Wikipedia talk:Consensus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Peacedove.svg The project page associated with this talk page is an official policy on Wikipedia. Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard for all users to follow. Please review policy editing recommendations before making any substantive change to this page. Always remember to keep cool when editing. Changes to this page do not immediately change policy anyway, so don't panic.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: When was WP:CONEXCEPT, which says that editors at the English Wikipedia do not get to overrule the Wikimedia Foundation on issues like server load, software and legal issues, first added?

A: It was added in January 2007 by User:Circeus, after a brief discussion on the talk page in the context of whether this page should be a policy rather than a guideline. It has been discussed and amended many times since then, e.g., here, here, and here.

"Consensus is a partnership between interested parties working positively for a common goal." -- Jimmy Wales

some issues regarding WP:CONLEVEL[edit]

The policy currently states:

  • Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. For instance, unless they can convince the broader community that such action is right, participants in a WikiProject cannot decide that some generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope.

I don't think this is completely inaccurate ... but there is I think flawed assumption behind it. It assumes that the level of consensus at a guideline page will always be greater than those at a wikiprojects, or at an individual article's talk page... and that is not always the case. Sometimes discussions on a "local" page may actually reflect the consensus of a very wide segment of the community... while discussion at a policy and guideline page may reflect the consensus of a vary narrow segment of the community. Blueboar (talk) 21:36, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes your right but.....Perhaps WP:Advice pages says it better....needs to be vented by the larger community if they are not going to follow the satus quo. -- Moxy (talk) 13:10, 14 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think the underlying assumption is flawed, just somewhat vague. This is an issue of process bearing on the extent of consensus needed to form policy or guidelines, as is made clear by the second paragraph of this section. The underlying assumption is that policy and guidelines should not be formed without the community as a whole having notice and an opportunity to weigh in. That can happen through the PROPOSAL process, through proposals on existing policy page talk pages, or through bold editing at an existing policy page, all of which the entire community is (at least in theory) watching, but should not happen at an article talk page or any other non-policy WP-namespace page because there's no reasonable expectation that the entire community will be watching those places. Though I think the second paragraph makes that clear, I like Moxy's addition to the first paragraph (which I've cleaned up and clarified slightly) because it makes it clearer and also because it provides a link to PROJPAGE. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:52, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't disagree... but we still don't directly address the fact that a consensus reached at a WikiProject can actually actually reflect a broader (community) level of consensus than an opposing consensus reached at a Guideline (which can be a vary narrow (local) level of consensus). The status of the page where a discussion is held is not what determines the level of consensus... it's the number of people who participate in the discussion that determines the level of consensus. Blueboar (talk) 11:39, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

I've boldly expanded Moxy's addition to not only include decisions made at projects, but to also include decisions made at template documentation. That's another area in which editors frequently assert that it's a blockable or bannable violation to use the template in a way which is forbidden or unaddressed by the template documentation, but so far as I know — and I may be wrong — there is no support in policy or guidelines for that assertion. Please feel free to revert my addition if I'm wrong or if you disagree. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:19, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

  • I am becoming concerned by the amount of instruction creep here. Again, I fully support the idea that a consensus of a small group can not override the consensus of a larger group... but I don't think the "status" of the page where the competing consensuses were formed is relevant. A well advertized talk page RFC can reflect a large "community" consensus... and thus can override the consensus of a few editors at an obscure guideline page. All we really need to say is: Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. When there is debate as to what consensus is, seek a wider level of consensus.
Why not simply leave it at that? Blueboar (talk) 18:08, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
It's a question of sufficient consensus to create an encyclopedia-wide binding (subject to IAR) rule; without the notice provided by a proper following of PROPOSAL there is always the risk that however huge or firm the consensus may be at an obscure project or similar site that it only reflects the consensus of those individuals with a particular interest in the subject matter of that project or page and not that of the community as a whole, which is the only type of consensus which ought to be allowed to form binding (albeit subject to IAR) rules. If the consensus at such a place is so large and/or certain that there is the possibility that it might reflect the consensus of the entire community, then either during the process of initially determining that consensus or in a separate consensus determination afterwards it can be proposed to the entire community via compliance with PROPOSAL to determine if the full-community consensus does, in fact, exist. Until that happens, however, that can never be certain. There is the notion in POLICY that policy is and should be only the record of the practical consensus of the community recorded after that consensus has already formed de facto through everyday practice. If that idea has any validity in today's en-WP (and I have some grave doubt that it does on an everyday practical basis,[1] but if it does), then CONLIMITED only says that we cannot presume such a community consensus when the only discussion about it has taken place at some special-interest location, regardless how large or firm that consensus might be. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 19:06, 17 June 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Which is either ironic or circular, or perhaps both, since what I'm suggesting and what I both believe and observe in practice is that as a practical matter en-WP is now, on a day-in-day-out everyday basis as reflected in venues such as AN, ANI, ARBCOM, dispute resolution, and various noticeboards such as RSN and BLPN, a rule-driven and rule-controlled entity and that the notion that "there are no rules" is close to being — but is not quite — meaningless at today's WP.
"...we cannot presume such a community consensus when the only discussion about it has taken place at some special-interest location, regardless how large or firm that consensus might be"... you mean a special-interest location like the talk page of an obscure guidelines? Seriously, many of our guidelines are just as much "special-interest" as any project page... possibly even more so. Just to take one example... consider MOS/TRADEMARK. That is very much a "special interest" page. It is the realm of a few dedicated Wikipedians who really care about that one specific style issue. I know... I've become one of them. Such obscure Guidelines get worked on, changed and amended by these few dedicated editors - without the changes ever being "veted" by the larger community (much less going through any sort of formal PROPOSAL process). Indeed the larger community probably does not know that they exist. In that they are no different than a Project Page. The idea that just because a page has been promoted to "Guideline" status, that automatically means a large body of people are watching it and participating in formulating its content is simply not a valid assumption. Guidelines are often created by and watched and worked on by a very limited group of editors. Yes, our core policies are heavily watched and even a tiny change is scrutinized... but that is certainly not the case for the (literally) hundreds of obscure pages that have been marked "guideline".
As to your comment about process... I will simply note WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY. Community wide consensus can be determined in other ways than through a formal PROPOSAL. We have lots of ways of assessing consensus. As you yourself note... We have RFC's on LOCAL talk pages, discussions at the Village Pump, discussions at various noticeboards, etc. etc. And yes... on project pages.
All That said, I am not really talking about situations where someone creates encyclopedia-wide binding (subject to IAR) "rules"... I am talking more about situations where there is general consensus to make a very limited topic specific exception to (otherwise) perfectly good wiki-wide rules. I'm talking about situations where the editors know what the "rules" are, and have reached a consensus that the rule may be well and good elsewhere... just not for that one topic area. Such determinations are exactly the sort of discussions that most likely occur on Project Pages. Blueboar (talk) 22:04, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
Three points:
  • First, re NOTBUREAUCRACY that's what I'm arguing, above: I think that on a practical, daily basis we've moved beyond that and evolved/devolved (depending on your point of view) into something which, insofar as the role and use of policies and guidelines are concerned — though far less so where content decisions are concerned, except as affected by our core content policies — more resembles a bureaucracy than it does a wiki. (Most people who make that argument do so as a criticism of what WP has become and how hard it is to successfully edit, but I do not. I see it as the normal progression of a complex system — and also the reason that most Utopian communities fail, but that's expanding this discussion a bit too much, I'm afraid). If I had to express that in a sentence, I'd say that on a practical, everyday basis we are now a bureaucracy with strong wiki elements, characteristics, and philosophy.
  • Second, I could make an argument about your statement about guideline pages not being broadly watched which would boil down to "that's one reason that they're guidelines and not policies," but while that's true, I would point out that outside our core policies there are certainly policy pages which are just as obscure (if not more so) than many guidelines (e.g. MC/P, and I would note in passing that even though that policy only affects MEDCOM, whenever changes are made to it, they're always put up for community comment and consensus, not just passed by MEDCOM). If I'm right about where I think that we are on bureaucracy, my argument about the entire community having notice of changes to policy and guidelines pages is really a "should and presume" argument: the entire community should be watching those pages (and the Village Pump for purposes of PROPOSAL) and we're going to presume that they are in order to legitimize our policy-making function (just as we here in the United States believe that all citizens should vote for elected officials and presume that those who are elected are the representatives of all the people, not just those who actually voted). I would further argue that system is already in place here at WP.
  • Third, I don't necessarily disagree with your final point about local consensus, but have to wonder what you believe the effect of such consensus is. Editors can come to consensus here anywhere, anytime, on anything. We could open an RFC consensus discussion here to turn the background color of this page and all talk pages in the WP namespace to  puce , but what would the effect of that consensus beyond, perhaps, just this one page?
Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 13:57, 18 June 2015 (UTC) PS: One correction: I was riffing off of your reference to NOTBUREAUCRACY and didn't think enough about the terms. We're not a bureaucracy, per se, because a bureaucracy is based upon governance by bureaucrats. I don't think that we're that because it is the community, not admins or other bureaucrats, who primarily enforces our policies and guidelines. So "bureaucracy" does not really fit (unless you want to argue that the sub-community consisting of experienced editors are, in effect, the bureaucrats; I can see that argument, but don't agree with it). Let me restate my closing sentence my "First," section above, more accurately: If I had to express that in a sentence, I'd say that on a practical, everyday basis we are now a rule-based entity with strong wiki elements, characteristics, and philosophy. — TransporterMan (TALK) 14:08, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
Re your third point... yes, editors can come to a consensus anywhere, anytime on anything. What makes one consensus "wiki-wide" and another "local" has nothing to do with where they reach consensus, but rather how many editors were involved in reaching the consensus. If hundreds of editors participate in an RFC, and reach a consensus to turn all talk page backgrounds puce... we can say that there is a wiki-wide consensus to turn the backgrounds puce. It does not matter where the discussion takes place (it could take place on Wiki-project page, a policy page, or even an article talk page... what makes it wiki-wide is that it gathered opinions from such a large body of editors). "Enforcing" that consensus is likely to be successful. On the other hand, if only ten editors participate in an RFC, and all agree that talk pages should be puce, we can dismiss it as being a local consensus... even if the discussion was held on a Policy talk page (what makes it "local" is that only a few editors participated). "Enforcing" this second consensus is unlikely to be successful.
As for NOTBUREAUCRACY... I'm not saying that all procedures are bad... just that there are often multiple procedures (some more "procedural" than others). Those who insist that there is only one "correct" way to do things on Wikipedia certainly act like self-appointed bureaucrats. Blueboar (talk) 15:22, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Consensus#Decisions not subject to consensus of editors[edit]

I think Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement should be added to this short list. Actions taken at ARE are not actions of the Arbitration Committee (the 3rd exception mentioned) but enforcement actions of arbitration case rulings taken by administrators. Not only are the resulting actions not subject to the consensus of editors, they are not subject to the consensus of administrators. That is how ARE operates in practice and it should be noted among the exceptions or a discussion should occur about whether the process of coming to a decision in ARE cases should be determined by editor or admin consensus or whether it is more efficient settling disputes as it currently operates. Liz Read! Talk! 14:31, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Trade off[edit]

I am just wondering if it is WP:CONSENSUS where the outcome of 1 page is determined by the outcome of another unrelated page. I make reference to Derry/Londonderry_name_dispute. A compromise was reached many moons ago where by The City was called Derry and The County was called County Londonderry. The name of the City Derry is officially called Londonderry. This name is disputed by some. The County is called County Londonderry, and has never been called County Derry nor is its name in dispute. I'm trying understand how WP:CONSENSUS can be used to find agreement across 2 articles, 1 article which isn't even disputed. Any assistance would be great.Dubs boy (talk) 21:47, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Defeating real consensus by just biding one's time[edit]

It seems some editors withdraw from vigorous content disputes before consensus is reached with the stated intent of returning later, after their opponents have moved on, when they think they'll have a better shot at putting their own stamp on articles. From where I sit, this is a form of anti-consensus. Can anyone point me to places in policy/guidelines/essays/arb-rules/etc where WP:BIDING ONES TIME is discussed? Thanks NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 21:39, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

In my opinion, it's a natural consequence of the notion that no consensus is permanent (i.e. that consensus can change). When it's the "stated intent," depending on their editing history it might be further evidence for a NOTHERE case at ANI aimed at an article or topic ban. But if it's a generally-good editor, it's probably more often a case of sour grapes without any real intent behind it. Banning it would just teach people what not to say and, frankly, it's not in my opinion an illegitimate technique for dealing with drive-by, but temporarily-tendentious POV-pushers and other SPAs who are only here long enough to fight over the stuff they introduced into an article a couple of nights ago, but who have no real interest in sticking around long enough to become an experienced and quality editor. (And I must admit that I make reference to the practice in my humorous Wikiderata because of that value.) Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 01:15, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for thoughtful reply. The inspiration for my inquiry is an explicit statement of strategy intent, in a months long dispute between established eds, in a topic under an arb ruling and DS. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 01:24, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Additions rather than deletions[edit]

Regulation Committee and alternatives to consensus[edit]

Bumping thread for 30 days. ceradon (talkedits) 04:37, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Members of the community are invited to give their thoughts at a request for comment to discuss Wikipedians' alternatives to consensus, and the formation of a proposed Regulation Committee. Thank you, --ceradon (talkedits) 04:37, 2 August 2015 (UTC)