Wikipedia talk:Discuss, don't vote/Archive2

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Alternative Version

An alternative to this proposal can be found at Wikipedia:Discuss and Vote. Comments welcome. --Blue Tie 18:44, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Er. It puts heavy emphasis on ratifying policy and guidelines by votes. I'm not saying that you're wrong to propose that, but I have to advise you that it hasn't got a snowball's chance of being accepted. — Saxifrage 18:53, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
Maybe so. Don't know why people would want it otherwise, but if that is how the majority want it, so be it. However, I am also still working on it. --Blue Tie 12:50, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Voting but not deciding?

Don't we technically vote in AfD discussions and ect.? We do vote, but our votes don't decide. They just pursuade the people that make the final decision, like with the Electoral College. Right?--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 15:44, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

No, we try to figure out what to do, and then someone comes along to see if we've (roughly) come to an agreement. Kim Bruning 19:20, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
We do technically vote, just like the US technically votes for president (of course the electoral college trumps popular vote if they are gracious enough, as we saw in 2000). Koji is right, and many people use polling as a consensus gathering technique. Fresheneesz 20:42, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Nope, though I admit that an unperturbed discussion can often look like a vote. Have you ever tried shifting consensus while it's forming? It's great fun! :-) Kim Bruning 21:28, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
The word "vote" can refer to "the formal expression of a proposed resolution of an issue." _fD discussions are not majority/plurality votes, but they do involve voting. —David Levy 21:37, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
It has been pointed out before that you are one of the few who use that particular non-standard definition. Besides, the key word is "formal". AFD is an informal expression of a proposed resolution. >Radiant< 22:27, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
1. Please explain why a definition similar to those listed first in several major dictionaries should be regarded as "non-standard."
2. Please explain why AfD (with its officially designated status, location and procedure) should be regarded as "informal." —David Levy 22:37, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Most people see voting as giving a group of people identical forms, having them put check marks in the boxes as desired, and then counting how often each box is checked. That is nothing like AFD (or indeed, any content-related process on WP). On Wikipedia, just about everything is informal, which follows from WP:IAR and Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. >Radiant< 22:55, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Alright, so voting's definition is "When you give two people a piece of paper and they write a check in one of the boxes."?--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 22:57, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
That is indeed an example of voting. There are several others in an analogous way, and note that I never said 'paper'. >Radiant< 23:02, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
That would just be one example though, not the definition. --tjstrf 23:03, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Giving a group of people a pragraph on why you think something is un-encyclopedic and having them say Support or Oppose is the same as voting.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 23:06, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but AFD explicitly asks people for their reasonings, and (unlike voting) does not have a cutoff point for decision making (e.g. 60% support required to pass), and (unlike voting) can be decided in favor of the majority. Wikipedia is not a democracy, but a cluocracy. >Radiant< 23:19, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
RfA's are considerd votes, then, scince they need 75% support to pass, right?--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 23:20, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Ah. Tricky question. Wikipedia does sometimes vote on people - the Board Vote is definitely a vote; the yearly ArbCom vote is mostly a vote except that Jimbo reserves the right to ignore the results. RFA is presently under heavy debate. Many users believed it to be a vote (and indeed, it looks like one) and it appeared to be accepted that 75% support was required to pass. But last month an editor passed with 59% support, which caused quite a stir. So it is presently unclear whether or not it is, ever was, or should be a vote. For details, see Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Giano. >Radiant< 23:26, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
1. An ArbCom election is a vote. Votes needn't have binding outcomes.
2. It always has been clear (to me, at least) that 75% support is merely a rough guideline, not an exact requirement or guarantee of success. This, of course, has no bearing on whether RfAs are voted on. They absolutely are. —David Levy 23:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
No, there is no such rule. Bureaucrats must weigh the arguments presented. An RfA can pass with less than 75% support or fail with more than 75% support.
Nonetheless, RfA is a type of voting. —David Levy 23:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
You're applying the definition of "majority/plurality voting" to the word "voting." The terms are not synonymous. —David Levy 23:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
You described majority/plurality polling, which is one variety of voting. Indeed, AfD is nothing like that, but it is formal, and it is a type of voting. —David Levy 23:43, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Er, no. AFD is emphatically not a vote. I'm sure you can find some definition of "vote" under which it, by some technicality, could be construed a vote. However, using the common definition of voting on Wikipedia, AFD is not a vote. See also Wikipedia:Requests for adminship is not a vote. >Radiant< 23:58, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, Radiant, but your definition of the word "vote"—no matter how common it may be—is incorrect. Again, you're referring to one specific type of voting (majority/plurality voting) as "voting." I'm referring to the most basic dictionary definition of the word. No "technicality" or obscure loophole is involved.
I don't know why you cited a proposal as evidence, but I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I've corrected the title. —David Levy 00:25, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't citing evidence; if you are under the impression that only a guideline or policy may be cited to support an argument, you are mistaken. The point is that Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. It follows that we use the common meaning of a word, instead of the technical definition. What you've been saying would have been a good argument in a courtroom or other place that works by the letter of things - which Wikipedia does not. What you say is technically true but misleading in practice, since insisting on that technicality gives people who are less knowledgeable than you about technical definitions (e.g. most of us) the wrong idea of how Wikipedia works. >Radiant< 00:32, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Just a little side note: citing another page is citing evidence to support your claims. It's the same as showing the murder weapon in a trial.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 00:39, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Voting is a word in the english language - and like most other words in there, it has tons of different variations on the meaning. Radiant, you have obviously decided that there is only one definition to this term, and you are incorrect. No matter how hard you push on this, AfDs use voting, Arbitration uses voting, other people propose polls and have people vote on their opinions, its a tool, and its not against wikipedia policy to use it. You can't force consensus - and polling can play a large roll in determining that consensus. Fresheneesz 01:27, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Firstly, I'm not under the impression that only a guideline or policy may be cited to support an argument. In this instance, however, I don't see how citing the proposal bolstered your argument in any way. It didn't convey any new information or provide any indication of community consensus.
Secondly, I'm well aware of the fact that some people interpret "vote" as "majority/plurality vote." I'm not suggesting that we actively encourage users to "vote," but there's absolutely no reason why we must misuse the word. It's easy enough to use unambiguous terminology in all contexts. Simply by referring to "majority voting" (bad) and "straw polling" (sometimes okay, sometimes not), we can be entirely correct and perfectly clear. —David Levy 02:48, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I understand this idealism but I am ultimately a pragmatist. I don't believe it's viable to convince most people on the wiki to use the "entirely correct" wording, and neither is it necessary, as long as we generally understand one another. We discourage the thing that most people commonly refer to as voting. We encourage discussion without regard to the apparent fact that a discussion can also be considered a vote. Wikipedia is not a formal bureaucracy, it's an encyclopedia. >Radiant< 09:52, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
On the contrary, the unqualified claim that "we don't vote" (et cetera) is extremely confusing for the people who correctly observe voting throughout the site, and I've seen this cause problems on numerous occasions. We need to explain which types of voting are inappropriate.
This is the English Wikipedia, so I don't think that it's asking so much to use correct English whenever possible. You're insisting that your preferred colloquialism override other common (and correct) uses of a word, and that is unreasonable. I truly am not being pedantic.
Furthermore, while the style needn't be the same, I don't believe that we should hold our project pages to a linguistic standard that's lower than that to which we hold our articles. Plenty of very common misconceptions exist within the English language, but that doesn't mean that we should actively endorse them. Most people probably wouldn't object to the use of "which" instead of "that" in a restrictive relative clause, but this usually is unacceptable (and should be corrected) in an English encyclopedia (excepting direct quotations). A majority of English speakers seem to believe that people who receive their deserved punishments or rewards "get their just desserts," but watch what happens when you click on that Wiktionary link. —David Levy 12:29, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

No, we don't vote on wikipedia itself. This is a very old argument, we've thought about it quite often. Very early on people even thought it might be a good idea... until people actually started voting on article content, which is definately not a good idea. Since those old days, the introduction of voting to wikipeida has been a bit of a perennial proposal. Kim Bruning 14:53, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Again, you're using the word "vote" to mean "majority/plurality vote." It's very important for users to realize that we don't cast ballots and calculate numerical results. That, however, is not what "voting" means. —David Levy 15:43, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

If you look carefully, you'll see that requests for adminship and articles for deletion are in fact structured discussions. On wikipedia we technically call them "straw polls". As you can see, we have a procedure for creating them. Since both RFA and AFD have been around for a while, they've evolved away from the basic guidelines a bit. This is not nescesarily an improvement. :-P Kim Bruning 14:53, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

RfA and AfD are structured discussions that incorporate voting (but not majority/plurality voting). A straw poll is yet another type of vote (with no binding outcome). —David Levy 15:43, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

That said, sometimes things are pretty straightforward, and polls do resemble a vote then! This is when a large majority agrees on something. Easy! We then say we have consensus, and we can proceed. Kim Bruning 14:53, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Not every poll is a vote, but the type in question always is. Again, a vote needn't lead to a numerical tally. —David Levy 15:43, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

But sometimes things are not so straightforward, and you will see RFAs and AFDs begin to resemble threaded discussions. This is not a problem, it's supposed to happen.

These days it's very rare to see discussions on requests for adminship to operate in WikiWikiWeb:DocumentMode, though I suppose that's still quite possible. There's several proposals to encourage documentmode. (Documentmode is a very powerful tool to find consensus)

The danger is when you start actually calling things a vote, because then people start thinking about quorums, vote-counting, pass percentage etc, which are all explicitly not part of the straw-polling procedure. Kim Bruning 14:53, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

As I stated to Radiant above, I recognize the danger of (and don't advocate) using the unqualified term "vote" to document Wikipedia processes. I merely object to the false claim that we don't vote. By simply sticking to such terms as "straw poll" and "majority vote," we can accurately and unambiguously describe what should and shouldn't be done. —David Levy 15:43, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Conversely, some people are surprised when you tell them they should really make a statement, and they're also surprised when you call them out on their opinion "What? You mean I have to watch the page and actually defend my statements?". Errr, yes you do :-), and if you're wrong, be prepared to admit it, and let the other person continue (the challenger also needs to accept when they're wrong, of course). That's all part of consensus on wikipedia. Kim Bruning 14:53, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Alright, agreed. So this page should be renamed "Discuss, don't hold a majority vote?" , or simply "No binding descisions" perhaps? :-) Kim Bruning 21:19, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
I've given this some thought over the past couple of days. The page's advice is not restricted to the inappropriateness of majority voting; it also stresses the harm of relying too heavily on straw polls or using them to circumvent discussion. Therefore, I was leaning toward "Polling is not a substitute for discussion" or "Polling does not replace discussion" as possible titles. They aren't exactly concise, but accuracy and clarity are more important than brevity. —David Levy 21:46, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

What the..? This isn't a guideline

Regardless of whether any one editor thinks this accurately describes the status quo, as far as I can tell this has never gone through a proposal, never been advertised as being under debate at the Village Pump, and is obviously not the subject of wide consensus. Nobody has yet proposed that it be given the official status of a guideline (and I'm not counting self-endowed fiat).

The general idea of "voting is evil" has pretty wide acceptance, but turning an essay (from meta, no less) into a guideline requires a structured process that ensures that not only do editors from all over Wikipedia have the chance to weigh in, but also that the content of the proposed guideline be hammered into the most acceptable shape. This simply hasn't happened.

If I sound a bit incredulous, it's because I am. I know that Wikipedia isn't a bureaucracy, but it's also not an anarchy. Elevating an essay to guideline status by fiat just isn't done. That it has wide acceptance does not justify eliminating all best practices. This is very well-meaning, but misguided. If there's such wide acceptance, then we must verify that consensus rather than relying on one fallible editor's appraisal of the consensus.

If I haven't made it clear, I don't actually oppose this becoming a guideline. I do oppose in the strongest possible way this becoming a guideline without a high-profile process and without the scrutiny of the text of the essay that would come with a high-profile discussion. — Saxifrage 18:52, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Please familiarize yourself with how guidelines are made, because the process you just described does not exist as such on Wikipedia. There is no such thing as "official status" or a "structured process" to "turn pages into a guideline". A good place to start would be WP:PPP. >Radiant< 20:32, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
    • Wether or not this is a gudieline seems like POV to me. It should be an essay, just like Wikipedia:Voting is not evil.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 20:36, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
    • BTW: Several years?--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 20:39, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • Please read WP:POL to find out the difference between a guideline and an essay. As a side point, this page was started June 28th 2004 by Fennec, so yes, it is several years old. >Radiant< 20:45, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
        • Essay: Essays tend to be opinionated. Essays need not be proposed or advertised, you can simply write them, as long as you understands that you do not generally speak for the entire community.
        • Guidline: (1) actionable and (2) authorized by consensus.
        • Your exact words: There is no such thing as "official status" or a "structured process" to "turn pages into a guideline".
        • Hmmm...... Oh, and by the way, the way you said it you made it seem like it has been a guidline for several years.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 20:59, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Well, yes. See, when the Wiki was small, there simply wasn't this kind of problems because everybody knew whether pages were consensual or not. About a year ago, we found it useful to tag certain pages to indicate whether they were. It took a bit of a hassle to get down to the current setup (we had 'semipolicy' and 'notpolicy' for a while, for instance). Now Wikispace is pretty darn huge (even though I did once walk through all of it) and inevitably, we have mistagged some pages, or omitted some tags, even though those pages were accepted practice. This page is one of those. The problem now is that some people have assumed that voting was common practice (e.g. because it is in some other communities, or because they thought AFD was a vote, or because they didn't see a guideline tag here). And that notion is leading to strife (because e.g. people who think AFD is a vote will become angry if it is closed against the majority, which happens at times; or because people will think that the majority is right on articles because they can outvote the minority). It is our fault that these people have been misinformed, and we strive to avoid that in the future, by making the tags right. >Radiant< 21:13, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
    • You're not making any sense here. Wikipedia:Voting is not evil has the same "wide acceptence" that this article has, yet it is an essay because it is opinionated. This article is a guidline for what reason? You want it to be? You also claimed earlier that guidlines are chosen by no specific means at all, yet the link you provided (WP:PPP) says otherwise. If I'm missing something here, please let me know.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 21:21, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • Yes, two things. First, this page reflects actual practice (that we do not, in general, vote on Wikipedia) whereas WP:VINE does not. And second, guidelines are not chosen through a specific formal process, but are generally common practice written down. >Radiant< 21:30, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
        • First, we do, technically, vote on Wikipedia (as established in an above convorsation). Second, WP:PPP says consenseus is needed.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 21:45, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
          • We do vote on a few things (the board and arguably the arbcom) but that's ok as guidelines can have exceptions. We generally do not vote. If not voting has been an accepted practice for several years now, then it should follow that it has consensual support. >Radiant< 22:05, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

  • You wrote WP:PPP. Saying "you're wrong" and citing WP:PPP is the equivalent of saying "you're wrong, see my other comment saying you're wrong".

    I am not saying that a pre-defined structured process hasn't been used, I'm saying no process, and no structure has been used. You're fallible. Claiming you know consensus, especially when several editors are disagreeing with you, smacks of MPOV. If there is consensus, seek it in a high-profile way. Doing this by fiat is unwiki.

    Here's an analogy: both No climbing the Reichstag dressed as Spider-Man and Beware of the tigers enjoy wide acceptance. There is no consensus to make these guidelines, and I would be out of line putting {{guideline}} on them on the basis of their wide acceptance. To ground the analogy, the principle espressed in Voting Is Evil enjoys a wide and enduring acceptance, but as a principle. There is no evidence of wide consensus for flipping that essay, as-is, over into a guideline, or even that the encyclopedia would best be served by canonising it as an actionable guideline as oppose to leaving it as an essay that expresses an idea. — Saxifrage 21:05, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

    • Well, no. WP:PPP describes pretty well how Wikipedia works, regardless of who wrote it. I'm afraid that your dichotomy between "principles" and "guidelines" is rather arbitrary. If a principle has wide acceptance (e.g. consensus), it is by definition a guideline. WP:SPIDER is not marked as a guideline because it's intended as humorous; WP:TIGER is not a guideline because it's not actionable. If a page is (1) actionable and (2) consensual (from the definition in WP:POL) you are not out of line by marking it 'guideline', and indeed doing so would be doing users a favor. >Radiant< 21:13, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • My comment about WP:PPP is further comment along the lines of "you're fallible" and "it's an essay, not policy". You seem to be misunderstanding the contents of an actual policy, which is WP:POL. On essays: "An essay is any page that is not actionable or instructive, regardless of whether it's authorized by consensus." (That sounds a lot like a "principle" to me, aside, but I'm not here to argue the English language.) "Voting Is Evil/Don't vote, discuss" is neither actionable nor instructive, and if it were rewritten to be, the actionable instructions thus written would require authorisation by consensus. This page is nowhere near to being a guideline as it is written, or as the community's relationship to it stands. — Saxifrage 21:21, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
        • DDV is actionable: it calls for discussion, rather than voting. And indeed, in Wikipedia processes we use discussion rather than voting. If you believe the opposite, that Wikipedia generally uses voting rather than discussion, please tell me why you think that. >Radiant< 21:30, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
          • Unless straw polls are banned, it's not actionable. It's strong advice, i.e., an essay. — Saxifrage 21:34, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
            • Almost. A ban on straw polls would be policy; strong advice would be a guideline. Guidelines are not set in stone and can have exceptions. >Radiant< 21:44, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
              • We do vote on Wikipedia. Straw polls are used so editors can vote on something, and discuss each other's opinions on what the right decision is. The voting also helps the editor who started the poll to see if the comunity is supportive of his ideas or not. Wether you like it or not, we vote on Wikipedia. A ban on straw polls would lead to anarchy.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 21:47, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
                • But nobody is proposing a ban on straw polls. I am saying that, as a rule of thumb, we should discuss rather than voting. If discussion doesn't work out, we sometimes but not always use a straw poll, and there's nothing wrong with that in principle. >Radiant< 22:05, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
                  • But that's just your POV. You literally just said: " We vote, but I think discussing is better, so this should be a guidline."---KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 22:08, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
                    • Almost. I said we sometimes vote, but the community thinks discussing is better. >Radiant< 22:27, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Okay, let me try a different tack. Do you oppose seeking consensus for making this a guideline? — Saxifrage 22:12, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
    • Not at all, but that's precisely what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks. It has been advertised on several high-profile pages and a lot of editors have chimed in (see above) and it has been established that this is an accurate description of how Wikipedia works, that it is referred to all over the Wiki, that it has been in use as such for several years, and that like all guidelines it is allowed to have exceptions. And of course, people are still allowed to modify the text on the page if they think it's wrong. So what do you propose we do in addition to that? For better or worse, Wikipedia does not have a system of making guidelines more formal than what I just said. There exists no high profile process for scrutinizing proposals. We might need one at some point in the future, though. >Radiant< 22:27, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • If what you said is true, then why would administrators let Wikipedia:Voting is not evil exsist? That's literally having Wikipedia:Discuss, don't vote and Wikipedia:Vote, don't discuss at the same time. So why do you get to decide one is better than the other? It's obviousley a matter of opinion, which is what WP:PPP says an essay is.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 22:34, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
        • VINE may exist because there is no rule against writing an essay that runs counter to anything - we even have essays against NPOV, and that is a foundation principle; an essay can contain just about anything. That this page is a guideline is not a matter of my opinion but of community opinion. Actual practice on Wikipedia is (in most cases, yes, but we can have exceptions since we're not a bureaucracy) to discuss rather than vote. That makes this page actionable and consensual. >Radiant< 22:40, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • On the principle that The World Will Not End Tomorrow, then, would you mind leaving the {{proposed}} tag on longer? If the consensus is clear, then certainly there's no harm in letting the tag lag the development on the consensus. Having the proposed tag on (given patience on the part of those who want to see it a guideline sooner rather than later) can't do any harm, but putting {{guideline}} on it prematurely (even if it doesn't seem premature to some) is quite likely to cause consternation and strife when people disagree about whether it's "premature" and so on. Best to err on the side of waiting a little bit longer, don't you think? — Saxifrage 22:55, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
        • If I understand correctly, you have no objection to the content of this page, but you believe that "process wasn't followed". I believe so far you are the only one to claim so. Please tell me what kind of process you refer to, or what you would like it to be. Does this include advertising the page? It has been advertised. Discussing with a substantial group of people? It has been discussed. Waiting for several weeks? It has been several weeks, this was not an instantaneous change. What do you want to wait for? And for how long? And why do you think that would change anything, considering you're the only person to recommend waiting as a solution? Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy; I rather fail to see the point of the exercise of waiting for something hypothetical. And that does not even begin to address the issue that this page predates {{guideline}} and the categorization of pages in Wikispace. >Radiant< 23:03, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
          • I only read halfway through your comment and you've already said something proposterus. "I believe so far you are the only one to claim so." Has your memory of the past couple weeks slipped away? Look at this talk page. He's far from being the only one who thinks so.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 23:08, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
            • Please read the entire comment before responding. He is the only one that objects for purely reasons of process (e.g. that waiting will help); other dissent is based on perceived reasons of content. >Radiant< 23:17, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
          • My objection is not only a matter of process. I don't feel that one editor should be the "gatekeeper" of consensus, especially when that one is the champion of the issue at hand in the first place, so I am not so much asking your permission as trying to convince you that this would be in the best interest. It's much easier to raise points when people aren't continually trying to declare "Mission Accomplished".

            On the note of "best interest", I actually do have issues with the content of the page that I think (given your continued reasonable tone) you'll probably welcome as constructive. I'll present these in a new section. I'd like to change the tag back to {{proposed}} now. Will you relinquish ownership on that point for a while? Regardless, see below shortly for my concerns about the page. — Saxifrage 01:56, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

            • I am not the champion of this cause nor am I the sole one to "gatekeep" consensus. I am, however, frequently deeply involved in policy/guideline matters. I'll respond to your thoughts below. >Radiant< 11:54, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
              • The appearance from this Talk page and the edit history of the project page is that you're exerting a degree of ownership of DDV. Remember that at Wikipedia, if something ought to be done, it will likely be done by another if one doesn't do it oneself. You don't need to respond personally to every challenge, nor personally revert every attempt to hold off tagging the project page with {{guideline}}. In a new editor I would say it was clear violation of WP:OWN, and I hold administrators to a higher, not lower, standard. Again, The World Will Not End Tomorrow: slow reverts, mulling things for a day before answering, letting things run loose for a while before trying to fix things, are all best practices at Wikipedia. It's not as if keeping a looser grip on this page and discussion for a while would cause any damage, would it? In the end, the consensus is the consensus and the rational arguments are the ones that hold sway. That's the wiki way, isn't it? I'm concerned about the stifling atmosphere in here and you seem to be sitting at the centre of the discussion. — Saxifrage 22:52, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

This is still an essay – let's fix that

This page appears to be m:Polls are Evil with only minor cosmetic changes. Essays can't be converted to guidelines effectively by simply changing the tag at the top from {{essay}} to {{guideline}}. For those who agree, skip to the bottom. For those unconvinced by that, keep with me a little.

An essay is argumentative in tone and purpose: it tries to lay out a point of view (I'm not invoking NPOV, don't worry) and it argues for the reader to adopt a particular perspective on an issue. A good example is Wikipedia:No angry mastodons: it provides words of wisdom and a rationale for seeing the world in the way it recommends. By contrast, a guideline lays out, literally, guidelines with only enough rationale to give the guideline context. It doesn't argue for the reader adopting the perspective, but rather explains why it's done this way. A good example of this is Wikipedia:External links: it makes very minimal reference to why it is telling the reader what to do and is primarily a set of instructions.

Right now Discuss, don't vote is more akin to No angry mastodons than it is to the External links guideline. It has a single instruction: don't vote on everything and try not to vote at all. This is placed in such a way that it is not the subject of the page, but rather the preamble that introduces the meat: why voting is a bad idea. This is fine for an essay, and is in fact a valuable thing. My argument is that it is ineffectual for a guideline.

The focus of the discussion above seems to be entirely on whether the community's views on and treatment of voting should be made into a guideline. Making a guideline is more than deciding whether a community practice or process should be distilled into a guideline, though, it is also about making that guideline useful beyond philosophical edification. So I have a two-part proposal.

(Skip to here for the proposal.) firstly, this page ought to be rewritten with an eye to concrete (though necessarily loose) instructions that can be implemented by anyone. Rules like (off the top of my head):

  • Use polls to discover the current consensus, not to establish it
  • Polls are non-binding
  • Use polls sparingly as they can be divisive

...and so on should appear on this page. Essentially, it should say what it currenlty does but in the appropriate form, with a different tone, and in an unambiguous way.

Secondly, Wikipedia:Voting is evil should be a separate page that contains the essay. They should refer to each other (VIE should have DDV prominently linked at the top for all those citing it rather than the new guideline; DDV should have VIE in the See also section, and probably mention it somewhere else as its inspiration), but they should be distinct. One expresses a principle that is important and widely accepted, the other should be a clear presentation of the established best practices that can be easily cited, understood, and implemented.

Wikipedia:No angry mastodons is again a good example of the difference. It contains many instructions, but none of which are actionable: it has instructions for the reader about their own behaviour and thoughts, but none that can be applied outside the reader. It is instructive, but its instructions are not "law-like" in that they are mearly a how-to guide for the philosophy it expresses. DDV must have instructions that are actionable within the encyclopedia: what may and may not be done here, as opposed to within oneself.

Some discussion about how best to translate the spirit of Polls are Evil and the established practices around polls into a guides is called for. I think this will make DDV a stronger and more useful page. Essentially, marking this essay as a guideline will not increase its utility at all to the project and be merely a symbolic act. However, we don't need such verbose symbols. Let's make it useful, shall we? — Saxifrage 02:32, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

  • I've added a tag on the page to indicate heavy-duty editing. I think you have some good ideas here (except that personally I'd prefer to keep it on one page instead of two) and would encourage you to modify this page accordingly. I'd say the best way to change the style of a page is to do it and seek feedback on what you just did for further refinement. >Radiant< 11:54, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
    • Of course I'm welcome to do that. It would be wholly ineffectual to initiate a wholesale rewrite of the page by myself though. Really, this is an entire half of the task of making this a proper guideline and can't be done by my making piecemeal edits. My purpose is to prompt discussion about what instructions and other content the page should have, and I'd really rather see you participate in such a discussion rather than dismiss the possibility.

      Besides that, my talents don't lie in the direct of original copy-writing and I'd do a bad job of any first draft, and that wouldn't help anything. The whole purpose of this being a collaborative project is to leverage the various talents of Wikipedia editors. Since piecemeal editing is (I believe) inappropriate here at least to start, the obvious direction to go in is a goal-and-idea discussion. — Saxifrage 23:03, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

      • I'm not dismissing anything. I'm simply pointed out that writing a page by committee, as you seem to suggest, is probably not the best way to go. I'd be happy to make changes if you give an indication of what you don't like. >Radiant< 12:27, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
        • That's a fascinating misunderstanding of what I've written. In any case, I tire of tilting at a windmill, so I will leave this be until someone else is interested in discussion, or until you decide to step outside of comfortable certainty and engage. Hopefully people will notice this open issue rather than assume that the page is a fait accomplit from the uninformative top tag. — Saxifrage 15:54, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

This is a huge mistake

I can accept an "essay" declaring that "voting is evil". An essay can be ignored or tolerated exactly because it is not given any weight of authority but is simply an opinion. An editorial, so to speak.

But to now put this out as a guideline is a very bad idea. I object to it. I do not even think it is salvageable by judicious editing of the text, because fundamentally, the essay it is based upon (“Voting is Evil”) is deeply flawed, and is contrary to what wikipedia actually does.

I encourage people who are interested in a serious, real-world study of discussion, dialog, resolving disputes and consensus building to review in detail the process by which the US Constitution was developed. This document was created by a diverse group of people who disagreed on almost every point – minor or major. They even threatened to come to blows. However, by voting and then discussing and then voting again, over and over, they achieved consensus. They voted on the document one word or phrase at a time. Polling or voting combined with discussion is the real way to consensus. It gives a sense of unity and closure to decisions and also helps people feel that they had their “fair chance”.

But it’s not just one historical example that I take as evidence. Voting or Polling is an extremely well-proven technique for arriving at consensus and it has been shown to be effective in goal-seeking, decision making and conflict resolutions processes such as Delphi method, Nominal Group Technique, Saaty’s Analytic Hierarchy Process (with Paired Decisions in Groups), Group Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and the Consensus Card Method. Indeed, other than Brainstorming (which technically is not meant to resolve issues but rather to create various alternatives), there is no widely recognized and validated process for building consensus that rejects polling. On the contrary they use Polling aggressively and researchers have studied and validated this as an efficient and effective process over the years. I am not talking out of my hat here. I have substantial professional experience in this area. I challenge everyone who believes that polling or voting are bad ways to obtain consensus to produce any well researched, peer reviewed studies that support that view, contrary to the substantial research that supports polling or voting. This proposed guideline and the wikipedia essay behind it are utterly and hopelessly out of step with the best research on this subject (though I accept that they are well intentioned).

So, to make something an actual guideline on wikipedia when it violates over 50 years of political, professional and scientific research on such matters is a weird arrogance. I am astonished at the credulity. I surmise that some editors simply are not aware of the GIGANTIC BODY of validated, peer-reviewed evidence on this matter. Watching this being discussed feels like having wikipedia support a “flat earth” or “demons as the cause of disease”, or “the moon is a hole in the floor of heaven where the light shines through” position. It is so contrary to well-researched and strong historical evidence that it makes no sense and I do not understand how reasonable people can buy into such arguments. That we are even discussing this, makes me shake my head and I feel sympathy with users who want to leave the project because people with little to no experience in such matters can take matters into their own hands and push it forward. This is really bad.

Even Wikipedia recognizes the value of polling because when it really needs to have a sure consensus... such as in RfA... it resorts to polling (the actual policy describes it as a “vote”!) --- unashamedly. So even on wikipedia, avoiding votes is NOT the universally agreed upon system that proponents here suggest and thus the support for this as “descriptive” guideline is undermined. Furthermore, since that essay was written, wikipedia has instituted even more voting, so the wikipedia entity has, in essence, rejected the essay.

In summary, the promotion of this essay to a functional guideline on wikipedia should be rejected because:

  • It is contrary to demonstrated historical experience
  • It is contrary to accepted, peer-reviewed, scientific research
  • It is contrary to what actually happens on wikipedia
  • It is contrary to the long-term trends in wikipedia.
  • It is contrary to wikipedia’s long-term interests.

This essay is already abused by those who quote it. It should absolutely not be promoted to a guideline and instead, the alternative views that support polling, should be given fair and balanced acceptance on wikipedia in the interest of NPOV. --Blue Tie 08:03, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

  • That was a very nice argument in favor of using polling and/or voting as used by bodies of government. However, it suffers from the fatal flaw of comparing apples and oranges. Wikipedia is not a country, it has no body of government, it has no real legislation to speak of and in general does not believe in formal rules (witness WP:IAR which was recently underlined as policy by our founder Jimbo Wales). Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and the main reason why it rejects voting is that encyclopedic truth is not subject to majority opinion. I appreciate your sentiment that Wikipedia needs more structure, and I encourage you to draw up a formal proposal for such. >Radiant< 09:26, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Actually it was not an argument for use of polling and/or voting as used by bodies of government. I used the creation of the constitution as ONE example. But it was an example of individual people with strong opinions coming to consensus. It was NOT an example of governance. There is a distinct difference. Furthermore that one example was only about 1/4 of the total text I presented. While I agree that majority opinion may not always be right, I have not argued about the standards for concensus. I have not suggested that it be majority rules and if you read that into what I wrote, you misread it. --Blue Tie 15:46, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm assuming each of these studies is based on real world consensus finding? In the case of real world issues, certain forms of majority vote may well be optimal. We typically use approval voting for offwiki real world issues. Approval voting has a good balance between being easy to understand and being likely to find the optimal winner.

However, on wikis, the wiki itself allows for new and different methods of finding consensus.

Foremost of these (in almost all situations, bar a fraction of a percent) is the wiki-editing method. This system has been spectacularly successful. Like they say, "it's impossible in theory, it only works in practice".

This is why several people are currently doing research on wiki-systems at this point in time. They would like to figure out the theory behind our success, so that it can be replicated.

We estimate that Roughly 1M pages are editable by the wiki-editing method. Approximately 1K pages are likely very hard to edit by use of the wiki method and are probably pathological cases (strong existing controversies in the real world, misdesigned processes, etc...).

Research is ongoing.

On-wiki, we typically attempt to use polling as a last resort to solve already pathological situations, with very mixed results. Generally, if you have to use a poll, you can assume that something is already amiss.

Kim Bruning 10:00, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

I do not agree that the wiki has produced new and different methods for finding concensus. I believe this is a myth on wikipedia... something people imagine is true but it is not. I do not see anything amazing or shocking about the wiki editing system being successful. Non-computer based systems that use similar processes have been in place in governments and corporate organizations for decades. I know this -- I have participted in them Indeed I have led them. My first experience with this fundamentally changed my views of work and collaboration: No matter how good my work is, it can always be improved by the judicious efforts of others. On the other hand, these others tend to have valid credentials. You claim that wikipedia is successful in its editing. I do not know that this is always true. What is true is that it is a growing part of the internet. But serious criticisms of the article content by qualified people do exist and these are troubling.
I realize that on wiki many people typically use polling as a last resort. But is this really true for everyone? Maybe it is true for you. However, I do not believe it is a good system. I believe that polling, used wisely, can produce concensus faster, more effectively and better than any other system. There may be related processes that support concensus as well, but rejection of polling is a BAD idea. --Blue Tie 15:46, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Well, you just said it yourself - many people use polling as a last resort. That's exactly what the guideline implies. Of course that's not true for anyone, that's why it doesn't say "by policy, voting is forbidden" (which indeed would be silly). I think your ideas for reforming Wikipedia have merit, and it would be good to write new guidelines based on that, but we don't throw out our present ones unless we have an accepted replacement. >Radiant< 12:29, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
  • For what it's worth, I strongly disagree that consensus exists to describe this page as a guideline, that the page describes common practice accurately, or that the page describes best practices. TheronJ 16:11, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Maybe the concern is that voting becomes predominant

I think the idea that is desired by proponents of this essay/guideline is the sense that voting leads to a lack of discussion. That is a valid concern. But I would suggest that the issue is badly framed. By making voting an enemy of consensus, the essay/guideline is horribly wrong. However, if the issue were framed differently I think people would be in more agreement. Here is the issue as I see it:

How is consensus established, evaluated and determined?

I do not think voting or polling should be ruled out, however, it should not be considered a matter of "automatic dominance". The key to concensus building has been determined to be an "advised" and "repetitive" voting process whereby opinions and ideas are shared along the way and people seek to persuade others to their perspective. Ultimately, yes, some sort of majority or plurality or supermajority is determined to "win", but not without a discussion process. But it is not "Discuss. Don't Vote". It is "Discuss, seek agreement, vote and repeat until consensus is achieved" This formula is at the heart of all the established methods for developing consensus. It does not have to be applied when the differences can be resolved by simple discussion, but when the differences are sharp, discussion does not answer the mail.

Note also that in the issue raised above there is also the concern about "What constitutes consensus?" I have raised this question before and no one has even started to answer it. Basically it is this: For consensus, does everyone have to agree? Everyone but one person? Everyone but two? How many is a reasonable exception for consensus? Or is it a percentage? what is the percentage? Or, what are the percentages under different criteria? If it is not a percentage then what is the criteria for consensus? I have yet to see ANYONE even attempt to substantively answer this question. And it is a problem. Because one person declares consensus has been achieved behind their point of view. Someone else disagrees and the results are an edit war with the following results: the majority rules by virtue of the 3rr rule or a person gets discouraged and leaves the discussion. I have seen both occur and I am sure everyone else has too. --Blue Tie 16:40, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

You're looking in the wrong place. The key to forming consensus on a wiki is wikiediting, this is what 99.9% of our pages use. We have extensive documentation on how to edit wikis. Also see WikiWikiWeb: and meatball:. As an example, here's a negotiation tactic based on wiki editing: WP:BRD.
All the items you are referring to are diverse electric fences and emergency solutions for when plain vanilla consensus formation has somehow come off the tracks.
They're related to consensus in the same way that speed limits are related to motor cars. No matter how much you study speed limits, you won't learn how to build an automobile. (though hopefully you might get some clues on how to drive one ;-) ) Kim Bruning 20:33, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Let's see. You make a few points and I would like to address each one:
First, you say that "I am looking in the wrong place". But, I'm not really looking. I was making a declaration that something important is missing from wikipedia. Here it is again:
How is consensus established, evaluated and determined?
I was pointing out that voting is a standard method in processes for achieving consensus, and that this is recognized world-wide in a variety of contexts. I pointed out that though I have mentioned this problem quite a few times now, no one has yet provided a cogent, descriptive, usable response. And I notice that once more, I have asked and no such response is provided.
Second, you claim that the "Key to forming consensus on a wiki is wikiediting" and you cite several sources one of which is really a good reference: WP:BRD. I happen to agree with this model. I have participated in it and when it works it is like a wonderful miracle. But... it does not work a great deal of the time. Sadly. I have seen its failure far far more often than its success. I have tried, with sincere and good intent to follow that policy and when I do, I am almost ALWAYS trumped by someone more aggressive who would not play by that rulebook. This has been my experience now more than 4 times out of 5. Your response that consensus comes as a "result" of wiki-editing has been my experience but rarely. Sometimes that may be true. Other times it is not. To declare that it is universally true is a mistake and misses the whole point of this discussion, BUT ESPECIALLY when it comes to policies.
Thirdly you say that "All the items you are referring to are diverse electric fences and emergency solutions for when plain vanilla consensus formation has somehow come off the tracks". That is a strange way of putting it. Among other things, the methods I have mentioned are themselves "Plain vanilla" methods of achieving consensus. Just denying them as valid does not make them invalid. Getting to your idea that these are for emergency situations, I just disagree. I do not think you are familiar with these processes and I do not think you have characterized them fairly. BUT... supposing that you were right, that they are only for emergency situations... there are enough edit wars and problems that having tools other than WP:BRD (which is not working so often), is a good idea. However, this proposed guideline seeks to ELIMINATE a key tool for reaching consensus, particularly in "emergency situations" as you describe them. What on earth is up with that? Why would anyone want fewer tools to resolve issues, particularly the difficult ones? And especially tools that users could use for themselves?
Finally, your analogy between motor car building and speed limits as applied to this situation is invalid. It would be more valid to use an analogy of "Deciding what the speed limit should be - 25 or 50?" or "What should the rules of the road be -- No Passing on the left but no speed limit or Pass on either side but slow speed limits" or "What car should we build -- a coupe or an SUV?". But it is not analogous to the comparison you made. Dismissing arguments that way is not appreciated. --Blue Tie 00:22, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
All you people are saying is that this page has comunity consenseus as a guidline, when it doesn't. We use votes and polls often on Wikipedia, and saying they're evil is POV. Nothing you say can change that. Sure, Wikipedia isn't a government or whatever, but people still have straw polls and whatnot, and the ArbCom thing is a vote. Saying voting isn't accepted on Wikipedia or that it's not allowed or discussing is better, or whatever the hell you wanna say, is POV. What makes it bad? The fact that you don't like it? Well, tough luck, because you don't get to decide. This isn't a guidline, and it's nowhere near being one.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 20:41, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
I am confused by your references to "POV". There is no requirement whatsoever that anything within Wikipedia Project space be NPOV. Including policy and guidelines. In fact, one could easily argue that our polices and guidelines are inherently POV by their very nature. Ξxtreme Unction|yakkity yak 20:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
No, really, it's a guideline. Trust me. The Land 20:54, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if that's indended as irony or not. — Saxifrage 23:10, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
The intent would not change the irony, but it would change the way that the statement is read.--Blue Tie 00:22, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
True. I meant to indicate that I was wondering what they really meant to say, but it seems I fell into the very same trap myself. — Saxifrage 01:53, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
What I'm saying is that you shouldn't have a guidline that so many people protest and that contradicts the way Wikipedia works.--KojiDude (viva la BAM!) 02:17, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
No no no, I understand that! I meant what The Land was trying to say. My, this has become a confused tangent. — Saxifrage 02:26, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
  • There appears to be some misunderstanding over this page. It is not a prohibition on voting, nor does it say so. It is not prohibited from having exceptions, and it does, and it clearly says so. It does not call people evil (note that many of WP's earlier guidelines were written in a tongue-in-cheek way and we've been moving away from that because not everyone appreciates it). It does not have to conform to writing standards for articles, because it's not an article. And most importantly (and again), it does not forbid voting. >Radiant< 12:34, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

From the edit hist

Also, the primary reason behind renaming VfD was to clarify that it strictly handled articles (with other processes handling non-articles). - David Levy

See Wikipedia_talk:Votes_for_deletion/Oct_2005. - Radiant

The confusion cited certainly was *a* reason, but it was not *the* reason. Consensus was spurred by the creation of MfD, et cetera.) - David Levy

Well, no. MFD was created after the rename of VFD to AFD, and that rename was done to clarify the fact that AFD is not a vote. Early in Wikipedia, VFD was a vote because it used a special kind of voting software, that has since been deprecated. The name hung around for ages, confusing novice users whenever a VFD was closed in favor of interpretation rather than vote count. "VFD is not a vote" sounds like an oxymoron, so we finally got together a lot of people and bots to clarify the name to AFD (which, obviously, is still not a vote). The first proposed name was "Pages for deletion"; this was then split into AFD and NMNFD (later MD, later MFD) because arguments used are (and should be) different in both. Before the split, Wikispace pages and userpages went via VFD but often got comments like "keep - doesn't belong in this process". >Radiant< 13:25, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I said, "et cetera." (I was referring to the *fD pages in general, not specifically to MfD.) The creation of MfD was proposed to resolve the confusion created by the proposed adoption of the name "Articles for deletion." Some people preferred the name "Pages for deletion" because it didn't exclude userpages and project pages, so MfD was conceived to eliminate the issue. (See the first revision, which was created before the AfD name was in use.)
The VfD–AfD rename achieved consensus only because it helped to clarify that the proposed deletion of non-articles (such as templates and categories) shouldn't be debated there. Certainly, there also was a strong sentiment regarding the confusion caused by the word "votes," but that has no bearing on the word's actual meaning.
  • Please see Radiant's talk page for my reply. —David Levy 15:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
AfD is a type of voting, and your continued insistence that "vote" = "majority/plurality vote" "counting votes without regard for the comments' strength and determining the outcome based solely upon numbers" has become increasingly tiresome and indefensible. —David Levy 14:05/15:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I am not insisting that voting implies majority voting. I am simply restating the fact that AFD is not a vote, which is an oft-cited fact that all AFD closers and DRV regulars are expected to be familiar with. It's not a majority vote, but it's also not a condorcet vote, or a rated vote, or a bloc vote. >Radiant< 14:28, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
AfD is a vote. It simply isn't the type of vote that some people erroneously equate with the word. —David Levy 15:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Not a vote at all. If the nomination says 'not verifiable - delete' and 100 people say 'OK, it isn't verifiable, but it is interesting, so keep', then we still delete it. Arithmetic doesn't come into it. How is that a vote? Or, if 25 people say 'delete unverifiable' and then one person provides verification, we keep. How is that a vote? Statistics of 99-1 are irrelevant, if the one argument is unanswerable and the 99 just preferences. How is that a vote?--Doc 15:24, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
[edit conflict] Although in most cases it goes by a supermajority, it is perfectly possible for a hundred keeps and one "delete, violates policy x, and cannot be fixed for credible reason y" to end in deletion; equally, a hundred "delete non-notables" could be overcome by a single well-argued Keep with references to reliable sources. Of course in the real world this rarely happens, but that doesn't actually alter the facts. AfD is explicitly not a vote, however it might be interpreted by any particular editor or admin. Guy 15:27, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Doc & Guy:
Again, despite a common misconception to the contrary, the word "voting" does not imply "counting votes without regard for the comments' strength and determining the outcome based solely upon numbers." In this context, it simply refers to "the formal expression of a proposed resolution of an issue." This debate pertains not to the nature of AfD (on which we're in complete agreement), but to the definition of the word "vote." —David Levy 15:36/15:41, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Come into the light

When people declare that things which look like a duck, walk like a duck and squawk like a duck, mate with other ducks and produce duck eggs are not ducks, it makes me stare. To declare that things which meet the prominent definitions of "Vote" is not a vote, is no different. Here, from is the definition of vote. I have highlighted every definition that applies to the votes here on wikipedia such as arbitration, adminship, deletion and so on:

  1. a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals.
  2. the means by which such expression is made, as a ballot, ticket, etc.
  3. the right to such expression: to give women the vote.
  4. the decision reached by voting, as by a majority of ballots cast: The vote was for the resolution.
  5. a collective expression of will as inferred from a number of votes: the labor vote.
  6. an expression, as of some judgment: a vote of confidence.

–verb (used without object)

  1. to express or signify will or choice in a matter, as by casting a ballot: to vote for president.

–verb (used with object)

  1. to enact, establish, or determine by vote: to vote a proposed bill into law.
  2. to support by one's vote: to vote the Republican ticket.
  3. to advocate by or as by one's vote: to vote that the report be accepted.
  4. to declare or decide by general consent: They voted the trip a success.
  5. to encourage or cause to vote, esp. in a particular way.

Some of the definitions I did not highlight may also apply but some do not. That there are some definitions of vote which do NOT apply here on wikipedia does not delete or eliminate those defitions of vote that DO apply. When people flatly say "we do not vote", "voting is evil", "AfD is not a vote", etc. they are factually wrong based upon objective, third party definitions of the term vote and the recorded, historical actions taken here. I realize some people will disagree but those disagreements will not be logical. They will be "faith" based. They are like the arguments for the earth being 6000 years old. People do argue that point, but not logically or consistently.

An argument that "Obviously a cow is not a mammal" or "Obviously the moon is not made of rock" or "Obviously water is not wet" is pretty much impossible to debate. Not that the statements are anywhere NEAR to being correct but that the person making these postulates is so many degrees out of normal that the discussion will never rest upon objective evidence. When I see the statement "It is a fact that AfD is not a vote", it looks to me to be as reasonable a statement as "Obviously a cow is not a mammal".

Just as a cow is a mammal and the moon is made of rocks and water is wet, a vote is a vote is a vote. If such basic terminology can be "seriously" debated I do not see how there can ever be a meeting of the minds on this matter.

BUT, I suspect that the proponents of "Voting is Evil" are not really so unreasonable. (Good grief I hope so anyway!) I believe that there is a fundamental -- and sound -- policy issue that they are advocating. But the good aspects of their argument are lost in the haze of over-generalized and patently nonsensical statements like "We do not vote on wikipedia". I think, for example, that the intent is that "things should not be completely decided by vote alone". Which if that were the position, I would not only agree that it is a guideline but is an actual policy and should be recorded as such.

The essay "Voting is evil" advocates the abuse of throwing the baby away with the bathwater. Yet, people adhere to it like a new religion and ignoring evidence to the contrary, make self-contradictory statements like "We do not vote" and then show how there was a vote to change the name of Vfd to AfD. Such statements in the face of the obvious evidence is, to me, not unlike the people who make other religion based claims like "the earth is 6000 years old". Ok, they believe that. And probably there is no arguing with them. But we do not write our history or conduct our science on such fluffy nonsense. Wikipedia guidelines and policies should not be based upon such spurious concepts either.

I encourage people who want to establish a formal policy that supports discussion and rejects the concept of voting as the sole mechanism for establishing consensus -- I encourage them to leave the false religion of "Voting is Evil" and move to the science of true consensus building. When they do, they will have a new creed of faith:

  • Yes we vote, but voting is primarily a tool to achieve and measure concensus not to dismiss or win arguments.
  • This is not a democracy. Voting by itself does not settle anything.
  • However this is also not an anarchy or mobocracy. A minority position must show more than incidental support to effectively block something. Votes show the degree of support for a position.
  • The best use of voting is to facilitate discussions.
  • The second best use of voting is to record the results of the discussion and the arrival at concensus.

--Blue Tie 15:59, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I now note that saxifrage has left the discussion because he considers the other party "unwilling to engage". This is exactly what happens when scientists face people who declare that the earth is 6000 years old, contrary to evidence. The scientists simply stop wasting their time. It should not be construed as an admission that the science is wrong.

Again, I encourage people to leave behind the false beliefs and accept the truth. Votes happen. When that is settled, the notions of what votes actually mean can be discussed. --Blue Tie 16:03, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Can I respectfully suggest that, as an editor of some 4 months standing, you have not been around long enough to get the hang of Wikipedia policies and principles. They are not the same as those of any other organisation. The processes are already quite well established and arguing aobut whether they are votes or not essentially only weakens them. Regards, The Land 16:34, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Not sure. Can you really do that "respectfully"? Is it "respectful" to address deficiencies with the person and not with the argument? Maybe not. (You may not be correct in your assumptions about me -- but that is irrelevant) For example, I suggest that you are engaging in argumentum ad hominum rather than dealing with the issue. I would also suggest you examine the statistics regarding wikipedia useage and membership growth and notice that new users are more common than users of your "longevity". Finally, I would also suggest that you review the policy Concensus can change and consider your words in the light of that policy and the demographic issues facing wikipedia. Then, let me know if you still think your response was really either respectful or adequate against my more considered position. I look forward to your respectful response. --Blue Tie 17:05, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Various processes have similarities to votes, but they are not. Exactly what they are requires experience and subtle reflection. Well-intentioned but ill-advised attempts to 'clarify' the 'rules' are unhelpful, because the spirit of Wikipedia policy is the important bit and you cannot write that down. That is what I'm saying. The Land 17:14, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Ahh. so you disagree with what I said. But I note, again, that you do not deal directly with the issues I raised. That, of course, is your perogative but please note: my points have not been addressed.
You mention that "Well intentioned but ill advised attempts to "clarify the rules are unhelpful" and mention that it is "the spirit" of wikipedia that is important. Could I get the cite for that or is it a matter of revelation from a spiritual source?
I think that you have presented a nebulous and vague argument but I will accept it for the time. Given that the spirit is important, is it really critical then that this highly disputed essay now be converted to a more firm guideline -- without Consensus -- or do you think that the "Spirit" of things is better served by not adding to the wikipedia rule and guideline structure? I look forward to your interesting reply.
And... I would GREATLY value a substantive answer to this question:
How is consensus established, evaluated, measured and determined?
This is an important issue because everything is decided by concensus not by vote. So how is concensus exactly defined?
Thanks again. --Blue Tie 17:34, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Consensus is established by the views of people who contribute in good faith and have a knowledge of existing practice and policy. It is evaluated, measured and determined by experienced editors - administrators, bureaucrats or arbitrators - who examine the debate. Happy to help. The Land 17:40, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
You have answered a question I did not ask: WHO does these things. You have not answered the question about HOW it is done, which is what I asked. Except in the sense that your response is so vague that it gives rise to some additional questions:
What group of people decides what group of people consitute the group that "contribute in good faith"?
Who appointed them to this responsibilty?
What group of people decides what constitutes "knowledge of existing practice and policy"?
Who appointed them to this responsibility?
What group of people decides what constitutes "experience" for the purposes of your definition above
Who appointed this group to this responsibility?
Are there degrees of "good faith", "knowledge" and "experience" that create "levels" of users on wikipedia so that a person like you is superior to a person like me?
Who decides this and who appointed them to that position?


Is this response your personal opinion or if not, where is it codified in wikipedia policy?
As a new user of only 4 months experience (as you are aware), I need your guidance and I hope your response will be sincere and detailed so that I might learn. Please do not bite the newbies. As an admin with superior wiki skills I would expect you to help guide newbies like me. And.. I have searched the policies and guidelines as hard as I can and have not found the answers to these questions nor to the question: How is consensus established, evaluated, measured and determined? I try to ask this question with the following details that you missed: "Is consensus unanimity? Is it that everyone agrees except one person? two people? How many? If not a number of people, is it a percentage? If it is a percentage, what is the percentage? If it is not a hard number, is it a discriminating range of numbers? What constitutes consensus?" And no one, including you, have answered that question in any degree of clarity. The responses tend to be on the order of "We just do it". No definition of who "we" are or the definition of what concensus reallly is. (Incidentally, trivial responses that are on the level of "Because" to a question such as "Why?" are not particularly helpful. They seem insincere to me. Maybe I am overly sensitive. But if you know that in advance you can gauge your answer appropriately.) --Blue Tie 19:40, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

If you're under the impression that only administrators, bureaucrats and arbitrators are capable of gauging consensus on Wikipedia, you're mistaken. —David Levy 17:48, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
David, are you an admin, bureaucrat or arbitrator? If not, maybe you are wrong. It may well be that only certain classes of users have this privilege. But if so, I think it is a secret policy. I have not found it on any policy page. Maybe someone will show it to me. --Blue Tie 18:29, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm an admin. There are certain circumstances in which only an admin, bureaucrat or arbitrator can close a discussion and render a decision. This, however, is not what was written above. In the vast majority of situations, any user in good standing with sufficient familiarity with our practices and the matter at hand is qualified to gauge consensus and proceed accordingly. —David Levy 18:46, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, agreed; a 'for instnace' would have been better. However, they certainly don't do it through voting. The Land 19:22, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Claiming that the processes in question aren't votes is like claiming that a tomato isn't a fruit. It might conform to a popular perception, but that doesn't change the fact that it's incorrect. —David Levy 17:48, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
If you look more closely you'll see you're holding a plastic tomato. The Land 18:05, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Meaning what? —David Levy 18:46, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
It was a throw-away comment with the intent to belittle your example. --Blue Tie 19:35, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
  • David, how about this... "The structure of AFD (and other processes) does not correspond to the popular perception of a 'vote', in particular because said structure attaches strong importance to the reasons people give, and can be 'decided' in favor of the minority. Many novice users have been seen to get the wrong impression from such statements referring to our processes as voting, leading them to think that they need not think of a possible compromise, need only sign their name in the appropriate place, and sometimes that a process can and should be influenced by encouraging others to countersign". The point is that since many people go by a popular definition rather than a correct one, we must use careful phrasing to avoid unintentionally misdirecting people unaware of the difference between the two. >Radiant< 18:21, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
As previously stated, I strongly agree that it's a bad idea to refer to these processes as "votes" within documentation (or without qualification in any context); while linguistically correct, this definitely would give many users the wrong idea. I only object to claims that these processes aren't votes. It's very important to convey the fact that we don't count ballots and arrive at numerical outcomes, but this can be clearly and unambiguously expressed without any inaccuracy. —David Levy 18:46, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I have a separate issue. I think that voting is a very USEFUL (indeed necessary in some cases) procedure to help arrive at consensus. I believe that the philosophy espoused in this document substantially removes a valuable tool. I also do not think it helps anyone to dissemble and describe the process of giving an up or down opinion, with a count that is measured in percentages as not being a vote. Doing that simply makes wikipedia a system resting on lies. Be straight up.. tell it like it is. There is no harm in this. But just be sure that users recognize that you cannot just "put things to a vote" and settle it like that either. Consensus is a process that does not generally begin and end with polls. At the same time, it is not afraid of polls either. Don't thow out the baby with the bathwater.

I think Radiants wording above is pretty good. The problem is... that it is a footnote in an essay that I view as destructive to consensus building. The whole thing needs to reflect a better balance. --Blue Tie 19:49, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Ditto everything Radiant said. And the first of the Dictionary.Com's definition ( a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals.) doesn't apply to AfD, since the opinion expressed may be neither positive nor negative but a decision to do something completely different. This goes to the heart of how XfD is a discussion, not a counting exercise. That duck - are you sure it's not a duck-billed platypus? JackyR | Talk 20:14, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I am willing to be persuaded that one definition does not fit in some contexts, but I was thinking about rfA. Do you believe that rfA is not a vote? The policy says that it is a vote. (oops, now people will edit that out of the policy cause they do not like it!).
I also would suggest that another definition of vote, perhaps #6 or #2 (noun) or #2/#3 (verb), pertains to aFD even when it is not a binary process. However, I think that you raise an interesting point. Many people consider voting to be a binary process. I should mention that when I use the term "vote" I never consider it a binary yes or no decision on a single issue. That is even true in political decisions about people running for office, but it is especially true for group consensus matter.--Blue Tie 20:26, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

My perspective, which I've held to quite stubbornly through almost three years on WP, is that we do use votes and we must use votes. Voting is the only way to achieve results that are both effective and fair. The alternative to voting is just letting an elite class of people decide things (yes, that is what happens—voting empowers larger numbers, lack of voting empowers smaller numbers), an awful, anti-community outcome in my view—and because the members of the elite often agree no better than the general community, this leads to breakdown and collapse in the absence of a formalized and systematic approach to resolving disputes. You can't just have people deciding things based on their own will; decisions must be made collectively, and collective decision-making must be based on voting on some level in order to be effective. Everyking 05:06, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

The same thing easily happens with votes. All you need to do is summon a bunch of like-minded people on- or off-wiki. The only difference is the swarm may have little interest in the goals of Wikipedia. —Centrxtalk • 05:21, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
What do you mean by the "same thing"? In any case, "interest" may be gauged by their presence as Wikipedia editors with some significant record of participation, and I am all in favor of "swarms": your insect imagery obscures the fact that all the voters are individuals and members of the community with opinions. Broader participation produces a more representative result. Everyking 06:49, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

So, what does this mean?

I'm not really interested in debating semantics of what a vote is, if making a vote is different from voting, yadda yadda yadda. To me it seems like this is a page that was written as an essay, a guideline tag has been slapped on it, and what that all means is totally unclear. 98% of RfAs are closed based just on the numbers, do we need to close down RfA because it's clearly in violation of this guideline? Do we need to block users who claim to be voting, since voting is against policy? Although it will probably be a painful process, if this page is going to mean anything, it needs to be rewritten into an actual actionable guideline, not an essay on concepts important to Wikipedia, so it's clear what we're actually supposed to do with it.

My suggest for the spirit of this page: The numbers in any poll are important as they closely reflect what raw consensus is, but they can just be wrong sometimes, due to anything from small a sample size to mob mentality to outright manipulation. The spirit of Wikipedia has always been to do what is best, not what a given mob wants, so administrators and b'crats have traditionally been given leeway in making decisions that they feel benefit the project, otherwise RfA and XfDs would just be closed by bot. To see any process as purely a vote in the conventional sense of the word, where if you get enough voters on one side you automatically get your way, that's simply false and not helpful to Wikipedia. Policies, polls and processes should be written, if at all possible, to avoid situations where a decision-makers hands would be effectively tied to the result of a vote. It should be understood that a simple up/down count is often performed, but unlike in a conventional vote, stating the reason you opposed or support a motion is important, and might even be required.

Anyway, that's where I stand on all of this. The "guideline" needs to be rewritten before it can mean much. Am I totally on another planet here? --W.marsh 13:18, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree with you. I also think you said it well. --Blue Tie 14:25, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
Well stated. I said pretty much the same thing in a section above, but much less concisely than you have. — Saxifrage 02:24, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

I hate to sound a blowhard, but it's a bit frustrating that in 3 days no one can give a useful explanation of what this supposed guideline means. This is reinforcing my belief that it's a mislabelled essay at this point. I'm not opposed to a guideline that clarifies what voting is, why we avoid certain aspects of voting on Wikipedia, but more importantly how processes should be structured to emphasize discussion over voting. Right now, this page just explains why voting/polling sucks (without really defining them usefully), and then doesn't give anything actionable or useful that we can do about voting on Wikipedia... it's just blatently an essay, not a guideline. --W.marsh 13:14, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

  • What this means (or at least, is supposed to mean) is that on Wikipedia it is preferred to discuss things rather than voting on them. Corollaries are, among others, that AFDs can be closed in favor of the minority depending on reasons given by either side, and that one cannot legislate Wikipedia by creating a motion and calling a vote on it, and that it is in most cases unhelpful to create several versions of an article and having a poll majority decide which one to use (since it is generally better to compromise). That is not to say that we never formally vote on things, because we do, but that in general discussion is preferable. WP:RFA is really the 'odd man out' since there is ongoing discussion on how it works or how it is supposed to work - see here for discussion, and ongoing edits here. >Radiant< 14:22, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that this guideline doesn't mention any of that, actually it sort of did but it was removed. Right now all you could infer from it is that we don't vote at all, or do anything resembling voting, which is untrue. --W.marsh 14:42, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I did a copy/paste of some of the apparently accepted clauses on this talk page. Please copyed. >Radiant< 14:58, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
I was thinking of doing something like that, and at a glance your edit looks good. I think we're moving in the right direction. I think it probably should mention that the dramatic majority of AfDs and RfAs are closed in a way that correlates directly to the numbers. For me and others, it seems like it's hard to swallow these kind of arguments when processes are so blatently vote-like, and the argument seems to say that the numbers don't matter, when they obviously do. But ultimately I understand (and act on) the concept that the raw count doesn't always determine what must be done, it's just a useful indication of consensus, which is usually right, but not a suicide pact by any means. --W.marsh 15:36, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
  • But I'm stumped as to how to actually word that. Again, the new organization looks pretty good, I think we're stepping away from the essay roots somewhat, which had been dominant until just now. --W.marsh 15:43, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree that most AFDs (et al) are (and should be) closed according to the "obvious majority"; indeed, any closer is supposed to follow consensus. However, an important goal of this page is to counter the frequent belief among novice users that it's only about counting numbers - some people go "support ~~~~" to spread quick votes, without realizing that that's not really helpful; or complain when something is not strictly done by the percentages (common on WP:DRV); or say "I move that we do so-and-so, all in favor say aye?" Education of novice users is always useful. >Radiant< 15:46, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure it needs to be a guideline if the purpose is just education. But anyway, my point is that many people just are naturally frustrated when so many people say "RfA/AfD is not even vote-like" when it blatently is. Maybe we need to educate more than just the newbies :-) --W.marsh 15:57, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
    • I'm afraid it does, because given the overdose of pages in Wikispace, novice users are disinclined to believe (or sometimes, read) any page that's not a guideline or policy. Personally I consider RFA a vote, and I believe AFD should have been setup to appear less like a structured yes/no vote, although it's too late to change it now. >Radiant< 16:01, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
      • There was an AfD a while back where we had a really fine, interesting debate going where several people changed their minds, then someone uninvolved came along and decided the discussion was distracting and moved it all to the talk page... leaving just the "votes" with no explanation of how we'd gotten there. I wish I remembered which AfD exactly (some tiny German island), but it was an interesting look at the vote mentality... more specifically that the arguments are nice but they're really just window dressing, which is totally wrong. If someone could distill our understanding of "We look like we're voting but we aren't really, there's correlation but not causation at AfD in RfA, and if you think you're actually voting, you still have a lot to learn, kid" into a coherent paragraph, well, that person would win. This is just general rambling, sorry... I'm not expecting you to magically write the perfect paragraph or anything. --W.marsh 16:15, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
I think that we are indeed voting. And that there is a definite correlation of cause and effect. However, the problem you mention in one word "Mentality" is something to avoid. There should not be a "rush to resolve by vote" but rather a patience to resolve with votes used as part of the process which relies upon communication and persuasive discussion. A vote, by itself does not show consensus simply because there has been no discussion and consideration of the issue. However, a discussion also does not show consensus by itself either.--Blue Tie 16:50, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
You are right in your looking for a rational explanation for this policy text and finding that there is none. The text of this WP:DDV is an outright denial of reality. Let us take first the quirky hypothesis: "Polling discourages consensus." If you will, please let me give you a counterexample that proves that quirky hypothesis wrong. In the data under this link, you can see the day-by-day detailed historical data in which pollings were crucial tools for 1) measuring consensus and 2) determining the issues that had to be resolved to reach the next level of consensus among editors. Not even once in that empirical data from a hot and tough work session extended over a period of three months did a polling discourage consensus. And in that statement I have given you a falsifiable hypothesis on that empirical data. So how do we rewrite the text of the WP:DDV page to remove the serious and blatant denials of reality throughout this page? --Rednblu 18:32, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
I have no less than 3 huge projects to wrap up today. So I may not get to this right away. Not only that but my thoughts in this area are evolving. I am gathering ideas and information. I already have some ideas. I don't really like my ideas 100% but if I toss them out there they may be improvable. --Blue Tie 20:16, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

I think that if nothing else, it should be noted that opinions on WP:AFD, WP:RFA, etc. are sometimes colloquially referred to as "votes" even though the process itself may not actually be a majority-rule vote. Andrew Levine 19:53, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

I've been thinking about this recently. Being on-and-off active at AfD, I have a hard time saying things like "changing my ??? to neutral per So-and-so" there without using the word vote for the ???. There just isn't another word that works that I've found. — Saxifrage 22:27, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
How about "position"? Or "stance"? -- Visviva 00:55, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
How about "vote"?  ;) —David Levy 02:39, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. As a student of semantics, syntax, etc., "opinion", "stance", and "position" are unsatisfying—they don't actually fill that slot grammatically. None of those things have the right relation to me, either. I can say "I retract my keep vote" but I can't say "I retract my keep stance". It just doesn't substitute. — Saxifrage 06:13, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
The opinions in questions are correctly referred to as "votes." Only in a particular colloquial (and incorrect) connotation does the word "vote" refer strictly to majority voting. —David Levy 02:39, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Its been 22 years since 1984. Time to get on board with Newspeak. --Blue Tie 03:56, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Call for actionable instructions - proposals and descriptions

As succinctly pointed out by W.marsh above, and myself further above, this won't be a guideline except in name until it has actionable instructions. I myself am failing to come up with any actionable instructions that are "an accurate description of existing practice", which is Radiant's rationale for this being a guideline. In an effort to resolve this lack one way or the other, please comment below with either (A) descriptions of existing practices that should be included as actionable instructions in any guideline-incarnation of this essay, or (B) proposals for actionable instructions that are not existing practice but maybe should be. Collecting these should give us a good idea of how to proceed. Of course, well-explained objections to describing or proposing either one would also be fruitful data. — Saxifrage 19:41, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Here's one of each to kick this discussion off:
  • Description: Straw polls and other vote-like things can safely be ignored without risk of being left out of the consensus-building process. Votes of any kind cannot replace discussion, only contribute to a larger discussion.
  • Proposal: Straw polls can be removed from discussion pages.
(Note that I don't necessarily support these, especially the second, but we've got to start somewhere.) — Saxifrage 21:25, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Your examples are indicators of the reasons that I disagree with this as a guideline. (I even disagree with it as an essay, but it is innocuous as an essay). There should be no removal of straw polls. There should be no "ignoring" of them. They should be part of the process for achieving consensus if necessary. (They should not typically be necessary, but they will sometimes be invaluable). --Blue Tie 00:17, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Well yeah, like I said parenthetically, I wouldn't support that one. It's just the only proposal I could even think of to kick off discussion that comes near to being actionable. This is part of my problem with it being a guideline now: nothing in it is enforceable (which is just a synonym of part of the meaning of "actionable"). The fact that I can't think of any way to make the contents of this page actionable leads me to believe it can't be a guideline without changing "existing practices". I want to fully explore the possible actionable instructions before coming to that conclusion though. — Saxifrage 01:09, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • How is the phrase "Discuss, don't vote" not actionable? It calls for people to discuss, rather than voting. We have several other guidelines that tell people not to do certain things. >Radiant< 08:14, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
    It is not actionable because it is not enforceable. "Discuss, don't vote" is a call for individual editors to follow it, not something that can be put into practice by a third party. Consider one of the very actionable guidelines in Wikipedia:External links: "Sites that are inaccessible to a significant proportion of the community, such as sites that only work with a specific browser [are normally to be avoided when linking]". This can be actioned by anyone coming across such a link. No social interaction is necessary, nobody needs to have the interior of their head adjusted for a third party to apply the guideline. By contrast the instruction "discuss, don't vote" is not actionable by a third party. In order for a third party to acction it they would either have to magically change the contents of the person's head or do something creative and not contained in the instruction. By itself, it is not actionable, because it cannot be made to happen by a third party (which is the same thing as saying it can't be enforced). Something like "delete all straw polls" or even "delete tendentious straw polls" would be enforceable, but these are not in the guideline and do not follow directly from "discuss, don't vote". Thus, the reason for creating this section. — Saxifrage 21:01, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

As far as these essays go, they're needless forks of the ones on meta, created in an attempt to make them a guideline. If we decide to not make them guidelines then they should be deleted. If Radiant wants to make a proper proposal, he can do so with a copy in his userspace. -- Ned Scott 05:14, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

  • The "proper" process for making proposals that you refer to does not in fact exist. >Radiant< 08:14, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
When I say proper, I mean, in a way where you don't act like a total dick about it. What gives man, you've seemed to me to be a much more rational editor than this in the past. You didn't do anything wrong by marking it a guideline the first time, but you did do something wrong when you refused to accept that it wasn't a non-controversial or widely agreed upon decision. You lack evidence of consensus. Your word alone is not good enough. -- Ned Scott 09:23, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • My word alone may not be good enough, but if you read through the talk page you'll notice about a dozen high-profile users (most of them admins) who agree with me. This page has been in use for several years and reflects common practice; those are good arguments for calling it guideline, as is educating new users. Most objections to this page are straw men (such as asserting that this page forbids voting), based on false assumptions (such as that AFD is a majority vote) or backwards (e.g. resisting codifying current practice because one wishes to change that practice). This page was stable as a 'disputed guideline' for ten days with its wording being discussed, until you stepped in to decide that there was no dispute and no guideline either. >Radiant< 09:34, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
"high-profile users" You did seriously just say that? We're equal here, got it? Get off your high horse. You are not better than everyone else. I'm sorry that some people made some weak arguments, but there's enough rational ones to show that this is not a non-controversial or easily agreed upon guideline, and that discussion should occur BEFORE tagging it as a guideline. The disputed tag is for things that have already become guidelines and then get disputed. -- Ned Scott 09:44, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Some people have more experience with how Wikipedia works than others, and indeed most of the opposition is made from arguments that do not match how Wikipedia works. You just asserted I was the only one who supported this page, and that assertion is incorrect. This has been a guideline for years, only because of an oversight it didn't have the tag on it. And now people claim that "process wasn't followed" or that since they personally like voting we may not discourage it, or that Wikipedia regularly works by majority vote. Those arguments may be rational as you call them but they are not based upon fact. >Radiant< 09:57, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
If you had said "a number of editors in good standing" that would be one thing, but you said "high profile users". We know what you mean, we know that there's a lot of noobs here making a lot of flawed arguments, but defeating those arguments doesn't get past the legitimate concerns. Don't try to twist my words so it sounds like I'm agreeing with those who were making flawed arguments. -- Ned Scott 10:12, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
When you say "most of the opposition is made from arguments that do not match how Wikipedia works", you're ignoring the unflawed ones. What, are you counting opposed "votes" numerically? It doesn't matter what percentage of opposition is using flawed arguments, there are outstanding issues that are unaddressed or unresolved that aren't flawed. Besides, the flawed "we do vote" arguments have receded into the past. The current spate of editors all seem to be saying "this isn't actionable", which is a valid and correct concern. — Saxifrage 21:06, 15 October 2006 (UTC)


It is a description of many existing practices, but so is saying hello to someone when you meet them. WP:CREEP comes to mind here. I'm deeply disturbed by some of the editors here, such as Ratiant and Centrx, who have been down right rude and degrading to their fellow editors. Saying that something is the norm and them going ahead and tagging it is ok in many situations. However, when right after you do, a good deal of editors come up and say "wait a second, I disagree with what you are doing", and even have to fight tooth and nail just to get the disputed tag up, then you know something is wrong. Even when I am in favor of a guideline I believe it's the best thing to do to let a good discussion occur on it, ESPECIALLY when people have raised multiple concerns. It's like deleting a page as a speedy delete and calling it housekeeping, even others have strong and rational objections to the delete. I really don't understand the motives of Ratiant and company that would drive them to be this aggressive.

We have a serious problem here with a group of editors going around on their high horses, deeming what they think is or isn't a guideline by force. I am very disappointed in these editors. I noticed there's an ArbCom case on this, but unfortunately the one who made the case is another editor who's trying to push their own proposals. The right thing for the wrong reasons, and it will fall apart because of that. ArbCom or not, whether this page should be a guideline or not, the behavior of this group of editors is concerning. I don't think they're doing it as a conspiracy, and I think they think they're doing the right thing, but they need to chill out and take a step back. We are not enemies here. -- Ned Scott 20:32, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

(Since this wasn't a proposal, description, or a problem with giving a proposal or description, it was off-topic and I moved it to a new section. I know there are larger issues, but I don't want possibly useful work derailed by the larger discussions.)
I do think the way this has been handled is problematic. I at once understand the frustration of the "old timers" that this obviously-entrenched practice is being opposed as a guideline, and I understand the frustration of everyone who is taking exception to this being a guideline. I fall on the side of "this isn't a guideline" for a number of reasons though, not least of which because it doesn't look like and can't be used as a guideline in any practical sense. — Saxifrage 21:15, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Well, if it's an obviously-entrenched practice, then by definition it is a guideline. A problem here is that several people don't understand what a guideline is. Whenever people say that it was made a guideline "out of process", they are referring to a process that does not in fact exist. Whenever people say that this guideline forbids voting, they are misreading it. >Radiant< 08:11, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I oppose it as a guideline because I consider it to be intrinsically a bad idea to further codify the rejection of an important and widely acknowledged means to help achieve consensus. It is completely wrong for that reason alone. --Blue Tie 00:15, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • So what you're saying is that it is common practice but you do not like that practice. Sorry, but that is not a reason against writing down the practice. Instead, as has been pointed out before, you are welcome to make a proposal for a more formal system and we'll consider using that in the future. >Radiant< 08:11, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Common practice does not always make for a guideline. Like I said, it's common practice to say hello to someone when you meet them, but you don't make a guideline that says you have to say hello when you greet someone. You're going to have to use some better rational. -- Ned Scott 09:25, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • So you're saying that since civility is common practice, we don't make a guideline on civility. Except that we do. Common practice is a good basis for guidelines; that does not imply that we must make guidelines for all common practice. >Radiant< 09:39, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Common practice alone is not a good basis for guidelines. It might be a place to get ideas for guidelines, but you can't base it on that alone. Didn't you just complain about people making straw-man arguments? Isn't that what you just did with me? -- Ned Scott 09:50, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
It's common practice and it's a good idea. That strikes me as a good basis for making it a guideline. The Land 12:16, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

This shouldn't be a gudeline. It's completley biased and false information. People vote all the time on Wikipedia. I mean, jesus man, look at all the people complaining about how it became a guidline! I suppose that we should warn/block anyone participating in straw polls/Board of Trustees votes/AfDs/Arb Com votes? And I know your respone - "Guidelines can have exceptions" Obviousley, it shouldn't be a guidline if it has that many exceptions and this many people protesting.--KojiDude (Contributions) 00:23, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Voting mentality does happen, and it should be strongly discouraged, but I question how we are going about that. The fact that many people consider things a vote is not a good thing. -- Ned Scott 05:09, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
That is, voting in the traditional sense. Sign your name as "oppose" or "support" kind of thing. I am not opposed to people who say such things to summarize their view, as long as they also explain their position. Which is what usually happens anyways. -- Ned Scott 05:12, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Good point. The word "vote" is so loaded for so many people, I'd suggest replacing it with BOWSTPAC - Bolded One Word Summary Traditionally Prepending A Comment. It's perfectly pronounceable (Bowst/pac) and comes with no baggage. We don't vote - voting is evil. We make BOWSTPACs - BOWSTPACs are good. See the difference? Herostratus 08:01, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I fully agree with Nedscott. If you know of a better way to discourage voting mentality, please tell us. >Radiant< 08:11, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I point them to the meta essay page, and the vast majority of the time that takes care of things. For example. You want more power to be able to force something, but the need is not there. It's instructions creep. -- Ned Scott 09:31, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • When pointed to an essay, people tend to respond "you can't base decisions on that, it's only an essay". This is an actual problem on Wikipedia. >Radiant< 09:39, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Since when is this a problem? Oh wait, maybe it's because of that dispute you had with the nobility thing? I understand that stuff like that can be frustrating, and that some users are frustrating, but in most cases those are situations where the dispute is the true cause of the conflict, not polls or votes. It's instructions creep, it's not needed, and you are the one who needs to convince us otherwise, since it's your proposal. -- Ned Scott 09:48, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • This is a problem whenever people dispute an AFD closure because it wasn't done by the numbers. This is a problem whenever people call a majority vote on a proposal instead of trying to compromise. This is a problem whenever people try to vote on facts in an article. You may not have seen those things but it happens a lot. Wikipedia is not a democracy. This isn't my proposal, this has been existing practice for years. >Radiant< 10:00, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
To discourage voting as a replacement for discussion has been something we all agree upon, but that is not the same thing as saying that this page has been in practice for years. I highly doubt that making this a guideline will help the troubles you've cited, because the real issue in those cases is that someone didn't agree with someone else. Some users are difficult, and a lot of times they'll try to even use how something is worded to their advantage. It happens, and if it doesn't happen with this it will happen with that. This does not fix the problems you cite. Again, it's on you to convince us that it is, and that hasn't happened yet. -- Ned Scott 10:08, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Okay, so we are agreed that we should discourage voting as a replacement for discussion. Please tell me how you would want to accomplish discouraging voting as a replacement for discussion. >Radiant< 10:26, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, sorry to jump in at a late state, but a good essay is the perfect way to encourage a practice that you could never legislate. Trying to ram a guideline down people's throats ("You can't vote! It's against the rules!"), is, as we see clearly here, just going to greatly annoy people. But the whole thing we're trying to do here is tell people that the vote mentality is bad. You can't legislate people into believing that, but you can convince them of it, which is what an essay is for. --W.marsh 13:13, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Straw man. Nobody is trying to make legislation to forbid voting. Also, legislation would be a policy, not guideline. Nobody is proposing a policy here either. >Radiant< 13:48, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Above you seem to be saying that if this is a guideline it will be easier to use it when people propose various anti-voting things, which to me does seem like the goal of making this a guideline is to make it easier to forbid voting, or more accurately, to deny that we are voting (since that's what most changes like changing the word "vote" to "discuss" ammount to). Am I totally misunderstanding the situation here? If we can do something to genuinely reduce the vote mentality, great. But I am opposed to just increasing the doublespeak and confusion so we can pretend Wikipedia isn't vote-like at times. --W.marsh 14:32, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Guidelines are intended to describe how we already do things, not prescribe new behaviour. Discussion instead of voting is how we already do things and isn't something new. If you don't believe me, set up a poll for something and see how many people complain that "polls are evil" or deny that the results are meaningful (-: JYolkowski // talk 16:19, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
WP:GUIDELINE says that guidelines are actionable (which basically means enforceable). This isn't enforceable. People vote all the time. I'll say it again; I suppose that we should warn/block anyone participating in straw polls/Board of Trustees votes/AfDs/Arb Com votes? And I know your respone - "Guidelines can have exceptions" Obviousley, it shouldn't be a guidline if it has that many exceptions and this many people protesting. This is entirley POV and goes against the practicies of Wikipedia users.--KojiDude (Contributions) 16:26, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Generally I think it would be much easier to get behind this as a guideline if it was rewritten. Right now it's half an essay from Meta, and half some stuff Radiant pasted over from this talk page (which was actually and improvement and I'm glad he did it). Still, this comes off as trying to slap a guideline tag on the general concept of "Discuss, don't vote", with some random text we may or may not agree on attached to it. By extension, people feel like they can make any kind of wild anti-voting proposal and that this page automatically backs them up... and as the page is written, they're apparently right. As I've said earlier, I think there's support for a guideline that clearly articulates what many people already believe about voting and how it should be trumped by discussion, I am still thinking this page as written is far too vague. Guidelines should actually guide, not just endorse a vague catch phrase to be used in debates for various purposes. --W.marsh 16:53, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for clearly articulating the current problem. I am in the strange position of endorsing the "we don't vote/Wikipedia is not a democracy" concept (it's fundamental anyway), but thoroughly opposed to making the current page a guideline. (I also object to the autocratic nature of Radiant's treatment of this issue, but that is irrelevant to the text.)
To further the point, WP:IAR correctly and accurately describes current practice at Wikipedia, but it cannot be a guideline. Someone might answer that last sentence by saying that, of course it can't be a guideline by its very nature, but that's not what I mean. Supposing that it wouldn't be self-defeating to be a guideline, it still couldn't be because it's not actionable: it contains no instructions that can be enforced. Any proposed actionable instruction would be absurd: "Never follow rules"? "Delete policy when you find it"? "Learn the rules but don't be straightjacketed by them" (which is a good interpretation, but not actionable and so not codifiable)? — Saxifrage 20:53, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Disruptive editing

The Wikipedia:Disruptive editing guideline says:

"Disruptive editors may seek to disguise their behavior as productive editing, yet distinctive traits separate them from productive editors. When discussion fails to resolve the problem and when an impartial consensus of editors from outside a disputed page agree (through requests for comment or similar means), further disruption should be liable to blocking at the administrators' noticeboard and may lead to more serious disciplinary action through the dispute resolution process. In extreme cases this could include a site ban, either though the arbitration committee or by administrator consensus." WAS 4.250 15:27, 15 October 2006 (UTC)


Well, now you guys have gone and done it. Thanks to the revert warring, the page has been protected. Frankly, I would have done so myself if not for my involvement (my participation in discussions on this talk page and attempt to clean up the absurd mess that was made with the status tags).

As indicated previously, I believe that the basic concept that Radiant advocates reflects consensus and should be a guideline. I also agree, however, that the page's overall style is that of an informal essay. Radiant's recent rewrites have helped, but additional work is needed (and I'm too busy with non-wiki matters to pitch in).

I suggest that someone fork a draft page for everyone to edit into shape. Despite the fact that the project page is protected as the right version for some, I sincerely hope that the dispute's participants will work together in good faith. —David Levy 18:09, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

"Despite the fact that the project page is protected as the right version" How biased can you get?--KojiDude (Contributions) 18:17, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Is there any particular reason why you omitted the words "for some" from that quote? Have you read the page to which I linked? The statement in question was directed toward those who might be tempted to stop discussing this matter because the page happens to have been protected as the version that they believe to be "right." —David Levy 18:27, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I did read it. And I think it was pretty biased of you to just assume that everyone who thinks it should be an essay would just stop discussing it for that reason. I also thought it was biased that you linked that page, seeing as how there is no consenseus at this point as to what is right and wrong.--KojiDude (Contributions) 18:30, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
"I did read it. And I think it was pretty biased of you to just assume that everyone who thinks it should be an essay would just stop discussing it for that reason."
I did not "assume that everyone who thinks it should be an essay would just stop discussing it for that reason." There is, however, the possibility that some editors might be inclined to respond in this manner (which I've witnessed on numerous occasions). It's easier to allow one's preferred text to remain than it is to work toward compromise, and I've expressed my sincere hope that this temptation will be overcome (not an assumption that it won't be). Had the page been protected with the "guideline" tag intact, I would have typed exactly the same remark.
In case you didn't notice, I plainly stated above that I see merit in both arguments; I believe that we should be working toward guideline status, but I also believe that the page (as currently written) comes across as an essay.
"I also thought it was biased that you linked that page, seeing as how there is no consenseus at this point as to what is right and wrong."
That's the point! (Everyone believes that his/or version is "right" and that his/her opponents' version is "wrong.") How did you interpret m:The Wrong Version? —David Levy 18:58, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) That page says that any version that a page is protected under is the wrong version, because there's obviously an unresolved dispute, so there is no right version. Granted, there's a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor there (David Levy mentioning "right version for some" while linking to a page titled "Wrong Version", and the page itself being largely satirical), but I think you're largely agreeing with him. --Interiot 19:03, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
To be clear, "the right version for some" simply means "the version that some people believe to be right." It didn't occur to me that anyone would interpret this phrase as a declaration that either version actually was right or wrong, especially given my moderate stance on this matter. —David Levy 19:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
There is no doubt that the page protected is the wrong version for some. I have no problem saying and recognizing that. I believe that for some it is also the right version. This should not be a matter of dispute.
I do not believe that any version of this page can be created as a guideline that does not explicitly recognize that voting is a KEY TOOL for sometimes arriving at consensus and is also probably the only way to validate it. (I am open to some other validation scheme but I am not creative enough to think of one).
On the other hand, voting cannot simply substitute for discussion. This is not just a matter of not "squelching" the chatter but more importantly, it is through discussion that even better versions of an article are created. Thus, discussion and voting is important. So the article should not be "Discuss, don't vote" but rather "Discuss, vote when helpful or necessary and discuss some more". This latter title would actually reflect current practice better than "Discuss, don't vote" does.
Because I do not think that the current page reflects actual or desired practice, I happen to believe that as it currently exists, it is appropriately ONLY an essay. As also is the Voting is not Evil essay. --Blue Tie 19:37, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Validating consensus

Query for David: How will you validate that a particular version has or reflects consensus? I note that you believe that the effort by Radiant! "reflects consensus". I believe otherwise and suggest that the many contra-edits and tags stand as evidence of this. How do we determine correctly what the consensus is on the matter? Note, for example, that I do not believe ANY version that rejects voting in any way is right. I feel strongly about this. Others feel just as strongly that voting violates the spirit and intent of arriving at a solution by discussion. (I agree that improperly handled it might do that but disagree that it must have that effect -- however that is a separate discussion). Assume for a moment that two opposite views exist and that they are irreconcilable. How do you detect and validate consensus? What are the standards? --Blue Tie 19:53, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Unless I'm mistaken, the core message that Radiant is attempting to convey is that polling is not a substitute for discussion. It's this principle that I believe is widely accepted by the community. I do not believe that the project page itself (as currently worded) accurately conveys this sentiment or reflects consensus.
As I've stated in previous discussions, I strongly disagree that polling is "evil" or that instances of valid use are exceptions to the rule. While polling certainly can be abused, it's an invaluable and essential tool. This principle also appears to have widespread acceptance. (The opposite certainly doesn't.) I base these assessments upon common practices.
Therefore, I see the need for this project page to become a guideline (to discourage improper polling), but I also see the need for it to be significantly revised before that occurs. I endorse Radiant's basic goal (as I perceive it), but I don't endorse the current implementation.
Regarding the title, I suggested above that it be changed to "Polling is not a substitute for discussion" or "Polling does not replace discussion," but no one responded. —David Levy 20:28, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I apologize for missing your recent contribution on thost titles. Without reflection upon them I have no problems with those titles, but I note that they make the contents of the guideline even more important because there is a balance to be grasped. I think a nutshell might be:
I add (and this is not a criticism of you, David) that again, when I ask: "How is consensus validated?" no answer is forthcoming. We validate content, but we do not validate consensus. No problem.... until there is a "vigorous" debate. --Blue Tie 20:43, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
As stated above, consensus often can be validated simply by analyzing the actions of the community. If a principle or method appears to be widely accepted/utilized, it probably is backed by consensus.
Pre-existing consensus (either longstanding or arising through recent discussion) also can be validated or clarified via straw polling. New consensus, however, cannot be generated in this manner. Unless an opinion is based upon current practice or backed by a well-articulated argument, it's of very little value to the community (because we have no means of grasping the reasoning behind it) —David Levy 21:05, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Let me suggest an example. I suggest that an analysis of the actions of the community is that "we vote". Others say that the exact same analysis says "We do not vote". What then, is the consensus? Do we vote? Do we not vote? This gets to the heart of the matter at hand, right here on this page: What is, in fact, the nature of the community decision? How do we know? How do we validate the answer? And if ONE person disagrees, has consensus been achieved? What if it has indeed been achieved if "only one" disagrees, but TWO disagree? Has it been achieved? If not, what number of people is the right number before we say it has not been achieved? If there is no integer number, what faction of participants is necessary for consensus? If no number at all is involved, how is it validated? What are the conditions of agreement or disagreement? --Blue Tie 21:11, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
1. It's important to realize that in some cases, there is no consensus. It also should be noted that this discussion pertains primarily to matters of opinion, not to matters of fact. Consensus regarding matters of fact can be entirely incorrect. ("The Earth is flat.")
2. "Consensus" ≠ "unanimity," nor is there an exact numerical formula that be applied. Common sense and logic must be utilized, with strong arguments outweighing weak ones. (The same common sense and logic determine which arguments are strong and which are weak.) —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
And...Why, exactly can't new policy be generated by using polls as part of the process? I do not follow your answer, unless you are suggesting that ONLY polls be used which I think has never even been suggested by anyone. --Blue Tie 21:11, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Because polls polarize the issue and preclude compromise; see below for a lengthier post on the topic. >Radiant< 21:23, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
That's hardly reason to condemn their use. Hammers can be used to smash fingers, but that doesn't mean they are not useful tools. A poorly-used tool is always a bad thing. The condemnation is rightly for the tool-user, not the tool. — Saxifrage 21:44, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
That's an excellent analogy. —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
That's a overly broad response, I'm afraid. There certainly are situations in which polls can polarize an issue and preclude compromise, but this is not always the case —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Polling absolutely can be a part of the process. Again, polls can be used to help gauge consensus. They cannot, however, replace discussion as a means of creating consensus. You might not realize how often users attempt to expedite matters by prematurely halting discussion and organizing an all-or-nothing majority vote. —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
David, you are broadly correct in reading my intent here. I believe the best way to go would be to wipe the existing page and write it down anew in two or three sentences; that should cut away most of the old stuff that people object to. Do you think that would help? >Radiant< 21:23, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I think that would help. It would also help if it had a {{proposed}} tag until the content is accepted, not a {{guideline}} tag. — Saxifrage 21:46, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree regarding the {{proposed}} tag. —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure that two or three sentences would be sufficient, but starting from scratch might not be a bad idea. —David Levy 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I created a nutshell. Perhaps not worded right. And maybe people do not agree with my perspective. But basically I tried to say that Discussion is vital and sometimes voting/polling is an appropriate tool that helps a great deal. Because that is how I see it. --Blue Tie 22:53, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Policy, Wikipedia is not a Democracy

I don't think that anyone has mentioned that we actually have a policy on this, WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a Democracy. I don't know why I didn't think to bring this up before. Radiant asked what does one do when someone says "oh, I shouldn't have to follow that, it's an essay!" Well, heck, I recall a lot of times when people just cited "Wikipedia is not a Democracy" directly and pretty much was the "force" that was needed in those situations. The policy says:

Isn't that exactly what we all agree upon? We have the policy there, the "authority", that we can use to point people to. Then we have the meta essays which discuss some of the pros and cons of voting and polling and where they should and shouldn't be used. I go back to my original point that this proposed guideline is instructions creep on our already existing policy and the meta essays. There's no need to make a guideline to strengthen a position that is backed up by policy. -- Ned Scott 20:33, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I'd always thought the spirit of WP:IAR explains why we avoid majority votes and binding polls. Their outcomes could and occasionally do suggest a course of action we feel would lower the quality of the project, so it's always been seen as important to not tie decision-makers hands to the results of some poll somewhere. No one should be doing things they believe deep down hurt the project. --W.marsh 20:39, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I like that both points are brought up. However, I think that WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a Democracy is both right and wrong. It sets up a concept of "vote vs discussion" which I believe is bad. I believe that the concept should be something along the lines of WP:BRD but when things involve many editors and particularly with regard to policy and matters not subject to "fact checking" but rather with judgment, discussion can reasonably and profitably be followed by and preceded with a poll. In other words, discussion may reasonably include polling and it is not a "vote vs discussion" or a "voting is evil" or "voting is right" or even "voting = discussion" but rather that voting is a tool, neither preferred nor subverted to other tools with consensus being the goal. The vote is not the goal but a tool. Majorities do not necessarily "win", particularly in the case of issues that are easily resolved through fact checking/verification. However, that does not apply to guidelines and policies and in those cases a position really should clearly dominate before it can be called a "guideline" or "policy". (Unless it is directed from above by the Foundation (which may have necessary legal requirements and constraints) or by some other body appointed to that task.) I could even see where something might NOT be a policy even if it does dominate, but I have a hard time seeing something as a policy without dominance. (Note, I refrain from declaring what "dominate" means at this time -- that is a secondary discussion.) --Blue Tie 20:54, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Commonly held ideal

Sorry, I'm new to the debate, and I haven't read all of it, but it occurs to me that the problem might be that there needs to be another tag for pages that are not actionable guidelines, but are more important than someone's essay. I would call it a "Commonly held ideal". Discuss, don't vote is not quite a guideline, it is impractical to enforce a policy that people should never vote. However, it is a widely and strongly held ideal that people should discuss and that voting is (or can be) evil. We need to discourage the idea of voting and encourage the idea of discussing. So can we label this essay as a "Community ideal" and create a new template to go with it? -- Samuel Wantman 20:57, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

I object to it even as an ideal. I think it is misguided. Consensus should be the ideal. --Blue Tie 21:00, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
This might be a good idea. (I'm tentative right now and would like to hear other people's thoughs, though.) A guideline is fundamentally actionable and has broad support, while an essay is just some writing. There's a lot of space between those for a class of essay that has broad support. Radiant's basic argument is that this should be a guideline because it has broad support, but that's only half of the criteria for being a guideline. Some way of tagging essays that have been adopted by the community as a "we believe this" sort of thing but that lack the actionable criterion of a guideline may fill a need. — Saxifrage 21:15, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I recommend that if you believe that, that you be bold and create a subcategory for Wikipedia essays called "consensus" or "accepted" or "approved"; maybe add "by the community". Then be like Radient and be bold in deciding which essays fit the bill. Go for it. WAS 4.250 21:25, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
That, I think, would be disruptive. I'm not sure if you meant that toungue-in-cheek for just that reason... — Saxifrage 21:39, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Besides, I did say "tentative". I'm not convinced that this would aid the encyclopedia beyond possibly resolving this dispute in a summary way, and that's the measure that matters. — Saxifrage 21:42, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
It would not have to be done disruptively. Surely some essays are more accepted and others are less accepted. Surely which are which is not a complete mystery. A little sorting of essays by whoever wishes to pitch in would be a good thing. If there is disagreement, no one says you have to create disruption by fighting over which essay goes in which bin. WAS 4.250 21:56, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
True, but I don't think a single editor is equipped to do this. Doing so would be tantamount to saying that there is a distinction and that some essays should hold a certain amount of coercive power, even if they are not actionable per se. That people could contest individual essays being so sorted doesn't address the potential for fundamental disagreement on the assumption that it's warranted at all. This is something that I think would require community consent. — Saxifrage 22:13, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • To avert confusion, I would not be in favor of creating more tags. At present, we use "guideline" and "policy" (and the distinction between the two is somewhat nebulous) for pages that are consensual, and tags such as "essay" and "humor" for pages that are not. I do not recall having seen an essay that was consensual but not actionable, but would be happy to hear an example (other than this page, which should be reworded anyway). >Radiant< 21:33, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Sax, with respect, I thank you for your efforts to find some middle ground. But, isn't "Guideline" already middle ground between "Essay" and "Policy"? That is how I have viewed it. My objection to this being a guideline is NOT related to it not being the right time or that other guidelines cover it or anything of the sort, but that that I object to it at its core even as an essay. But as an essay it is an opinion without any binding content. That is fine with me. As an educational tool to communicate some sort of value held by some. But I think it is a misplaced ideal. I think that voting or polling or whatever you want to call it is an extremely valuable way to go about things ... if done right. The problem may be "how to do it right". --Blue Tie 21:32, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • We could arguably "do it right" by taking a look at any country's parliamentary procedures, and use a simplified form of that. The question is whether the added legislation and bureaucratic overhead would be worth the effort; I am inclined to think it won't. If you can write a system that works and isn't overly legalistic, I'd be happy to see it. >Radiant< 21:42, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
When I say "do it right", I am not referring to a process that subverts or squelches or short-changes discussion. I am also not referring to a process where the "answer" to a "poll" is the goal. I am looking for a process where consensus is the goal. Voting is a tool that supports that goal. Voting or polling as a means to develop concensus is a long-established process, validated by management scientists and covered in peer reviewed journals. Rejecting it is rejection of an important tool. It is a tool that is participatory in the discussion process. It also provides a degree of validation along the way.
Thus, I do not think that parliamentarian procedures apply. At least not the way I view them. Rather, I think that other procedures, along the lines of Delphi, Nominal Group Technique, and other consensus building, brainstorming and other processes are more like what is needed. These probably should be adjusted or simplified. Along the way, there should be at least a bit of clarity regarding to what degree an individual or group of individuals may filibuster something. I have some ideas along this line, but I would at least like to see that the general concept that more clarity is needed be accepted before a debate about the specific quality of that clarity be engaged in. Otherwise the two ideas get mixed up: The general idea and the specific implementation. If the specific implentation is disagreed with, then the general idea is also seen as not approved. Moreover, if the general idea is not approved, then it is a waste of time to get into specifics. --Blue Tie 21:54, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Personally I think the idea has merit, although I estimate that the community will reject it on grounds of instruction creep. That shouldn't stop you from trying, though. I would suggest making a short draft page about the general idea and asking people's opinion. >Radiant< 22:07, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. Maybe it is creep. Not my goal. But I appreciate the suggestion. We may not always agree, but I value your insights. I will see what I can do. I am working on it in a number of directions. And if I do not get some goals completed in my non-wiki life I may need to take a break. but If I can I will see what I can do about a suggestion. --Blue Tie 22:20, 15 October 2006 (UTC)


Actually, my reading of the original Voting is Evil is that the title is hyperbole, and that it does acknowledge that votes are valuable tools. I don't think anyone is arguing that they're not, though sometimes I am unclear about Radiant's stance when he starts equating running polls with disruptive behaviour. — Saxifrage 21:41, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • VIE is tongue-in-cheek, yes (most old "rules-like" pages are, including IAR). I do not equate polls with disruption; I simply tend to close them down iff they wouldn't be helpful. >Radiant< 21:44, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
    I don't think that's a wise course of action, nor an undisruptive one. Polls aren't binding, so such action is unnecessary. — Saxifrage 21:48, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
    • The intent is not to stop the poll; the intent is to divert people's energy into more useful directions, such as creating a compromise. It is not something I do blindly, but it is something that has been known to work quite well in several (but not all) cases. One problem is that people do tend to think of polls as binding, even if they aren't meant to be ("the poll wasn't binding, but majority says foo, so let's do foo"). Another problem is that some polls are divisive because of being worded badly. Sometimes polls work fine, too. >Radiant< 21:59, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
      This is off topic and, personally, disquieting. If you wish to discuss this, let's use our talk pages. — Saxifrage 22:08, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Goals for this page

It is obvious that Wikipedia cannot be legislated. Hence, the goal of this (and other related pages) is education: writing down the way we work, for the reference of future users as well as present users who work in other areas. There are two persistent sentiments, especially among novice users, that need to be dispelled. The first is that AFD (and similar processes) must be decided in favor of a majority of some percentage. This argument appears frequently on DRV.

The second is the sentiment that proposals are enacted by voting on them. It is common for people to claim that a page is not consensual because it was never voted upon, and it is common for people to attempt to validate their proposal by calling a formal vote on it. The latter is especially problematic, as it can lead people to think something is policy when in fact this may be hotly disputed.

There are presently two places where this is a big issue: a vote was held on whether removing talk page warnings is vandalism; since the vote had a majority in favor, some people assert it is now policy, others disagree. And second, on WP:CHILD, a headcount was used to determine a majority of the commenters were in favor, and again, some people assert it is now policy.

Now I am not going to argue here whether or not talk page removal is bad, and whether CHILD is or is not policy. My point is, that in both cases vote counting aggravated the dispute and stood in the way of forming consensus. So it's not just that "in difficult cases, a poll may be used to gather consensus"; it is that especially in difficult cases, polling can be harmful (and of course, in simple cases, polling is not needed). That is a problem. And that is why voting must be discouraged (though of course not forbidden). >Radiant< 21:12, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Two points:
  • I support the intention to educate users about how things are done and to dispell the myth (brought in from outside) that voting can create decisions.
  • I believe that moving to codify this right this minute in order to use it in a current dispute is illegitimate and backwards. If the principles that will be used to resolve those disputes are not now fully in effect within the community, slapping a tag on an essay is not going to improve matters.
For the first of these, I do believe that WP:CONSENSUS and WP:NOT (a democracy) are sufficient. For the second of these, I believe that those that are attempting to use votes as bludgeons are simply in error and WP:CONSENSUS and WP:NOT is strong enough to resolve the misconception. Neither are reasons to label a superficially-rewritten essay a guideline at this time. — Saxifrage 21:21, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
      • The intent is not to use this page in a current dispute (I am well aware that that wouldn't work anyway). VAND has died down for the time being; CHILD is now at the arbcom. At any rate, I believe we are agreed that this page needs to be rewritten anyway. >Radiant< 21:38, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

It is not obvious to me that wikipedia cannot be legislated. As I see it, it is already legislated. The issue before us is:
Should this page be part of the legislation?  
If the goal for this page is educational, an essay serves that purpose - entirely. There is no need for it to be a guideline or a policy. It should, however, also link to other essays that provide other perspectives... in the interest of a full education.
I think that the problems with "vote counting" on the issues you describe is that a minority disagreed with the results of the vote and there is no clear definition of what constitutes "consensus" when so many people agree with a perspective and a substantial minority disagree. What happens then? What constitutes "substantial minority"? At what point can one person filibuster?
This is the heart of my question that I ask repeatedly: How do we validate consensus?
I firmly disagree that the polling failed to help achieve consensus or injured it. Instead, I firmly believe that impossibly vague rules on this matter have done that. And will do so more and more as time goes on. --Blue Tie 21:24, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
How do we validate consensus? I've been around here long enough that I can tell you the answer to how we do decide stuff (but not how we should). Temporarily decided (never permanately): by fiat from above (eg Jimbo, OFFICE), by Arbcom, by threats from a consensus of admins (back off or be blocked/banned), by everyone involved agreeing, by those disagreeing leaving the discussion for one reason or another, and by agreeing to disagree with the majority (decided formally by poll or informally by unnumerated head count) "winning". Discussions that cause creative solutions to surface are best and often result in genuine agreements. Discussions that never get beyond two unchanging positions are generally a waste of time for everyone. WAS 4.250 21:46, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you very much for your reply, which tends to match my view of how things go. In fact, it is what I have experienced (not the Jimbo or Arbcom stuff). I also have some responses.
First, your statement :Discussions that cause creative solutions to surface are best and often result in genuine agreements. Discussions that never get beyond two unchanging positions are generally a waste of time for everyone. is so good that I wish I had said it. I agree with it completely. (Having said that, I think that two unchanging positions between two editors is the same as "no consensus".)
Second, what you have described is a process for arriving at a decision. That is not quite the same thing as "validating consensus". One of the key issues here is that consensus is claimed by some. How can such claims be validated? Of course the decision may simply be made by one person walking away. Is that really best for the encyclopedia? --Blue Tie 22:01, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia cannot be legislated in that changing a policy/guideline page is not going to change people's behavior (as evidenced by a recent effort to write policy to forbid sarcasm; no, I'm not kidding). You are correct in that the definition of consensus is nebulous. However, this nebulosity has been proven to work well in the past. I think we are agreed that the combination of polling and a nebulous consensus is contradictory; we disagree as to in which of the two we see the problem. >Radiant< 21:38, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Ok, you cracked me up and I did not think that was possible!
I believe that as a general rule, policies and guidelines should have an eye toward proscribing (changing) behavior. Otherwise they are irrelevant. (They do not have to change beliefs, but certain behaviors may be a condition of participation here). I also understand that the nebulosity has worked in the past. I am not so sure it worked well but it worked. I also believe it can "work" in the future. But I am pretty sure it cannot work well even if it worked well in the past (and that claim is not something that is validated). I do not believe it scales. (I have been doing some research into the conflict space / scaling issue, which you may review at GTBacchus Talk Page). We may disagree about which of the two is a problem. And then again, if this is left to a group of editors to decide, how can we validate what the consensus opinion is? Is my view alone sufficient to deny consensus to you? Or do I only need one more person to agree? If not, how many? --Blue Tie 22:13, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't think that nebulous consensus and polling are at odds. A poll only makes clear the views of the editors currently active in a discussion (assuming the poll is well-constructed). Nebulous consensus is something that only applies at the level of The Community. If consensus is nebulous on a particular point between the active editors, there damned well isn't consensus. — Saxifrage 22:17, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

I think done the right way, they do not have to be at odds. The problem is (and I know this is at the heart of the reluctance to answer my question)... the minute you put some sort of "guideline" about numbers and percentages down, it starts to become a matter of "lets vote and see who wins". In article space this is probably bad and might be deadly to article integrity. However, in policy space, it may not be quite as bad. Particularly as long as WP:CCC is remembered. But, there should be focus on using polling as a tool to arrive at and document consensus.
I think, for example, that a position that does not take at least the majority position, cannot claim to have consensus. However, it may be appropriate to say that for consensus, the position must be even stronger than that ... a supermajority. Thus, discussion goes on. Some aspect of the issue is covered in detail. A poll is taken to determine directions. More discussion. Considerations of objections. Some proposals. Polls on the proposals. And so on... until supermajority "generally agrees" and only a small percentage (not necessarily all the remainder) are unwilling to agree at all. Perhaps, for example... 67% or more agree generally, 23% do not agree but consider it not worth arguing over the disagreement and 10% view it as just wrong. At this point it would seem to me that a "consensus" but not a unanimity has been achieved on that point. Then move to point 2 and repeat. When the whole thing is done, and a final document or concept is produced in which everyone had a hand and their opinions were considered. Along the way, consensus has been both "developed" through discussion and "validated" through a count. If at some point at least 2/3 of the people do not agree, it should be re-worked until at least that many do -- or left alone (no consensus).
Perhaps the number is not 2/3. Maybe it is 3/4. Or maybe 90%.
If the minority feel abused, there should be an appeal process, like Request for Comment or Mediation that looks specifically at the issue: was their view given reasonable consideration prior to the completion of the matter? If the minority do not feel that they were abused or that their ideas were not taken into account but they still just disagree, that would tend to further confirm consensus... just not unanimity.
Incidentally, I think, when it comes to policy, it is ok to "campaign" for a position among users and to invite others to the discussion. The more the better. --Blue Tie 22:41, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't think codifying numbers or percentages for determining whether a poll has validated consensus is something that will, ahem, get any consensus. But I do agree with your general portrayal of how "votes" and polls play a role in discussion without replacing it.
However, I disagree about why "nebulous consensus" and polls don't conflict: nebulous consensus simply doesn't apply at any level where polling can be used. Nebulousness of consensus exists at the level of the whole community and is accepted as an unavoidable limitation due to the size of the community. Nebulousness of consensus is not accepted at the level where polls are used in practice, though: when deciding what the consensus is of a specific set of active editors discussing an issue. Nebulousness there is synonymous with "no consensus" or "disagreement". — Saxifrage 00:14, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I do not know if we agree or disagree after reading that! I think that often a few editors can wikiedit and discuss an article without a need for any sort of numerical analysis. I think that breaks down when the number of editors increases, or the overall degree of disagreement increases. I also think it increases in areas such as policy where it is not so much a matter of fact as it is a matter of opinion. In these cases, I think polling helps understand the nature of the division and may also help provide a bridge if done well. --Blue Tie 00:28, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Explain to me why this is needed if we have WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a Democracy and the meta essays? -- Ned Scott 01:51, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Also, re: WP:CHILD, that example just shows how the real motivation behind all of this is Radiant's frustration in his push for other guidelines. Why are we even entertaining this idea anymore? -- Ned Scott 01:52, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

  • That's obviously false, since WP:CHILD is now at arbcom. It would be desirable to avoid similar problems in the future, though. >Radiant< 09:54, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I can only speak for myself, but I feel that the idea that "Voting is Evil" has badly influenced wikipedia and I want to see things improve. Furthermore, Radiant! has previously declared that this is consensus because it is standard practice. I disagree. But if I do not register and activate that disagreement with arguments, then his position becomes "True" by default. So that is why I am here.
Incidentally, I also happen to think that the phrasing in WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a Democracy is regrettable. I would change it as follows: "Its primary method of determining consensus is discussion, not voting. In difficult cases. Sometimes, straw polls or votes may be conducted to also help determine and validate consensus, but are to be used with editors should exercise caution and not to be treated as binding votes. allow a polling process to minimize or curtail a discussion leading to an agreed upon solution. In particular, editors are encouraged to talk back and forth to improve the articles in a manner that all can accept and editors with minority positions should be heard and their concerns given a full and fair treatment.".
Finally, I would suggest that dismissing Radiant's efforts as just frustration may not be in the spirit of assuming good faith. I happen to think he believes this is for the good of the encyclopedia. --Blue Tie 02:20, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

We have frequently used voting to resolve contentious issues

We have employed voting to resolve contentious issues of Wikipedia policy. For a few examples, see Wikipedia:Arbitration policy ratification vote, Wikipedia:Three revert rule enforcement, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/G4, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/1, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/10, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/11, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/13, and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/Blatant copyvio material. The Requests for adminship process is effectively a vote in most cases, because it is extraordinarily rare for an RFA to succeed with the support of less than 75% of the established users who comment on it. Carnildo's recent RFA attracted significant controversy precisely because its outcome was an exception to the usual practice. The claim that voting is strongly disfavored on Wikipedia simply does not comport with current practices. Thus, this essay should not be guideline. John254 22:22, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Very well said. In fact, that's exactly what I've been saying. This being a guidline goes against the practices of many Wikipedians and Administrators, thus it should be kept as an essay, regardless of wether or not Radiant! wants people to read it.--KojiDude (Contributions) 22:26, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • None of the links John cites are current practice (the newest of those citations is a year old). We have enacted several policies through a vote in the past, and we have enacted more policies without voting. Also, these citations are extreme examples of issues debated for months before a vote was called. Voting remains discouraged (and not forbidden), as well as often used ill-advisedly. By the way the ArbCom ratification vote is a textbook example of how not to hold a vote. >Radiant< 22:36, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Is there a consensus that it is a textbook example of how not to hold a vote or are you declaring that there is actually a verifiable source that declares that this procedure was simply wrong? --Blue Tie 22:46, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Check the history. The textbook error lies in leaving the vote open forever, which has led to people believing they could "halt" the arbitration committee a year later by gathering a bunch of people to vote against it. Needless to say that didn't work, but it did cause an unnecessary mess that way. >Radiant< 22:53, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Checking the history, I see that the vote was held open 1 week, not forever. It was not protected though. Is that what you mean? That vote pages should be protected?--Blue Tie 23:32, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • [1]. "This is a rolling vote, which means that further votes and expressions of support or opposition are very welcome". That is the problem. It was solved several months ago, though. >Radiant< 09:40, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
First you say we don't vote at all and never have voted, then you say we vote very rarley, and now you say we only voted a year ago. You know what I think? I think you're making this shit up as you go along, and you're desperatly trying to defend the article because of a WP:OWN issue. We vote frequently on Wikipedia. Straw Polls are used thousands of times a day. We vote in AfDs. We vote in the Board of Trustees Elections. We vote for the ArbCom thing. Saying voting is discouraged or against the rules is saying that all of the people participating in the things listed above are breaking the rules, and should be blocked. That is what this "guidline" says. Nothing you say or do can change the fact that we do vote on Wikipedia, and very often at that. We vote, and discuss each others opinions.--KojiDude (Contributions) 23:24, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
Voting is current practice to my knowledge—check out Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Sidebar redesign/Final draft vote for a recent example. In fact, I am in the process of writing a script to help with the approval voting process; if voting were not current practice I wouldn't bother devoting my time to coding it. --DavidHOzAu 23:54, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes, we do vote on standards. I had added a section on that several weeks ago. >Radiant< 09:40, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

--- Connection problems.... I am having a hard time with wikipedia right now. Probably cannot continue discussion. --Blue Tie 23:32, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't see any need to enact this as a guideline. We vote on stuff all the time, it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise. BUT there is a big difference between a vote sensu lato and a simple majority vote. To be honest, I've never thought of the two as synonymous, and I don't see it as at all counterintuitive that a vote might be decided in favour of the minority- it happens in real life all the time (although in fairness AfD and RfA are effectively supermajority votes, and in my opinion the better for it). All this "WP Is not a vote" stuff reminds me (and no offence to anyone is intended) of a kind of zombie mantra, that everyone repeats without actually thinking about whether or not it actually chimes with reality. We already have WP:Not a Democracy, which actually is accurate and which is widely accepted. Not sure why we need to extend this fallacy even further. Badgerpatrol 03:14, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

  • I believe that "AFD is not a vote" should be read as shorthand for "AFD is not decided by vote counting". >Radiant< 09:40, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
    • Interestingly, someone placed a "This is not a vote" template on an active RFA. >Radiant< 09:53, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
Yet the RfA policy actually calls it a vote. So they were in error--Blue Tie 17:37, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Discuss, don't vote/Draft

There you go. Voting is (of course) not forbidden, but people are encouraged to discuss things.

  1. AFD is not a majority vote, and people are encouraged to discuss on it rather than merely saying "k/d" and leaving.
  2. Policy/guidelines are not ratified by voting on them, with 3RR and parts of CSD as a historical exception.
  3. Standards are chosen by voting, such as the sidebar redesign.
  4. We also vote on people, e.g. on RFA, but this is subject to interpretation by the 'crats, and again people are encouraged to discuss rather than merely saying "s/o" and leaving.
  5. Feature requests are decided upon by developers, who have more important arguments to consider such as server load.
  6. Parliamentary-style motions and votes are ineffective.

I'm quite confident this describes current practice. Feedback and such welcome. >Radiant< 09:30, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

That looks good to me. I agree that it accurately describes current practice.
Given the increasing overlap with Wikipedia:Straw polls, I strongly suggest merging the two pages together to form Wikipedia:Polling. This title is entirely neutral (neither condemning nor condoning polling) and it would encourage users to actually read the page instead of parroting a catchphrase that they don't fully understand. —David Levy 12:22, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
A good description for new users who misunderstand the above discussions. --InShaneee 14:39, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I think Radiant!'s description describes current practice well. The part that is missing, that baffle's new and old users alike, is how Wikipedia changes. Many conflicts occur when a minority of very well intentioned people propose a different way of doing things that goes against the established consensus. Often, these proposals eventually get accepted after a long, difficult, and sometimes painful process. It would help to add a description of how things change:
  1. Change occurs slowly. Often starting with an experiment in a small corner of Wikipedia. Experiments should be encouraged as long as they do not cause major disruptions, and are labeled as experiments.
  2. When consensus is not clear, multiple experiments should be encouraged.
  3. If experiments catch on to the point that they become the norm, they can be considered to be approved by the community, and written into policy.
  4. Change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Major changes usually only happen in small steps. Revolutionary changes usually only come from edicts or software updates.
  5. Evolutionary change towards major changes that distrupt or threaten the pillars of Wikipedia must be prevented from continuing to evolve for the sake of the project.
--Samuel Wantman 16:09, 16 October 2006 (UTC)
I'd reduce that to a single point, if that, since it isn't just about voting. --InShaneee 17:31, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

I still think the idea that this is needed is a misconception and would most likely result in instructions creep. However, David's idea about merging this with the Straw polls page and making a Wikipedia:Polling page would likely take care of part of this concern. It would work with our existing guidelines rather than piling one on top of another. I like the idea and think we should explore it.

And I'm sure someone has probably pointed this out, but it should be noted that how polling is used isn't always to decide final outcome. Sometimes what you are polling about isn't about the proposed resolution at all.

I really don't like the wording of the Draft page; not because I agree or disagree with it, but because it attempts to address specific issues, making it a target for people to nitpick and try to find loopholes. The section on "Motions" seems badly done, because it's not talking about how a poll or vote is being used. Rather, it seems to be an attempt to scare off newbies than actually being a guideline. Less is more, and we don't need silly little sections talking about "Motions" or "Feature requests" to drive our point. For one, it doesn't matter whether or not we had voted on a lot of polices in the past, because that doesn't tell us if it was or wasn't a bad idea.

The wording on WP:NOT is probably the best way to sum up our view on voting/polling. If we want to expand on that in the form of a guideline, then ok, but we shouldn't try to redefine it, which is what this proposal seems to be doing (intently or not). -- Ned Scott 19:53, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

  • I agree that the bit on motions isn't all that useful. On the other hand, some people have a tendency to call a vote on feature requests, under the impression that the devs are more likely to listen if more people want a feature. Also, while it is true that whether we had voted in the past doesn't tell us if it was a good idea, the fact is that several people have been using precisely that argument, that since we have voted at some point in the past, voting must therefore be a good idea. >Radiant< 15:28, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Just a few of the problems with Wikipedia:Discuss, don't vote/Draft

The statement that "We have historically voted on a select few policies (WP:3RR, WP:ArbCom and the older parts of WP:CSD)" is unverifiable. We have a relatively large number of policies, and it would require weeks of research to carefully read through all of the talk page archives for every single policy to determine if they contain or link to additional votes which have been used to determine policy. The claim that "No guideline was ever enacted through a vote." is unverifiable for a similar reason.

Moreover, the assertion that "We have historically voted on a select few policies (WP:3RR, WP:ArbCom and the older parts of WP:CSD)", even if true, is misleading. Many non-contentious policy enactments and amendments have been effectuated without voting; consequently, the relatively small percentage of Wikipedia's total policy that has been created as a result of voting is unrepresentative of the extent to which voting has been used to resolve contentious policy matters.

The statement that "In all other cases, policy was decided through discussion." is factually incorrect. This certainly is not an example of deciding policy through discussion. Indeed, the persistent inability of discussion to resolve policy disputes practically necessitates the intervention of the Wikimedia Foundation or the Arbitration Committee to avoid massive edit warring on policy pages -- such as that seen on WP:DDV and WP:CHILD -- when there is strong resistance to resolving policy disputes by voting. Perhaps most instructive is the fact that the Arbitration Committee itself uses voting as an internal decision-making mechanism to avoid the gridlock that might ensue if it relied entirely on "discussion-based" consensus.

The assertion that "if a proposal is controversial, doing a headcount to see where the majority lies will not resolve the controversy, and may polarize it further. Controversy may spill onto the poll itself, causing debate on its mechanics." is inconsistent with Wikipedia:Consensus#Consensus_vs._supermajority, which states that supermajority support for a proposal can indicate consensus. Polling is particularly useful when an extremely small but vocal minority is creating the appearance of a dispute in discussions; under such circumstances, polling may be valuable to illustrate the outcome that most established users favor. John254 04:30, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

  • In response to the above - the items alleged to be unverifiable can, if you don't want to trawl through the history, easily be verified by asking some of the oldbies. The CSD mentioned that Danny inserted is, at present, under discussion, and was discussed earlier on the mailing list; discussion does not have to take place on the policy talk page. The paragraph on WP:CON that you cite states that "simple vote-counting should never be the key part of the interpretation of a debate", so that is not in contradiction with the draft. >Radiant< 15:22, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

I would dispute whether "the items alleged to be unverifiable can, if you don't want to trawl through the history, easily be verified by asking some of the oldbies." For instance, Phil Sandifer claimed that "The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia has a longstanding tradition of avoiding votes, and not taking votes all that seriously. The amount of major policy that has been decided by vote currently stands more or less at one piece - blocking for 3RR violations." [2], an assertion which is contradicted by the existence of Wikipedia:Arbitration policy ratification vote, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/G4, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/1, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/10, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/11, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/13, and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/Blatant copyvio material. Furthermore, Phil Sandifer himself made major edits to Wikipedia talk:Arbitration policy ratification vote [3] [4]. Now, I'm going to assume good faith, and presume that Phil Sandifer merely forgot about the existence of the Arbitration policy ratification vote whose talk page he himself edited. This, however, compels the conclusion that "the items alleged to be unverifiable" can not "easily be verified by asking some of the oldbies", because they might honestly not recall the existence of past votes that were used to enact or amend policies or guidelines.

This edit was indeed preceded by a large quantity of discussion concerning the utility of CSD G11. Nonetheless, this edit is in fact representative of a Wikimedia Foundation action that authoritatively resolved the question of whether or not CSD G11 should exist. Therefore, this edit does not represent policy making through "discussion based" consensus.

Perhaps the most important question here, however, is whether discussion-based consensus alone is capable of resolving policy disputes. The recent edit wars over the status of WP:DDV, WP:CHILD, and CSD G11 (before this edit) would seem to constitute examples of the inability of discussion-based consensus to resolve contentious issues. By contrast, Wikipedia:Arbitration policy ratification vote, Wikipedia:Three revert rule enforcement, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/G4, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/1, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/10, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/11, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/13, and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/Blatant copyvio material did resolve the questions that were voted upon. Perhaps we need Wikipedia:Voting is a necessary evil as a guideline :) John254 00:01, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

  • You are generalizing. You can't point to a few cases of voting and conclude from that that voting always works - and you can't point to a few cases presently under discussion where you claim consensus failed (a claim which is disputed) and conclude from that that consensus does not work. Phil correctly states that Wikipedia discourages voting, and it is reasonable for him to not remember every precedent since by his own admission (check his user page) he works by IAR and common sense rather than using the policy pages.
  • You may want to look at Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/3, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/4 and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/5, all of which were voted down and yet enacted anyway. There's also the fact that all these votes refer to clear-cut one-liner policy, and you cannot assume the same strategy works for more complex policy, or for guidelines. And as explained a couple sections up, the fact that we have voted at some point in the past does not imply that we have decided that voting is a good idea. Part of the wikevolution is learning from past mistakes (i.e. things similar to what you just showed votes for have in the past year been decided without voting, e.g. on CSD). >Radiant< 09:17, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Actually, it seems that the recent edit wars over the status of WP:DDV, WP:CHILD, and CSD G11 are typical examples of the inability of purely discussion-based, non-quantitative consensus to resolve policy disputes. Furthermore, the "non-notable groups" addition to CSD A7 portions of which were voted down in Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/3 and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion/Proposal/5 was added to CSD A7 six months later as shown here. And, (drumroll please) consensus for the "non-notable groups" addition to CSD A7 was determined as a result of the vote linked here. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this affair, however, is that Radiant! himself determined the existence of consensus for the "non-notable groups" addition to CSD A7 in the following manner:

That's 76% support after three weeks, in a high-visibility place and advertised in many others. Also, several of the oppose-voters object to the wording rather than the spirit. The proposal has obviously met consensus. I'll add it to WP:CSD now...[5]

Despite claims that little of Wikipedia policy has been enacted and amended using voting, we keep discovering more and more votes used to make policy :) John254 00:17, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

  • I agree that there are flaws with the present system (or lack thereof) for making policy/guidelines. I disagree that voting would be an improvement. There's also the fact that all these votes refer to clear-cut one-liner policy, and you cannot assume the same strategy works for more complex policy, or for guidelines. >Radiant< 09:32, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Eric was elected. Yes or no? Arbcom votes on its cases. Yes or no? WAS 4.250 05:38, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

  • Please read the draft. It specifically stated that we do vote on people. I'll add a line on the ArbCom. >Radiant< 09:17, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

My Objections to the new Draft

HUGE Problem with the following statement (and the whole section that is involved):

  • Statement: Policy and guidelines are not ratified through a vote. People sometimes think that a page cannot be a guideline if it wasn't voted upon, but on Wikipedia this is not the case. ... this means that is not necessary, and in many cases unwise, to call a vote or straw poll on a proposed policy or guideline.
As long as this statement is in here, I can't support this even as an essay; Particularly with NO CLEAR IDEA OF WHAT CONSENSUS IS, this is such a bad idea it can never be rescued. Policies and Guidelines are GOVERNANCE. Either this is decided by some reasonable and validatable process or I can't support it. What are reasonable and validatable methods? I can think of three but there could be more:
  1. The OWNING ENTITY with legal authority declares things to be a certain way by FIAT and ANNOUNCEMENT
  2. A selected and accountable (electable) GROUP formulates and decides upon such matters and ANNOUNCES them.
  3. The COMMUNITY decides with a WIDELY PROCLAIMED VOTE to VALIDATE the view.

However, a "self selected" group without accountability, under a system where "consensus" is not defined should NOT have authority to declare that their idea is policy. I feel very strongly about this.

Important problems with the following statements:

  • Title: Discuss, Don't Vote. Sets up the view that discussion and polling are necessarily not integrated functions.
  • Statement:"Decisions on Wikipedia are made by consensus" No definition as to what consensus means. Hence the meaning behind this statement is vague and easy to manipulate.
  • Statement: "it is preferred on Wikipedia to discuss issues rather than formally voting on them." Establishes the notion that discussion and voting are necessarily opposites.

I have QUESTIONS about the following statements:

  • Statement: "Indeed, these processes can be 'decided' in favor of the minority."
Is there an instance where such a decision in the minority actually occurred? (Ignoring sockpuppet issues). How do we know that was "consensus" other than simply a "declaration" by the minority that they have consensus? Indeed, how can that be "consensus" by any reasonable definition of the word?
  • Statement: "Once it has been decided by consensus to standardize an issue "
How is consensus to be objectively validated to be sure that it really and reasonably exists? What is the test for a "consensus failed"?

I actually like this statement but I do not see where it is necessary

"People Whether certain people are trusted for certain functions is put to a community vote, in particular on WP:RFA and with the ArbCom election. However, in both cases the vote results are subject to interpretation by the party who makes the decision (i.e. the bureaucrats or Jimbo). There is no exact "target" percentage that forms the cutoff point. Again, in these processes it is preferable if people discuss, ask questions of the candidate, and state their reasonings, rather than simply voting "yes" or "no" with no further comment."

--Blue Tie 15:39, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

For good or for bad, right now you can edit policy and guideline pages and people do and some of their changes remain unreverted and no votes are conducted normally in this process. This is how things are at the moment. My point is simply that not liking it doesn't stop it from being so. WAS 4.250 16:15, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree that is what happens, particularly for changes and recently I saw it not be a good thing. I saw a change that had been, in one form or another, enacted into policy for 8 months. The introduction into policy was simply made by edit. It was not challenged at the time, but was later weakly challenged. However, some editors did not like it and challenged more aggressively. Several discussions and polls showed support in the direction of this change of between 66 and 82%. Yet, the change was removed -- by what seems to me to be a minority -- and then protected by an Admin who had been involved in the dispute. To avoid further edit wars, the version with that popular change removed has been preserved. The people who removed it "declared" consensus for that removal.
All-in-all, it is squirrelly and vague a process and standard. However, if it is that way by default because we have not codified a formal system, THAT is one thing (chiefly neglect). But if we codify it as a formal rule, then we declare that it is certainly the way it should" be and THAT is what I disagree with. So to me there is a difference between benighn neglect and intentional enforcement of dysfunctionality. --Blue Tie 13:31, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

The complaint that consensus isn't defined doesn't really apply, because it remains that consensus is a core thing at Wikipedia. Defining it is far beyond the scope of this page. — Saxifrage 18:12, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

No problem about the problem of defining it being beyond the scope of this page, but when that condition exists, a policy that rests upon the vague and shifting sands of reliance upon consensus, is fundamentally flawed. --Blue Tie 13:31, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
That's just how Wikipedia is structured, and some see it as an advantage, others as a flaw. The fact remains that Wikipedia operates by consensus, even if we have a hard time defining it on paper. — Saxifrage 23:03, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't buy the idea that we have a "hard time defining it on paper". I think we refuse to do so. I believe that there is a refusal to define it. Consensus -- even in the way wikipedia uses it -- has been defined by others so definitions exist. But (at least some) wikpedians refuse to do this yet at the same time they rely upon consensus as a standard. Any "standard" which is undefined is not a standard and yet, supposedly consensus is one of the key standards. It is not a minor flaw in the process. As it applies here... "What is the consensus regarding this policy?" "Who says?" "How do we know that they are right?" I shake my head to see a slavish adherence to this dysfunctional concept when it causes obvious problems. --Blue Tie 12:12, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
I would agree, to an extent; I don't really think it's dysfunctional, but I think we should acknowledge that there are two principal decision-making processes at Wikipedia: consensus and arbitration. (Or if you prefer, dialogue and fiat.) It is, at least, somewhat confusing to speak of arbitration as consensus, as seems to have been done at some points in this discussion. The highest level of arbitration would be Arbcom, but it is also present whenever individual users step in to solve problems on their own. Both arbitration and consensus arise directly from the wiki process, and each meets the deficiencies of the other. Without appropriate decisions by fiat, the community would collapse under its own weight; without a consensus on core beliefs and policy, the community would dissolve.
The important point of DDV , I think, is that while polling can provide either a guide for arbitration (a guide which is usually followed by the closer) or an opportunity to forge a new consensus, the vote itself decides nothing. -- Visviva 15:31, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
I think that saying the vote itself can decide nothing is a mistake of sorts. I will go to an example. When the various factions were meeting in Philadephia to craft a new Constitution of the United States, there was serious doubt about whether they could succeed. The divisions were too great and there was a doubt that consensus could be achieved. How did they go about it? They discussed each and every issue. Down to discussing individual word choices in a phrase. (You would be surprised about how many modern constitutional issues were raised even then -- and specific wording proposed regarding those issues, but I digress). Over time as they discussed the matters they would settle on two or three proposals. They would then vote on these proposals, typically requiring a supermajority to pass. When things did not pass, they would be thrashed about and thrashed about until a general agreement was reached. Even, sometimes, when things did pass, further discussion and votes would occur to refine the matter. Then, after a clause or paragraph or section had been crafted, they would vote again. Finally the whole document was agreed to. By breaking the problems into tiny pieces, discussing it and coming to a group decision, it gave everyone the chance to be heard -- everyone felt that they got some say and some piece of the action. Did the votes decide things? Not exactly. The votes helped the members decide things. It was not the votes that decided, it was the members. However the votes helped develop consensus and gave focus to discussions. --Blue Tie 11:53, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Very well put, that last point. That cuts to the heart of this dispute. — Saxifrage 17:48, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
On the vagueness of the definition of consensus, yes, it's deliberately so. As I was trying to say above (but failing I see, on re-reading) is that the vagueness is considered an advantage by some, a flaw by others. I'm of the former. If consensus were formalised, then it would become a rule that could be used to beat people over the head and so be self-defeating. As it stands, people who try to beat others over the head with "consensus" simply fail because it can't be wikilawyered. — Saxifrage 17:47, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
I can see both sides of the issue. I agree that if it is defined too narrowly it can be used as a club. But here is my problem: There seems to be a "binary" approach to this problem. Black and white. True or false. If we have a vote, it is necessarily binary and unnecessarily divisive. To me this is simply not so. I suspect that it is a lack of familiarity with systems for conflict resolution and consensus building in groups that involve polling -- even though MOST such systems do include votes or polls. Even on something so supposedly binary as a vote, there could be better guidelines that reduce conflict. For example: Without some sort of arbitration a person cannot claim consensus contrary to the majority. This is not to say that a majority is consensus, but you cannot claim it if at least half of the people disagree. Just that one clarification alone, which is not unreasonable, would be a big improvement. There are more, that can retain a huge degree of flexibility and retain a focus on discussion yet not leave things entirely vague.
And I further note that there is a distinct difference between the notion of consensus in article editing vs consensus on Policy and Guidelines. These latter items, as elements of governance are even more appropriately decided by polling and votes than content would be.

--Blue Tie 11:53, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

I have to agree with Blue Tie. (Note: this will hopefully be my first and last post here for the week.) When I made my first post to this page, I had just come from Wikipedia talk:Village pump (proposals)/Sidebar redesign#mockups by letter where we had gone through 29 variants of the proposal using ordinary discussion and voting-like discussion. (For the record, we eventually reached a point we simply couldn't decide what to do because either option was just as good, and :drumroll: we had a straw poll that most of you took part in.) Anyway, it was apparent all the way back then that straw polls have a place on Wikipedia, and that discussion often takes on a straw-poll-like feel despite the lack of bold leading words, (ala AfD,) especially when discussion is over "which one is better".
I have observed that discussion and voting are often the same and go through the same motions — ruling out one of these implies ruling out the other. I'm glad to see that the article is finally moving in the right direction; let's keep it up. --DavidHOzAu 08:17, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I have to respond to Blue Tie by saying that it's not nearly as binary as he claims. Despite what some people seem to think, we're not writing a policy here to forbid voting. That would be black and white. Rather, we're writing a guideline that discourages voting. That's pretty gray and in the middle. The most important thing is that people should think of AFD (et al) as a discussion, and be encouraged to discuss in it, not simply select an option and leave. (Radiant) 15:28, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

My general concerns about DDV

I think that voting is evil is somewhat outdated. I agree that voting is a distant second best to true consensus, but it seems to me that a lot of disputes are resolved by something worse than both consensus and voting, a sort of Darwinian struggle.

  • True consensus: This is obviously the best case. As I understand WP:CONSENSUS, however, true consensus means you keep chewing on the problem until everyone, or very nearly everyone, agrees.
  • Darwinian "consensus": Lately, it seems to me that when someone declares consensus, they mean that they (1) are in the apparent majority, (2) have declared "we have consensus" and (3) willing to edit war to get what they want. (Of course, because they have "consensus", they aren't edit warring, just the minority editors). A vote is inconvenient in these cases not because it polarizes opinion, but because it records the absense of consensus.

On the other hand, I feel strongly that a lot of "outside opinion" procedures such as RFC's are essentially more like polling than they are not. Rarely, an RFC can convince someone in a dispute that they are mistaken about a core point, by citing to a relevant policy that no one has considered, or by finding a reliable source to replace a blog source. More often, RFC's work (if they work at all) by numerical pile-on -- when the editors see that many other editors (particularly ones they respect) make a particular judgment call the other way, they may change their mind, or at least disagree with but respect the "consensus." However, IMHO, it's the "votes" that do it, plus the identity and reputation of the voters, much more than the arguments.

Just my two cents, TheronJ 14:52, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, it seems like you are describing a true consensus to respect the vote.  :-) I don't mean to be fatuous... I think that the real reason voting is harmful is that it isn't native to the wiki process. Wikis evolve through a) individual action, and b) community consensus (in practice mostly negative consensus, i.e. a general unwillingness to accept certain changes). Voting creates a dangerous illusion that the outcome of the vote has some force of its own. But in practice a vote accomplishes nothing unless either a) a person with some special power (usually an admin) boldly chooses to accept its outcome, such as by deleting or moving a page, or b) the community shows a true consensus to abide by the result. In other words, again, voting can be a useful tool to guide arbitration or community practice. But the vote itself accomplishes nothing. Pretending otherwise puts us at odds with Wikipedia's very nature, and feeds into all sorts of misguided instruction creep. Voting is best avoided, in part, because it encourages a faulty conception of what this project is all about. -- Visviva 16:27, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid that RFC is a poor example in that it fails more often than not. (Radiant) 15:32, 10 November 2006 (UTC)