Wikipedia talk:Competence is required

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Suggested improvements (BRD'd)[edit]

Steeletrap made various Bold changes, Binksternet Reverted, so here starts the Discussion:

  1. "Good will is for naught if a user's worldview is misinformed...." (Educational) – problematic change. Steeletrap has a concern about AIDS denialism, but this essay is not the place to highlight the concern. The prior sentence/version works just fine to explain the need for "basic understanding....." without giving ammunition to someone who wants to say "You are incompetent because your worldview is misinformed." or "I have a Master's degree, therefore I'm a better editor and you are incompetent."
  2. "Grudges" – not a good paragraph from the get-go (IMO). Simply a editor behavior type problem. Some editors may have grudges against each other because of blocks or bans that resulted from edit warring reports, POV editing, etc. But that does mean they are incompetent.
  3. "Bigotry" – problematic addition. Simply a variation on "worldview", but basically a NPOV matter, not a competence matter.
  4. "Talk about incremental changes" – problematic paragraph. Basically a behavior problem. For the newbies, we should revert multiple diverse article changes, post a welcome message to them, and urge them to study up more on how WP works. Getting them to learn has nothing to do with basic competence.
  5. others — please add.
S. Rich (talk) 19:43, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
You don't think that bigotry is a real issue in Wikipedia or the world? I think it's absurd that this page has nothing about ethnic or racial prejudice. Do you think a Holocaust denier would be competent to edit about the Holocaust?
Also, I didn't add two of these three paragraphs. I just re-sectioned them. Steeletrap (talk) 23:24, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course bigotry is a real issue everywhere. An editor who was a Holocaust denier is unlikely to announce their beliefs, but they still might be able to edit Holocaust related articles with competence. It all depends on what they want to add or subtract, not who they are. Same thing applies to ethnic, racial, political, philosophical etc. prejudice. What is added in terms of BALANCE and POV is important. In fact, an editor might be "prejudiced" in favor of some group or idea, but that does not mean they are incompetent. (Regarding my description of the changes, I said "addition" because the term bigotry was added replacing another term here.) – S. Rich (talk) 23:58, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't know how anyone can object to my presentation of the "bigotry" section. I am not talking about political views. I am talking about hatred of people because of skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth. While I'm pleased to say that most Wikipedia editors -- hell, even most incompetent Wikipedia editors -- do not appear to exhibit such attitudes, they do exist. And they render one incompetent at editing about the group he or she hates. Steeletrap (talk) 00:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Along with the first diff about bigotry I posted, I'll add this one. IMO using the term "bigot" just opens up the essay to be used for arguments that are actually WP:ASPERSIONS such as "You are a bigot. You are bigoted against wo/men. You are anti-this-or-that. You are incompetent." Adding examples to the section, no matter how it is titled, also opens the essay up for those who want to add their favorite anti-bigotry or cause-related theme. (Other examples might be vegetarianism, homeopathy, capital punishment.) We don't need any specific examples. Still, no matter what, a person can be a bigot and yet be competent to edit. When we see the problem with their edits, it arises as a POV-pushing problem, not one of competence. – S. Rich (talk) 01:23, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Surely whether such an accusation is appropriate turns on whether it is true and provable? Steeletrap (talk) 02:34, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I disagree that, for example, neo-Nazis are competent to edit about the Holocaust. As a matter of logic, it's possible that they would be competent. But, as a matter of course, they should be presumed incompetent on that subject matter. This does not mean they can't contribute to WP; but they should stay away from subjects intimately related to their prejudices. Steeletrap (talk) 02:35, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
In terms of the essay, the issue is how to best describe or define competence of editors. As for any particular editors, their activity/edits should be brought up on the appropriate notice boards. At that point we can look at the evidence (e.g., their edits) and determine what to do. But, again, it comes down to how they edit and not who they are. This essay should not be fodder for someone who wants to say "I think editor Adolf is a neo-Nazi and is therefore not competent." Besides, how would we know that editor Adolf is a neo-Nazi? Because Adolf has said so on their userpage?? – S. Rich (talk) 03:27, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Calling people incompetent is not the purpose of the essay. And saying that someone is (literally) a neo-Nazi would, if undocumented, be a bannable offense. Steeletrap (talk) 03:35, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Exactly – which is why we don't need to say Nazis, AIDS deniers, Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, anti-Arabs, etc. are "incompetent." (Shall we await comments from others? I'd like to see what other input we can get regarding your proposed changes.) – S. Rich (talk) 04:02, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I do not think that personal prejudices is necessarily a barrier to competence. It only becomes an issue when editors violate neutrality and other policy in order to push their views. But that can happen with editors who are not bigoted. Mind you people with views far outside the mainstream are unlikely to contribute in a constructive way. TFD (talk) 03:40, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Regardless of whether prejudice is a critical disability, I agree with TFD that in practical terms we need to deal with specific actions which may be identified on their face without reference to the underlying thought process. However, it is a recurring problem on WP I think that editors with strongly held minority views may not be fully aware of mainstream opinion on their subjects of interest and may deny that their judgment is flawed and biased as to proper balance and due treatment of alternative views. SPECIFICO talk 03:51, 12 August 2014 (UTC)


Let's please discuss these productively rather than making accusations of POV-pushing bereft of evidence. People are (of course) entitled to revert, but their reversion should be reverted if they don't provide a rationale for it. Steeletrap (talk) 00:49, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

We don't need a section about educational level, as educational level does not always indicate a person's position on the competent–incompetent continuum.
We don't need a bigotry section because bigotry may operate independently of competence. Not all bigots are incompetent.
I don't think this essay is for airing pet peeves. I think it should serve as a description of widely observed patterns. Binksternet (talk) 01:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The "incompetent" categories are not meant to be categorical statements about a user. They refer to contextual incompetence. For instance, someone who isn't fluent in English may be perfectly well qualified to add RS to Eng WP; but she wouldn't be competent to add a large summary of the text. Similarly, a Holocaust denier could make competent contributions to a variety of subjects but would tend to be incompetent in her edits about the Holocaust. Steeletrap (talk) 03:40, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I disagree with you on education. I certainly agree that autodidacts without formal education can and do edit WP effectively. But if you are "uneducated" (meaning you've never studied something seriously, in a formal or informal way) about a technical subject, such as physics, you are clearly incompetent to competently edit encyclopedia articles about physics (apart from copy editing, vandalism reversion, and removal of obviously unreliable sources). Do you disagree? It seems to me that a big problem with Wikipedia is that many editors no nothing about the subjects they edit other than information obtained in a halfhearted, 5 minute Google session. Steeletrap (talk) 03:43, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
It looks like you are trying to institute changes which you prefer, but which do not have consensus from other editors. – S. Rich (talk) 04:07, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that four editors have weighed in. I favor the change and SPECIFICO seems to as well, given his reversion. You and Bink are in opposition. The wholesale (as opposed to partial) reverts without explanation are odd. Why, for instance, should the grammatical corrections be reverted? How are they POV? There also seems to be little justification to eschew the use of sub-sections for the common types of incompetence, since the point of the essay is incompetence and that is the only time in which incompetence is described concretely. Steeletrap (talk) 04:38, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The grammatical corrections relate to the terms we use for "types of incompetence." Generally, we can use a lot of leeway with sub-section headings. But that section heading specifically identified what the sub-sections would be. (the sub-sub-sections, on the other hand, have more leeway, because they are not similarly identified.) Steeletrap (talk) 04:46, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Regarding grammar fixes, are you referring to this one? Seems you've taken a gender neutral version and turned it into a sexist one by using the female pronoun. Regarding the number of editors who have weighed in over the last several months, the number is much more than four. You have not gained consensus for any of the changes as far as I can tell. – S. Rich (talk) 05:52, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not referring to my allegedly "sexist" edits. In the spirit of WP:Competence, let's try to refrain from ad hominem attacks rooted in grudges. I'm referring to my correction of the sub-section heading titles, as explained above.
Incidentally: using "they" in a singular sense is arguably ungrammatical (this is, as my edit summary indicated, a hotly debated subject. I tend to think it's ungrammatical because the verb that follows the singular they does not agree with its subject; suppose I say "they are a tease" and you ask who I'm talking about, and I say Binkster (one person); I effectively said "Binkster are a tease," which is obviously not right.) It is not appropriate to interject (arguably) grammatically incorrect phrasing into an encyclopedia. On the other hand, using "she" is perfectly grammatical as a pronoun.
It would indeed be sexist if everyone used only "she" in her or his writing. But as things stand, we're not even close to that; people tend to use "they" (i.e. commit a grammatical error) or he. Ideally, uses of "she" and "he" should be of equal proportion. I am trying to make up for all of the people who only use he by only using she. Steeletrap (talk) 06:23, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I support Kephir's removal of the recent changes. The essay is fine as it was, and the attempts to pad it out with pet theories is not appropriate for an essay in Wikipedia space. The community has to use the information available to assess an editor—their edits. We are never going to require that someone has sufficient educational qualifications to validate their participation in a particular topic. If any change is warranted it may be to say that settling scores by rewriting essays is not desirable. Johnuniq (talk) 08:12, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
You're making straw-man arguments, Johnny. First, you're claiming that my changes call for an educational "requirement"; this implies 1) a requirement of formal education (as it would be impossible to provide evidence of independent study) and 2) an enforcement of WP:Competence as a matter of policy. But clearly, my edits to the page do not call for either, and in fact expressly state that formal education is not necessary to meet the "educational" requirement. Steeletrap (talk) 08:21, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

For gentle but firm Insistence[edit]

[insert] Error removed. SPECIFICO talk 14:24, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

This sort of thing belongs at User talk:Steeletrap. Myself, I have not seen anything quiet, gentle or even firm about Steeletrap's insistence. The "gap" lies between what serves the community and what serves Steeletrap's own purposes. Changing this essay to suit Steeletrap alone is not what the community wants. Binksternet (talk) 14:03, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
My error. SPECIFICO talk 14:24, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for catching my error. I must have had both pages open and posted the wrong place. Your reaction, however, strikes me as harsh. Ms. Steele certainly is persistent, but I find her quiet voice is more often than not worth considering and she doesn't shy away from the cold shoulder she gets from some of the good ol' boys. You know the saying about "...walk a mile in her shoes." SPECIFICO talk 14:57, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

"Refusal to learn?"[edit]

Might "Refusal to learn" be added to the "Some common types" section? New editors who make mistakes are fine -- but new editors who refuse to learn from their mistakes, get angry that they need to learn how to use this site, or are otherwise upset that they aren't congratulated for their screw-ups are simply not competent. It's one thing for a newbie to mess up because they're unfamiliar with procedures, polices, community norms, and guidelines; but it's another for a user to refuse to learn those things. Ian.thomson (talk) 21:16, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Only god really knows if an ed refuses to learn or is unable to learn, so I think I'm opposed. The only important thing here is that (for whatever reason) learning doesn't happen. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 21:46, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
I've seen a bunch of cases where a newbie had multiple editors summarize and explain a relevant policy, guideline, or other concept, only for the newbie to respond that he or she doesn't need to follow it because they're "right" and that the more experienced editors are just trying to censor them, abusing admin privileges, whatever. There are definitely grey areas, but there are also grey areas light or dark enough that we can call them black or white. Ian.thomson (talk) 21:51, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
You didn't really rebut my first response, and here's a second point. You seem to want to say something about people who have the capacity to make a competent reply but just refuse to do so. I don't think this essay is intended to describe that subset of editors. Quite the opposite.... we're trying to talk about people who lack that capacity. Conscious choice to not exercise it is a different kettle of fish. Isn't it? NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 23:35, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
But as we do not know the difference between those who choose not to learn and those who cannot learn (even by your own admission), what practical difference is there from the perspective of the rest of the site? Ian.thomson (talk) 23:56, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
There's both a difference and no difference. The difference is akin to that which distinguishes pornography from other published materials. On the other hand, whether an ed lacks competence or chooses not to wield it, either way the result is actually controlled by the guideline on disruptive editing (or other relevant guidelines & policies). This mere essay simply provides advice to eds dealing with some, but not all, examples of disruption. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 06:02, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Proposed Name Change[edit]

The title "competency is required", in addition to violating WP:civility as many have pointed out, and biting newcomers as many have pointed out, is also incorrect as a matter of policy. There is no actual requirement of competency, and furthermore the "encyclopedia anyone can edit" tagline as well as Don't bite the newcomers, and furthermore this essay by title alone explicitly and directly violates Wikipedia's editing policy which states Perfection is not required: Wikipedia is a work in progress. Collaborative editing means that incomplete or poorly written first drafts can evolve over time into excellent articles. Even poor articles, if they can be improved, are welcome. For instance, one person may start an article with an overview of a subject or a few random facts. Another may help standardize the article's formatting, or have additional facts and figures or a graphic to add. Yet another may bring better balance to the views represented in the article, and perform fact-checking and sourcing to existing content. At any point during this process, the article may become disorganized or contain substandard writing. Therefore, I propose changing the essay name from "Competence is required" to "Competence is encouraged." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mmyers1976 (talkcontribs) 17:02, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

"Competence" is not synonymous with "perfection". The current title may be blunt, but it is not insulting; the essay simply states a (sometimes hard to swallow) truth that there are certain standards of quality for contributions and conduct below which the costs of allowing someone in a community outweigh the benefits. And the rename is not going to fix any problems with the essay's misuse. —Keφr 18:16, 8 September 2015 (UTC)