Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules/Archive 16

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

It didn't occur to me.

No name change for WP:IAR is likely to occur at this point in time. No change to the 12words is likely to occur at this time. WP:UIAR is the most likely prospect for a change to the page, if FG and Chardish can just hang in, and keep the debate going for Two Years or so. Yes/No --Newbyguesses - Talk 23:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I am working on rewriting the last paragraph of UIAR so that it says enough to be useful without saying anything wrong. I haven't seen anyone challenge what is in the rest of UIAR, which suggests to me that it is pretty on-target. Once I fix that last paragraph (with continuing feedback from others), I'll formally propose putting the full text of the C/FG version on WP:IAR.
With the availability of UIAR, I don't think we'll have to continue perpetuating IAR as an unexplainable rule. The explanation needs a tiny bit more tweaking, then we can proceed.--Father Goose (talk) 01:26, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

So it just occurred to me...

...that this page needs to be moved to Wikipedia:Ignore rules and WP:IR. Written policy simply describes actual practice--nothing more, nothing less. There are three rules that we can never ignore, full stop, in this order: WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:BLP. WP:IAR as written is factually wrong. Lawrence § t/e 19:00, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

But its Wikipedia:Ignore all rules..? WP:IR (Wikipedia:WikiProject Irish Republicanism) needs to be moved to →WP:WPIR (WikiProject). The current WP:IR can be a Disambig for WP:IAR, WP:WPFR and the newly moved WP:WPIR. Make sense?--Hu12 (talk) 19:36, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Whichever works, for the redirects. Is there any objection to this? There is simply no valid basis to ever ignore NPOV, V, or BLP that I can imagine. Does anyone have a scenario where you can? Lawrence § t/e 19:47, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
If we're to rename the policy, Wikipedia:Ignore the rules sounds better and retains the same meter. Also, WP:ITR is available. —David Levy 20:12, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. I believe that those rules can be ignored in situations where doing so improves or helps to maintain the Wikipedia. I'm somewhat puzzled by your assertion that "written policy simply describes actual practice" (my emphasis), but if this is the case, we can simply be prepared to ignore those rules in such contingencies, if it becomes necessary, and our written policy will already describe our actual practice. With regards to David's suggestion, I feel that there is a problem in that 'ignore the rules' cannot be easily disambiguated from 'ignore some rules.' Since "ignore all rules" are the first three words of our canonical twelve word policy, to replace them with 'ignore the rules' is a very radical shift in the meaning of that policy. (which rules, one might later ask? The other rules, besides WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:BLP, another might answer.) It worries me a little bit, if the same people who are opposed to the explication of the policy - because, to my understanding of the argument, this might lead to a drift in the meaning - prove to be those who are most comfortable with radically re-writing the policy so that it means something other than what it means now. I imagine that this is a misperception on my part, but it's discomforting. — (talk) 22:06, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
For the record, I neither support nor oppose a move. I'm merely suggesting an alternative title to Wikipedia:Ignore rules that could be used if such an event occurs. —David Levy 22:19, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Understood, and thank you for the clarification. I had noted the 'if,' but wasn't sure if you meant to encourage the idea. — (talk) 22:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I say, keep the "all", and let each editor struggle with wrapping their head around that concept. That's a valuable learning process. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:02, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I would like to remind everyone, especially User:Lawrence (and GTBacchus) of this from Wikipedia:Five pillars.

Wikipedia's official policies and guidelines can be summarized as five pillars that define the character of the project.

NOWHERE are WP:NPOV, WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:NPA and the WP:GFDL, as considered at WP:FIVE described as rules. They are PRINCIPLES.

These Principles cannot be negated, except by ending the project.

ALL RULES may be ignored. The specific "words" which make up WP:V, for instance, may change slightly, and some wording mayin fact be ignored if it leads to trouble. But the PRINCIPLE which is expressed in WP:V may not be ignored.

(Which is not to say that a '"change of name" may not be a good thing., though it has been suggested before, with no success.) --Newbyguesses - Talk 00:58, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that's just right, Newbyguesses. Rules, being text documents, may be ignored. All of them. In fact, I'm a little leery of anyone who doesn't ignore WP:CIVIL - if you have to read a policy page here to figure out what it means to be civil, then something's wrong. I can ignore - it's only an approximation, and not useful in all circumstances, nor remotely necessary in most circumstances - but I'd better not ignore gravity. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:06, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Please expand here, GTB. I am waiting to hear you say that we cannot, without severe consequence, "ignore" our principles. --Newbyguesses - Talk 01:11, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I dunno, NBG, is this some kind of trap? If I "expand", then you might need to change the settings on the archive bot again, and program it to just wait by this talk page with a baseball bat for me to show my face. ;)

The consequences of ignoring gravity are that I don't try to ski anymore. There are certain relevant and simple facts: This is an encyclopedia (as opposed to a rumour mill or a publisher of original work). Civility opens doors and smooths paths in life (as opposed to dickishness, which earns one enemies and compromises one's effectiveness in a collaborative environment). The Wikimedia Foundation owns the website, and they get to make licensing decisions with material that we submit. Ignoring these facts won't dislocate your shoulder, but you won't edit the wiki for long that way either, and you'll generate a lot of heat of your way down. (You won't get to chat up the ski bunnies at the lodge bar with fictions about your epic wipeout, either)

Yes. I agree that the principles expressed at WP:5P can't really be ignored, if you wish to claim that you're working on the same project as the rest of us. Fidelity to those principles may require that the text of the pages be ignored, at times. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:28, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

(e/c) Interesting sidetrack here, I'd recommend a hockey stick (referee might not be watching) rather than a baseball bat (everyone's fallen asleep). How did we wander into supremacy of principles over rules? Who disputed that? To return to the origin of the thread, no, it's ignore - all - rules. Respect the principles, but ignore all rules. It needs to be uncompromising, GTBacchus said it, "let each editor struggle with wrapping their head around that concept. That's a valuable learning process." Everyone has to individually figure out how IAR works within the five pillars. Franamax (talk) 01:50, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Under what possible scenario can we ignore NPOV to improve the encyclopedia? <boggle> Lawrence § t/e 01:36, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

If the page WP:NPOV says something that isn't consistent with what you know NPOV really means, then you may ignore what the rule says, in favor of what it should say. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:41, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
(ec with GtBacchus)Yes, spider. My "trap" was set for you, Lawrence Cohen!. Both GTB and myself are saying (I think) that you CAN ignore the specific wording of WP:NPOV, and WP:CIVIL, if the wording is unclear, or has recently been "updated" in a way that is unhelpful. I FULLY AGREE with you, though, that if some editor begins to edit in a way which is contrary to the PRINCIPLE of a Neutral Point Of View, then that editor is likely to be causing the project, and other editors trouble. To restore the Principle of NPOV, editors will probably have to revert, or modify the first editor's work. (Hope I aint putting words in any-one's mouth, and it wasn't a trap, anyway, just groping for enlightenment, thanks.) --Newbyguesses - Talk 01:53, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Hrm. You got me, there. Lawrence § t/e 02:19, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
And I'd like to state that I'm in broad agreement with Newbyguesses and GTBacchus on this. One can try to wikilawyer WP:NPOV, for instance, to get information they don't like removed from an article (such as valid criticism or controversy). The principles of the rules can be subverted by selective interpretations of the words found on the policy pages. But IAR helps to keep the principles intact by emphasizing that the rules are just words.
Ignore all rules is an overstatement, but it's an enlightening one. It has a certain historical weight to it as well: "Ignore all rules" was the first rule on Wikipedia, and hopefully it will remain the first rule on Wikipedia forever. Without it, we will devolve into an insider's club (those who enforce the rules and those who get kicked out for not obeying them. Sad to say, that scenario is already quite common.)--Father Goose (talk) 03:43, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I fully agree with Father Goose: ::::--Ignore all rules is an overstatement, but it's an enlightening one.-----
(Whee, I am at an internet cafe - like Formula 1, compared to my "usual" system.) --Newbyguesses - Talk 04:01, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure how much of an overstatement it is, as the real message is: "stop thinking in terms of rules at all". That's hard. It requires paradigm shifts. -GTBacchus(talk) 07:35, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I like the name the way it is. Really, I don't care if I get a blue shed, or a red shed, as long as it is a shed. (1 == 2)Until 16:56, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
The name-change suggestion seems to have died in the water, so let's START a NEW SECTION. This section is getting too long, and has served it's purpose.(I like No firm rules as a title, but Ignore all rules has too much going for it.) And, why is no-one commenting in the BIG survey? Is it "futile"? Does no-one understand what to do? Is it wrong? Can no-one be bothered to begin? I am confused (as usual). Answers, if any, in a new section please, or at "The IAR page will look like this in two months", thanks --Newbyguesses - Talk 20:50, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
It's wrong. I don't see any use in having us make proclamations as to what we think the IAR page will look like in two months' time. Even if it were a poll as to what we wanted IAR to look like, better just to leave it open-ended than to pre-formulate our answers. We've all pretty much established our respective positions and apparently feel no need to line up for a head count; the most constructive thing we can do right now is just keep talking with each other and trying to get our views in sync.--Father Goose (talk) 21:35, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I was trying to move the debate forward. You misunderstand the title of the section -- The IAR page will look like SOMETHING in two month's time, whether we debate, chat, or all take a hike and go write articles. Notice, FG, that the original section with all the views about UIAR (original) is now in the archives, so that debate is now gone, with nothing to show for it. Archiver settings? --Newbyguesses - Talk 23:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

There are no rules we can "never" ignore. There are simply certain rules which it is inconceivable to find an example where you could justifiably do it. Lawrence, your original list wasn't complete: WP:CIVILITY should be a part of that too. But of course even WP:CIVILITY can be ignored too.   Zenwhat (talk) 13:42, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

It's a very good idea to ignore "WP:CIVIL", the page. I'm a little worried about anyone who reads that page. The principle of being civil, I wouldn't recommend ignoring ever. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:17, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Another angle

For your consideration:

Before applying any rule on Wikipedia, ask yourself whether following that rule makes sense in that context: will it help the project? If so, then apply the rule. If not, then ignore it, and help the project instead of applying the rule.

I'm not promoting this as anything in particular, but it's a sort of heuristic way of expressing the second popular interpretation of IAR, the first being that you don't have to learn the rules before editing. At least, I think those are the two main interpretations. Anyway, if someone thinks a version of this rule-of-thumb might have a place in one of the essays, cool. Almost every bullet point on WIARM follows naturally from it, I think. (Spirit vs. Letter, No Lawyering, Description vs. Prescription, Mindfulness & Thoughtfulness, etc.) -GTBacchus(talk) 21:19, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that the last part (If not, then ignore it, and help the project instead.) implies that you were never really intending to help the project in the first place. :) SynergeticMaggot (talk) 21:25, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Huh... I intended it as, you were intending to follow the rule, but then you realized it wouldn't help. I added four words. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:43, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
The way it read the first time, gave me the wrong impression. Must have slipped my mind as to the exact context. No worries. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 21:52, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

WT:IAR header

I've fiddled around with the header a bit, as it was getting rather messy. Maybe we could intergrate the archives into it as well? Oh, and could someone set up the "e" icon? I can't get it to directly edit. microchip08 Find my secret page! Talk to me! I feel lonely! 20:34, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Done. As non-related advice, you should avoid using <font>. But not a big issue. --Izno (talk) 04:48, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

KISS:12 to 2

We can knock out some more words.

  • If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

New version:

  • Improve Wikipedia.

Like its brethren, this rule has some interesting properties. :-)

--Kim Bruning (talk) 05:00, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

No, that wouldn't be helpful. —David Levy 05:03, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
If I was suggesting it be used on this page, I would have simply boldly done so. Right now I'm just playing with the wording to see if there are more useful things that can be said. (and not necessarily here.). I'd be glad to hear your constructive input. --Kim Bruning (talk) 05:09, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
Um, "Improve Wikipedia" is 2 words. I cant think of a comment that is as short as that. How about, interesting? --Newbyguesses - Talk 10:34, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
What if we were forced to choose, Kim, by some future generation of radical brevitists? What if the rule was only one word? Would you throw your support behind 'Improve', or 'Wikipedia'?
[My apologies to our current 'brevitists', as this is, implictly, an unfair characterization of their position. My remark is intended only for comic effect.] (talk) 21:23, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
Behind "Improve", of course. If editors end up improving the entire world by curing cancer, ending all war, and eliminating famine, then this would be an unfortunate and unavoidable side-effect, which we would simply have to live with. --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:23, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
You aren't thinking laterally enough. The ideal version of IAR would contain zero words, and cause everyone looking at it to forget every rule they had ever learned.--Father Goose (talk) 01:10, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Similar to The Game then, is it? --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:45, 26 March 2008 (UTC) urk... was someone over-zealous at AFD again?
Perhaps more like this game. The Game is actually at DR right now, and likely to rejoin us soon.--Father Goose (talk) 04:47, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
That change would diminish the intended meaning of the policy. (1 == 2)Until 14:18, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
<this page intentionally left blank> might have some interesting issues, yes. ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:25, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Anybody here who is neutral, with a lot of spare time?

In order to:

  1. Consolidate discussion.
  2. Clarify what "past consensus" means.
  3. Work towards a meaningful future consensus.
  4. Establish who is responsible for long-term edit-warring (or if there is any such long-term edit war):

Could anybody here who is a neutral party and with a lot of spare time, create a list of all proposals, arguments for such proposals, and names of those who supported such, from the 16 archived pages of discussion?

Then, if anybody would like to comment on a particular proposal, we focus narrowly within that thread instead of creating more and more threads on the same issues, or even essentially trivial non-issues.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:47, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

I would prefer my words not be summarized. I would say that if you read 3 or 4 sections then you have a pretty good summary of the past year. We are only going in circles here.
I also think it is counterproductive to try to determine consensus based off of archives. Consensus can change. If you want to know consensus, ask a question and get your answers. I fully support the idea of narrowly defined threads with the intent of determining consensus though. (1 == 2)Until 15:55, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
The good thing about summarization, though, is that it might help the discussion progress. If we can all agree on a short paragraph that describes what the debate had been about, and what people's positions had been, then we have something constructive that will help frame further discussions. Debate, after all, clarifies thought, and thought can lead to insight, and insight can lead to revelation, and revelation can lead to consensus. BRDTIRC, to coin a string. Would you be willing to summarize your own position, as you see the essential elements to be, yourself?
[A BNF grammar for wikipedia debates would be sort of neat, I think. Just an idle thought.] (talk) 17:46, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
It is difficult to summarize my position on the 27 odd attempted changes that apparently have no pattern. There really has been no consistent suggestion for this page. I guess my position is that since policy is meant to reflect the wide acceptance of the community, edits to policy should as well. (1 == 2)Until 18:16, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think "summarizing threads" are good, because you can't reply to them, and I doubt we can all agree on what prior debates have been about. Let's just have conversations, not metaconversations.--Father Goose (talk) 23:00, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

"Including this one"

Whatever happened to "Including this one"? I say we bring that phrase back. It really adds a lot to the "ignore all rules" principle. szyslak (t) 07:07, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

How could ignoring rules to help you improve or maintain Wikipedia prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia? It is a logical contradiction. (1 == 2)Until 14:55, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, this policy doesn't give instructions, it conditions the necessity of other instructions. What's there to ignore? Adding "including this one" does have a nice, whimsical sound to it, which I kind of like, but I'm not sure it really holds any meaning. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:10, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I should've known this discussion would go in this direction. :) I think the "including this one" passage would drive home the fundamental point of IAR: that improving the encyclopedia is the main concern here. Sometimes the rules get in the way of that goal, and sometimes the rules help. When the rules help, we ignore "this one". szyslak (t) 15:16, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
But following other rules when they help isn't really ignoring this one, at least not in the sense of disobeying it. This rule (or "rule") doesn't say not to follow rules when they're working. It says to apply the other rules mindfully instead of mindlessly, and there's no instance in which that's a bad idea, is there? -GTBacchus(talk) 15:52, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
It's overly whimsical, in my opinion. The appeal is that it points out the inherent self-referential paradox in ∃x ∈ ¬∀x [someone correct my syntax, please!], which cannot be resolved. I feel that highlighting the paradox, however, detracts from the main intent of the rules. Causal reasoning [at least, when I do it] relies often on association, and minimizes the relevance of confusing information. (talk) 14:25, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
For the purposes of beating my own drum, I felt I should mention that I myself have Ignored All the Rulez for the first time ever. Critique is welcome and appreciated. (talk) 14:29, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
it say that if the rules says you can't improve/maintain wikipedia, ignore itOmgwt..bbq (talk) 01:05, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
I see no such paradox. (1 == 2)Until 15:27, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
It goes something like this:
  1. If 'ignore all rules' is a rule, then we should obey it.
  2. The rule tells us to ignore all rules. 'Ignore all rules' is itself a rule. Therefore, we must ignore the rule 'ignore all rules'.
  3. But if we ignore the rule 'ignore all rules', then we obey the rule 'ignore all rules'; thus failing to obey the rule 'ignore all rules'.
  4. Therefore we can neither obey nor disobey the rule 'ignore all rules'. (talk) 17:31, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
It ceases to be a paradox when expressed more completely as "Ignore all rules [when appropriate]". It's a lot like "be moderate in everything, including moderation."--Father Goose (talk) 20:36, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
(ec- Father Goose has made a much more sensible take on this, but I will leave my comment in)- Ah, yes. Like many paradoxes, there is a degee of semantic ambiguity involved. If a "rule" is defined as "that which must be obeyed" we get a full-on paradox. But, find another dictionary which defines "rule" as "optimal procedure" and we get to argue it all again. On the face of it, "Ignore all rules" has a strong whiff of paradox about it, to my way of thinking. (Consider the Cretan's paradox. [A person from Crete is said to have made the statement "All Cretans are liars"]. How is that to be parsed, if it is true it is false, and if it is false it is true!
My take, is that the word "liar" used as an absolute, has no meaning. Under a strict interpretation of the word, a person is a liar IFF they have never and will never utter a true statement, which is impossible to prove, especially the future condition. If the statement is rendered less absolute, [Many Cretans often are untruthful], then the paradox is disarmed.) Words,words, words. For instance, have you or I or anyone ever seen an "all"? Define "all"? "All" is an abstraction, an inexactitude masquerading as an exactitude, for how can we define an all without reference to some excluded externality, negating the meaning of "all"?
We cannot ignore 'all' rules, we can only ignore this rule, and this rule, and then this one if necessary, we never reach the point of "all" since new rules can be introduced at any time. There is no such thing as an "all" which a finite human mind can grasp, it is just a word that people use and when we use words we dont understand we get confused. Well, that's my excuse. --Newbyguesses - Talk 20:41, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Or it could be that "ignore all rules" is not a rule. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:18, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Sigh, the policy does not say "The rule tells us to ignore all rules. 'Ignore all rules' is itself a rule. Therefore, we must ignore the rule 'ignore all rules'", is says to ignore rules when they prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. As I said before. how could ignoring rules to help you improve or maintain Wikipedia prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia? It is a logical contradiction. No paradox.
The only way one could see a paradox is if they mistakenly only read the title and not the content of the policy. (1 == 2)Until 14:37, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, yes, that's true. I was just explaining why "Ignore all rules, including this one," was implicitly paradoxical. It's a technical problem with self-referencing negative statements, in general. It doesn't leave the actual 'ignore all rules' rule meaningless or useless at all. I'd just meant to advise that we not give positive attention to it as an attractive feature of the rule. There is, of course, a conflation at work between 'rule', in the pragmatic sense where we are actually trying to improve the wikipedia, and 'proposition within a system of axioms.' (talk) 17:12, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Ahhhhh, I retract my sigh hehe. (1 == 2)Until 17:15, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Is the debate between terse and verbose on hold while we wait for another draft by Father Goose? — (talk) 17:38, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
It seems to have run out of steam. (1 == 2)Until 19:25, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Don't be deceived; I'm just taking it a step at a time. I've learned not to try to get things done in a rush on Wikipedia. Haste makes waste, or something like that.--Father Goose (talk) 03:16, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I did not mean to say that you ran out of steam. (1 == 2)Until 14:33, 24 March 2008 (UTC)


"Rules aren't set in stone" is kind of a good nutshell. But the IAR policy doesn't need 2 nutshells [1], and If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it is my preferred choice. The other phrase, "Rules aren't set in stone" is featured on a lot of pol/guide pages anyway. --Newbyguesses - Talk 07:29, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

What I find seriously annoying is that the entire policy is written like a nutshell. However, it is not technically a nutshell, given that it is not enclosed as such. David, our of curiousity, why did you say that it "isn't even an accurate summary"? Teh Rote (talk) 23:40, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Stop reverting

Zenwhat, David, what are you doing? Do you want to get the page protected again? Someone win by stopping first, quickly! -GTBacchus(talk) 00:52, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Well Zenwhat was putting in a change that was refused by consensus not to long ago, and David is reverting the to accepted version. Just like the events leading to the last 6 page protections. It puts those who seek to reflect consensus in the position of reverting, or having the policy no longer reflect wide acceptance. (1 == 2)Until 14:21, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I can see events unfold. I disagree with David's strategy of reverting more than once, because such behavior is more likely to lead to protection than the alternative. The alternative is to post on the talk page about the dispute, and then let someone else revert for you. That makes your edit much cleaner, much stickier, and only slightly slower to appear. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:45, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I also agree with GTB's comments about repeated reverts by the same person not being the best way of dealing with unpopular edits. With the number of people who watch this page, someone else will certainly deal with it. And if no one else deals with it, then the edit is likely non-problematic. - Chardish (talk) 19:41, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I am, in fact, trying to be more patient. After Zenwhat reverted for the second time, I did sit out and wait for someone else to revert back. That ended up being PhilKnight. Prior to that, I didn't think much of reverting Zenwhat five days after I'd reverted a different editor. —David Levy 21:05, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
(just in case anyone was confused, User:PhilKnight was editing as "Addhoc" previously, at the time of the last protection.)--Newbyguesses - Talk 23:26, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
David, you're right. When I looked at the history and saw your names in alternation like that, I didn't note that your first revert was actually 5 days previous, and of a different user. I guess I'm a little jumpy about edit warring on this page. Zenwhat, what in the zen were you thinking, making the same edit twice? Since when is that productive? -GTBacchus(talk) 23:09, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Let me ask a dumb question here. Why do we need a nutshell template anyway? To sum up 12 words? Come on now. This isn't a complex policy. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 14:44, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:45, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Also agreed. I also feel that blocking would be a superior alternative to protection. - Chardish (talk) 18:52, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, if we just keep protecting the page instead of blocking then the system becomes very gamable. (1 == 2)Until 18:55, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
I mentioned the fact that blocking edit-warriors would be necessary, back when Ryan Postletehwaite (spelled incorrectly, whatever) suggested mediation. I agree with you all as well. I will stop reverting if David Levy and others agree to the same, of course.
Frankly, I don't think that a page of this nature works well with the standard BRD cycle and talkpage, because it isn't clarified which side is responsible for the long-term edit war and the talkpage discusses are poorly framed. Some people have done good jobs framing the discussions occasionally, but then other times they distort the discussions to support a particular point-of-view.   Zenwhat (talk) 03:00, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
"I will stop reverting if David and others agree to the same," is precisely the attitude that causes (IRL) wars to never end. The winner of an edit war (slow, fast, whatever) is the one who stops reverting first. Just follow 0RR, and things go better. What's a second identical edit supposed to do? Maybe standard BRD doesn't work here, but surely BRRRRRR is worse, right? -GTBacchus(talk) 04:02, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I would just like to point out that those editors who have reverted obviously feel there are good reasons. No-one has broached Wikipedia:3RR, and it is not obligatory to observe any stricter rule than that, even if it might be less messy if 1RR was in vogue, but maybe not. If there are 10 editors who have edited the page recently, there are six million accounts that have not.--Newbyguesses - Talk 05:02, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
You're right, and I may be over-reacting. I think people familiar with this page and its (especially recent) history would err on the side of less reverting. I'll stop nagging now, sorry. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:16, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
"I will stop reverting if David and others agree to the same" means one can make an edit that does not have consensus and it cannot be undone. Lets not demonize reverting, it has just as much potential to be productive as another edit. By the same token a change to the page can be worse than a revert. The action that results in the policy reflecting widespread acceptance is the correct one.
Edit warring is bad, but taking actions likely to require reverting is also bad. (1 == 2)Until 05:39, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't wish to demonize reverting. I advocate sharing the work more, but as noted above, I jumped the gun in this case, because David and PhilKnight did share the work. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:42, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
It was not my intent to apply that comment to you specifically. It has been a common theme here that I wish to rebuke, and this thread seemed on topic. (1 == 2)Until 15:58, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
You're right about war, GTBacchus. However, the equal threat of being blocked for edit-warring would be comparable to Mutual assured destruction, hence the reason I agree that admins should be very liberal about blocking people for edit-warring here.   Zenwhat (talk) 15:50, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I think it is entirely possible that the more disruptive parties could find themselves blocked while those who work with consensus do not. It is true that often the blocks go across the board, but sometimes(just sometimes) the admins sees the full context and can make a less sweeping reaction to a problem by removing only the instigator. We will see. (1 == 2)Until 15:54, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Removal of that three P essay

Have a look at this before reposting to this page. I see no merit for it being included myself. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 00:01, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree it is not really directly relevant enough to the policy to include it. (1 == 2)Until 00:03, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Ignore all rules.

Yes, this includes flaming other people on the internet, as long as both of the people are NOTABLE, and that it is CIVIL. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Your sentence does not include enough information to make any sense. (1 == 2)Until 00:20, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
God damn you're fast. (talk) 00:22, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
?? (Ignore the rule about) flaming other people on the internet, ( or Ignore the rule about) Not flaming other people on the internet, as long as both of the people are NOTABLE, and that it is CIVIL. ?? --Newbyguesses (talk) 01:32, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Suggest a redirect to ignore all comments. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 01:35, 8 April 2008 (UTC)


I can see only the vaguest of connections from IAR to WP:SNOW, not sure why it would be added to the See Also section. Not doing any harm, I suppose. Comments? --Newbyguesses (talk) 02:47, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I think it makes sense to add it, because it clarifies an actual application of IAR.   Zenwhat (talk) 05:13, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't think it makes sense to add it. Its out of place with the rest of the essays in that section. Reviewing it will show that none of those essays even mention SNOW. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 05:42, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't think it belongs either. (1 == 2)Until 14:00, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I added it because this article can be kind of confusing, and people misinterpreting it can be a problem. I thought since it shows an actual example of when you would use IAR, it would be useful (or at the very least relevant).--KojiDude (Contributions) 20:49, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
We have more than one essay linked to it to relieve that very problem. While WP:SNOW is an example of IAR, I still don't think it belongs on this policy page. Such a short page should not be overwhelmed by meta material. (1 == 2)Until 21:57, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
WP:SNOW is a miserable page which is probably the most misused page in the entire project space, as (despite its essay status) it is routinely cited in order to hastily silence minority opinions. To link to it here is to insult this page and lend undue legitimacy to that one. - Chardish (talk) 03:04, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Well (in response to Cardish) I don't see how SNOW could be racist, but after going over the other essays it does seem kind of redundant to link it. They pretty much cover everything. I'll leave it down.--KojiDude (Contributions) 03:20, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
By "minority opinions" I meant "opinions held by a minority of people" not "opinions held by minority ethnicities." - Chardish (talk) 03:48, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
OH, okay, sorry dude. My bad. I get what you meant now.--KojiDude (Contributions) 03:51, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Chardish, this is kind of off-topic, but I would nominate WP:AGF as the most misused page in project space. A lot more people know about it, and think it's like a big garden, in which to gather loopholes. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:31, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Heh. Maybe not misused, but most misinterpreted. Unfortunately a lot of people believe "AGF, except when a person is being an obviously disruptive troll/vandal like that person, right there!" - which pretty much negates AGF. In other words, much like WP:SNOW harms WP:IAR, so does WP:SPADE harm WP:AGF. - Chardish (talk) 06:39, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I used to be pretty active at SNOW, but it seems quiet lately. Has SNOW abuse been noticeable, recently? -GTBacchus(talk) 06:41, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
WP:SNOW is an essay, and it is in no way a "supplement" to WP:IAR. So, no need to refer to it from this page. (Lots, and lots, of pages get mis-interpreted. Let me count the ways.)--Newbyguesses (talk) 08:01, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Consensus has it that the snowball clause is not an essay, and you even got reverted (twice now :-P ) when you tried to say it was. :-) We're not entirely sure what it *is* (possibly a kitten-eating reptile from venus?), but we cannot deny that it is alive and well, and used on wikipedia every day. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:58, 9 April 2008 (UTC) Because a large number of wikipedians do use it, and get consensus support when they do, strictly speaking it is a regular wikipedia policy or guideline (expanding on WP:BOLD and WP:IAR). However, some people have been opposing accurate classification. In short the snowball clause is a textbook case where people have been nomic-ing/politic-ing, in a deliberate attempt to block the process of documenting consensus. (With no comment on whether that is Good or Bad here.)
It's one of those circumstances where the policy itself is okay but it's misapplied more often than not. Too often I see deletion discussions "closed per WP:SNOW" within the first couple hours of discussion just because no one has shown up yet who agrees with the nom. I've even seen it happen to RfAs for the same reason. - Chardish (talk) 16:15, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec) Everyone misapplies everything. You can WP:IAR and unclose, if you know someone is going to come along. --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:23, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
(Ignore all rules)
"If you are in a hole, stop digging."— Anon.
"If you are going through hell, keep going." — Winston Churchill
"You can always count on people to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." — Anon
(Ignore all rules)--Newbyguesses (talk) 01:01, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

(outdent, @Chardish) I'd be interested in seeing some examples if you don't mind. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 16:21, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Supplement? While you can try to invent a new "type" of page and apply that label, it might not stick. WP:SNOW is an essay, it has been since its inception despite being temporarily labeled otherwise. Perhaps consensus will change that some day, but not yet. (1 == 2)Until 01:05, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
(The other essays pretty much cover everything. It does seem kind of redundant to link to WP:SNow.) --Newbyguesses (talk) 01:28, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Proposed change

Proposal here. LaraLove 23:13, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Its inclusion on another essay from the see also section is fine I suppose, if it's a constant concern. But this just seems to be spill over from the cabal deletion and has nothing to do with this policy in my opinion. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 04:24, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I oppose limiting ignore all rule's scope in this manner. Of course admins should ignore rules about admin actions if they prevent them from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. Rules are not set in stone, that goes for rules about admin actions too. Rules are meant to describe, not prescribe our best practices. And the rules cannot foresee all the situations that admins will need to deal with. We need to be creative just like regular users.
If you are bothered by a specific set of actions made by an admin under the pretense of IAR then that is not a problem with the policy but a problem between the admin in question and those who dispute that actions. This all seems to me to be about a single recent incident, and not a systemic problem with admins using IAR. (1 == 2)Until 04:50, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Workshop page

The "workshop page" in the beige box at the top of this page redirects back to this page. Anyone want to fix that? (talk) 16:51, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

It works okay for me.--Father Goose (talk) 22:27, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Fixed. (1 == 2)Until 23:49, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
You just deleted it instead of fixing it. Am I crazy? It works fine, right?--Father Goose (talk) 06:16, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, Father Goose, you just re-added it, unless I am even more confused as usual. Yes, the link now appears to be working fine for me. --Newbyguesses (talk) 06:34, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I did re-add it, since it had been working.--Father Goose (talk) 02:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
It redirects to this page. Someone on the talk page asked it the page was being used for anything and if there was any objection to redirecting it. Nobody objected and that person redirected it. I am under the impression that the page was so inactive it was redirected, making the link pretty useless. So I removed it. Father, if you ware going to return the link, then at least have it go somewhere. (1 == 2)Until 13:38, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I see the point of confusion. It is only the workshop talk page that redirects, not the workshop page itself. My mistake. (1 == 2)Until 13:39, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Aha. I'm inclined to say that the workshop talk page should be redirected to here, but of course not the workshop page itself. If having the talk page redirected continues to cause confusion, that redirect could always be reverted.
Even if the workshop page is inactive at times, it's a useful page to keep around in general, given how contentious tinkering with the WP:IAR page itself tends to be.--Father Goose (talk) 02:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Some recent edits in the Wikipedia:Ignore all rules/Workshop were for the purposes of comparing UIAR and WIARM Thank you --Newbyguesses (talk) 03:41, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

How to clear a room

How about a poem for WP:IAR? With apologies to Newyorkbrad, only this following extract from the poem [2] submitted to Wikipedia talk:Pranking can be used here, I think.

There's way too much red tape on wiki

Sometimes that tape is rather sticky

You wouldn't be wrong, not by a particle,

To say we each should write an article

Instead of having to engage

In drafting one more policy page

Which (we lose sight of this) is very

Clearly something ancillary

Can't we all straddle this wide fence

With just a bit of common sense?


--> I seriously think we could use that on the IAR page, it is very informative, though quite light-hearted. I know everyone hates poems, but I don't know why. --Newbyguesses (talk) 03:48, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

The poem isn't policy-suitable, but I think that it's a fine addition to Wikipedia:Understanding IAR‎. —David Levy 08:58, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
[3] is fine by me. Perhaps I will add NYBrad's poem (that one stanza of it) to Wikipedia:Ignore all rules/Versions, Thanks! --NewbyG 22:01, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Just do the freakin' merge already

  • refer to this edit. of the IAR page: [4] (cur) (last) 21:03, 17 April 2008 Personal use (Talk | contribs) (2,663 bytes) ({mergefrom:What ignore all rules means}) (undo)

It's long overdue and there's no reason not to, other than tradition. It would be like if WP:V had existed for a long period as a one sentence policy: "If something is unverifiable, then it can be removed" and then we had an essay, Wikipedia:What verifiability means. I'm sure there would be some sentiment attached to keeping it short and sweet, but we might as well move everything that's going to be treated as a policy/guideline into the actual page. Personal use (talk) 21:03, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

The entire content of IAR (which, may I remind you, is only one sentence) is already right there at the top of the fuckin' page. What's the point of merging it?--KojiDude (Contributions) 21:24, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means is an essay not a policy or guideline - if the information within it is to be included in a policy page it should be ensured that the content reflects the consensus of the community. My gut feeling is that this should be done before any merge discussion - which is really a question of style rather than provenance - takes place. Guest9999 (talk) 21:40, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
If you honestly believe that "there's no reason not to, other than tradition," I suggest that you read the archives. —David Levy 02:59, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

It ain't broke. Why try to fix it? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:42, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

It's not a gut feeling. Consensus will have to take place before a merge. And my gut tells me you won't have it. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 21:52, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Actually, WP:WIARM has been discussed at length and many times on this page (see Archives), and has, in my opinion been proved to have such support that it could easily qualify as a policy or guideline. I am in favour, as it were, of "merging", WIARM onto the IAR page, I think. We dont lose anything (the 12words are still there) and we gain an explanation which people can read or ignore as they wish, but all on one page. Then again, I think WP:UIAR (which also has the 12words) would be an even better proposition to replace the current 12word version at IAR! I think if either of these "moves" were to be done it would be a nett gain to the project. There have been too many calls for amplification of the IAR policy for this to continue to be ignored, if the alternative(s) are viable, which they are. It should be able to do it (merge or move, whatever) as a "cut-and-paste" merge, and afterwards preserve any revision histories and talk-pages.

So: Agree that we don't need a "merge" and 'suggest we consider a merge'.

Either WIARM, or UIAR should go up on the IAR page, is my suggestion. I would try WIARM, (it has been the favorite candidate for this), and then, I think it likely that UIAR would be the one to gain support over WIARM, after, presumably, much discussion. Who is up for it, or am I out on a limb here, without a paddle? --NewbyG (talk) 01:00, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

I'm really not seeing that there's a problem that would be solved by merging one of those other pages here. Can it be made clear, just what we're trying to fix? Otherwise I don't see the point in adding more words. There's little excuse for not knowing what IAR means at this point, and the fact that the interpretive text is not on a "policy" page is a great illustration of the fact that we should ignore those stupid tags already. That's the beginning of understanding IAR; why deprive people of that? -GTBacchus(talk) 02:23, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
Can we add the standard explanation of why we have such a rule? Gosh, that would be nice. It really would.--Father Goose (talk) 21:23, 29 February 2008 (UTC). -- Appears in the archives (Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules/Archive 15#Wikipedia:Understanding IAR). This or a similar request has been echoed by dozens of editors, I do think we can improve the understanding of IAR by moving UIAR to IAR, or by moving WIARM to IAR. Dozens of editors, (check the older archives, please). I am not saying "there is a problem", I am saying "we have an opportunity for improvement". Let's take it. --NewbyG (talk) 02:48, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
Others (myself included) have argued that such a change would not be an improvement (and would actually make the page worse). Specific reasons have been cited, and they're in the archives too. —David Levy 02:59, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

In the archives, also

(ec with David Levy) Yeah, I think I understand that many people have asked for the page to expand, and I think I'm replying that adding words to IAR would not improve its understanding. It's already clear, to those who seek clarity. If someone is thinking "what does this mean?", there's a link right there to "What IAR means," and another to "Understanding IAR". Brilliant.
Some people (oddly enough, many of whom seem to already understand IAR) really want to add explanation to the page - I'll grant you that - but that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. Would moving more text to the page really make IAR more understood, or would it make it seem more like another rule-set? The whole point is to get people to stop thinking in terms of explicit rule-sets. Wordy policy pages constitute red tape. IAR is supposed to be the anti-red-tape. Let's not red-tape it up.
My very serious question is this: if you want to add words to IAR, why is it important to you to do this? Simply saying that you feel it would improve the page is not a full answer, because it doesn't explain why you choose to focus energy on improving this page, when there are millions of other pages on the wiki. What makes "improving" IAR a priority? What makes it worth arguing for? Is the page actually misunderstood at large, or is it just a case of people who understand it, but fear that others won't? -GTBacchus(talk) 03:03, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I think I understand IAR reasonably well (not a genius, just a thinker). It is not "important" to me to add text to the page. But, that text (WIARM, UIAR) has been looked over by many, who seem to find it useful. And yes, it is because many, many editors have come here to say the page is too cryptic that I think this change could be worth making. (Some, obviously, do not think so.) I think it is "win/win" to add the existing explanation to the page. UIAR does not add rules to IAR, which would be the wrong approach. Any page can be improved, I improve those pages I choose to work on. (I do, actually work in mainspace, you know, lol.) --NewbyG (talk) 03:21, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I never doubted that you work in mainspace, dude. I'm just saying that several of us have been making a case that more text would make the page worse, not better. Why are we clearly wrong? Why should useful text be moved from where it's already useful (it is, right?), to where some people are arguing that it would be harmful? How is what we've got now not a win/win situation? Is it possible that the claim that this page is "too cryptic" is based on misunderstanding, and that we want people who think it's "too cryptic" to struggle with that, and get to a point where they don't think so? Is it possible that that struggle is precisely the best effect of this page? -GTBacchus(talk) 08:01, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
GTB has said it so well, I can't add anything. Dudes, it's the twelve words, grasp them, grok them. UIAR could probably become a guideline, but really, there is no way to add to the simple imprecation to ignore all rules. The struggle is the message. I'll stop now :) Franamax (talk) 08:48, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I believe that the purpose of Wikipedia policy is to educate users about consensus, not make users "struggle" with difficult problems of interpreting vague principles. - Chardish (talk) added 19:22, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I'd like to point out I'm talking about current consensus. Not ghosts from the past. Opinions, like everything else on wikipedia, are subject to change. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 12:09, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
WP:CCC. Well said, SynergeticMaggot. Consensus in this thread so far seems pretty clear. BTW, did everyone else hate the bolding in my previous post? Wish I hadn't, sorry. --NewbyG (talk) 14:04, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
"Consensus in this thread so far seems pretty clear?" Really? I see a fair amount of disagreement in this thread. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:54, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Oh, really

I strongly support merging WP:UIAR and weakly to moderately support merging WP:WIARM. - Chardish (talk) 19:20, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Would it be a good idea to advertise at WP:VP/P and maybe WP:AN, and try to gauge the level of support for a merge? -GTBacchus(talk) 19:44, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
I've been pondering just such a broad-participation discussion for a while. The way I'd choose to phrase it is,
Should Wikipedia:Ignore all rules have explanatory text on the rule page: [5] or on a separate page, linked to as one or more essays: [6]? Bear in mind that the explanatory text can always be edited if it is felt to be wrong.
Please offer your opinion.
How does that sound? We could set up a discussion subpage Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules/Merge discussion and link to it via VPP, RFC, CENT, AN, etc.--Father Goose (talk) 23:09, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
That sounds pretty good to me. Do you want to set it up? -GTBacchus(talk) 00:36, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I've set up a page at Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules/Merge discussion, but I'll give it a day or two to see if anyone thinks I've worded it wrong or whatever before "launching" it.--Father Goose (talk) 01:16, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

I'm still not seeing a reason to merge these to the policy. The essays serve for the less adept in self explanatory sentences. I've seen possible support for a merge, but nothing close to reasons why it should take place. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 02:00, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

That's what the merge discussion will hopefully establish. I personally think including explanation with the policy is a good idea, because I didn't understand its implications, or how to put it into use, for a long, long, time. That's not because I'm "less adept"; IAR has many deep meanings which are anything but self-evident from the twelve words -- yet they are explainable.
To me, this isn't really a merge discussion, but a "should we try to help users understand IAR as much as possible" discussion. I happen to think that's a no-brainer: yes, of course we should.--Father Goose (talk) 04:10, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
If you don't understand IAR, then just go read UIAR. You don't need to merge it. It seems like it's just a merge for the sake of conveinience from the arguments I've heard read.--KojiDude (Contributions) 04:14, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree fully with trying to help users to understand IAR, however you can only ever try to help them, you can't really definitively explain. The problem with merging either of UIAR or WIARM to IAR is that the text of those essays will now gain the status of policy, i.e. it will become citable in disputes and it will become prescriptive rather than descriptive. Is that really the desired outcome? Perhaps the better course would be to propose elevating UIAR to guideline status. Franamax (talk) 06:25, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree. I think it should be taken up over there first. Merging an essay onto policy will require much more consensus than this has, as I've stated. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 07:04, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
UIAR as a guideline... okay, let's try that.--Father Goose (talk) 07:19, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
I really don't know what's wrong with leaving it as whatever it is now, and explaining to people that the truth is found in it, whatever its label. That's a good lesson in ignoring labels, which can never be taught by labeling all the good lessons as such. If everyone disagrees, I'll shut up, but seriously... what's the fascination with adding status to the essays that explain that status means nothing? -GTBacchus(talk) 10:01, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Just a thought then. How about no tags, no tags at all in wikipediaspace, from Pillars to Civil to Blocking ? ( A purely philosophical speculation.) --NewbyG (talk) 13:28, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm for it, but it won't fly. Not this season, anyway. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:53, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

a page at Wikipedia talk:Ignore all rules/Merge discussion

No idea. I just agreed so this conversation could be moved elsewhere. A merge to here is highly unlikely and anyone interested can go edit over on the essays. SynergeticMaggot 10:10, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't care about the label either, but it may have value in demonstrating that the advice in UIAR is well backed by consensus. SynergeticMaggot's motives here, on the other hand, seem entirely cynical and dismissive.
On second thought, I doubt it will be made into a guideline for the very reason that the text that is in it should be on the IAR page instead. UIAR doesn't make sense as a guideline; it simply is IAR, explained plainly.--Father Goose (talk) 11:05, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

(outdent)My motives are simple and this serves as an example of such. I'm merely around to help and I lean toward what I perceive as consensus (no matter how I'm perceived in the process). SynergeticMaggot 11:23, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Do you know what's "cynical and dismissive," Father Goose? Referring to this as a "'should we try to help users understand IAR as much as possible' discussion," which implies that a merger irrefutably would accomplish this and that anyone opposed to a merger seeks to prevent it. —David Levy 11:57, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Seeing as I wrote WP:WIARM, and considering how much energy I put in on this very talk page explaining IAR, I think it would be difficult to claim that I'm against explaining IAR to people clearly. Heck, anyone who edits this talk page at all is clearly in favor of understanding and explanation. Nevertheless, many of us don't support a merger. As for cynical and dismissive, we all go there on occasion, I suspect. It's so difficult to accurately gauge tone in a text-based medium that we might as well assume the best of each other and just try to move forward. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:48, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Father Goose, If you wish to demonstrate that the advice in UIAR is backed by consensus... link to it from this page (already done), cite it in discussion, apply it in context, and explain to people that it makes sense, despite the lack of "official tag", and that the lack of official status is part of the point. That's more work than just hanging a tag on the page, but most worthwhile things are difficult. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:53, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
David, please don't construe my opinion about IAR as an attack against those who disagree with my opinion. I do feel that placing explanatory text on the IAR page (as long as it explains things correctly) will help users better understand and make use of IAR.--Father Goose (talk) 09:06, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
You treated this opinion as factual (and stated that the discussion concerned whether we "should we try to help users understand IAR as much as possible"). In actuality, this is a "Would a merger help users understand IAR as much as possible?" discussion. —David Levy 10:43, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
I still don't think this merge should happen, just like the last 3 times it was suggested and there was not consensus to do it. Taking a core policy and adding that much content is going to need more than a dozen people to form consensus for. I would suggest making a post at the village pump and see if there is wide acceptance of this idea before attempting a merge. (1 == 2)Until 01:36, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Recent revert

I've reverted an inappropriate attempt to merge content onto this page. It appears someone cannot determine consensus. As it stands, there is no consensus for a merge. So lets stop being so jumpy, k? SynergeticMaggot (talk) 07:31, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Plus the last thread has gotten rather.... long. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 07:32, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, dont say inappropriate, say contested or something, please. (lol) inferior, sub-optimal, unfortunate, that'd be fine also -- actually inappropriate is as appropriate as any, I guess, or is it? (Sorry I even spoke.)
[7] 06:45, 20 April 2008 Newbyguesses (Talk | contribs) (6,958 bytes) (Understanding IAR-- IAR can be explained; IAR does not need to be a struggle; the IARpage can be edited; as discussion page indicates, there is impetus toward this approach) --
I thought it was a good edit. WP:CCC. My impression is of support for change as this edit would have been, and a roughly similar support perhaps for no change. Difficult to determine consensus, other than by discussion and editing. --NewbyG (talk) 08:00, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
I say its almost a tie, if not a tie in fact. A handful oppose the merge and I think 2, maybe 3 wish it to occur. Which would mean theres no consensus at all. The split decision would actually indicate a no change, but default. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 08:11, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Looking back over the thread I only see two people who actively are suggesting this merge (I say actively because Personal use only opened the thread, and hasn't said a word since). You, NewbyG, and Chardish. And opposing (correct me if I'm wrong :)) the merge, we find KojiDude, David Levy, GTBacchus, Franamax, and of course, myself. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 08:22, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Fine, the operative word being, I think, actively. There are sleeping observers, and others ready to edit in case further editing occurs. I made an edit, and so unlikely to edit again, especially since the list of editors in y'r previous post is substantial. Thanks, --NewbyG (talk) 08:46, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
No problem at all. When the sleepers awake, we can all calmly chat about it again if need be. :) SynergeticMaggot (talk) 08:48, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Is UIAR wrong?

If anyone thinks the explanation of IAR presently located at WP:UIAR is incorrect, I'd like to hear why.--Father Goose (talk) 09:06, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Who suggested it was incorrect? SynergeticMaggot (talk) 09:10, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
As yet, no one. 1==2 made some criticisms of it early on, and some changes were made in response to that, and there was some additional tweaking of its language, but it's been stable for a while. I'm just trying to find out if anybody thinks any part of it is wrong as it currently stands. If it is, we'll need to make further changes.--Father Goose (talk) 09:17, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Like any other essay/article, it will grow over time. If someone disagrees with something in particular, then my guess is they will bring it up over there. I'll take a look at it after I wake up. SynergeticMaggot (talk) 09:40, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
My objection would be that UIAR currently too evenly splits the onus between breaker and enforcer, whereas I lean toward the rule-breaker having more responsibility to prove the case. I think there are serious implications here, one does not wish to confer too much authority upon those who choose to "break the rule" and defend their action with a simple because I can - there should always be the argument of because I had to do it to improve the wiki, i.e. demonstrate the net positive outcome.
Also there is a poem fragment on the page at this moment which I think was a superb response to incidents of a certain day, but has a certain whimsicality not appropriate going forward. This is indeed serious business, not best addressed through rhyme.
More generally, there seems to be a tension here between those who wish to introduce explication to the IAR page, and those who wish to maintain the bald statement of policy, and keep the expansions as subsidiary essays (or guidelines), so as to not dilute the primacy of the simple message. It's probably not difficult to see that I incline toward the latter. Franamax (talk) 10:31, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Re: onus between breaker and enforcer: I'll think about that for a bit. I kind of agree with you, although the converse is no less important: we don't wish to confer too much authority on those choosing to enforce a rule either -- especially not on a page dedicated to the concept of "ignoring all rules". I think maybe what we could say about that is that under most circumstances, consensus is likely to favor enforcing a rule -- provided the rule correctly describes a consensus position.--Father Goose (talk) 11:21, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
My general feeling on this is that you should always assume that the rule does in fact describe a consensus position, otherwise you should be easily able to identify the accruing lack of consensus somewhere, on a talk page, on a noticeboard; else you should be able to provide a decent rationale as to why in the case of your particular action, the existing rules were not sufficient and you felt a particular necessity. Certainly there should never be a case where the rule-enforcers can prevail with the just because argument, but consensus can only change slowly, by growing burden of proof that the status-quo is not sufficient. Each individual act of rule-breaking must needs stand on its own merits, only with the accumulation of justified breakages can the rule itself come into reasonable question. Put another way - do whatever you want, but have a really good reason for doing it.
Regarding the more general issue, it's probably on everyones watchlist already, but I find this interesting. Without commenting on the merits of the thread itself, I'm struck by the explicit reference to "a terse version -- in the style of WP:IAR" - so by contemplating expansion of this page, we're possibly tinkering with something that sets an example for ways to think about the wiki itself. Just a late-night thought. Franamax (talk) 11:51, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
I'd say my thinking on that is that instructions should be kept to a minimum but good advice should be offered generously.--Father Goose (talk) 00:32, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
The question is not "is it right or wrong", it is "does this have wide acceptance to be policy". I would say it does not have such acceptance. Attempts to make the content of that essay a policy or guideline in the past have failed due to the community rejecting the idea, as have previous proposals to merge the items. (1 == 2)Until 04:03, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
All right, but that's not the question I'm asking here, which is to find out if anyone thinks the explanation given in UIAR is wrong. Franamax gave a nice bit of feedback so far... do you have any thoughts to offer on it? Your earlier criticisms of UIAR were helpful.
Separately, no serious attempt to "promote" or merge UIAR with IAR has been made to date, unless I'm mistaken.--Father Goose (talk) 10:26, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
(WP:WIARM) As I recall, (this could be wrong), there were some discussions of WP:WIARM on this page, often over the last six months at least, but no serious attempt to promote or merge WIARM with IAR (by editing on the project page) had been made to date, either. --NewbyG (talk) 12:37, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
There is this: Wikipedia talk:UIAR#Merge. (1 == 2)Until 21:50, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, yeah, Merge Y/N Hmm.-per--Newbyguesses - Talk 13:52, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Ya got me. --NewbyG (talk) 03:21, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia talk:UIAR#Merge was a discussion of whether UIAR and WIARM should be merged, not UIAR and IAR.--Father Goose (talk) 09:51, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Five pillars and WP:IAR

I think UIAR incorporate a successful approach A) The nutshell B) The history behind IAR C) Explanation of IAR.

RedPillar.svg || Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles presented here. Be bold in editing, moving, and modifying articles. Although it should be aimed for, perfection is not required. Do not worry about messing up. All prior versions of articles are kept, so there is no way that you can accidentally damage Wikipedia or irretrievably destroy content. Remember, whatever you write here will be preserved for posterity.

If some aspect of UIAR could be tightened up, it would be done by taking an even more careful reading of the no firm rules pillar from Wikipedia:Five pillars, and distilling that text and principle. --NewbyG (talk) 12:51, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
That's crazy talk. The pillar is derived from this page. :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:58, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
Crazy, Kim? New editors are encouraged to read Wikipedia:Five pillars as the best summary of Wikipedia's principles. Not IAR, or BRD. That's how new users find out about building this encyclopedia. What's crazy about that? --NewbyG (talk) 22:17, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
It's circular, you see. IAR came first, and only then 5P. If you then use 5P to figure out what to write about IAR... oh dear ... :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:24, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
It is not circular, because there is new human input. We don't need to follow cause and effect, we can use our discretion and go in any direction consensus takes us. (1 == 2)Until 16:48, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
So you'd just copy pillar 5 here? We could do that... --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:57, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Not sure what statement you are reading, I certainly never said that. I am pretty sure I said I think we should follow consensus. (1 == 2)Until 21:33, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
So what are you saying? "follow consensus" is an empty phrase. State your opinion! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:45, 22 April 2008 (UTC) ps, could you please indent properly? Else I have a heck of a time figuring out who you're talking to! ^^;;
Kim, can you think of some way to explicate that "crazy talk" on the IAR page, possibly by rewording the nutshell along the lines of "predates the five pillars"? Franamax (talk) 21:06, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Everything the five pillars link to predates them (well, except maybe verifiability and reliable sources... if those are linked at all?). They're a summary, after all. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:45, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, pace to any other grizzled veterans here, but perhaps you are uniquely placed to make that clear on these policy pages themselves, in terse form. If newbies are encouraged to review 5P as a first step, surely somewhere they should be informed that 5P is the current summary of an historical evolution, and somewhere could easily learn how IAR is Genesis and 5P is Acts (or alt. biblical ref :). I'll now go over to 5P after I've spoken here, but I would still encourage you to think about the nutshell wording. Franamax (talk) 22:00, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
I think UIAR conveys the message of "no firm rules" quite well, though it doesn't use those specific words. But then again, maybe it could convey it even better.--Father Goose (talk) 04:58, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Just putting my 2 cents in; I think UIAR is pretty great. I think it's pretty great that it's where it is, and not here. I think it's an excellent lesson for editors that the best and most useful ideas are often located in essays, on random talk pages, etc. That can help people learn not to lean too much on official policies, but to keep their eyes and ears open, and their judgment actively engaged. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:21, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Which discussion continues, then

I am confused as to why this conversation is not taking place on WT:UIAR. (1 == 2)Until 21:39, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Any discussion at WT:UIAR ought to be about possible improvements to WP:UIAR. Any discussion about improvements to WP:IAR, such as replacing/ removing the links in the See also, or indeed concerning replacing or changing the text on the project page, in entirely appropriate here at WT:IAR. Any discussion of which came first, the chicken or the egg, or whether we are allowed to update WP:IAR with words currently in use at WP:5 (which has not been advocated) or whether we are tied down by history or precedence and which was written first, by which or ever guru of the internet, all hail, is, in my opinion, misguided, wrongly thought, and off-topic, and therefore of little or no use here. --NewbyG (talk) 22:40, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
For instance- It's circular, you see. IAR came first, and only then 5P. If you then use 5P to figure out what to write about IAR... oh dear ... :-P -- This edit summary? -- Is that the equivalent of saying we can't make use of a text-book written in 2005 to write and think new thoughts about Aristotle? (For those who didn't know, Aristotle has been dead for over two thousand years, sorry to be bringing the bad news.) --NewbyG (talk) 22:56, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

This discussion should be taking place on WT:UIAR. IMHO--Hu12 (talk) 05:36, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Ya, I thought this was a proposal for a merger or change in state for UIAR, so I asked about it and was told "...that's not the question I'm asking here, which is to find out if anyone thinks the explanation given in UIAR is wrong". If that really is the question at hand then WT:UIAR is the place not here. (1 == 2)Until 05:49, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
This particular thread is indeed to find out if anyone thinks the explanation given there is wrong. But I ask the question here because I seek to have the explanation placed on WP:IAR itself. If you feel the explanation is wrong in any way, then that is an understandable reason to object to having it put on WP:IAR itself. From your comments earlier, I gather that you believe people will misinterpret or misrepresent parts of the explanation if it is placed on WP:IAR. Are there any specific parts of it that give you pause?
And whether or not the explanation ends up directly in the policy, having an explanation of the policy which describes its meaning and use accurately (as determined by consensus) is, I believe, uncontroversially desirable. So, I'm asking everyone here who has a good grasp on the policy to help make the explanation of it consistent with a consensus view of IAR, by offering feedback or edits.--Father Goose (talk) 09:39, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay... back full circle. If you think there should be an explanation on IAR itself then once again I say the question is not "is it right or wrong", it is "does this have wide acceptance to be policy". Such an explanation in the policy is not uncontroversially desirable. I think the policy is fine as it is keeping itself simple, and leaving interpretation to essays. (1 == 2)Until 13:37, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
We shall be answering that question later. For now, I am asking this question, which of course you are free to decline to answer. As for interpretation, I'd want to leave that to the community, not to "essays", per se, and I'd want us to provide accurate documentation somewhere of just what the community position is. UIAR is an attempt to provide that documentation. Did I get it wrong?--Father Goose (talk) 18:41, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Well I will just sit this one out unless it becomes more clear what is being proposed. I say this belongs on WT:UIAR and I am told it relates to an addition to this page, I say that we should be considering it in the light of adding to a policy and I am told it is just about what people think of WP:UIAR. Perhaps things will become more clear in time. (1 == 2)Until 18:46, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Pours tea with a new thread

Let's not get grumpy:), there really is a lot of good discussion here, it seems to go back and forth because it is a crucial underpinning of the project and strongly held views abound.

  • I think FG brought up the whats-wrong-with-UIAR thread here in relation to the desire in some quarters to improve the content of IAR, so the discussion is relevant as far as improving IAR goes. Specific changes to UIAR should be addressed there.
  • I'd like personally to see how Kim could suggest changes to better clarify the relation of IAR and 5P, for the benefit especially of newcomers.
  • Side note, can we slow down the throttle on archiving right now - just in case someone new comes along? (Hello newcomer, run away screaming but if you insist on staying, here is some history to wade through :)

So let's slow down and not get pissed off, it's an important subject worthy of patience. Franamax (talk) 23:36, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Ignoring the rules v. Ignoring a rule

I think applying this policy falls under two categories:

  • A newbie doesn't understand Wikipedia policy. Consequently, they just do what they see as best.
  • A user thinks that their actions serve to better Wikipedia, and are better than folllowing policy.

The first one should obviously be allowed. The second raises interesting issues. I suggest that, in order to ignore a rule, you must first understand it (not including the former case, in which, paradoxially, if you don't understand a rule, you may ignore it). The second circumstance is defined by its intent: A user, knowing full well what the position of policy is on a matter, deliberately and wilfully flies in its face. This is the sort of thing that should only ever, ever be done with a good reason, and the user ought to understand the policy that they are ignoring. This ties in closely with "The spirit of the law trumps the letter of the law." If the user understands the rationale for the rule, sees that the rationale is nonsensical in a particular case not foreseen by the rule, and therefore disregards the rule, no harm is done, and we all benefit. However, if the user simply doesn't agree with the policy, then the user can't ignore it — this would be against the consensus.

So, to summarise, in cases where a user deliberately ignores a particular rule (as opposed to ignoring "the rules" as a whole), the user ought to understand the rule, and have a clear argument establishing that the circumstances are unusual enough to not have been foreseen by the consensus used to form the rule, and that the user's proposed action follows the spirit of the law, if not the letter, and improves Wikipedia as a whole.

Thoughts? — Werdna talk 15:08, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Rules for "Ignore All Rules"? Pfffffffft. MessedRocker (talk) 15:52, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

It's already one of the bullet points at WP:WIARM:

"Ignore all rules" does not mean that every action is justifiable. It is neither a trump card nor a carte blanche. A rule-ignorer must justify how their actions improve the encyclopedia if challenged. Actually, everyone should be able to do that at all times. In cases of conflict, what counts as an improvement is decided by consensus.

It's my favorite hobby horse. :-)
In fact, this rule doesn't just apply to ignoring a rule, it applies to following a rule too (following a rule while you know that it harms wikipedia is not a good idea) , and (conceivably) to anything else in between. :-P
Since we're talking hobby horses... I'll trot mine out a bit further; there's actually 4 questions you need to answer:
  • You
    • Why did you do it?
    • What would convince you to change your mind and revert yourself?
  • Community (and thus consensus)
    • Why do you think the community will support your action? we're assuming that you won't go against consensus and common sense all at once. Even if common sense didn't have consensus before, it might have consensus once you explain it :-)
    • What would convince the community to change its mind and revert you?
You don't need to answer all these questions publicly for each action you take, but you should have answered them all for yourself before you hit submit. And... due to the way wikipedia works (there's no explicit policy) effectively anyone from the community can demand an answer to any of the above questions at any time, and if you don't successfully answer, the situation might escalate. reason: answering allows you to meatball:LimitScope and can be used as a first step towards building consensus, not answering forces the other party to meatball:ExpandScope to try and get their answers elsewhere in an attempt to force you to at least come to some settlement.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 16:01, 23 April 2008 (UTC) I've also talked about this in wikipedia lecture #2, in case you'd like to read more details about this opinion
I agree with Werdna here. The second case especially seems to rhyme well with my theme that WP:UIAR should indicate that the onus is on the rule-breaker to reasonably demonstrate the necessity of their action as a means toward preserving or improving the encyclopedia. I also still think none of that explication should be on the IAR page itself. Franamax (talk) 08:06, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
It says "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." How does that not indicate the onus on the rule breaker to be maintaining or improving Wikipedia? (1 == 2)Until 13:24, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
How could anyone argue that the onus isn't on each person, to account for their own actions? What suggests that it would somehow be elsewhere? -GTBacchus(talk) 14:14, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
The two are the same. Ignore All Rules is based on wiki process as self-corrective and is a corollary of Being Bold . You can attempt to do whatever, but you may get reverted or overturned or worse. This only becomes a problem when people think IAR is a flash demonstration of their wikigod skills, and reversion of it therefore an outrageous attack on their judgment or an attempt to destroooooy them. (talk) 12:02, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
Wow, it's interesting to come back a few months after I leave Wikipedia and poke around the old discussion haunts.
And good to know that even the reverters to the simplest IAR are actually making it clear that almost all of them agree with the interpretations I do. During my era of discussion, it was not so clear. So score one for change. -- (talk) 11:47, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

A rule "established by the community"

I tossed it in. [8] What do you think?   Zenwhat (talk)

Rules are rules, you don't need to clarify it. — Trust not the Penguin (T | C) 22:38, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
A rule not established by the community (or more specifically, not embraced by it) should not only be ignored, but disregarded altogether. But in general, that a rule may or may not have been established by the community is irrelevant: if it prevents improvement, ignore it.--Father Goose (talk) 05:23, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Indeed it is not ignore rules established by the community, it is ignore all rules. I really think people don't get that "all" part. 1 != 2 18:04, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
[9] Over fourteen days between edits, almost certainly a record for this talk page. --NewbyG (talk) 00:50, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

The twelve words are -- If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

  • If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

10 May 2008

/Archive 15

I predict that the 12 words will remain on the project page, for the next two months at least. --NewbyG (talk) 12:58, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

You got money riding on it or something?--Father Goose (talk) 19:04, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Time passes slowly, waiting for nothing to happen. --NewbyG (talk) 22:40, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Why not just fully protect the page? It's obviously not undergoing (or going to undergo) any kind of maintenance (be it miniscule or extensive), and most edits made to it are reverted fairly quickly.--KojiDude (C) 22:49, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't think its eligible for protection, for the same reason you've stated. Numerous users and admins watch this page. I'm not noticing any recent vandalism or edit warring (Full protection is used to stop edit warring between multiple users or to prevent vandalism). SynergeticMaggot (talk) 22:55, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Just because there has not been a consensus to change it in a while does not mean there will never be. I don't think we need to protect unless there are those who are actively seeking to edit war. 1 != 2 18:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Standards? On this page?

I thought I'd try out my genial idea, that Category:Wikipedia official policy should have certain standards, by visiting this page. I am working toward several presentation aspects of all official policy pages becoming standardized, just as other noncontroversial aspects like markup and organization are standard. What I have in mind right now is:

  • Use the standard {{policy}} template, with new enhancements, to provide automatic categorization and a standard message.
  • Demote the two statements currently in the notice box into "see also"s as follows:
  • Add a paraphrase of Jimbo back into the notice box. Among the other ironies of this page is that editors have favored Jimbo's edit summary as content for the notice box while completely, um, ignoring what Jimbo put in the notice box himself. With the boilerplate, the notice would read:
    • This page documents an official English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. If in doubt, consider discussing changes on the talk page. This page is fundamental to the working of Wikipedia: please pause to consider its long tradition and deep and subtle meaning.
  • Add a nutshell that contains the exact same twelve words as the policy. This will also quell some rumblings I recall reading here at one point that the twelve words are not given enough prominence.

I hope consensus for these changes, or at least for trying them, will not be problematic. If there are concerns, please let me know how my goal of standardizing policy templates and categories should transpire. I believe all policies should be required to use the same policy template and should have a standard nutshell text box for quoting on other pages; I hope to see automated quoting in the future as well. I would appreciate it if competing proposals addressed these concerns. JJB 10:47, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Add a nutshell that contains the exact same twelve words as the policy? Ugh. —David Levy 11:37, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good, except no nutshell is needed, I think there is a general agreement about that. I fully agree that like every other policy it should say "When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. If in doubt, consider discussing changes on the talk page", not sure who removed it, probably someone who did not have consensus. 1 != 2 13:42, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm fine with standard policy tag, but I see no need to for the ugly bloat that the nonstandard addition (This page is fundamental to the working of Wikipedia: please pause to consider its long tradition and deep and subtle meaning.) brings. We used similar text only as an alternative to the standard text, so I don't know what purpose it's supposed to serve now.
Oh, and the colon should be a semicolon. —David Levy 16:42, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for working on the template David. Actually, the point of the nonstandard addition is that it's nonstandard and thus teaching by example. I think that's why Jimbo put it there in the first place. The same is true for a redundant nutshell: it's one place where redundancy really would make a point. It's also very koanic. JJB 17:03, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I like the new changes, I can take or leave "This page is fundamental to the working of Wikipedia: please pause to consider its long tradition and deep and subtle meaning". I think a repetitive nutshell is counter productive. If anything the nutshell should be "Use your brain", but I don't think we need one at all. 1 != 2 17:06, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Firstly, the added text doesn't contradict any rule that I'm aware of, so it isn't an application/demonstration of this policy. Secondly, even if it did contradict a rule, it's my opinion that it doesn't improve the page (and therefore still is not an application/demonstration of this policy).
The nutshell idea seems bizarre and likely to cause confusion. —David Levy 17:14, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Standards? On this page? - Standardising policy tags sounds like a good idea. --
And I generally like the new changes, though I am a bit yes-and-no with "This page is fundamental to the working of Wikipedia: please pause to consider its long tradition and deep and subtle meaning". Are those words directly from User:Jimbo or something perhaps? --
I would say that a repetitive nutshell is counter productive. --
Standards? On this page? Happy to participate in further discussion. --NewbyG (talk) 23:45, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with the removal of "other versions", it seems to be a collection of things that did not gain consensus. 1 != 2 00:15, 5 June 2008 (UTC)


"If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." That sounds good, but there's one thing.

IP blocking is a 'rule' that prevents you from improving Wikipedia. You can't really ignore it.

Otherwise... --MasterOfTheXP (talk) 23:21, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

When ip's are blocked its almost always because of vandalism. And vandalism does not improve the pedia in any way, shape or form. But that doesn't stop the ip's though. :) SynergeticMaggot (talk) 23:28, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
Sure you could ignore it, you could go for a walk or play a game of chess. 1 != 2 18:04, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

That's very observant. :-) The "rules" mentioned IAR are the rules found in the project namespace (Wikipedia:xxxxxxx). There are also a number of rules enforced by software. People tend to forget those software-enforced-rules when they argue that "IAR would turn wikipedia into an anarchy" :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:19, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

I think it would be cool if someone made a clone of Wikipedia, copy all the articles, and make it completely anarchistic, with maybe a few editors correcting spelling etc. just to see how it long it lasts before the whole site just implodes on itself in a great big internet black hole. Am I crazy? Zell65 (talk) 07:01, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

ALL rules?

So does that mean that if the rule to ignore rules impedes our progress in editing, do we ignore the rule that's telling us to ignore the rule that we'd actually be following if we ingored it? This rule seems very paradoxical. Noone (talk) 22:32, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

But "ignore all rules" isn't a "rule", it's just the application of common sense; so no problem! But, yes, if "ignoring rules" made constructing the encyclopaedia more difficult, you shouldn't do it; common sense again. --tiny plastic Grey Knight 08:44, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. But you do realize I asked this just as kind of a joke, right? Still, thanks! Noone (talk) 22:43, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, we all do realize the paradox. That paradox is what gives Wikipedia it's life, so we take even the flippant questions seriously - they go to the heart of the project and we're happy to talk about them with whoever comes along. Think hard about your question, it's a good one, and the possible answers will help you to understand the wiki-way. Franamax (talk) 23:56, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
No, not all rules, just the ones that prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. I fail to see how ignoring a rule that prevents you from maintaining or improving Wikipedia could ever prevent you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. 1 != 2 00:31, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Unless you neither obeyed it, nor disobeyed it; nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed; nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed; nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed nor neither obeyed nor disobeyed; nor ... you get the idea. ;-) --tiny plastic Grey Knight 06:54, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
However I both obeyed it, and disobeyed it; also both obeyed and disobeyed; and also obeyed and disobeyed whilst neither obeying or disobeying; and neither obeyed or disobeyed while neither obeying nor disobeying while still obeying and disobeying obeyance and disobedience; nor ... you get the idea. Franamax (talk) 07:12, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Also, buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo!
In other words, you obeyed but then disobeyed; and disobeyed, but then you obeyed?
Looking at the page for the first time in a couple of months, I think I might be more in the terse camp now. Not quite terse. Terse minus. Or plus, if you will. (talk) 15:07, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Brevity is... 1 != 2 15:27, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Relevant Quotations? Lengthening? Alternative Audio?

After Dentist Horace Wells used anesthesia for the first time in history to extract a tooth painlessly (1844), his associates suggested that he get a patent. He said, "Let it be free as the air." Bibliography -48

"I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped." - The Gestalt prayer, by psychologist Fritz Perls Bibliography -69

"To punish me for my contempt for authority, Fate made me an authority myself." - Albert Einstein Bibliography -93 (page 24)

"We have no system; we have no rules, but we have a big scrap heap." - Thomas Edison (Some of his workers called it the "dungyard.") Bibliography -79

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." - Mark Twain Bibliography -9R

"It is better to accomplish perfectly a very small amount of work, than to half do ten times as much." - from the book, Inquire Within, 1858 Bibliography -61

"What we ought to do now, obviously, is suspend all activity until we can hold a plebiscite to select a panel that will appoint a commission authorized to hire a new team of experts to restudy the feasibility of compiling an index of all the committees that have in the past inventoried and cataloged the various studies aimed at finding out what happened to all the policies that were scrapped when new policies were decided on by somebody else. Once that's out of the way, I think we could go full steam ahead with some preliminary plans for a new study with Federal funds of why nothing can be done right now." - North Dakota Senator I.E. Solberg Bibliography -62

"Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow." - Abraham Lincoln, 1865 (the year of his death) Bibliography -90

"Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." "Tous les jours, a tous points de vue, je vais de mieux en mieux." --Emily Coue

"My policy is to have no policy.", Abraham Lincoln.

All quotations ruthlessly stolen from [[10]], where you can also find a hard-to-match bibliography. BrewJay (talk) 14:45, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Clarifying this policy

I believe IAR is a great policy, and is essential, however, I don't like the current wording of the policy. The policy itself is unclear. I suggest that we give some examples of what it means, for an example, "You don't have to learn policy before editing", or "You shouldn't follow policies like a brainless robot, but should instead carefully think of the consequences of following policy, and do what you think is best for wikipedia." I also suggest we give examples of what the rule doesn't mean. For an example, it doesn't give you an excuse to break any of the 5 Pillars. However, it should be clear that these are just a few examples, and there are more examples.

I see the current vagueness of the policy as a problem, although it will never be 100% clear. It could be clearer though, and it should be more clear. Some users, especially newbies who are young, might look at this, and take it very literally. There literal interpretation of the policy may lead them to do inappropriate thing. It would do everyone a favor to leave a little less room for misinterpretation.--SJP (talk) 12:37, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Well there are already more than one essay interpreting IAR, but in the end all it means is that if a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia then you can ignore it. Anything else is just reading into it content that just is not there. For example saying that IAR does not apply to the 5 pillars is reading too much into it. While it is unlikely that those pillars would prevent us from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, if they did stand in our way we would not sit on our thumbs and blindly follow them.
If you take this policy literally you will do fine if you have the ability to determine what is and is not improving or maintaining Wikipedia. If you don't have the ability to determine what is and is not improving or maintaining Wikipedia then this rule's clarity is not the problem.
I do not see the policy as unclear, it tells me what I can do when. What can I do? Ignore rules. When can I do it? When they prevent me from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. Really not sure how it could be more clear, I think additions would detract from the clarity. 1 != 2 12:40, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I respect your opinion, and I understand your opinion, but I still disagree with you:-) It would be more clear if it stated what IAR isn't an excuse for. Will you please explain how adding that information would make the policy less clear? Thanks for taking the time to respond, and to give your point of view:-)--SJP (talk) 15:39, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, IAR is designed to work when our preconceived notions of what our best practices are(policy) fails us. I think an attempt to include when it should and should not be used will reduce its ability to work in unforeseen circumstances. That is why it is ignore all rules, not ignore some rules.
It is a safety measure to make sure we do not get bound up in precedence and to ensure the first priority is building and maintaining an encyclopedia. To attempt to lay out ahead of time when it is best used and when/how it should not be used defeats the purpose of the policy which is to allow correct action when the rules fail us due to unexpected circumstances. 1 != 2 17:20, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
"I think an attempt to include when it should and should not be used will reduce its ability to work in unforeseen circumstances." I think if we dictate when it should and shouldn't be used we'll reduce its ability to work in unforeseen circumstances, but I don't think we reduce its ability if we just offer examples of when it should be applied, and when it shouldn't.--SJP (talk) 17:53, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Examples can be added to the linked essays. As Until says, adding specifics to this policy page will tend to confuse things, people may then adopt a tendency to narrowly read the examples as being part of the policy. Franamax (talk) 18:08, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
"people may then adopt a tendency to narrowly read the examples as being part of the policy" I actually find myself in agreement with that statement. Some people here seem to have a tendency to strictly follow policy. For that reason I no longer agree with my suggested reform, however, if it weren't for that tendency some people have, I think it would be a good idea. Thanks for bringing that up:-)--SJP Chat 18:41, 5 July 2008 (UTC)
This has been brought up before, but isn't a part of the problem the word 'ignore'? Rules should not be ignored, just not seen as a final word. Shouldn't it be more something like 'rules are not set in stone'? CitiCat 14:04, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, one thing is that the name "ignore all rules" has historical weight by now, and is unlikely to be changed. The other is that it reflects actual practice: most editors do ignore the rules most of the time. The rules are a fallback for resolving disputes, maintaining consistency, and so on, but most of the time, the encyclopedia works because we just hit the [edit] button and make sensible changes.--Father Goose (talk) 21:10, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
No, it is perfectly appropriate for any reader to edit an article without reading any "rules". Most people are perfectly capable of understanding what belongs in an encyclopedia. —Centrxtalk • 04:14, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Ignore everything?

So by this guideline, if keeping a neutral point of view is impossible, say because there is no-one to provide an alternate POV, should an article just assume that there is only one viewpoint on an issue, or what? This whole rule seems rather superfluous anyway. After all, if the other rules are followed to the letter, doesn't that automatically make the article good? In what case does one actually invoke this rule, without others arguing that the invoker is is simply claiming that he was following IAR to improve the article. Perhaps this whole rule should be re-worded to be less vague. Zell65 (talk) 07:17, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

No, it is worded "vaguely" on purpose, it's not a rule that can ever be fully explained. It depends on your judgement - are you really really trying to improve the encyclopedia? Is a rule getting in the way of your improvement? Then ignore it. Don't worry about it, just be bold. HOWEVER, be very preared to explain to all and sundry exactly why you felt it was necessary to ignore the rule. If you're right, you will find that people agree with you (if you're really right, they might even decide to change the rule, nothing is set in stone here [except IAR and a few other basic principles]). It may (and quite likely will) turn out that the community thinks you're wrong, in which case your boldness will get swiftly reverted. In that case, it's important to just drop the IAR thing and switch over to "lesson learned", discuss it nicely, present your reasons, accept when most others don't feel the same way.
There, now I just tried to give some more explanation, I bet it's still not enough. There is no good way to explain Ignore All Rules, it's a way of thinking more than a way of doing. I should obey the rules at all times, but I can also constantly question the rules and ask what the rules are for - if the rules aren't good enough, there may be some rare cases where I need to ignore them, to make a better encyclopedia. But putting in an article about the band me and Joey just made up and we might get this record deal and this guy at the local bar says maybe we can play there Friday - there's no rule you can ignore to make that article and have it stay. Franamax (talk) 08:06, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Suggested guideline

Policies should be applied only if doing so would help fulfill the policy's stated purpose or provide the project with some benefit.

Example: A stub article contains a two-sentence description copied from the subject's website. The subject wouldn't conceivably object to the copying (and let's assume the subject is notable). If there's really no possibility the copyright owner would object, there's no possibility of liability for the Foundation, impairment of the GDFL license, or the other purposes WP:COPYVIO fulfills, even if the two sentences might not be regarded as fair use. Since the stated purposes of WP:COPYVIO wouldn't be furthered by deleting the two sentences or the article containing them, we shouldn't simply apply it mechanically. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:31, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Kibitzing requested

If I may, I'd like to ask some of the editors here to weigh in at User talk:Ling.Nut/3IAR; it's my contention that the essay User:Ling.Nut/3IAR is very far away from the common interpretation(s) of IAR, and that as a result it should not be included in the "see also" section of WP:WIARM.--Father Goose (talk) 07:04, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Huh? Rather than comment there, I'd ask anyone looking here to head on over to WP:Plagiarism and pitch in to help us build the page. Very excellent ripoff of Three Laws of Robotics - I suppose it's a fair-use paraphrase?
To the point, I can't see that page having a place linked from WIARM - isn't WIARM supposed to help people to understand? Put a humor tag on top, I suppose it would be fine, overlay it with the audio from Mr. Roboto, maybe. As a serious contribution to policy, no way. Feel free to copy my response wherever you wish. Franamax (talk) 07:26, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, that just shows my ignorance of Mr. Asimov's works. And it would explain why it seems so out-of-sync with Wikipedia's existing guidance. Nonetheless, from what I can tell based on my conversations with Ling.Nut so far, it is meant to be a serious explanation of IAR and related ideas.--Father Goose (talk) 22:04, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
That's Doctor Asimov to you! :) He made many many workses, some were stellar, some were, ummm...
I have no doubt that Ling.Nut is making a sincere attempt to contribute, but they are trying to shoehorn an expansive idea into a pre-existing framework and it doesn't fit all that well. Laws 1 and 2 seem to be reversed IMO. I won't even start on the image, which seems to conflate communism with Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism and introduces an unwelcome off-site reference (yeah, better to not go down that path!).
So my call is, good effort, bad idea. I'm not sure I wish to enter into extended debate on this, but if it's not already done, I'll go over and link this thread on LN's sub-page talk. Franamax (talk) 22:49, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
Hi folks. Throwing the word "plagiarism" around colors the discussion in distinctly unhelpful (and highly inaccurate) ways. It is a path that leads to much heat (well, it could, I mean, but I'm not interested in that outcome) and a vast reduction in the amount of light. For merely one example out of thousands: think of the Terry Pratchett's extended and blatant (but unconscious, wink wink nudge nudge) spoof/borrowing/reworking of Fritz Leiber— weren't there even a pair of heroes in the first novel that were a patent spoof/borrowing/reworking of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? But that discussion is irrelevant. The word "plagiarism" should never have been typed, or at least, the "save" button should never have been pressed after typing. I won't say more on that topic; if you wanna have the last word, you can.
The overarching point of WP:3IAR is that some rules/principles are unavailable for being ignored (grammar? sigh.). IAR is not the overarching principle of Wikipedia; the other four pillars of WP:5P stand in that position. Wikipedia is here to improve its content, but no one can be harmed along the way. End of story. Therefore, WP:3IAR accomplishes two goals: it stands firstly as a determined affirmation of what has always existed as the standard by which all behavior is evaluated... and secondly as a refutation of adding new crappy "I'm an admin, my opinions therefore reflect Wikipedia, therefore let's codify them" rules along the way. The first goal is given more stress than the second, but both exist. Ling.Nut (WP:3IAR) 02:11, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
I find new users have a greater tendency to try to create rules that compel their views than experienced users (such as admins) do. Most admins have learned that editing policy, especially in a way that reflects their views and not the community's, tends to fail. There are some exceptions where a sufficiently large and influential group of admins have edit-warred their way to "success" (WP:SPOILER is the most prominent case of this I can think of), but thankfully that is rare. Much much more common is users (not even necessarily admins) getting their way through aggressive, tendentious behavior, whether or not it's supported by policy, policy rewrites, or most commonly, misrepresentations of policy. Admins are not nearly as powerful as you seem to think they are... the most powerful editors are those that have been around a long time and know best how to navigate (and sometimes game) the system. Admin powers are secondary to that knowledge in terms of exercising influence over Wikipedia.--Father Goose (talk) 23:50, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
I'll just try a few points here:
  • Admins do not make rules, editors make rules. Admins enforce rules. FG has stepped on this a wee bit above, but in their comment above, change "group of admins" to "group of experienced editors, the majority of whom were admins" and it comes together better. (Bias: I agree with WP:SPOILER ;)
  • To say that again, admins have no special status in the making of rules - policies are formed by consensus and strength of argument. It does happen though that the more committed and experienced users in many cases are also admins. Almost by definition, admins are more experienced in the promise and pitfalls of policy, so they will tend to be more involved, but they have no exclusive right.
  • You, Ling.Nut, are welcome to contribute to any policy discussion you want, anywhere you want. If you think there's some rule that prevents you from wading into discussions where only admins are contributing - ignore it. You might find that no-one is responding to you, but as long as you don't get upset about that and cause a scene, you might also find that very subtly, people are adopting your ideas.
  • And least important - I didn't use the word plagiarism, I put up a link to WP:Plagiarism, where we can use eyeballs and thoughts. I'll continue to hit "Save" on that, until we get a good working page fleshed out. Thanks for putting in the link to attribute the inspiration for your essay. Franamax (talk) 07:37, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Might be worth adding to WP:IAR/V. —Ashley Y 03:03, 16 July 2008 (UTC)


I agree with various others that the Versions subpage is not a useful link in its current form. I guess I'd never actually looked at until recently, my concern was always that the original "if it makes you nervous" form was represented, and it is by its own separate link.

The problem with the Versions page is that it is a catch-all of "some versions, or suggestions". There is no indication of the history and level of acceptance, nor any links to why the suggestions were not adopted. As Father Goose says, it's a muddle. I don't see where it will help in understanding IAR, since it provides no context. If there's a good way to help the user understand the genesis of IAR other than saying "read the entire page history and talk archives" I'm all for it. /Versions is not the good way. Franamax (talk) 06:26, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree and support the link's removal. —David Levy 06:38, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
I support the link's removal. The page contains some real other versions of the policy as it has been in the past, but much of it is nothing more than a list of wordings that did not gain consensus labeled as "other versions". Much of the content of the page never really was an other version of this policy(other than being placed there without prior discussion then reverted). The "other versions" link is at the top of each page and called "history". Chillum 15:33, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. There's a great deal of disagreement over the best wording for this policy, and some of the versions offer insight that the present version does not (due to the obsessive insistence on brevity). It's not supposed to be a list of historical versions, but a list of suggested versions. —Ashley Y 08:47, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Please see Wikipedia:Content forking. —David Levy 19:53, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
This isn't content. And it's no more a fork than WP:WIARM. It's just more views on the subject. —Ashley Y 20:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
1. It isn't content? Then what the heck is it? Are you attempting to wiki-lawyer on the basis that this is a project page instead of an article?
2. WP:WIARM elaborates on the policy. the /Versions page is a disorganized dumping ground for different versions that failed to retain/achieve consensus, and there's a similar lack of consensus for it to be linked to. —David Levy 20:45, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
1. You're the one arguing for removal based on a policy intended for article space, so I think you're the one wiki-lawyering.
2. /Versions also elaborates on policy by providing different perspectives on it. —Ashley Y 20:55, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, there are at least four editors asking for removal - you've been reverted a few times now. Time to talk. OR you could improve /Versions to address the concerns. Franamax (talk) 21:24, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
I am talking. Look, here's me talking: /Versions elaborates on policy by providing different perspectives on it. I'm very open to ways in which it might be improved, however. —Ashley Y 21:35, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
1. Actually, I'm arguing for the link's exclusion based on the lack of consensus that it improves the page (and my opinion that it doesn't). I cited Wikipedia:Content forking to provide an explanation of why content forking is unhelpful (not to say "we can't do it because a policy says so," which is a poor argument). Would you care to explain why you believe that the principle doesn't apply here?
2. No, the /Versions page is a backdoor method of displaying non-consensus wordings. —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
1. It's a matter of spirit vs. letter, I suppose. Wikipedia:Content forking was intended for article space: that's its spirit. You're trying to use its letter to apply it to something for which it wasn't really intended, in order to argue for a change. I believe this is known as "wiki-lawyering". Perhaps it would have merit if /Versions were claiming to be another policy.
2. Actually, it's different perspectives on the idea, only some of which were attempted to become wordings for IAR. It's not claiming to be official policy or anything, it's merely a helpful collection of views and understandings. —Ashley Y 22:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Again, I'm not arguing for the link's exclusion on the basis that the guideline says so. I cited it because it contains an explanation of why this is a bad idea. You then responded by pointing out that IAR isn't "content" (by which, you apparently meant "an article") which is irrelevant to whether the advice is applicable. This is, indeed, a matter of spirit vs. letter, but our positions are the opposite of what you claim.
All of the wordings in question are non-consensus forks of the policy (regardless of whether they're been formally proposed as replacements), and there is no consensus that they're "helpful." —David Levy 23:09, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
You're taking /Versions much too seriously. It's not supposed to be any kind of policy page, so it can't itself count as a fork. This is what Wikipedia:Content forking is all about: parallel articles on the same topic from different POVs, and it's a bad idea because such articles should typically be merged to achieve some sort of neutrality. I suppose you could argue that each entry in /Versions is a fork, but none of them make any claim to be policy. Wikipedia:Content forking isn't going to help you here without a lot of bending of its intent. —Ashley Y 23:34, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
The lack of a {{policy}} tag doesn't change the fact that the /Versions page is a disorganized mishmash of forked, non-consensus text. Linking to it from the policy is no better than linking to a list of non-consensus versions of an article. —David Levy 02:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
It rather does change the fact, actually. It's "forked, non-consensus text" only in the sense that there's no consensus for it to be policy. This is a rather different case than an article, or indeed any other policy, as the actual text is deliberately kept short while explanation is kept on different pages (such as WIARM). /Versions is merely more explanation, albeit in an elliptical form. —Ashley Y 02:53, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
What, in your assessment, does the page explain? —David Levy 03:15, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
It helps explain IAR, albeit in an elliptical form. People get a better understanding of IAR's spirit by considering different wordings. None of these should threaten the "official wording" here, which is the actual policy. —Ashley Y 03:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
There is no consensus that those wordings are accurate or helpful. Anyone can post whatever interpretation they please. —David Levy 03:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
The thing is, people come here all the time attempting to change this policy. There's a reason for that: it's so brief it's hard to understand what it means: for instance, what exactly counts as "improving or maintaining" in the absence of the rules? The various attempts people have made to change or reword this policy collectively help understand its spirit. Now of course we need one single official IAR, but the various versions reflect others' attempts to clear up what they found confusing. —Ashley Y 23:34, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
We have explanatory pages for that. A context-free list of forked wordings clarifies nothing. If anything, it might increase people's confusion. —David Levy 02:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
To be honest, I had intended /Versions to act as a lightening rod for the continual attempts to change the policy. These attempts actually include some good ideas, and I believe those are ideas worth saving. We can have the One True Wording and still let people get an idea of the variety of interpretation. —Ashley Y 23:57, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I know that's what its purpose has been. However, there haven't been a lot of lightning strikes lately, and as a list of discarded "variants", I don't think it's a useful page to link to. (I'm not necessarily saying that the variants should have been discarded, but unless they're presented in a coherent way -- not just a "list of versions or suggestions" or however you want to phrase it -- I don't agree that linking to it from IAR improves IAR.--Father Goose (talk) 00:30, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
By "lately", you mean while the /Versions link was up, right? (Although there was one.)
It's helpful to consider that regardless of whether there exists a better wording than the present, there may still be deficiencies in the existing wording: deficiencies that various people have perceived and attempted to address. Reading them might help to understand the spirit of the original. —Ashley Y 00:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I think one good wording and/or explanation is better than a dozen flawed ones. In that vein, I wrote WP:UIAR months ago, and I still feel that IAR's deficiencies could be overcome by simply placing UIAR's text on the IAR page itself.--Father Goose (talk) 02:06, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think WP:UIAR is better than the present page. The key for me is that it mentions that consensus is important in successfully "ignoring the rules". And what its more, your page is potentially more open to any improvements and clarifications people may have, and a common understanding can evolve. /Versions might not be so necessary then. —Ashley Y 02:19, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
That would convey to users that they must read a lengthy page before ignoring rules (which simply isn't so).
What's the problem with the current setup? —David Levy 02:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
There really is no problem if there are sufficient people to help interpret IAR. Currently that unfortunately happens at WP:IAR, WT:IAR, WP:WIARM, WT:WIARM, WP:UIAR and WT:UIAR. It's a constant back-and-forth of edits, reverts and talk threads. What we really need is something like the Help Desk or the Reference Desks - a neutral spot for people to come and ask questions about IAR. Franamax (talk) 03:07, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Why do you even need people to interpret IAR? Why don't you just figure out what it means, and put it on the page, like every other policy? Is the brevity really that valuable? —Ashley Y 05:03, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Wording of IAR

There are two versions that keep being reverted back and forth, so let's discuss it here:

If a rule, including this one, prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it. OR If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

I don't see what about the first one makes it so desirable. Anyone want to elaborate? NuclearWarfare contact meMy work 20:01, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it's for clarity. It's not immediately obvious that the Ignore All Rules policy itself may be ignored. For instance, someone may still want to follow all the other policies, even though they think some of the policies prevents them from improving the encyclopedia, simply because they think following the rule of law is better for the encyclopedia than subjectivity. They may even distrust their own judgement on what is best for the encyclopedia, and therefore believe it's best to leave this to the lawmakers on all other policies besides this one. In these cases, they should be aware that they may ignore the "Ignore all rules" policy, and continue to abide by all the other Wikpedia policies. Ignoring the "Ignore all rules" policy may be best for improving and maintaining the encyclopedia. Richard Blatant (talk) 20:08, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
1. If someone believes that it's "better for the encyclopedia" to follow a rule than to ignore it, doing so is entirely consistent with IAR; one needn't ignore IAR to abide by another rule.
2. Nowhere is it remotely implied that IAR cannot be ignored, so this additional text is superfluous.
3. You referred to the addition as "non-controversial," despite the fact that it's been discussed and rejected in the past. You might not have been aware of this, but when I pointed it out, you replied that "according to 'Ignore all rules' consesensus [sic] is not necessary if it prevents me from improving the encyclopedia." I don't know whether that's a sincere rationale or an attempt to make a point, but it's been firmly established that IAR is not an invitation to unilaterally overrule consensus. (Doing so does not help to improve or maintain Wikipedia.)
4. You blindly reverted to the previous version (thereby reinstating an unrelated change). Please pay better attention to your edits. —David Levy 20:45, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
There's no rule against going against consensus anyway, so what you're saying is irrelevant. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:29, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
How does that address what I wrote above? —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
WP:CONS. It's kind of the ultimate rule, in terms of enforcement. If you defy everyone else by edit warring, you'll get tossed on your ass. If disagree with everyone without actually edit warring, that's okay, though consensus is still upheld in such a scenario.--Father Goose (talk)
In addition it's your opinion that going against consensus "does not help to improve or maintain Wikipedia." That's a very naive statement. It's easy to imagine cases where doing something the consensus is against improves the encyclopedia. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:36, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
I meant that continually edit-warring in a manner defiant of consensus doesn't help to improve or maintain Wikipedia. Whether the actual edit does is irrelevant, as it will be reverted according to consensus (and if someone persists in unilaterally reinstating it, he/she probably will be blocked). This disruptive series of events doesn't help to improve or maintain Wikipedia. —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

And if you don't think deciding this point (or protecting pages over it) will help you improve the encyclopedia, then...--Shirahadasha (talk) 20:55, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm not especially in favour of this particular change, but David Levy inadvertently points out the problem with this policy:

it's been firmly established that IAR is not an invitation to unilaterally overrule consensus. (Doing so does not help to improve or maintain Wikipedia.)

Why should anyone believe that? An editor might have their own opinion on what counts as improving or maintaining Wikipedia. Of course, the rules explain what it is to improve or maintain Wikipedia, but IAR says we can ignore them... —Ashley Y 21:06, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Common sense

The only thing missing in this discussion is common sense - and it's linked from the IAR page. Everyone has their own opinion on what improves or maintains Wikipedia. That's why there are some explanatory essays linked - and they discuss the need for consensus and common sense. Blindly reverting to your preferred version whilst citing IAR is just not on - and blocks follow. Discussion, prudence and forbearance work much better. Semantic arguments such as this thread are probably the worst approach. Franamax (talk) 21:35, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, yes, that's all explained in the rules. Which we are told we can ignore. —Ashley Y 21:37, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
...if doing so helps to improve or maintain Wikipedia. Anyone who reads the explanatory pages will know what that means, and those who believe that it's a good idea to disregard the policy's spirit in favor of exploiting an apparent loophole (by ignoring the explanations themselves) will quickly realize their error when they find themselves blocked. —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
"Common sense" tells me that a change is not an improvement because the consensus approves of a change, but simply because the change is an improvement. If it is an improvement, it is an improvement regardless of what the consensus says. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:39, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with this analysis. IAR says you should go ahead and make such changes, since after all they are improvements even if everyone else disagrees. WP:Consensus says you shouldn't make such changes. The latter is what we want, I believe. —Ashley Y 21:44, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
I also agree with this analysis. IAR says to go ahead and make such changes, since after all they are improvements. That's being bold. And then when everyone else disagrees, WP:Consensus says you shouldn't go on making such changes again when they have been discussed and consistently rejected. --NewbyG (talk) 02:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Moreover, I'm dubious that a policy exits that says consensus must be abided by in the first place. I'd like to see proof of such a policy. I don't see anything in WP:Consensus that says one has to go along with consensus. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:46, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
(e/c) Here's the thing - the policy has been kept to the canonical twelve words over a long period of time precisely because it is the minimal statement. It is deliberately minimal, it's intended to make you think. Not argue in circles about metaphysical notions of ignoring rules to ignore rules - just think on your own what is right. What helps you maintain or improve the encyclopedia? It's not an invitation for you to explain the not-rules to others or to find circularity in the concept. It's a guide to help you decide what to do in the million other scenarios you will find on Wikipedia.
And you are not told you can ignore the rules - no external body is telling you that, it's all of us together. As long as you think it's someone else telling you to ignore rules, you haven't understood IAR. We seek consensus, we challenge consensus, we are sometimes bold, we always discuss. We can each always use IAR to do something - once. After that we move to WP:BRD to resolve the situation. As the explanatory essays point out, IAR does not mean you're right no matter what.
(And RB, perhaps you need to absorb a little more culture and ethos of Wikipedia. If you continually ignore consensus you get blocked, simple as that. Franamax (talk) 21:52, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
"It is deliberately minimal, it's intended to make you think." That's ridiculous. Why make someone "think" if it can be expressed explicity? What is wrong with making it clear that the "Ignore all rules" policy itself is included in the rules that are to be ignored? Again, I don't believe that rule against going against consensus even exists on Wikipedia. I'd like to see it. Richard Blatant (talk) 21:55, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Franamax, this too is all explained in the rules, which this policy says we can ignore. —Ashley Y 21:56, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

If doing so

...if doing so helps to improve or maintain Wikipedia. Anyone who reads the explanatory pages will know what that means, and those who believe that it's a good idea to disregard the policy's spirit in favor of exploiting an apparent loophole (by ignoring the explanations themselves) will quickly realize their error when they find themselves blocked. —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Let me get this clear. You said "If you continually ignore consensus you get blocked, simple as that." Are you saying that there is a rule against ignoring consensus? If so, I'd like to see it. Or are you saying, that you're simply going to make up your own rule and block, because you "Ignore all rules?" Richard Blatant (talk) 22:01, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
(e/c) RB, the whole idea is to make you think. IAR can never be completely laid out. In your specific instance, if all rules can be ignored, then the rule to IAR can be ignored too - that's a trivial result. It's not necessary to state it explicitly. More generally, there is a continual desire to encumber IAR with explanations of what it means - but it doesn't mean anything. Every example you add only constricts the rule to a more narrow interpretation, but it's deliberately meant to be interpreted widely and tried in all situations. Strength of reasoned argument and consensus determine whether or not your individual IAR'ing is a good thing or not.
RB, secondly, consensus is the rule here. I don't have the page off the top of my head, maybe it doesn't exist. I'm not going to put effort into backing up the statement, you can easily research it yourself. Suffice to say, if you press ahead and ignore consensus to do whatever you want, especially if you justify it with IAR, you will very quickly find out how Wikipedia works - it works by consensus. (after e/c - I'm not an admin but the rule would be "blocked for disruption")
AY, I can only try to explain. You are free to ignore a rule if it helps you maintain or improve the encyclopedia. When people object to your application of IAR, again, you are free to ignore it. I can only suggest that you think very carefully about what you are doing, if people object, you need to consider the possibility you're wrong (I do that all the time BTW). And consider changing your approach to make your ideas more acceptable. Just don't get stuck on "I'm right", that rarely works out. Ignoring rules is a very difficult concept - unless you find that point of mind where suddenly it's clear. I'm sorry I can't convey that idea. Changing the policy page text won't bring it any closer. Franamax (talk) 22:20, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, this is explained in WP:Consensus -- which is one of the rules that this policy says we may ignore. —Ashley Y 22:32, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
...if doing so helps to improve or maintain Wikipedia. Anyone who reads the explanatory pages will know what that means, and those who believe that it's a good idea to disregard the policy's spirit in favor of exploiting an apparent loophole (by ignoring the explanations themselves) will quickly realize their error when they find themselves blocked. —David Levy 23:09, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
But why should anyone pay attention to the "explanatory pages"? Surely if they were important, they'd be part of the policy? And in fact one needs to understand WP:Consensus together with WP:Bold to get a good idea of what passes as improving or maintaining Wikipedia. So sure, if a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it, though you might get blocked anyway if you didn't understand the precise understanding of "improving or maintaining" used here. —Ashley Y 23:44, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Users don't need to read the explanatory pages before applying IAR. They don't even need to read IAR before applying it, and they needn't read any rules before editing.
Editors acting in good faith—even in complete ignorance of the rules—generally do more good than harm. When they err, we don't block them; we correct/explain their mistakes and direct them to pages that assist them in editing constructively.
The same is true here. If someone applies IAR inappropriately, we don't rush to block them; we explain the situation and direct them to the explanatory pages. Only if/when they subsequently continue down a disruptive path do they risk being blocked. —David Levy 02:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Indeed users

Indeed users do not need any of that. The problem is those who use IAR to ignore a rule because they believe they are improving the encyclopedia. Oh sure, we'll correct them, and they should listen per WP:CONSENSUS, which is one of the rules...
The trouble is, it's actually rules (for example, WP:CONSENSUS and WP:BOLD) that determine whether IAR is being applied "appropriately". It seems like common sense, but only to those who have internalised the rules. —Ashley Y 03:04, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
You seem to believe that editors are either entitled to exploit perceived technicalities or justified in believing that they can. Fortunately, that isn't how Wikipedia works. —David Levy 03:15, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Continually editing in a manner contrary to consensus usually is disruptive. Disruptive editing leads to blocks. —David Levy 22:30, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the rules explain that very well. —Ashley Y 22:32, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
IAR doesn't state that ignoring a rule requires others to do so, nor does it state that ignoring the rules never carries any consequences. —David Levy 23:09, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, consequences that are specified in the rules. —Ashley Y 23:35, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
...which others have no obligation to ignore.
And of course, it's standard procedure to repeatedly warn editors acting in good faith before blocking them. —David Levy 02:41, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
...warn them that they've broken the rules, which IAR said they could ignore. —Ashley Y 03:04, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Warned that they're about to be blocked for disruption, which IAR didn't guarantee against. —David Levy 03:19, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Right. If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it, except that sometimes it might be considered "disruption" according to the rules, and you might get blocked for it.
I think a policy is flawed if it ever encourages anything sanctionable. —Ashley Y 03:28, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Again, we don't block people for applying IAR; we block them for continuing to cause disruption after they've been repeatedly asked to stop. To explicitly warn against that in IAR would be to suspend the assumption that we're dealing with rational humans. —David Levy 03:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

It's interesting that whenever anyone points out the deficiencies in the current wording, its defenders always adduce the idea of consensus. Which is fine, really, but it rather suggests consensus should be mentioned in the policy... —Ashley Y 23:15, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

NO!!! Because if the policy said you needed consensus, you would never ignore rules! Consensus quite often adds up after someone ignores rules - and many other people realize they did something good - then the rule gets changed. IAR conveys the imperative to improve the encyclopedia. Not to improve your own personal idea of what's good for the encyclopedia, to improve the enycyclopedia itself. You don't know it's good when you do it, you just think it is. It's only after two, five or five hundred other people chime in and say it was a good move that you can start to believe that maybe it really was a good thing to do. IAR is only ever confirmed by consensus. Franamax (talk) 23:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh yes, I agree with that. I'm a fan of WP:Bold. The trouble is when people improve the encyclopedia when they know consensus is against them. IAR says they should, because WP:Consensus is just another rule, but WP:Consensus says they shouldn't, and I think that's preferable. —Ashley Y 00:13, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Not sure

I'm not sure how to parse your second sentence there. I think that IAR almost by definition connotes ignoring consensus, or at least means ignoring whatever your own perception of consensus is - remember that we all see consensus from our own perspective. That's the only concept we want to convey in the policy, as vaguely as possible (much to the frustration of many editors). It doesn't matter if you think consensus is against you - if you think you can make the encyclopedia better, do it! Now there's a bunch of stuff after that - make your case, listen to other people, don't edit war, change your approach in response to feedback, don't freak out when your own particular change gets reverted. After that, you can take my approach - politely and endlessly raise your points on various talk pages, refine your arguments, take into account the views of others, adapt some more - and when some text gets changed from "a" to "the", frame the diff on the wall and pop a cold one. :) There is no possible way to put that approach onto this policy page but a lot of it is in the linked explanatory essays, with sound reasoning behind it. If your /Versions page provided equivalent context and explanation, I'd be spilling my blood to keep it linked here. IAR is a very nuanced concept, unless we have really sound ways to explain it, it's best left as the bald open-to-interpretation 12 words. Regards! Franamax (talk) 00:33, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't matter if you think consensus is against you - if you think you can make the encyclopedia better, do it! -- Are you sure you really mean that? Suppose I'm in an edit war over some article, and I hold the (quite reasonable) belief that a more accurate encyclopedia is an improved encyclopedia. Ten other editors disagree with my content change, and have demonstrated so in a revert war (against just me). So, I think consensus is against me, and I think I can make the encyclopedia better, that is, more accurate. Should I continue to revert? Oh sure, there's all the (very sensible) "stuff after that" that you mention, but that's in the (ignorable) rules. —Ashley Y 00:50, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Tell you what, Ashley, please keep ignoring WP:EDITWAR, since you've clearly got us beat here. You're completely right. You can ignore any rule you like, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. You've successfully outwitted us all. Keep reverting the page until we learn our lesson.--Father Goose (talk) 00:47, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Um, have you considered taking a break from this policy/talk page? I'm pretty sure it's not worth making personal attacks over. —Ashley Y 00:59, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, keep in mind that a lot of drive-by editors come here to challenge policy and use similar arguments and go in circular directions just to be right. You could always try to ignore the rule of getting pissed off at a single flamy post and answering back, instead try a polite response (which you did do, I mean even more polite :). But back to the thread:
The example you give is a good one because it embodies some of the misconceptions about IAR. The "reasonable" belief there is yours and yours alone - in that case, if you truly are reasonable, you need to consider whether your article belief truly is reasonable. Ten people disagree and not one other editor is on your side? So then, it's best to back off, seek out some other opinions, find some good reliable sources, work on the talk page, anything but get into an edit war. Think about it - if you're right, RS will support you and other people will agree; if you're wrong, push the Off button and take a walk, smell some flowers and pat a dog. Either way, sleep on it and try again tomorrow. If you take the other course of insisting you're right right now! and you just revert against ten other editors - well then you'll get blocked and you don't end up improving wikipedia anyway, do you? Franamax (talk) 01:19, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
You ought to give more credit to those "drive-by editors". There's a reason this page attracts a lot more attempts to fix it than other policy pages do. My own approach, as you know, is to accept that a lot of their ideas are helpful and to at least record them for their merit. It's more in the spirit of AGF, and it helps to broaden perspectives.
As for what to do in my hypothetical situation: it's mostly good advice, and discussed at length in the rules. The problem is, I believe, is that you and others (well, most of us) have been working on Wikipedia so long that you've internalised the rules as "common sense", when in fact it all needs to be learned. It's perfectly possible for ten people to be wrong and one person to be right, and to know that they are right. Internalised WP:Consensus, feeling like common sense, says "give it up if you can't achieve consensus", and this is a preferable course of action. But that's not what IAR says. It advises me to ignore WP:Consensus and improve the encyclopedia by making a change which I know makes it more accurate. I may well end up being blocked because I broke the rules, but I've been advised to ignore them. I think a policy fails if it advocates a course of action that leads to being blocked. —Ashley Y 01:40, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
That post actually wasn't a personal attack, despite the sarcasm and link to WP:GIANTDICK. It was my way of pointing out that if you actually ignored every rule "...that this policy says we may ignore" in service of your points, you'd find yourself in the scenario outlined in WP:GIANTDICK. So replying to every point someone makes here with "this policy says we may ignore [that]" is empty. We know that. You know that.
On Wikipedia, the only victories come from convincing your fellow editors, not outwitting them. The smart-alec replies you've been engaging in here are getting you nowhere.--Father Goose (talk) 01:53, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


Well I think I'll follow Franamax's advice here. —Ashley Y 02:02, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Ashley, you point above to an essential tension of the "rules" of Wikipedia. I'm at a disadvantage because after some years of reading articles, I spent several months looking at discussion pages, then following links to all these weird noticeboards and user pages trying to figure it all out - then I found IAR, read those 12 words and realized "I understand that, this feels like home to me". Then I made a few edits and someone pointed out BOLD and, well, here I am a year later reading all the threads with my morning coffee. And at lunch and dinner and late into the night. It's pathetic, I know, but IAR is what started it for me. I suppose I already had the context before I read it, or I figured it out shortly afterward - or maybe I took that leading "If" seriously.
Crucially, this policy has to exist -for- the serious editors, first and foremost. It is what grounds the most committed editors of the wiki, it's not a policy that should be oriented towards newbies. It is the fundamental principle for every one of us, experienced or not - be willing to ignore rules, be tolerant of those who ignore rules - if it improves the encyclopedia!! For newcomers, we can try to provide the explanatory essays, for the old hands, we need to leave the simple rule - IAR is a founding policy.
I understand your desire to make things more clear. You can do that by improving the /Version page to the point where it's suitable for inclusion here. It will need a lot of work though.
And beware of trying to explain things to newcomers. You pursue a laudable goal but consider the recently created your first article page. Observe the elaborate warnings about not creating your first article at the page, check what's shown in edit mode, check the warnings on the talk page. Now look at the page and talk page history, count for me the number of new articles created immediately adjacent to the warnings. Report back. WP:IAR is for all of Wikipedia, it can't be adjusted towards the people who only read the headings. It's too important. Franamax (talk) 03:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Who decides whether someone breaking a rule is improving the encyclopedia? And how can it be proved one way or the other? Richard Blatant (talk) 03:16, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
And please don't argue that IAR grants users license to ignore that page. We don't write our policies/guidelines for the benefit of people who seek out and attempt to exploit loopholes to get their way. —David Levy 03:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the current wording of IAR does grant users license to ignore that page, and indeed someone might well do so in good faith. There have been many proposals to fix IAR to refer to CONSENSUS explicitly, but, you know...
Oddly enough, Franamax was arguing earlier that IAR connotes ignoring consensus. Again, the wording could be changed to clarify this. —Ashley Y 04:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Not odd at all. Rules reflect consensus, rules are consensus. To ignore a rule, you must ipso facto be ignoring consensus. How else could you do it? That freedom must be there - but as has been said over and over and over, you are -not- free to ignore rules forever. Take your pick, read the essays; or ignore everything because this page told you to ignore it, march on to your block. Wikipedia editors need to have judgement, intelligence and common sense. Maybe this is the test. Franamax (talk) 04:38, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed I am not free to ignore rules forever. But that's not what IAR says: it doesn't specify any limit, provided I am "improving or maintaining". And thus anyone who follows this policy exactly as written may well end up being blocked. Of course, we actually advise them to read it a particular way, but we don't put that advice actually in the policy because it would spoil its brevity, or something. —Ashley Y 04:52, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


Again, such a block won't be applied without providing a sufficient opportunity to read the explanatory pages, and the fact that that information doesn't appear on the policy pages doesn't create a loophole that enables editors to behave unreasonably. —David Levy 05:07, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
IAR enables users to ignore all rules. I asked Richard not to argue that point because contextually, it refers to a scenario in which someone is deliberately being unreasonable. —David Levy 04:49, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Franamax, it seems to me that BOLD is what you first needed more than this page. I agree this page, like all policy, must be for all editors, and that's the source of the problem. It's not the fundamental principle actually, since on occasion it must yield to WP:CONSENSUS. For instance:
  • Don't try to improve Wikipedia when there's a clear consensus against your particular action.
  • Don't try to improve Wikipedia if it involves reverting an Office Action.
Of course you could say (like David Levy), "you can do that, but then others can block you", but that misses the point of policy. If anything, policy shouldn't advise anything sanctionable.
/Versions is mostly fine as it is, and I think the complaints come from misunderstanding. It's supposed to be no more than a set of alternative understandings. No particular entry should be taken seriously, and it's to its benefit that entries contradict each other to a certain degree. —Ashley Y 03:22, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
If someone honestly believes that edit-warring against consensus or acting against office actions serves to improve or maintain Wikipedia, he/she has a fundamental misunderstanding that far exceeds anything that we can hope to address with this policy. —David Levy 03:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
It's a "fundamental" misunderstanding only to someone who's internalised the rules. Why should anyone pay attention to an office action? Why is it such a big deal? The rules explain why. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, on its face anything that improves its accuracy is an improvement. Actually it turns out that certain things, such as edit-warring against consensus even when you are right, do not count as improvement. This is not obvious if you don't know the rules, actually, better an article be right half the time, or clearly in a state of flux, than be stable and wrong. There are lots of other things that don't count as improvement... but you need to read the rules to find out what they are. —Ashley Y 04:28, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Why should anyone pay attention to an office action? Because we've explained to them the importance of doing so.
You seem to be under the impression that our rules are a system of laws by which we govern and hand down punishments (and that by allowing people to ignore them, we eliminate our "legal" standing). This is entirely incorrect. Our rules exist simply to describe how Wikipedia works, so perceived loopholes are meaningless around here. We rely on contributors to behave reasonably, and if they don't, we needn't consult page 374, section 3, paragraph 8, line 2 to determine whether they're technically following the rules. We just do what makes sense. —David Levy 04:49, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
That explanation is, in fact, one of the rules. It's in WP:CONSENSUS. You can call it a rule or an "explanation", but either way and contrary to IAR, it shouldn't be ignored even if you think you're improving Wikipedia that way.
The rules exist to describe how Wikipedia works, including what will get you blocked. We rely on contributors to behave "reasonably", including interpreting "improve and maintain" in IAR in a particular way. In practice, though, "reasonably" means following the way Wikipedia works as described by the rules. It only seems like common sense when you've internalised the rules. —Ashley Y 05:01, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't even know what you're arguing anymore. —David Levy 05:07, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm arguing that WP:CONSENSUS shouldn't be ignored even if you think you're improving Wikipedia that way (contrary to IAR). —Ashley Y 05:37, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
The places where we keep talking about the explanatory essays linked from the policy page - do you know what "essay", "linked" and "page" mean? Have you tried reading the essays linked from the policy page? Everything you're saying is already answered. The essential step is that you read it. Franamax (talk) 05:51, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it's all there. But why do you need explanatory essays? Why don't you just put the explanation on the page, like every other policy? —Ashley Y 05:55, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Why are you asking questions that already have been answered? —David Levy 05:57, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
What's the answer? —Ashley Y 05:59, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm tired of repeating myself. You'll only ask again. —David Levy 06:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Seriously, what's the answer? Point to a diff if you like. Perhaps you are confusing you having already answered it with me having already asked it, but you didn't answer there either. —Ashley Y 06:12, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
[11]David Levy 06:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
"Users don't need to read the explanatory pages before applying IAR. They don't even need to read IAR before applying it, and they needn't read any rules before editing."
But apparently they do. Why else is Franamax pointing to them, if they don't need to be read?
There seems to be some inconsistency on this point. Whenever I point out that IAR is hard to understand, I'm told "just read the explanatory essays". So why not just put them on the policy page? Because apparently they're not necessary after all. Well, which is it? —Ashley Y 06:24, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
1. Again (and I see that it was futile to try to avoid repeating myself), we advise editors to read the explanatory essays when they appear not to understand the policy. They also are can be helpful to those who choose to read them before applying IAR, but this is not required.
2. You overlooked the other relevant reply from that diff: "That would convey to users that they must read a lengthy page before ignoring rules (which simply isn't so)." —David Levy 06:37, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
1. But still, why not put it on the page? We put helpful explanatory text on all the other policies, and not all of it is required to be read. Generally, the "nutshell" will do, unless there's something one doesn't understand. Why not do the same thing here? It makes it clear that it has some kind of consensus, which cannot be assumed from looking at the essay tag.
2. In practice, people just follow the nutshell of a policy, and only "read a lengthy page" if they're having trouble understanding it. —Ashley Y 06:48, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
IAR's text isn't a summary; it's the entire policy. It really is that simple, and that needs to remain clear. —David Levy 06:56, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
But every other "entire policy" has all explanation and clarification included. Why do we put this on a separate page? After all, you could do the same thing with any other policy. Consider WP:NPOV. You could replace that with the single sentence "All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing significant views fairly, proportionately, and without bias.". And it would work as an "entire policy", but only provided everyone knew what it meant. It's the same with IAR. It works as an "entire policy" only if everyone knows what it means. But in practice, to understand exactly what "improve and maintain" means, or what applications of IAR are going to get you blocked, you might need some explanation. We have that explanation, it's even got some sort of consensus. Why not put it on the page like we do with WP:NPOV, and every other policy? —Ashley Y 07:05, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Relatively complicated

WP:NPOV is a relatively complicated policy based on arbitrary standards. WP:IAR is advice to ignore rules when they prevent one from improving or maintaining Wikipedia. The former contains many intricacies that must be boiled down, while the latter is a refreshingly simple concept that can only be elaborated upon.
IAR encourages users to edit without worrying about reading the very type of content that you seek to add to IAR. —David Levy 07:32, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, NPOV is no more than "All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing significant views fairly, proportionately, and without bias.", but, crucially, with a particular understanding of each one of those terms. It's that understanding that requires all the rest of the policy. It's the same with IAR: it only appears "refreshingly simple" because you have internalised a precise meaning of "improve and maintain". In practice it contains certain intricacies that can cause problems or being blocked: WIARM explains some of these. Now most of the time people just aren't going to run into them, but sometimes they'll be unsure and then they'll need to read what would be the rest of the policy.
It should be the same as any policy, where users read the full text only if they're unsure on some point. Otherwise, they just read the nutshell and don't worry about the rest. —Ashley Y 07:58, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
We'll have to agree to disagree. —David Levy 08:13, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
The "essay" status, after all, suggests it's not all that reliable. —Ashley Y 05:57, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
No, that isn't what "essay" means. —David Levy 06:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, the suggestion is that they might not have consensus. —Ashley Y 06:05, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

They may

"They may range from personal or minority views to statements that enjoy a wide consensus amongst Wikipedia editors." (emphasis mine)
[I experienced an edit conflict when attempting to post the above, due to the revision in which you changed "don't" to "might not."] —David Levy 06:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
"Might not" is accurate. —Ashley Y 06:24, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Right, and "might not" = "might." —David Levy 06:37, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Quite. The "essay" tag simply provides no guarantee of any kind of consensus. Now, I believe WIARM has in fact some kind of consensus, but that's not obvious from looking at it. How are they supposed to know that it's a sensible explanation? —Ashley Y 06:50, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Feel free to propose that it be labeled a guideline. I would support such a proposal. —David Levy 06:56, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Ashley, we're engaging you in good faith here, but it really is getting a little tiresome. You are arguing from specifics to generalities. You're talking about office actions and why should they be important - you might as well ask why we have to click that pesky "edit" button, it only gets in the way of us improving the encyclopedia. You're now asking for every single rule, policy and convention to be completely laid out for you (or the hypothetical new editor). Surely you understand it's not possible? IAR cannot be a page listing every way to ignore or not ignore each and every rule; no more can there be any single page that lists every rule of Wikipedia. You miss the point that IAR helps new people to work in Wikipedia, they can do what they think is right, then someone else will help them to understand. You're moving now from what I thought was a focussed discussion towards everything but the kitchen sink. If you have a specific issue, please refocus to it. Otherwise, lets continue on your talk page or mine and archive this thread. It's been an interesting discussion but I don't think it's going anywhere relevant to this page at this point. Franamax (talk) 04:55, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


I'm not that straw man. The principle of IAR is important, but it's not the most fundamental rule, and its current wording is flawed. It's not a binary choice between the current brief wording and a grand listing of every possible exception.
IAR must yield to WP:CONSENSUS (the policy, not the abstract idea of consensus). Sure, it seems like any violation of WP:CONSENSUS is obviously not an improvement, but that "common sense" comes precisely from internalising the rules, either as written or by experience editing. For example, we used to have "working with others" to suggest consensus, an improvement along these lines, but people were worried that it might suggest one had to get consensus before making a change.
The best I can say is, go read /Versions, and think about each entry and what it's trying to say. Sure, many of them are silly, but some offer insight not found in the twelve words. —Ashley Y 05:12, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
1. IAR enables users to ignore all rules. They needn't be familiar with a single one to improve or maintain Wikipedia.
2. Again, users become aware of the importance of honoring consensus when we explain it to them. And again, our rules have no loopholes. We don't expect users to follow rules because they have blue/green ticks above them; we expect them to follow rules when it's reasonable to do so. Anyone who believes that they can get away with something controversial via the technicality that "IAR doesn't say that I can't!" is playing a childish game that he/she cannot win. We needn't modify our guidelines and policies for such individuals' benefit. —David Levy 05:25, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
1. They needn't be familiar with a rule to improve or maintain Wikipedia, as long as, by and large, they don't actually break it. If they know what they are doing breaks WP:CONSENSUS, even if they quite reasonably think they are improving Wikipedia, they should not ignore it.
2. Yes, but that explanation is codified in a policy document, which gives it its importance. It's not about people "getting away with something controversial", it's about someone improving Wikipedia with "OMG THE TRUTH" (or whatever they use to justify their edit war) in good faith, but in violation of WP:CONSENSUS.
Just offhand, can you think of any instance where WP:CONSENSUS should be ignored per IAR? —Ashley Y 05:33, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Sure, whenever someone edits Wikipedia without reading it. —David Levy 07:32, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
That's rather a different sense of "ignore" than is used by IAR. Can you think of any instance where WP:CONSENSUS is understood, but should be disregarded per IAR? Or if you prefer, any instance when WP:CONSENSUS prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, and should thus be ignored? —Ashley Y 07:58, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
1. No, the non-requirement to familiarize oneself with rules before editing is an important application of IAR.
2. I'm not personally familiar with such a scenario, but that doesn't mean that one couldn't arise. —David Levy 08:13, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

So I can be blocked when abiding by the rules by a person with the power to block me if he thinks blocking me improves the encyclopedia. His justifcation would be that I didn't ignore the rules when I should have. On other other hand, someone with the power to block can allow someone else break rules if he subjective likes what they're doing to the encyclopedia. I'm starting to think that this policy is really nothing more than a way for adminstrators to have special privilege to block editors arbitrarily, and have undue influence over the content of articles. Richard Blatant (talk) 03:28, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Wow. —David Levy 03:43, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Richard Blatant, do you have a point that you can sum up in ten words or less? If you have a problem with administrator powers or judgement, this is not the place to discuss it. If that's your issue, say so, we'll direct you to the appropriate forum. If you just want to argue in circles, please stop. You are not making a productive contribution, and you're getting in the way of others who wish to do so. Franamax (talk) 04:18, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Richard Blatant, are you accusing certain admins of being WP:ROUGE? ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:06, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

One more question

I was just trying to understand the policy. I just summed up my conclusion above. I think I have a pretty good grasp on what the policy is all about now. Richard Blatant (talk) 04:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
No, you really don't. —David Levy 04:49, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
If so, only because you can't really understand the policy from the current wording. —Ashley Y 05:22, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

One more question. If someone gets blocked, they should ignore the rule against violating a block by coming back with a different IP and resuming editing because being blocked prevents them from improving the encyclopedia, correct? Richard Blatant (talk) 04:45, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

What do you intend to achieve via such rhetoric? —David Levy 04:49, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Understanding. What do you intend to achieve with yours? Richard Blatant (talk) 04:55, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I'll ask you again Richard, what is your purpose on this page? Please state it clearly. You are straying into disruption now. Please stop. Franamax (talk) 05:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
My purpose is to thoroughly understand the policy. I already said that. How am I disrupting? Are you going to block me now under "Ignore all rules"? Richard Blatant (talk) 05:04, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I urge you to read Wikipedia:Understanding IAR. If, after you've read it, you feel you still don't understand the policy, let me know; I'll have to improve it.--Father Goose (talk) 06:02, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
And since you've expressed worries about being blocked several times now Richard, and since around 10% of your edits in the 40 or so days you've been registered on Wikipedia have been to this page [12] - is there anything more you'd like to tell us? Franamax (talk) 06:18, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Since I'm new, doesn't it makes sense for me to get aquainted with Wikipedia policies by asking questions? This is not the only policy page I've been asking questions about. If you have a problem with me asking questions, then don't answer them. Let someone else does that has a better attitude than you. Richard Blatant (talk) 15:26, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


(51 intermediate revisions not shown.) /NewbyG (talk) 04:12, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for the rollback, a lot of, ummm, stuff has floated under the bridge. However, I moved back nine steps to this version which I felt was the last good one. It lacks the reference to "Jimbo says", which I feel to be an improvement. Sad to say, it seems that 42 revisions yielded only that benefit - and that benefit being only in my eyes! Sadder to say, it is almost looking like page protection may be needed shortly. I hope not, we do have some relatively good discussion happening. Franamax (talk) 04:25, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Bah. Protection is a last resort, and we're still in the first stage of dispute resolution. I'm de-sysopping the first admin that protects this page.--Father Goose (talk) 05:19, 9 August 2008 (UTC) With my magic wand, if you must know.
Protection is unnecessary. If anything, the flux helps people appreciate the different approaches people have. —Ashley Y 05:22, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. The brief flurry has subsided. As long as talk is proceeding and reverts are quiescent, the wiki-world is unfolding as it should. I was worried about the trend-line. The trend no longer exists and I am heading to bed soon anyway. :) Franamax (talk) 06:06, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


I think this should be merged with Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means or the other way around. All this page says is "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." and it is indeed very common that people take it the wrong way. What's the point of having the meaning on a separate page if this whole page is only one sentence? TheBlazikenMaster (talk) 19:08, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

WP:IAR is one of the founding principles of Wikipedia. It is a very simple statement open to wide interpretation, and hopefully will never change. WIARM is one of the efforts to add explanations to IAR, however, it is not part of IAR. IAR stands all by itself without decoration. We can all try to interpret it, but we can never pin down exactly what it means - that is what makes Wikipedia a living thing. Franamax (talk) 02:43, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

stupid policy

dumb. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Phil Ian Manning (talkcontribs) 07:06, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

As opposed to your intelligent eloquent argument against it? Chillum 13:31, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
What is the point of this policy if EVERYTHING that doesn't follow the ordinary rules gets deleted? Can you provide an example where somebody Ignored All Rules and improved (by wiki's standards) Wikipedia? (talk) 00:56, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Every time an anonymous or new editor adds useful information in unformatted or poor writing, it is IAR in action. (talk) 02:14, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
That is very true and we encourage it. In fact, there are many many dedicated editors who look at each and every one of those anonymous and new edits and try to improve them and find sources to back them up. It's true that sometimes, the editors get tired and delete things - ideally, the original editor would do the groundwork themself to make sure their edit sticks around. Doesn't matter though, it's the encyclopedia anyone can edit. However, it is not the encyclopedia where anyone can expect their own particular change to actually live more than a day! Franamax (talk) 02:37, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
As much as I admire the above points expressing the beauty of the freedom of speech Wikipedia is trying to attain to, it is a bit of a clunky rule, if not even worse. Does ignoring all rules include ignoring the three core content policies if it "improves" Wikipedia's freedom of speech? Can I ignore the rule to ignore all the rules if that makes maintaining Wikipedia a less argumentative task? I'm concerned that this rule may give vandals the justification they desire and makes policing Wikipedia more difficult. In conclusion, I agree with the first post: Dumb.POVreferee (talk) 04:12, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
The idea for IAR is that one can ignore the rules if it improves the project. In my opinion, it negates the notability guidelines in the case of articles with some citations, but still allows for deletion of articles that are patent nonsense, or vanity pages, etc. In fact, it really should negate guidelines, as it is a policy. The improvement is based on whether or not there is useful content being added. Tealwisp (talk) 04:29, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
In response to POVreferee: of course, IAR only means to ignore rules within reason. It doesn't give people justification to post "PENIS PENIS PENIS" in the middle of an article and then say "but guys I was ignoring the rules." An easy way to think about it is that IAR just means "use your brain." Politizer talk/contribs 04:35, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Improve and maintain what?

This is one of Wikipedia's most beautiful policies. Its one line is succinct and to the point and provides a framework for every single edit. However, it has a couple of related flaws:

  1. Its title does not completely reflect that beautiful line.
  2. When we say "improve and maintain Wikipedia", what does that mean?

Lets focus on the second one. I think we all know what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean "improve and maintain Wikipedia's reputation as an unreliable website full of trivia" (I don't mean to imply that I think it is!) It doesn't mean "improve and maintain the status quo on disputed articles" or "improve and maintain our resiliance against those who have other viewpoints".

So maybe it would be helpful to add a word like "quality" here, along the lines of "maintain and improve the quality of Wikipedia". This might also help to address the first point by allowing editors to refer to this guideline not merely as an excuse to ignore a troublesome rule, but to emphasise that their edit has improved the quality of the encyclopedia, and that is what Pillar Five is really all about. Geometry guy 22:16, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Earlier wording referred to "Wikipedia's quality," and this was shortened to "Wikipedia" for the sake of brevity. I'd be fine with changing it back. —David Levy 23:08, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
I think that the word "Wikipedia" describes the project very well. It is not just Wikipedia's quality we should improve and maintain, but also its quantity, safety, and and other intrinsic it may possess. Chillum 01:18, 29 January 2009 (UTC)