the question here. The question is: Does appearing in Who's Who automatically qualify a person for an article in Wikipedia? Your everyday housewife won't be able to get in there, after all. Wiwaxia 22:12, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There are different publications appearing under this title, so we need to be clear which one we're talking about. I assume we're talking about either Marquis Who's Who or the regular Who's Who from Britain. --Daniel C. Boyer 22:37, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Something like Who's Who in America would be partial evidence of notability; Who's Who in Computing or Who's Who in Publishing or Who's Who in American High Schools would not even be that. (I say this partly on the basis that I myself am not notable enough for a Wikipedia article.) I would say that even Who's Who in America sets the bar a bit low, though. Lots of corporate bigwigs who they include because they want to sell them a copy. So I would say, no, just being included there is probably not enough. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:42, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)
Don't you get in Who's Who in American High Schools and such just by paying them? RickK 04:54, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)
That might be one way in. They do put in quite a few who don't pay, though. I think that winning pretty much any sort of awards or interscholastic competitions gets you in. That's an awful lot of (non-notable) people. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:28, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)
I think we can all agree that Who's Who in American High Schools sets the bar very low, to say the least. I was in it, along with many other people I know. In my opinion getting in is easy enough we should just discount it. --Daniel C. Boyer 15:04, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Let's try to be simple about it: I tend to believe Who's Who is completely worthless for determining notability, having been in a couple myself for no particular reason I can ascertain, so we would need some other way to demonstrate noteworthiness. If the idea is that they get listed in Who's Who because they are noteworthy, then obviously there should be some other way for them to demonstrate that notewortiness without relying on Who's Who. In both cases, Who's Who itself becomes irrelevant and thus should be simply ignored. DreamGuy 05:35, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)

You're missing the point that there are several different publications with the name Who's Who somewhere in the title. Since you don't say which Who's Who's you've been in I can't make an argument going further than that. --Daniel C. Boyer 15:04, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yeah I'm not sure any of them should automatically qualify for notability. I'm in one or more by that name simply on the basis of a few awards and honors I won in high school. I surely do not qualify for my own encyclopedia article. I would suggest at most using them as simply one data point that has a limited ability to help decide if someone is worthy of their own article or not. As noted above, the different titles that share the Who's Who name are of varying strictness in who they accept anyway, so their utility is questionable. - Taxman 23:05, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)
What you get out of this isn't what I do. I think in general we should approach publications having Who's Who in the title with some caution, before, in the case of individual publications, we have a better idea of the character of the publication and something about its scope of inclusion. Making a blanket statement on the utility of all these publications is somewhat rash, I think. --Daniel C. Boyer 16:15, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Userspace controversy

Please read and contribute to Wikipedia:Userspace policy proposal. There has been recent controversy about what is and is not permissible in user space. It is important to assert which policies (if any) do apply in userspace, and to what extent, and what should be done about transgression. Radiant_* 10:09, Apr 27, 2005 (UTC)