Wikipedia talk:Governance reform

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Policy and guideline review proposal[edit]

Ok, I wrote up the proposal. (For those who haven't read the discussions above, its format is somewhat of a cross between DRV and Arbcomm.) Thoughts/ideas/issues/concerns/etc are welcome. - jc37 23:43, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Interesting. One obvious matter that doesn't seem to be very explicit: would the determination of policy/guideline/essay/junk made by the committee be binding, or would it be merely an opinion? (If it's the latter, we'd be back to the same problem of having no usable method for causing the community to come to a decision.) Kirill (prof) 03:35, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
It looks like a good start to me. Someone left some helpful comments on the proposal's talk page and I added a few suggestions of my own that I hope are also helpful. Cla68 (talk) 04:08, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. I've responded there. - jc37 06:13, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
(Shameless friendly notice) - More discussion welcome. : ) - jc37 22:36, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

brain drain?[edit]

An editorial body... kinda large; at least 20 souls... made up (presumably) of the English Wikipedia's finest editors... anybody other than me seeing potential for serious brain drain problems here? Who's gonna do all the editing? Who'll be left to run the various content review processes and WikiProjects... not to mention who'll be left to write articles? Ling.Nut (talk) 10:34, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Take a look at any ArbCom member's edit history. I don't think it will have a dramatic effect on our editorship. Nifboy (talk) 22:24, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
There's an interesting bias there. Arbcom members who have burned out are no longer on arbcom, so you're not counting those ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:53, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
To be fair, there are also several cases of burnout by good people who were heavily involved in policy discussions, even if it wasn't in any official fashion. Nifboy (talk) 03:03, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Guidance Committee[edit]

See Guidance Committee, my proposed solution to the problem everybody seems to be making a fuss about. — Thomas H. Larsen 04:34, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

A thought[edit]

Maybe the problem is that we have too many policies and guidance, and they are causing the problems, not the consensus model. Maybe we need to remove vast tranches of policy and guidance which are causing division, because by definition they don't have consensus. Maybe we need to look at the arbitration committee and work out how to empower it to provide a binding arbitration in cases it accepts, and empower it to arbitrate on issues which are disrupting the purpose of Wikipedia, which is to build an encyclopedia collaboratively through consensus, and empower it to protect that purpose by ruling against behaviour which does not build an encyclopedia through consensual collaboration.

Maybe we need to step back and work out what works and what doesn't. Do we do okay building an encyclopedia? Well, how do you measure that? The featured article process seems to be working, and those are supposed to be the articles we believe are of encyclopedic standard. The rest of it seems to be a side issue. Maybe we need to start writing our policies and guidance with the goal of Wikipedia at its heart. Hiding T 13:55, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

It sounds to me, possibly mistakenly, that part of the idea of the above is to give ArbCom more power. That might not be a bad idea, but some people might object, possibly rather strenuously. I also agree that having any body who has pressure to write policies on a regular basis, as opposed to an as needed basis (however that's defined) would definitely be a bad idea, because of the likely proliferation of new policies and guidelines. How to avoid giving the impression that ArbCom or whomever doesn't wind up having a greater degree of power than they do today is to my eyes the big question. It might be answerable, but it is still a question. John Carter (talk) 14:49, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I'm not giving Arb-Com anymore power than they were granted when they were founded and established for themselves from Jimbo's delegation of power. See this version for details of the extent of their powers. Note The arbitration committee exists to impose binding solutions to Wikipedia disputes, which equates to my statement that they provide a binding arbitration. Note they deal with only the most serious disputes and cases of rule-breaking which equates to my statements that they arbitrate on issues which are disrupting the purpose of Wikipedia and that they protect that purpose by ruling against behaviour... What I am actually doing is asking the arbitration committee to fulfil its remit. I am giving them no more power than they have already. That a case has been before arb-com twice indicates they are not imposing binding solutions. We need to work out why. Is it the fault of the committee or the community? Have we lost respect for our policies and guidance such that we will no longer respect them if they are endorsed? If that is the case, why would a pol-com work? Hope that clarifies. Hiding T 15:36, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
"We have to many rules and too many politics" - this is all nice general talk that anybody will agree with. But in practice, if you would ask individual people, who introduced the given rules, they would all tell you they are necessary. For example, a year ago, new spoiler warning policy WP:SPOILER was introduced, and it was and still is divisive, while the original spoiler warning policy was descriptive and completely neutral (it just said basically that spoiler warnings will happen, and how to switch them off if you don't like them). But try to change it now, or just read the recent discussion, and you will see that people who introduced the change are very very resistant to change it back (while claiming along that it's a minor issue that shouldn't worry anyone). I think you have a really idealistic view of things on Wikipedia (and I had it too, before I happened to witness this situation). In practice, there is need for firm rules of decision making, so people could rely on the rules and trust each other. Just saying well "we will decide by consensus", where it is not clear to all parties how to objectively determine it, is a recipe for disaster. That's why I propose voting about issues as such a measure. Samohyl Jan (talk) 04:37, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
See, I sit here and come from the position, why do we even need a policy on spoilers. We just need a consensus on what to do. It appears the consensus hasn't altered that much if you compare initial thoughts, with the current ones. [1]. I don;t have an idealistic view of Wikipedia, I have a very pragmatic view. I'm here to collaborate with other people. That sometimes means I don't get what I want. Regarding Wikipedia:Spoilers, as you keep mentioning it for the purposes of an example, what do you think the consensus is? What do you think current best practise is? What do you think serves the goal of writing a NPOV encyclopedia? Hiding T 09:13, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
It's an interesting piece of history (the [2]), and I didn't know that. However, this version was probably written by one editor, so it's questionable if it had consensus at the time it was written. I was referring to this version, which stayed there unchanged (in spirit) for several years, cf. [3] for example. The version I am referring to is descriptive, and doesn't prescribe any policy (allows spoiler warnings (SWs), in fact), unlike the current one. I think that currently, there is no consensus on the matter, as some people apparently want to allow for spoiler warnings. I personally don't believe it's an NPOV issue (there are no two sides, just a fuzzy boundary what is and what isn't a spoiler), it's more editorial issue (just like naming or ordering of the article paragraphs); however, the current practice is not to have SWs, because the policy is protected and enforced by people who like the current status quo (obviously, current practice doesn't automatically equal consensus, just like in a totalitarian regime, the current practice doesn't equal what people actually want). I also think if large part of users (albeit probably minority) finds SWs useful, they should be allowed, and I think that usefulness for the reader is the ultimate criteria for a good encyclopedia (of course, WP:NOT applies too, but WP:NPOV follows from usefulness).
But the point is, for me, the problem is not what I want (or spoiler policy) at all. I would agree with the current version, if it would be arrived to by fair process, but unfortunately, it wasn't. That's why I am using it as an example, not because I disagree with the decision. Also, I proposed two compromises during the discussion, so the matter is not quite black and white. But the other side didn't want to compromise and didn't want fair process. That's why think there should be firm rules about decision-making, to prevent cases like that. Samohyl Jan (talk) 00:30, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, there are firm rules. A group of editors can't simply assert their position has consensus. This one needs some thought. So we have one side who do not wish spoilers, and one side who do wish spoilers, and we need to work out where the consensus lies, is that correct? Hiding T 10:21, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
This is precisely what happened - in the discussion, there is even point where there is even an argument if there is a consensus. Anyway, I am not interested in the problem anymore, and neither anyone else from the side that lose, so I don't want to try to "solve" it with your help (not because we are happy with the situation, it was just not possible to make a compromise). Part of the problem was that the guideline was changed and most of the SWs were deleted at the same time, and one was used as a supporting argument for the other in a circular fashion. But just for the sake of explanation, here are the two compromises I proposed:
  1. After all the SWs were deleted from Wikipedia, leave the guideline at the original state (SWs can be added at the article creators' discretion) and do not remove any other en-masse.
  2. Change the original guideline so that SWs are hidden by default, and must be enabled in the browser by anyone who wants to see them (this is in fact the reversal of the original guideline, which showed them by default but described a method how to hide them).
Anyway, I don't understand what you mean by "there are firm rules". Obviously, a group of editors (some of them admins) asserted their position has consensus, and ArbCom refused to look into that case. Where is no prosecutor there is no judge. The (grim) reality of Wikipedia is there are no firm rules, as can be seen from WP:SNOW or WP:IAR. Samohyl Jan (talk) 22:22, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Now there's the problem. There are firm rules on consensus, on civility and so on, but they are supposed to be enforced by Arbcomm, ultimately. That they chose not to do so appears to be an issue here. Personally, I have never understood why we can't have a simple Wikipedia contains spoilers appended to the tops of all appropriate pages. That would solve the issue, if you ask me. But as you are not interested in building a consensus, then it appears the consensus model works, since by silence you approve the position we have now. Sadly, that is how consensus works. By definition all editors who feel a way about an issue need to collaborate together to build a consensus closer to their position. This doesn't mean they have to insist on their position, but if they believe there methd is better practise and has support, they should demonstrate both. Intriguing, though. What would happen if we implemented such a solution. Consensus can change, therefore... Hiding T 13:56, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
I am interested in building consensus, but there has to be some progress on that. The discussion lasted one year, and the opposite side didn't move an inch. You say "this is how consensus works"; if it really works that way, then it is a bad thing. Are really the people with most time on their hands supposed to win? If we had voting (whose rules would be respected by all parties), we could solve that in a month. And if someone would still complain about the result, we could vote about more consensual (or compromising as above) solution next month. There would be no useless discussion whose arguments have bigger merit (everybody would decide by themselves) and in three months, everyone would be happy. That's the system I envision. Samohyl Jan (talk) 21:45, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
In the case of a vote, wouldn't you have simply lost the vote? --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:06, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) Surely that depends on who votes, doesn't it? The Wikipedia system does not allow for real representation in ordinary votes. Many debates take place with people who might be interested completely unaware that the debate is taking place. And then those with some attachment participate. Sure, the theory is that arguments prevail. But in practice, when most arguments are being presented in a certain direction, there is then a bias presented to whoever closes, if that is what is going to happen. There are classic solutions, and one of the classic solutions will come, almost certainly, if a more wiki-compatible one does not arise. The proposal for an elected body is a classic solution. And it has lots of problems. I see Wikipedia, currently, as self-destructing, slowly but surely, building up reservoirs of ill-will and burnout. Trying to develop and maintain articles can be like pushing a boulder up the hill. Maybe it's just that I have a cold, but I feel like jumping ship. --Abd (talk) 00:53, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

In response to Kim: Let me rephrase your question - if the other side would win, why avoid voting about it? Why resort to underhanded tactics? Anyway, in direct democracy, it's never too much about particular win or lose. Sometimes you win (on average in the majority of cases, in fact), sometimes you lose. Even if a side loses their vote, it's not lost time - they can be a significant majority, so next time they can convince more people to join them. And next time, the proposal can be made more compromising for both sides. Samohyl Jan (talk) 05:18, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, that's how the consensus model works too, except we take more time to figure out what compromises might be possible. I understand the situation you were in didn't end up optimally from your perspective. Did I already ask you if you'd like to revisit it? Can you link to previous discussions and so? --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:51, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
I already stated above that I am not interested in that anymore, and explained my reasons. Especially, I explained that I don't mind to lose, but I do mind if the process is unfair. I don't know what help could you be to that if I have to explain that again. And the "we take more time" line is laughable, because the change in spoiler warnings was rushed through in few days. Samohyl Jan (talk) 05:55, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Ah, ok, well, if you're not interested in correcting that and making things fair... <scratches head>. I'm confused. --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:55, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I am interested in making things fair, but this is a systemic problem, not a problem with a single policy. It has to be solved on the right level. You say it's not a systemic problem, and that's where we disagree. Samohyl Jan (talk) 09:04, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
So show me. :) --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:30, 25 May 2008 (UTC) ut oh... this is treading in familiar territory

What an efficient "governance" system for Wikipedia would do is to reduce discussion participation (ordinarily) such that controversial issues are discussed between a small set of editors, with all significant points of view being represented, directly or indirectly. Small scale discussion is how consensus organizations find consensus, it's very, very difficult to reach it on the basis of large-scale discussion. Delegable proxy is designed to make it possible to reduce the scale without reducing representation. If those who are trusted by most editors can collectively find consensus, it is very, very likely that this consensus will be accepted by the community. Delegable proxy is a nonbureaucratic and non-imposed implementation of systems that are in common use by facilitators hired or engaged by organizations to build consensus. That's why it could be so interesting here. It uses existing process and requires no change to that, the only thing that is new is a proxy table. I'm trying an experiment in my user space, see User:Abd/RfC. We'll see what happens; the big problem is getting people to lift a finger to either participate or name a proxy. I've encountered situations (off-wiki) where it seemed the majority agreed it was a good idea, but still, nobody lifted a finger but me. More recently, there have been some minor successes. The idea is new, and we have filters to protect us from new ideas, and for good reason. --Abd (talk) 17:36, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Why don't you implement it rather than expecting other people to lift a finger? Start your own wiki and, as god-king, put your ideas into action. If no one wants to contribute to your project under the governance structure you put in place, that could be a sign there's a fatal flaw in it. You tried to get people to participate in your plan here, and that failed, so that's obviously a dead end. Try something else. Just a suggestion. And when I say "Start your own wiki" I don't mean that in a dismissive "go away" sense, but I am seriously suggesting that you start your own wiki. Who knows, it might be good for the wikisphere. Tisane (talk) 12:40, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Is this over?[edit]

Did this discussion go stale? I've just discoved it. I've set down my own thoughts at User:Scott MacDonald/Community Advisory Council.--Scott Mac (Doc) 16:51, 26 January 2010 (UTC)