Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines

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Peacedove.svg The project page associated with this talk page is an official policy on Wikipedia. Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard for all users to follow. Please review policy editing recommendations before making any substantive change to this page. Always remember to keep cool when editing. Changes to this page do not immediately change policy anyway, so don't panic.

Best way to handle death threats from a Wikipedia editor[edit]

Is there any place where Wikipedia policies and guidelines deals with this subject? I haven't been able to find anything.

The death threats in my case appear to be targeted at my reverting of edits I consider to be extremely anti-Arab and non-NPOV (for example, "== You deserve to ₫ie for your support of genocidal Islamic settlers. == I will make sure you suffer greatly." and "I can arrange for you to die in Gaza. Keep it up, raglover." ). I therefore thought best way to deter whoever is making the death threats is by continuing to revert extreme anti-Arab non-NPOV edits (in the same careful, selective manner I have been doing, and always observing the one revert rule) to demonstrate the death threats have had no effect. Any suggestions? Gouncbeatduke (talk) 15:26, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Gouncbeatduke, you want Wikipedia:Harassment. Anything else, including any potential edit warring, is superfluous. --NeilN talk to me 15:32, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
If you need immediate action, you can report such threats at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. Blueboar (talk) 15:37, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
There is not much useful information at Wikipedia:Harassment. It seems once you email and you get back the very polite letter explaining there is nothing Wikipedia can do about it, you are on your own. Maybe I could research this and help write something better. I certainly feel motivated. Gouncbeatduke (talk) 15:50, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
It looks like a start was made at Wikipedia:Threats of violence. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:12, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Color code[edit]

I don't know whether or not this was proposed before, but I believe that the distinction between policies, guidelines and essays should be emphasized by using Color codes or similar. Because, there have been many instances of attempting to prioritize guidelines and even essays over policies, despite WP:POLICIES and WP:POLCON. Currently, the existing icons on policy, guideline and essay page "ombox"es (green check mark for policies, blue check mark for guidelines) are not sufficient to discern. Omboxes and also nutshell boxes of policy/guideline/essay pages can be filled in fully with different colors to increase the discernabilities. Logos (talk) 15:41, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps, instead, we should clean up the poor explanation of the differences, which led you to believe that there is a "clearcut hierarchy of power" between policies, guidelines, and essays. There never has been, and there has never been any intention to claim that there is. For example, NPOV is hugely important—it is both policy and fundamental principle—but it does not somehow outrank WP:RS or WP:N, even though those are "only" guidelines. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:01, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
There is -and has been all along- a "clearcut hierarchy of power" between policies, guidelines, and essays. Since WP:RS is a guideline, it can never have a power more than WP:NPOV or any other policy. If you wish that WP:RS becomes as powerful as WP:NPOV, why don't you start a process to make it promoted to policy status. I'd recommend you to read WP:POLICIES once again. Interested parties can look at the other branch of the discussion here. Logos (talk) 20:57, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I'd recommend that you read policies once again, paying particular attention to the bit that says "Editors must use their best judgment to decide which advice is most appropriate and relevant to the specific situation at hand". Note that it does not say things like, "An unrelated policy outranks a very relevant guideline".
Logos, I don't know what gave you the idea that there is a clearcut hierarchy of power, but I offer three pieces of information that might interest you:
  1. The archives for this page, and several others, are filled with complaints that there isn't a clearcut hierarchy, usually from someone who lost a dispute. You might want to spend a few hours reading them before making assertions about facts. (I don't recall anyone being happy about this, but the fact remains that it's true.)
  2. The number one rule is to WP:Ignore all rules, which is the sort of principle Kind Of Causes Problems™ with clearcut hierarchies of power. The only "clearcut" hierarchy between advice pages is the one that is in WP:V—and I can tell you not only that it exists, but who added it, when, why, and how successful her efforts to add it to other pages were (answer to the last item: "not").
  3. Over the last six or eight years, I've spent many hundreds of hours on Wikipedia's policy and process pages. That's probably more than all of your editing combined. It might be appropriate for you to start assuming that I might know what I'm talking about here, even if what I know does not match what you believe. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:51, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry but your arguments are trivial. I'd recommend you to read WP:POLCON once again, paying particular attention to the very first bit saying "If policy and/or guideline pages directly conflict, one or more pages need to be revised to resolve the conflict so that all of the conflicting pages accurately reflect the community's actual practices and best advice. As a temporary measure during that resolution process, if a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, editors may assume that the policy takes precedence". Had there not a "clearcut hierarchy of power", then there would be no possibility of a conflict. And in case of a conflict, people would be able to assume that guideline takes precedence. The part you cited is trivial, says nothing, and perhaps added by you. Have I said anything like "An unrelated policy outranks a very relevant guideline" before? This is some kind of fallacy, you know that, don't you. Logos (talk) 22:32, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
I guess I must correct a misunderstanding; it seems that one my statements above ("Since WP:RS is a guideline, it can never have a power more than WP:NPOV or any other policy") made WhatamIdoing think that I was claiming that "An unrelated policy outranks a very relevant guideline". I don't know how an unrelated policy can outrank a related guideline, perhaps there are examples out there. However, people may claim (or have been claiming already) that, a well developed guideline is very related than a lean policy, and may make a habit of suspending that policy for similar issues. That's one of the outcomes of "there is no hierarchy" view. Logos (talk) 15:49, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
If you have more than one page, there is always the possibility of the pages saying different things, or, to use normal English, to give "conflicting" advice or information. We have had such conflicts in the past. We offer the "temporary measure" only for convenience during dispute resolution, not because one is better than the other. (Also, that temporary convenice doesn't address the most common problem, which is two guidelines contradicting each other—which, according to you, isn't even possible, because you say that there would be no possibility of a conflict unless one page outranks the other in a "hierarchy of power".)
You don't seem to be able to hear this when I'm telling you, so perhaps you would like to hear someone else's views on whether there is some secret meaning behind saying that editors "should normally follow" or "should attempt to follow" a page with a particular label on it. (The labels themselves use different wording.) There are a number of editors who have followed this page over the years; perhaps someone like User:Dmcq, User:Blueboar, User:SmokeyJoe, or User:CBM. If you're really having trouble with this, we could make this policy easier to understand by using exactly the same "should normally follow" language to describe both types. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:08, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
You're making too many trivial arguments and assumptions.
I am not interested in "what if 2 guidelines contradict each other" or "what if 2 essays contradict each other" cases, because I already know that, both have the same "weak power" as compared to policies.
Let me try once again: When a policy contradicts a guideline, policy takes precedence over guideline. Let's say that it is a "temporary measure". Normally, guideline should be revised to comply with the policy but let's say some editors thought that guideline's related wording is better. Unless the conflicting bit of the policy is amended according to the guideline after a wide consensus (not only by the edit of a obsessive essayist), policy is more powerful than the guideline. Even after that change, policy will continue to have more power than the guideline. However, people should be careful about that "consensus", since many editors do not follow these pages, major changes should be asked to the community through some sort of RfC or village pump.
Consensus is the key; think about it. Policies are powerful than guidelines because they have the least/minimum amount of "dubious" content. Some guidelines are such that, even they may have conflicts/contradictions within themselves. Why is that? Because some isolated instance/case made some editors thought that they have to amend that part of the guideline right away without seeking any consensus.
I am willing to see that, both policies and guidelines are labelled as "should normally follow". You, or your friends here, can't do that, because you need to achieve a consensus for that. I don't think that, guidelines will be labeled as "should normally follow" in any near future. Drop me a message please, when you succeed. Logos (talk) 16:27, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
I would say the distinction between Policy and Guideline is one of function and focus, rather than importance or clout. According to the original concept, Policy pages laid out the basic principles which govern our editing. Guideline pages expanded on those principles (or specific elements of those principles), explaining them in more detail and giving advice on how best to implement them, in practical terms. To put this another way... policy pages originally focused on what the "rules" are, while guideline pages focused on how to implement those rules (A good example of this is the relationship between our WP:Verifiability policy and our WP:Reliable Sources guideline. The policy is that information must be verifiable... the way we implement that policy is by providing reliable sources). Meanwhile essay pages were supposed to focus on why. They were designed to explain why our policies and guidelines said what they said (or, in the case of minority opinion essays, why a group of editors disagreed with a particular rule).
At least that's the demarcation as it was originally. Over time, the demarcation between "what", "how" and "why" has blurred. Today, Wikipedia is much a more "process oriented" place than it used to be ... statements about how best to implement policy have evolved into "rules" in their own right. So... guideline pages can and do spell out "the rules"... the difference is that those "rules" still tend to remain focused on practical implementation, rather than the more generalized philosophical statements found in on Policy pages. Meanwhile... many of our Policy pages have been subject to instruction creep... and delve into implementation (I think this was an unfortunate, but natural development... as we have become more process oriented some editors have added implementation rules to Policy pages... thinking that this will somehow give those implementation rules more "clout". I suppose this was to counter "it's only a guideline" arguments). Again the lines have been blurred. So... in a way you both were correct. There is (or at least was) a distinction between Policy and Guideline pages... but that distinction isn't (or at least shouldn't) be one of importance or clout.... it is (or should be) one of focus. Blueboar (talk) 13:17, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

It's not just a poor explanation of the differences, but a case of ill-defined differences.

The concept of hierarchy of policies over guidelines assumes that they are speaking to the same thing, which usually doesn't happen.

No policy or guideline page is supposed to contract any other. If you find an example, let us know, and we'll work to fix it.

Some "policies" are more like guidelines, offering advice not rules, and not being enforceable per se. Examples are Wikipedia:Editing policy and Wikipedia:Consensus.

Some guidelines contain near objective rules, and if you cross their lines you'll find them sternly enforced. The prime example here is Wikipedia:Notability. The very well used shortcut WP:RS I am surprised to see pointing to a guideline. It remember it pointing to Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable_sources. The guideline is a less curt explanation of the policy, I suppose it is sensible.

So why are softly worded pages like Wikipedia:Editing policy and Wikipedia:Consensus tagged {{policy}}, and Wikipedia:Notability, a page enforced with the deletion stick, tagged {{guideline}}? Because the detail of these policies are well-agreed, and not really so debatable in practice, while notability requires a great deal of case-by-case interpretation.

The OP suggests a color coding. That idea may have merit, however, I don't think these codes are helpful to newcomers. Color codes help when you routinely deal with the same things over and over again, but policy pages are simple documents meant for newcomers. Regular editors do not generally repeatedly refer to policy and guideline pages for their decision making. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:42, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Blueboar on this. I think you are misunderstanding what a policy is. It isn't a rule. A policy shows how we think about things. They are a codification of general principles. It is true that there are some process rules in the policy pages as for example this one - but in this case that is because otherwise we'd need a guideline page as well and one page is quite sufficient. This also explains why policy should normally take precedence over guidelines when there is a conflict. If a guideline saying what to do isn't in line with the consensus of how we think things should be done then we should do what we think should be done not what some rule says. That is in line with the 'Ignore all rules' policy. Of course there is also the general policy that we should just codify general practice which is the opposite of that but if there is an argument it shows there may be a problem with the rule for general practice which needs to be ironed out. In a shop a policy is not something which says 'You must say "have a good day" to the customer'. That is a guideline. A policy would be something that says you treat the customer with respect. Dmcq (talk) 13:05, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
I trust you, Dmcq, are disagreeing with the OP, not me. I also agree with Blueboar, and WAID, I dare say I do have an understanding of policy. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:57, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Blueboar to some extent, and completely disagree with Smokeyjoe. Dmcq's comment/ideas seems contradictory in itself/themselves. I guess you (the four of you) should reach an agreement on the terminology first: Does a policy contain some set of rules or principles.
Contrary to Smokeyjoe's claim, I am able to see "rules" both in Wikipedia:Editing policy and Wikipedia:Consensus. If there are words and statements in these policies, making them look like "rules/principles", they are not mere "advices" then. Logos (talk) 18:07, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Of course you can find rules, rules of various kinds are throughout both policies and guidelines. The difference is on how much interpretation may be needed in specific cases. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:57, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
How about explaining what contradiction you see in what I said. I would say that a policy is more on the principles side but yes they can contain rules, they tend to be high level though. This one contains more low level detail than most policies as there are no relevant guidelines only essays associated with it. Those policies you pointed at though only have high level guidance illustrating the principles. Wikipedia is not supposed to be a bureaucracy, what is being stopped by the lack of whatever you think is missing? Why should we bother spending our time on reaching some agreement on the disagreement you perceive between us? Dmcq (talk) 22:00, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia needs to regulate how the article production is carried out, for the sake of quality. Regulation is achieved through some tools, some (or all) of which are policies and guidelines. Just like legal texts, policies and guidelines should be logically and mathematically consistent. Otherwise, the end product (for instance, it is justice, in case of legal texts) deteriorates in time, becomes lousy. Writing legal texts, devising laws is a serious business; there should be a consistent terminology. I don't know how your low level & high level adjectives matches with the description of policies and guidelines, but I am able to see so many "high level" rules/details in this WP:PG. The very first one is being WP:POLICIES. The second one is Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines#.C2.ADContent, especially the last clause. And WP:POLCON, of course. Classifying policies by "low level" and "high level" is not appropriate IMO. The only classification to be resorted to should be WP:POLICIES. Linking to WP:PGE in this policy is quite improper, especially on top of the page. Logos (talk) 18:08, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
Well since you like policies can I point you to WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY and WP:IAR and even the second sentence of this policy 'There is no need to read any policy or guideline pages to start editing.' Logically and mathematically consistent is anathema to Wikipedia and we don't want to put people off with stuff like that. The policies and guidelines are changed as necessary as required by real world problems. The main requirement is that they are easily read and understood and describe current good working practice. There is an abhorrence of instruction creep. As to level you'll notice policies are described as standards and guidelines are described as best practice. The point of the best practice is to support the standards. Dmcq (talk) 19:07, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
"Normally, guideline should be revised to comply with the policy” — No. Actually, that was what an early version of that paragraph said, and it was discussed and rejected. When a policies and/or guidelines disagree with each other, then the one that is least like the communities actually practice should be changed. In some cases, all of them get changed.
"policies and guidelines should be logically and mathematically consistent” – That might be nice, but the advice pages aren’t “finished” any more than the articles are. I haven’t noticed a shortage of FACs recently, so we seem to be muddling through despite not having the sort of “perfect” policies and guidelines that would warm my inner bureaucrat’s heart. I’m reminded that WP:NOTLAW is another shortcut to a section you’ve been referred to several times – a section in one of the most important policies, even. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:09, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm reminded of a previous occasion where a rules and hierarchy focused person asked: What is the difference between policy and guideline. The most popular answer was mu. If you are asking that question, you don't understand Wikipedia. To the OP: What is the actual problem you are wanting to solve? Can you provide an example of where it was a problem? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:57, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

Turning WP:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle (WP:BRD) into a guideline?[edit]

Opinions are needed on the following matter: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Oppose: BRD elevated to guideline. A WP:Permalink to the discussion is here. Flyer22 (talk) 01:38, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

@Flyer22: Why have you directed people to the "Oppose" section? That goes against WP:CANVAS because it isn't neutral. The link should have been to Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#RfC: elevation of Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle to guideline status, so that people can decide for themselves which way to !vote. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:57, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
Redrose64, I know of the WP:Canvass guideline and I follow it; I didn't mean to direct people to the Oppose section. After voting in that section, I copied and pasted the link without thinking about it and then went to alert two appropriate pages (this one included) to that discussion. By contrast, the WP:Permalink shows that I redirected people to the top of the section. Redirecting people to the top of the section is what I meant to do for the live link. Since you've provided the appropriate link above, I don't see a need to change my post for that part. I will go ahead and correct the link at the other page: Wikipedia talk:Edit warring. I will also note my mistake at the aforementioned WP:RfC, under my oppose vote. Although I don't think that people seeing the Oppose section first would necessarily or significantly make them want to vote "oppose," any more than seeing the "Support" section, which comes first, would necessarily or significantly make them want to vote "support," I apologize for my mistake and I understand what you mean on that type of linking. I have sent "Opinions are needed on the following matter" messages in accordance with WP:Canvass before, and those were always neutral; for example, as seen in the WP:Lead case I linked at the aforementioned WP:RfC discussion.
On a side note: Since the WP:Policies and guidelines page/talk page is on my WP:Watchlist and has been for some time, there is no need to WP:Ping me to it. Flyer22 (talk) 21:40, 6 June 2015 (UTC)