Wikipedia talk:Consensus/RfC

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RfC[edit]

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

Close: MoS and WikiProjects both provide advice and guidance on how to format and present articles, which editors may consult, though are not obligated to follow. However, as the advice has generally been developed though good practise and informed consensus, it is appropriate to follow the guidance. Where there are specific conflicts between guidelines then our WP:CONSENSUS policy dictates that the guideline with the greater consensus is the one to follow, and though WP:CONLIMITED uses WikiProjects as an example, it would be inappropriate to take that example as reading that WikiProjects guidelines are inferior to MoS guidelines. Whichever guideline has the greater community consensus is the one that would be least problematic to follow. Conflict between guidelines are best resolved through discussion, and the guidelines updated as appropriate. SilkTork *YES! 09:21, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Given WP:CONLIMITED, to what extent and under what circumstances can individual WikiProjects and users customize article appearance with individual styles that deviate from site-wide style guidelines? Moonriddengirl (talk) 15:28, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Background

The question arises following an RfC at WP:WikiProject Actors and Filmmakers which began in part over concerns regarding color hard-coded into tables. On that point, the RfC closed with no consensus. Some users believed that color use in articles must be strictly limited in order to maintain consistency across and within articles. Too, there were concerns that—if hard-coded—excessive color use in articles may create difficulties with readability for screen readers and usability for contributors unfamiliar with the markup, while imprudently chosen colors may impact legibility for some readers. Concerns were also expressed about the difficulty of maintaining hard-coded markup. Others argued that consistency across Wikipedia is less a concern if there is consistency within WikiProjects and article types and that the project needs to allow flexibility in color choice to contributors.

  • Core issue

It seems that the core debate concerns the power of WikiProjects to determine the styles that best fit the needs of their subject. For instance, WP:Manual of Style (accessibility)#Styles and markup options calls for standardization of tables, but notes that:

Deviations from standard conventions are acceptable where they create a semantic distinction (for instance, the infoboxes and navigational templates relating to The Simpsons use a yellow colour-scheme instead of the customary mauve, to tie in with the dominant colour in the series) but should not be used gratuitously.

This raises some basic questions.

  • Who determines when deviations are gratuitous or constitute a substantial semantic distinction?
  • Should a WikiProject launch a central conversation before adopting such deviations, or may they decide such matters locally?
  • If they adopt such deviations locally and these are challenged, where is the matter to be settled?
  • If customized styling is employed, how and where should this be implemented? (inline, templates, stylesheets...)

Discussion[edit]

To respond to the questions: IMO, the community should make the decision on whether there should be a deviation from site-wide style guidelines. It thus follows that a WikiProject would initiate an RfC before adopting such deviations. The RfC would normally be the final determinant. If customized styling is employed, it should be employed in templates and stylesheets to ensure consistency. Sunray (talk) 15:59, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

To what an extent? To the extent of their influence (muscle power) and dedication (lunacy). Either they silence the opposition, or step back, or get slapped. As to your points,

  • Who? the loudest mouth/the baddest bully. It's not much different from content wars, and some folks will invest a lot of firepower into mere bells and whistles. The least important features attract the most dedicated fighters.
  • Should? No one here should anything. You or me may wish to have such changes discussed in public, but usually they just crawl out of the woodwork. "This was discussed in January and we had a perfect consensus of three". Private consensus at work: practice legitimizes everything, even non-breaking spaces.
  • Where? It all depends of the plaintiff's own weight, rank and connections. Quite obviously the best way is to set up the opponent into some unfortunate slip and have someone else slap them to unconsciousness.
  • The nature of "private customization", specifically the very narrow pool of "lawmakers" involved, precludes any robust predictions. Some will fancy stylesheets, hard coding, others will eradicate anything apart from plain text. It works both ways. East of Borschov 16:09, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Strong rationale related to usability for a wikipedia reader should be required by any group requesting to alter from the standard. "its pretty" and "we're different/special" are not sufficient. If widespread customization is allowed, who/how will the (limited) color options that meet accessability standards be allocated? Active Banana (talk) 16:14, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

  • I say the Wikipedia projects should be allowed to make consensus about what concerns them, of course within reasonable standards. As for the color, it should be a color that is listed for people with vision problems, which the steel blue is listed as. Having the color helps for readabilty imo. There is already a template for this that has been used since the RFC at WP:Actor. --CrohnieGalTalk 18:07, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
    • Where can we view the sample of colors suitable for people with vision problems? - Josette (talk) 01:13, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Sorry I just saw this question. You can find it here Hope that helps, --CrohnieGalTalk 14:42, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I am familiar with the policy page WP:MOS, and its subpages and have followed most, if not all, of the links on that page. I have also done some web surfing, searching for sample lists of colors suitable for people with vision problems. All I have been able to find are color charts with respect to color blindness and these charts do not recommend any colors but seem to suggest avoiding certain colors, primarily red and green. No where have I found a specific list which gives recommended color. You have mentioned a list "which the steel blue is listed" and so I would like to see the list and if no list exists, ask you to stop claiming that the steel blue is "recommended" as that is being rather deceptive. There is no list on the page you referenced. - Josette (talk) 16:30, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
      • If there is a color that improves readability, why shouldnt all templates be using it? Active Banana (talk) 18:11, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
        I totally agree with you. --CrohnieGalTalk 19:40, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
      • On the off chance that there is some sustainable justification for having wikiproject-specific colours, they should be implemented using some form of stylesheet that will be applicable without hand-coding of individual articles. Unless the accessibility of text rendered with that stylesheet can be vetted it should not be used in articlespace, just in talkspace. In some jurisdictions this is a matter of law, not just preference. Finally, the Simpsons statement is exactly backwards. If colour is used to convey meaning there must be an alternative way to convey that same meaning. That the project uses yellow simply because it is a visual theme on the show is fine. If it carried semantic value it would be a problem. How will that value be conveyed to someone reading on a gray scale display such as a Kindle or even on a monochrome dead tree edition? LeadSongDog come howl! 19:07, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

My main experience of this issue is in a different field - organisms. For zoologists and botanists specialising in one area, there is very little difficulty - they simply use their Project's preferred system. However editors writing 'Fauna of...' Zoo, or geographical articles encounter problems because biologists working in different areas of the Tree of Life make up different rules. Some are generally internally consistent, others less so.

Official common names of birds are capitalised. Thus Golden Eagle, Common Raven.
Mammals are sometimes upper/lower as in the List of European mammals but it is not always clear what do if the animal appears mid-sentence. It isn't consistent either. "The polar bear is absent, but Scotland is the UK's stronghold of the Pine Marten."
Creatures swim in an ocean of confusion, Blue Whales consorting with Taiwan gulper sharks and bight lobsters, gazing at the Fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack to you and me).
WP:FISH says that "Common names should be written in sentence case rather than title case" so they are not usually capitalised: allis shad and brown trout can still be caught in the same stream as Common Frogs nonetheless.
Marginated Tortoises hang out with hawksbill turtles.
Insects seem to be capitalised e.g. Northern Colletes, although Highland midge isn't.
Flora. The articles are often in the scientific name e.g. Betula pendula for "Silver Birch", although where this is not the case capitalisation per WP:BIRDS seems the most common in my limited experience e.g. Scots Pine.

A couple of years ago I managed to get some order into this via a MOS statement that encourages consistency within articles but so far as I am aware any attempt at creating a Wikipedia-wide style is "doomed to failure" as the specialists defend their territory. Fair enough in a way - it would be embarrassing to someone working with birds or bees all the time if we used a system here that looked risible to their academic peers. However there is still inconsistency and any article that discusses a variety of species looks peculiar to some, no matter what system you use. I've said this before, and I 'll say it again - Wikipedia is an encyclopedia anyone can edit, but I can see no reason why we need a Manual of Style that anyone can edit (and as a result very few people bother to watch or engage with). However, the inconsistencies seem easier to put up with than creating a whole new system, hence the status quo. Ben MacDui 19:26, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

I've never understood the obsession some Wikipedians have with stylistic consistency. It's okay for different articles and different kinds of articles to look different. When there are legitimate questions of larger concern, such as accessibility, these can be raised on the relevant talk pages. But most of the time it doesn't matter; there is no One True Way, and local consensus is sufficient. Ntsimp (talk) 20:37, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

I tend to agree on first reaction. Some level of consistency is required, and on the most basic issues, I agree that we, as an overall community, should override smaller segments of the community. Where the differences do no harm, I don't think that the community should override a Wikiproject. So, I support harmonizing things for accessibility, but I don't support dictating capitalization against professional practices. Maybe that's too nuanced to be applied to a potential guideline though. Imzadi 1979  20:49, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
My concern is that one project decides on a color scheme, and all the navigation boxes and templates look great together, but we forget that each project is not a walled garden, and an actor is also a model or a chef. Next thing you know the color scheme chosen by the culinary project clashes with the color scheme selected by the film project. I could give specific examples, but this happens all the time, especially with the navigation boxes at the foot of the article. There should be certain core items that are styled entirely by sitewide CSS, and certain smaller items that may have some deviations. However, whatever we do, we certainly need to put an end to this. Thanks! Plastikspork ―Œ(talk) 05:49, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
And that's a very valid concern. I guess I edit articles that don't have biographical subjects. Things on the articles I edit pretty much don't have those sorts of overlaps, and we standardized at a national level long ago. Imzadi 1979  06:14, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
That was a disagreement between two editors; if more had gotten involved, consensus definitely wouldn't have settled on two almost indistinguishable shades. On the other hand, I don't see an issue with a template such as this. If multiple, relevant navboxes produce ghastly colour clashes, there are already ways of dealing with that. WFCforLife (talk) 20:49, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
While Nav Box color clashes can be hidden in a collapsed Nav Box, that wouldnt work for clashing TABLES within an article, for say a sportsman with athletic record tables who became an actor with filmography tables and then tried his hand at recording and has album and singles tables all within one article. Being multi- talented would lead to having less professional looking article.Active Banana (talk) 21:26, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
I have a suggestion in that case: WP:IAR. I would support harmonizing table colors in individual articles where necessary, even though said WikiProjects might object. Hold a discussion on the talk page, invite interested editors (just like a page merger proposal) and follow the results. Imzadi 1979  22:07, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
(to Active Banana): Could you give an example of that situation arising? I do a lot of work with footballers (some of whom have done other things with wikiprojects), but I cannot think of an article where that has happened. Regards, WFCforLife (talk) 22:36, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
It was purely hypothetical, and the instances where I thought it might occur (OJ Simpson, Shaquille O'Niell), proved negative - so any concerns along this line would be rare enough that IAR could take care of any potential problems. Active Banana (talk) 22:41, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
How about Arnold Schwarzenegger; bodybuilder, actor and Governor of California. I hope he doesn't start to sing again. Secondarywaltz (talk) 22:49, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
  • You know how much effort we put into convincing people that admins are just regular editors with a few more buttons? Well, WikiProjects are just regular editors with a page in the Wikipedia namespace. Editors who create a WikiProject page don't get to declare their opinion to be a "guideline" unless they've taken that written advice through the same community-approval process that every non-WikiProject advice page goes through (See WP:PROPOSAL). If the community rejects the proposal, then it's rejected. There's no magic "WikiProject exemption" from the community standards.
    Having said all of that, I think that most WikiProjects provide very good advice. Editors here may also want to read Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Guide#Advice_pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:39, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I (personally) think the colour issue has been largely dealt with; policy and guidelines already exist to deal with abuse. The real area that I think this RfC needs to focus on is what happens if a wikiproject reaches consensus that seems at odds with the Manual of Style in general. On the one hand, an organised wikiproject acting in good faith will get its way on articles under its scope (for want of a more appropriate phrase). On the other, strict MoS adherents acting in good faith have the ability to block anything that doesn't comply with it from reaching FA or FL status, and in theory GA, ITN and DYK too. As far as I can tell, there is currently no solution in that situation. Besides, does every sentence of the MoS really have more consensus than the common practises of larger wikiprojects? WFCforLife (talk) 00:10, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Agreed - and I will repeat my initial position with a slight cavet based on new information in this discussion: "Strong rationale related to increased usability for a wikipedia reader or reflection of standard practice within the related academic community deviation from which would reflect poorly upon the "professionalism" of Wikipedia should be required by any group requesting to alter from the standard. "its pretty" and "we're different/special" should not be considered sufficient. " Active Banana (talk) 00:29, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
  • The idea of consensus is to find a position which is supported by most contributors, only ignoring extreme outlying opinion. In determining this, we must consider the numbers of contributors supporting the various positions. If there are significant numbers for each position then there is no consensus for any one of them and the resulting variation must be tolerated unless and until there is a common view — "let a hundred flowers bloom". The contrary idea — that policy is determined by controlling the high ground of central diktat — is explicitly repudiated by WP:NOTLAW. Policy reflects our customary practise and so is determined by aggregation from the bottom up. Colonel Warden (talk) 10:08, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
  • The style guides make WP a cohesive force on the Internet. In my view, they should be contravened only where: (1) the relevant MoS talk page had been notified of the discussion; and (2) editors have generated consensus at the WikiProject talk page that a contravention is in keeping with the particular nature or needs of the WikiProject topic, with well-stated arguments that this will improve the articles. This should be limited to exceptional cases. Tony (talk) 05:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
    • That would work if and only if the manual of style had widespread participation and publicised its changes more widely. i.e Manual of style discussions should be widely publicised, and not only involve MoS-regulars. Otherwise, the MoS ends up operating like a WikiProject itself. Actually, the same applies to internal WikiProject discussions. Anything that leads to a widespread change should be widely publicised to ensure outside opinions are included. Too often, a local consensus is arrived at with not enough participation from others. That's the theory. In practice, you can't widely publicise every single discussion, but if people exercise judgment and realise when a wider discussion is needed and (this is critical) note where they publicised the discussion, they can then later actually demonstrate that they have obtained wider consensus, rather than a local consensus, and others can point out that the proposer failed to notify some areas that should have been notified. It is actually not a simple matter to decide where to publicise a discussion and how widely it needs to be publicised, which is why I usually say that it is worth investing a bit of time in preliminary discussion about how to set up a discussion that everyone will agree was set up fairly and worded properly, and will succeed in the primary goal (to get a wide range of people to give reasoned opinions and to bring people together in agreement rather than escalating or continuing an existing argument). I have tried in the past to make some of these points clearer at Wikipedia:Publicising discussions, but there is much more that could be done to improve how formal discussions take place on Wikipedia. Carcharoth (talk) 07:48, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
      • That is good advice: The Signpost is about to start up its "Discussion report" on a weekly basis, although editors there will probably want to ration coverage. Another possibility is that a separate Signpost page, named "Style guides and policies" be started, in which discussions and changes could be announced. I'm not sure if the regulars would agree, but I will mention it to them if people here think it's a good idea. Tony (talk) 08:08, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I see three primary issues that may be decided in this RfC, since I believe the issues of accessibility are already settled:
    Whether local projects can decide an exception to general policies and guidelines
    I believe the answer is yes, where it demonstrably improves the encyclopedia. An clear example is in WP:MEDRS which supplements WP:RS by holding editors to a higher standard of sourcing for medical claims. Similarly, WP:NAME has a list of exceptions such as is documented at WP:MOSMED#Naming_conventions, which I think illustrates a fair model for exceptions to MOS. In these cases, local consensus is clearly documented and is linked from the main MOS page concerned. This leaves an audit trail to allow consensus to change, and IMHO suggests that consensus for the exception should be obtained both locally and globally, otherwise it's no consensus at all.
The use of colour per Wikiproject
As far as the reader is concerned, this is a question of presentation, and nothing else. No web designer would rely on colour alone to convey semantic information, because its impact on the viewer depends entirely on the capabilities of the browser/medium they use, and on their own capabilities. There is far too much variation in these for colour to be useful other than for its presentational function ('eye candy' if you will). The encyclopedia looks best without a riot of colours and a jumble of uncoordinated schemes that convey similar information on different pages. In addition, there is the problem of articles that fall within two or more Wikiprojects – there are plenty of actors/singers who are notable for music and film work (for example) – and I don't see the value in presenting the reader with multiple schemes on the same page.
How to implement markup
The internet is bigger than Wikipedia, but it does have its own "Manual of Style" as documented by the W3C, and we ignore that at our peril. Far wiser folk than you or I (excepting Jack perhaps) have developed a framework for how to make websites. Following their advice produces web content that is robust, future-proof, and easier to maintain. For years hard-coded html markup has been deprecated, and with the advent of self-updating web browsers (Google Chrome is the prime example: but others are sure to follow), there is little need to even support such antiquated markup. With that in mind, it is only a matter of time before tags like <font color="xyz"> will need to be purged from our content, and there's no point in encouraging further use of them. From the point of view of maintenance and to make use of cascading relationships, inline styles are inferior to classes, but I accept that it's difficult for end users to make use of that. Nevertheless, for styles that have widespread usage across the encyclopedia, there is an argument that they would be better implemented as classes within one of the sitewide style sheets. --RexxS (talk) 13:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Let's take a look in to the past, because this issue has come up before. Sometimes a wikiproject (or really a category of editing, no need to formalize it) can take on an identity value over and above being a wikipedia editor. This is a Bad Thing. You can recall the fair use wars where fiction, television and movies, and music editors (some, i wont paint with too broad a brush) decided that their categories were 'special', and this allowed them to deviate from policy and culture on the wiki, one of our pillars and a foundation directive. Simply put, we as a community failed to properly enculturate them, and when it became too much, reigning the abuse in and reculturating those editors back into the larger community was damn near bloody. We took steps as a community to ensure this did not happen again and now years later it seems the rift is starting to show again. We need to rededicate ourselves to sharing our culture, our values, and not letting things deviate away from that. We have a Manual of Style. We don't need separate Fiefdoms. -- ۩ Mask 14:36, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

But the most serious, and most provincial, fiefdom is the Manual of Style itself; it has very limited contact with actual editing - or with the English language. If it's not consensus, and it rarely is anything more than a couple of editors trying to enforce their prejudices, ignore it. That's policy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:21, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
I believe Ben MacDui expressed it most accurately above -- there is no need for a Manual of Style that anyone can edit (and as a result very few people bother to watch or engage with) -- it does have one vital purpose: to keep the number of editor conflicts to a minimum. Beyond that, a manual of Style is only of value when an editor is confronted with two or more ways of presenting content, & would like an informed opinion about which to use. The people maintaining the MoS ought to pursue that route & offer advice & not insist on a standard which no one besides them cares about. Giving good advice will extend one's influence far better than writing the best policy -- which will always be ignored without penalty. We have more than enough people on Wikipedia who want to boss others around over how articles should be written; any more would discourage more people from becoming regular contributors. -- llywrch (talk) 21:44, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Personally, I don't think that the issue of WikiProject standards differing from broader community standards is a problem that needs to be resolved, merely a disparity that needs to be recognized.
    There are distinct tiers of quality on Wikipedia. As an article moves up the ranks, from creation to B-class to Good and finally Featured quality, it is subject to broader scrutiny at each point. WikiProjects only go up to B-class without outside input, they are our ground level of quality control, and their standards should be understood as such.
    WikiProjects ensure that an article meets fundamental content standards for its subject, they interact with new editors, they do basic quality and importance assessments, and they make standardization decisions. We can't expect them to uphold the same level of devotion to detail as the guys who spend their days on FAC do, because the guys at FAC are dealing only with the top of the top while the primary concern of most WikiProjects is trying to get basic sources and readable prose into a couple thousand stub pages.
    In conclusion, I believe that the Good and Featured article processes are a sufficient motivating force for a WikiProject to gradually attune their rules to those of the wiki as a whole, and that a WikiProject's development of internal standards needs only be actively intervened in by the broader community if they are encouraging policy violation or failing to promote a minimum B-class standard. --erachima talk 22:37, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
  • While I concur with most of what erachima said above, a weakness of that argument is the assumption that a brilliant article will always comply with the MoS. Featured articles have to comply with the Manual of Style (sure, rule number one is in place, but I've never seen someone successfully argue it at FAC). By extension, wikiprojects aiming to produce high quality content must do likewise. In short, editors who care to edit the Manual of Style have total control over the standards that our best content must follow, subject to gaining consensus from typically five or six people at a given time. WFC (talk) 23:38, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
    • Which is one of the reasons that FAC is a failure; we are fortunate that enough pass for Raul to avoid the worst embarassments, those which have been promoted without due (or in some cases any) consideration of content. Insofar as brilliant articles are likely to be written by intelligent and literate editors, they will tend to violate the arbitrary, unsourced, and provincial edicts of the MOS.
    • Fortunately, one of the factors that keeps FAC from being a total of waste of time is that most of MOS is not actually enforced there; if the good soul who wrote a provision in does not review an article, his pet provision is likely to be ignored - quite likely because nobody else knows or cares that it exists. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:34, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
    • But what I have spoken of is the historic record; I hope it has begun to improve - the existence of this RfC suggests it has some ways to go. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:38, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
      • Yeah, due to process issues Featured Articles is really a recognition of the best edited pages, not necessarily the best written ones. For an effective content review process, we must again look to the WikiProjects. However, that matter is outside the scope of this RfC, and probably best saved for a later day. --erachima talk 04:57, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment: I would like to show another example: The template {{TaxonIds}} is for adding external links but the template seems to be totally incompatible with style of Wikipedia:External links. (See Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Tree_of_life#Templates_for_external_link and Template_talk:TaxonIds#RfC:_Can_this_template_be_used? for details.) Unfortunately the strong majority of users thinks that there is a consensus for using this template. De facto only I disagree. When there is such strong support for this difference, other users have no even motivation to discussion or to change it to be compatible with guidelines (or to propose change of guidelines). So the situation is, that template incompatible with guidelines is used, nobody tries to solve it and there is no chance to solve it. It is exact example: If there is thought to be consensus, then the majority can apply Wikipedia:Ignore all rules versus guidelines. I have no idea how to continue when the majority of people in the discussion are ignoring (style) guidelines. --Snek01 (talk) 23:59, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
    • By acknowledging that guidelines, style or otherwise, describe the practice that Wikipedia actually follows, which is what policy actually is. A style "guideline" that there is universal agreement not to follow does not guide well, and one dissentient and a tag do not change that. Rewrite the guideline to follow practice; that works much better. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:35, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
      • That would be a recipe for chaos. Every publisher has guidelines to coordinate its style. If the styleguides at WP just "described" what people do,... well, which people, which occurrences? In my experience, by and large the styleguides at WP do a fairly good job at mediating between over-prescription and free-reign chaos. Can you imagine the edit-warring that would ensue if we said "Do as you please"? Tony (talk) 03:20, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
        • No, it's a recipe for consensus. I didn't say "don't have style guidelines"; I said, "have style guidelines which are generally agreed upon".
        • Having style guidelines with which an overwhelming majority disagree (which is the case posted) is a recipe for chaos, if any enterprising soul attempts to enforce the "guideline". If nobody does, then the guideline is merely a waste of storage, which will occasionally make some poor editor wonder why "nobody follows the style guidelines?"
        • I set aside the question whether having the encyclopedia differ from article to article in the areas covered by MOS would be chaos. After all, we differ from American to Australian spelling, without anybody but the most provincial anglophone nationalists crying "chaos! havoc!". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:46, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


  • Comment: If I were able to make one unchallenged edit to the manual of style, I would put this sentence at the end of the lead:
The principles on this page should normally be followed, but can be ignored if it can be demonstrated that there is a net benefit to wikipedia in doing so.

I haven't done it, because I know it will be reverted. Yes, it's completely redundant to the nutshell at the top of the page. But it needs to be said explicitly in the lead, and it needs to be done in big bold letters. What Pmanderson seems to be trying to say is that the MoS would be a much better thing if its stricter advocates remembered that the objective is to increase standardisation, not to stifle innovation.

As an aside, I have over a thousand pages watchlisted, around three of which are part of the MoS (if there are more they never get edited). Admittedly most of those 1000+ are low traffic biographies of people (living and deceased) who have finished doing what made them notable. Even so, I do have some high traffic ones on there, and can say with authority that 80+% of good faith content disputes occur on the Manual of Style. Why? Because the way the MoS is currently enforced, it does matter. --WFC-- 04:00, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, I can't think of anything more blatant than what is in the coloured box at the top. Put something at the end and no one will read it. "Innovation"—I'm not sure WP is the place for linguistic innovation; it's too much a record of what is out there, and reasonably standardised and consistent language is important for the readers—both more and less educated. This has gone a little off-topic. Tony (talk) 06:17, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm not normally one for arty phrases, but I think "stifle innovation" was perfect. The MoS can stifle innovation in other ways that either are—or at the very least could be—beneficial to the project. Consider the following:


  • A template's existence (not "MoS compliance", "existence") is challenged because the manual of style has a grey area about one of its primary functions. This in spite of the fact that even if the feature were disabled, it would remain an enhanced version of a widely used template (to all intents and purposes an open beta without the bugs). Is that helping the encyclopaedia?
The grey area was cleared up, although not as a result of the original complainant doing anything. Four months later, a simple edit was made to ensure the template could be transcluded without the offending function.


  • An otherwise credible article's candidacy for WP:FA is hijacked by multiple users on the grounds of transcluding a template advocated by a very large wikiproject. Until that point (and indeed for a while after) there had never been any discussion on that template's talk page about the problem. Is that helping the encyclopaedia?
The FAC failed for unrelated reasons, although none of these were identified by the "hijackers". Nobody attempted to resolve the template's issues before the second FAC, but the article received its star without any reference to that dispute. It was another four months before someone decided to start a discussion on the template, and yet another four months before anyone attempted to do anything about it.


Both of these things happened in recent months. In both cases (as in most others) the MoS advocates had grounds for their complaint, but the methods they used were grossly disproportionate and counterproductive. If this RfC does not produce guidance on what steps should be taken when a wikiproject is at odds with the manual of style, my fear is that this sort of behavior will continue. By definition, for a wikiproject to collectively be at odds with the MoS, there needs to be consensus. And with that we neatly return to the original question. --WFC-- 07:09, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Could we know, then, what template, what FAC, and what "grossly disproportionate and counterproductive" methods? Otherwise there's nothing to grip onto. Tony (talk) 07:19, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm not going to link to the FAC. Having read it I've realised that one of the people involved was an editor currently disputing an edit I recently made. That would be entirely inappropriate. The template in question is {{footballbox collapsible}}. Stating in the opening, two line paragraph an intention to take a widely used template to TfD unless you get your way is what I would describe as "grossly disproportionate". After a prolonged, fruitless discussion, a mention of TfD might be warranted, but not as a way of initiating discussion. --WFC-- 08:07, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── For balance, I should probably say that wikiprojects can at times violently oppose change without rhyme or reason. In a case I witnessed recently, an editor cocked up while making a good faith attempt to address an instance of MoS non-compliance that had consensus for a change. Very shortly afterwards, he saw that there was a problem, and proposed a fix to a fully protected template. Despite having the time to discuss the fact that there were no discussions, no admin actioned that request in six hours. Such was the level of vitriol from the wikiproject towards that editor, even towards his (successful) attempt to fix the problem, he withdrew his protected edit request in protest and told the wikiproject to stuff it. And in my opinion he had every reason to.

My point is that I'm not taking "sides" in this, merely pointing out that the confrontational approach taken by both the MoS and individual wikiprojects must stop. And if it doesn't stop on its own, a conscious effort must be made to stop it. Our best editors are our boldest editors. If they're not allowed to work in a constructive environment, they will up sticks and leave. --WFC-- 08:45, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

From my position at WP:NRM At New religious movements work group, I am one of several editors who have come to a consensus that primary sources in the conterversial subject like that of alleged cults are too questionable to be useful. However as long as project WP:NRMMOS is supplanted by WP:PSTS We have to continue to argue such sources are not acceptable in our project while people throw WP:PSTS around. Wikiprojects/Workgroup's MOS should always be primary MOS in the relevant articles IMHO. Weaponbb7 (talk) 13:24, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

But the style guides can never be prescriptive in great detail about what is a RS and what is not, can they? Tony (talk) 14:19, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Editors also should not use primary sources for explicit or implicit advocacy for or against a new religious movement, unless they cite a reliably published secondary source using the same primary source in the same manner.
frankly i dont see why not, We agreed that:
  • Writings or other media published by an NRM;
  • Writings or media recordings of a movement's founder;
  • Self-published writings of members and ex-members;
  • Websites of members, ex-members and critics.
This is an offical part of WP:NRMMOS, it seems to work well in this controversial subjects, like that of Cults/NRM topics. Its saves alot of time. So i think it is a perfect example of why such WIkiproject's MOS should subplant the original policy. The Spirit of Policy should always be present but the letter should vary to degrees between projects. Weaponbb7 (talk) 14:34, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Although it seems facetious, the comment by User:East of Borschov seems to be the ways things are actually done in my experience. In many cases some one will propose a change and open a directed discussion about the change. Some one else with programming skills will implement the change despite the overwhelming opposition to the change. Appeals based on common sense, precedents or better nature are futile. A few months ago a change was made to a project banner that created sixteen new maintenance categories on the basis of a consensus that was supposedly formed in 2007. JimCubb (talk) 21:55, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

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