Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules

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This is the page for discussing the Ignore All Rules policy.

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Self evident[edit]

If this policy is self evident, why should I bother to ask a question about it on the talk page? Hyacinth (talk) 01:20, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Because something that seems self evident to you may not be self evident to another? And because another editor politely asked you to do so. Blueboar (talk) 01:39, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Are there any possible consequences to breaking a rule on Wikipedia? Hyacinth (talk) 01:54, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Sure there are possible consequences. Editors get blocked, banned or otherwise sanctioned every day. It is also possible to break a rule and have no consequences. ~ GB fan 02:01, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
If there are possible negative consequences, yet no possible positive consequences, to breaking a rule on Wikipedia, does it seem responsible to tell someone to break a rule without warning them? Can the reason why it's worth it for an editor to make a losing bet be stated in the policy itself? Hyacinth (talk) 02:11, 1 January 2018 (UTC) (02:15, 1 January 2018 (UTC))
The positive consequence that this policy is talking about is an improvement to the encyclopedia. What the policy says is that you can break a rule if it stops you from improving or maintaining the encyclopedia. If you think the policy needs changes you can propose them here to get consensus for the change. ~ GB fan 02:20, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Would you advise someone to break a law to improve Wikipedia? Hyacinth (talk) 02:42, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
No, but what does this have to do with anything? Our policies and guidelines aren't real-world laws. --NeilN talk to me 02:46, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
I wouldn't advise someone to break a law, and I also question what that has to do with this policy. ~ GB fan 02:56, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Every time a user follows this rule and breaks a different rule, they are put at risk. They may be banned for life. That is a fairly solid consequence to receive for following an immaterial rule. Hyacinth (talk) 03:01, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
We don't "ban for life". As an admin you should know this. You should also know we don't write policy to address (so far out as to be almost invisible) edge cases. --NeilN talk to me 03:06, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Give me an example of when a rule was followed and Wikipedia was harmed. Hyacinth (talk) 03:10, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Sure. See this? Big scary message saying "Do not restore or edit the blanked content on this page until the issue is resolved by an administrator, copyright clerk or OTRS agent." Look at the next edit. I decided (before I became an admin) that after doing the necessary research the IP was incorrect/trolling and restored the blanked article. "Following the rule" would mean our readers would be prevented from accessing the info until the perennially backed up CCI board investigated the case. --NeilN talk to me 03:23, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
We must have a misunderstanding because that is an example of this rule being followed that allowed Wikipedia to be improved, the opposite of what I asked for. Hyacinth (talk) 04:38, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Are you looking for an example where this was not followed and another rule was followed to bring harm to the encyclopedia? Hopefully there are no examples of that because that would mean we currently have something wrong in the encyclopedia. ~ GB fan 12:29, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
What is the "point of the policy" and can the goal be stated in the policy itself? Hyacinth (talk) 02:11, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
The point of the policy is already stated, improvement or maintenance of the encyclopedia. ~ GB fan 02:23, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
What historical edits is this a response to or criticism of? If this policy instead is anticipatory, what makes editors assume that other users would harm the encyclopedia? Hyacinth (talk) 02:41, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Hyacinth, I suspect you are not the Hyacinth, but someone who usurped this account :-). user:Hyacinth has been on Wikipedia for nearly as long as this rule has been here. The true Hyacinth would have known that the first place to look for the origins of the rule is its very first talk archives. Be it known to ye'all the rule was set forth at these auld lang syne when Wikipedia was feeble and its rules were both weak and strong. And these were few and confusing, including the very this one. Today the rules are no more few but infinitely more confusing and infinitely more strong and scary. So if one pauses and tries to contemplate and fathom and grasp and grok the whole wholeness of the Code of Wikipedia and its exegeses, they will never dare to even replace a dot with a full stop. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:01, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

Only experienced editors will recognize that the internal link, within "rules", to "Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines", makes it so that the policy only refers to Wikipedia rules when it says "rules". Noneditors may assume at first glance that the policy refers to any and all rules, including laws. Hyacinth (talk) 03:06, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Okay, at this point I have to suggest you step away from the computer and come back when your judgement is less... impaired. --NeilN talk to me 03:09, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Maybe you should WP:AGF and stop assuming that I am opposed to this policy in any way. Hyacinth (talk) 03:13, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
I never said you're opposed to this policy. I am saying some of the comments you're making are ridiculous and show a lack of common sense. --NeilN talk to me 03:17, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, unlike most of this chat, the last remark about a surpizing wikilink actually makes sense. I've been fixing non-evident wikipipes from common words for as long as I remember myself here. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:13, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

Improve and maintain[edit]

Much as "rule" is defined by its internal links to "Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines", "improve" and "maintain" need a definition. Hyacinth (talk) 03:15, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Why can't we go with the standard English language definitions? --NeilN talk to me 03:34, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
While we might be able to more clearly define "maintain", I don't think it is possible to define "improve" ... as that is a very subjective concept. One editor may think a given edit is an improvement (and thus ignore a rule to make it)... but another editor may disagree with that judgement, and my think the edit is NOT an improvement.
Perhaps this policy needs to acknowledge this, and give some advice on what to do when such disagreements occur (ie don't insist you are correct, stop and discuss the edit on the article talk page... explain why the edit is (or is not) an improvement... and seek outside opinions and consensus). Blueboar (talk) 03:40, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
There's lots of stuff in the linked essays, including Wikipedia:Understanding IAR#Successfully ignoring rules --NeilN talk to me 04:03, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Inherent

Since it takes it for granted, this policy needs a direct link to an essay about why it is inherently good to improve Wikipedia, how it helps individuals and the world and universities or something like that. Hyacinth (talk) 03:58, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Huacinth, Feel free to write that essay... then we will consider whether to link to it. Blueboar (talk) 04:51, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

I would suggest WP:GOOD, but that takes one to "good" articles; WP:Benefits, but that talks about creating an account; and WP:Worth it, but that doesn't exist; so I suggest Wikipedia:Why Wikipedia is so great or Wikipedia:Wikipedia is succeeding. Hyacinth (talk) 04:15, 1 January 2018 (UTC) (04:17, 1 January 2018 (UTC))

  • Philosophy

What philosophy does this policy descend from? Would a link to that philosophy make the policy worse and/or less clear? Hyacinth (talk) 04:02, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Per WP:NOTFORUM please stop mucking around here. If you don't like what another editor did, address that point without wasting everyone's time. Johnuniq (talk) 04:46, 1 January 2018 (UTC)


Can people please stop messing around with a one sentence major policy and propose changes here first? --NeilN talk to me 01:22, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

Come ON! ... Staszek Lem (talk) 01:52, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Jokes aside, it is way no longer a major policy. Pray tell me how many a time you told a newcomer to use it? In my practice I was always telling NOT to (mis)use it. Staszek Lem (talk) 01:52, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
I rarely advise new editors to use it... but I do remind experienced editors that they can use it. Blueboar (talk) 02:09, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Yep, it's a good reminder that one does not have to learn wikilawyering unless there is a controversy. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:30, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

I think that it has an immense impact by merely existing. North8000 (talk) 14:50, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

What is this discussion about? Should the page be protected or frozen, as is, if some editors are intent on changing it by themselves? It is the fifth pillar of Wikipedia, and is actually a non-policy policy, and, as the fifth pillar of this entire encyclopedic project, has a long history and certainly has its uses. Randy Kryn (talk) 14:52, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

I read it as saying that too often people are making big changes to a core policy without any discussion. North8000 (talk) 14:58, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

That's what the pillar protects against. There are so many rules and regs being written and voted upon that only one or maybe a handful of people are aware of each individual change or even of major policy shifts, and this pillar is a protection against anyone using the policies and guidelines for their own agenda, especially those which are little known or worded in a wiki-lawyering way. Enough people seem to be watching this to protect it against vandalism, so my question is, to save those watchers time, should it be permanently protected so someone can't just wander in and change a word or two. Thanks. Randy Kryn (talk) 15:06, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
And stop doing nonsense like this. And you're right about what you wrote above. It also ties into the 'B' part of WP:BRD. For example, if a newbie adds some good content but puts the source as an external link alongside the text, I'm not going to revert and yell at them for breaking the "no external links in the article body" rule. A thank you and some guidance are much more in order. --NeilN talk to me 15:11, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Why the freaking heck is it nonsense? Every policy and guideline has a "nutshell" hatnote. This one was missing. Your revert with edit summary 'come ON!' is hardly enlightening. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:02, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Repeating the entirety of the policy in the nutshell is unneeded and makes us look like unthinking robots. --NeilN talk to me 22:17, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
This is your (I'd say reasonable) opinion. However in my opinion this repetition only stresses the policy. I do not think that the added nutshell will increase the number of people thinking "this is nuts" after reading the policy, as this very talk page proves. (Anyway, I am not insisting on my change.) Staszek Lem (talk) 22:28, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

The whole struggle to keep this haiku of a policy in the form of an deep-thoughtful hauiku despite numerously reported misuses smacks of religious dogmaticism. The very fact that the shortest policy ever collected the longest talk archive is telling. It has much become like a verse from Koran which probably made sense to wild nomads back then, but today requires lots of tafsir freaking lots of Wikipedia essays to explain it. Staszek Lem (talk) 21:53, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

"There is a good reason for the KISS text of the policy" someone once said :-) But any changes should be suggested and workshopped here, instead of making policy changes on the fly. --NeilN talk to me 22:26, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes there is. But there is probably an equally good reason why time and again new generations of Wikipedians are coming to try and "fix" it. Could it be a good idea to add a disclaimer-like hatnote to this talk page, compiled from talkarchives, as a quick reference to aspiring improvers of this policy? Staszek Lem (talk) 22:41, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
Would be a better idea to just fully protect the page. The good faith addition of a nutshell which repeats the pillar in full would bring consistency to the site-wide use of nutshells, but because all it does is repeat the policy directly under it, it's not needed and makes the page look unusually repetitive. Randy Kryn (talk) 01:15, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

The difference is it's brevity. If you don't count other links, it's just one sentence. So ANY change is a major change. I don't know about protecting it, but as a minimum we should add something making that point and saying that any changes to core wording are major changes to a core policy and would first need a strong consensus in talk. North8000 (talk) 01:33, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Have a look at the current edit notice and if there are tweaks we can agree on, I'll make them. --NeilN talk to me 01:39, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
How bout adding "any change to the text of this core policy is a major change." — Preceding unsigned comment added by North8000 (talkcontribs) 02:19, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Potential addition for discussion[edit]

I think the IAR policy would benefit from including a caveat... something to warn newer editors that ignoring the rules can be controversial. We should make it clear that there may be disagreement as to whether ignoring a particular rule actually does "improve or maintain" the article. Thus, when ignoring a rule, editors should be prepared to answer questions, to engage with others on the relevant talk page. They should be prepared to explain how (in their opinion) ignoring the rule will improve or maintain the article... and finally, something that says editors should defer to consensus if others disagree with their opinion. Blueboar (talk) 15:13, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

I'd like something that says, "If IAR is the only justification you can provide for your actions, then you're using the policy wrong". --NeilN talk to me 15:17, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Good point / explanation. But is there really a problem to be solved there? And the cost would opening the floodgates of cluttering up this policy.North8000 (talk) 15:30, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Exactly, and any of these concerns can be covered in the See also section if they're not already. The minimal text of the page seems fine as is, and any tinkering or explanations will only add or subtract to the policy (actually one of the Five Pillars of Wikipedia), and thus subtly or unsubtly change it. Randy Kryn (talk) 15:34, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
This is a thinning of the herd rule... if people don't have the common sense to understand it....I don't think they should be editing here at all. No need for allows us to see who has common sense to edit here.... if someone needs more of an explanation they shouldn't be here.--Moxy (talk) 15:53, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, some people grew up and exist in pretty regimented environments so I have some sympathy when they ask, "what the heck is this?" --NeilN talk to me 15:57, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
Your right in a way.... the old days of Wikipedia our gone....we no longer are filled with academic individuals but people with their own point of view and causes. But we have many essays that cover this.--Moxy (talk) 16:01, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Merge content from essays[edit]

I don't see why this policy should remain at just one sentence. The essays under See Also are quite useful in improving the policy. Proposing to add content from Wikipedia:You can't follow all the rules, all the time, Wikipedia:Ignoring all rules – a beginner's guide, Wikipedia:Understanding IAR, Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means, Wikipedia:Ignore all rules/Versions. KingAndGod 15:00, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

IMO, in general, such would detract from / dilute it. North8000 (talk) 17:32, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
Talk page archives are bulging and bursting with suggestions akin to yours. The answer was always "No". I don't see why -- read the archives. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:28, 4 May 2018 (UTC)