Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 10

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

Archive 9 | Archive 10 | Archive 11

Policy cat

I just added "All policy pages are in Category:Wikipedia policies." That's the way we've been identifying policy pages, because any other way is dangerous. If someone could claim that a page is policy because they changed the infobox at the top to say that a page is now policy, and people don't notice that there's a new policy page, it could start a big fight later on when it's discovered. Adding or removing pages from the policy cat (and the 4 main policy subcats) gets reported immediately at WP:VPP and WT:Update. - Dank (push to talk) 03:54, 1 October 2009 (UTC)


{{edit protected}} Please add {{shortcut|WP:PROPOSAL}} to Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Proposals, the section for WP:PROPOSAL. Thanks. (talk) 22:19, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Done, that's helpful thanks. Perhaps also WP:DEMOTION for the section below?  Skomorokh  00:14, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I've slightly weakened this part re tagging failed policy, as it also seems common to demote them to essays without the failure tag. I've changed it to "usually" shouldn't be removed. Verbal chat 09:02, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

I've been stuck into a mediation with some people arguing about a 'usually' in the WP:RS policy. They say it doesn't apply in any particular article or project even if there are no other indicators. I think it's fine but just warning that some people seem ready to war over it. Do you know if something has come up before over what 'usually' means? Dmcq (talk) 13:36, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm happy with any wording which doesn't imply an absolute, which doesn't describe practice and can often go against common sense or decency. I can see things can be more heated with RS as that's a content policy, but this just describes the tagging of (failed) policy. Verbal chat 13:51, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
I think this revert, this edit, this revert and this talk page post may help to explain Verbal's concerns over the wording here. Gandalf61 (talk) 14:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Also WP:OUTLINE and many other pages that were previously tagged as policy proposals are no longer so tagged, or tagged as failed. Policy is descriptive not prescriptive. Verbal chat 21:10, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think Verbal should be editing this page at all right now. As described by Gandalf, he is in a dispute that directly relates to the change he has proposed, but he failed to reveal that fact. Ronnotel (talk) 21:29, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
Are there any objections to reversing the edit provided by Verbal? As shown by Gandalf, the "consensus" for the edit was obtained under false pretenses - Verbal failed to mention that he was involved in a dispute directly related to his edit. Ronnotel (talk) 13:23, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
We can take into account the fact that Verbal is involved in a dispute... can you express why it is necessary to explicitly note that a former proposed policy or guideline (one that is now marked as an "essay") failed to become a policy or guideline? I would think that marking it as an "essay" is enough. Blueboar (talk) 13:38, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
That's obvious. It is a question of transparency and openness. It says "this isn't just an essay that no-one feels strongly about one way or the other; this is an essay that was once proposed as a policy". The real question is: what good reasons are there for not being open about the history of such a page ? Gandalf61 (talk) 08:53, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Is the history tab inadequate for your needs? (Not nescessarily a facetious question: I could imagine a good argument for flagging particular revisions, for instance) --Kim Bruning (talk) 10:43, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
The previous status of a page won't be obvious from a quick glance at its history. Case in point - if you look at the history of Wikipedia:Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopedia, it's not immediately obvious that it was changed from a proposed policy to an essay. Similarly, it won't always be obvious from the talk page, where things get buried and archived. Yes, all the history is there somewhere, but it's not transparent. Gandalf61 (talk) 11:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

An editor involved in a content conflict changes a Policy Page to support his POV! That should immediately disqualify him from furter editing on that Policy section and the Policy Page shoould by default go back to previous consensus. Is Wikipedia a lawless land? MaxPont (talk) 08:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Situation: An editor involved in a content conflict changes a Policy Page to reflect what he has learned.


  1. Trust policy pages like any other wiki (encyclopedia) page. (aka. verify everything)
  2. This is how the wiki is intended to operate. People document what they have learned. (wiki process determines content)
  3. The contributor of an edit is irrelevant. Only the content of the edit and the supporting logic is relevant. (We do not discriminate in favor of experts or against amateurs) (anyone may edit)
  4. If content improves the page, it improves the page (WP:IAR, WP:COMMON, WP:BOLD). We do not remove content on the basis of process alone (WP:NOT a bureacracy).
  5. If some existing process suggests an action and we van verify that the action improves the wiki, only then do we take the action. WP:WIARM
  6. In this case we do not have a documented process to remove edits to policy from people involved in content disputes, nor does the suggested action (removing the edit) improve the wiki.
  7. We do have a documented process that says one may modify the pages documenting our policy/guideline/essays , if that modification improves that documentation.
  8. We do have a documented process that says we are not a bureaucracy, and must act on common ssense.

In consequence:

  • AFAICT you *usually* don't remove {{failed}} tags. But there are exceptions (such as when you do a total rewrite and go in a different direction, for instance, or if consensus changes, or if you would like to test if consensus has changed). "Usually" is correct, I have re-added it.

--Kim Bruning (talk) 10:38, 15 October 2009 (UTC) ps: duh. ;-)

I agree with Kim's reversion. {{failed}} tags should not usually be removed. The proponents of failed proposals often want to remove the tag, replacing it with {{essay}}, but it is better if essays are essays and proposals are proposals, and the two are not mixed. Ideally, an essay will lay out an argument, and a proposal will be a description (some mix of description of proven practice and prescription of ideal practice). The failed proposals should then be kept for the record, and not covered over by the essay that should have preceded the proposal. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:50, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Lawks, someone could have told me about this brouhaha. My edit was made in good faith and I pointed people at the other page here. I agree with Kim and SJ above (who, I hope wont be offended, I hardly know). I stand by my edit improving the policy for the reasons given, but I will accept, as always, the consensus of the wikipedia community. I genuinely feel that the edit improves the policy, for the reasons given, and reflects practice. Full disclosure: I would love to stick the "failed" tag on WP:OUTLINE, but I feel doing so would be disruptive and only increase drama. I would expect similar effects as the contested tagging others refer to above. Policy should very rarely be absolute, and common sense should be applied. If this was absolute we'd have to have a new policy about when exactly is a policy proposal actually a policy proposal, etc. Verbal chat 11:02, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I have retagged. I think {{failed}} is way too premature for that page. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:23, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Respone to Kim Bruning: I'm afraid Verbal didn't change this policy page to "reflect what he had learned"; the truth is less noble. He weakened that line of the policy after it had been used in an argument against him, and then later in the same thread quoted back his new version to support his own actions, without disclosing that he himself had changed it - see Wikipedia_talk:Wikipedia_is_a_mainstream_encyclopedia#Against_policy_to_hide_fact_that_a_proposal_failed_consensus. Gandalf61 (talk) 11:28, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I believe that he made edits that were in his judgment at the time to be in the best interests of the project. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:04, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm willing to accept that the edits were made in good faith. However, the ongoing involvement in a dispute directly related to the change should have been revealed. I don't think that point has been acknowledged yet. Ronnotel (talk) 12:18, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
In which way is that useful? --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
(ec) I hope both parties in that discussion realize that when you quote a page (such as a policy page), all you're really saying is "here's a condensed version of what I think that I prepared earlier".
In that case, it's perfectly valid to alter the text before you quote it, after all, at the end of the day, you are held fully responsible for whatever you say; so it'd better say what you mean!
You are not really supposed to hit each other over the head with stone tablets (if only because then it would be revealed that they are not actually made of stone at all, but instead out of something fluffy and light ;-) ). Your engraving is not stronger than his engraving, and this is not a zero sum game . Your first, last, and only option is to negotiate, and form a consensus on how to cooperate. --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Well, if WP is not a bureaucracy it sure doesn’t reflect in the ever expanding rulebook of Policies and Guidelines and special rules for unusual situations. If we allow editors involved in a content conflict to amend Policies to support their POV we open a can of worms and potentially move content conflicts into the policy pages. That should be discouraged. I propose the following rule:

If parties in a content conflict use a certain WP policy or guideline to support their POV, changes of the wording of that policy after the conflict started should be ignored (that is: the valid policy at the time the conflict started should be used as the reference framework for settling that dispute). MaxPont (talk) 08:51, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Then they would be sure to amend the policy just before the dispute starts... But anyway this is the wrong way to approach things; all "disputes" should be resolved in terms of what's best for the encyclopedia. If it turns out that the current wording of a policy page gives the wrong answer in some situation, then it's probably worth considering changing that wording (unless the situation is so exceptional that it's best thought of as a case of IAR).--Kotniski (talk) 09:38, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Good point. However, I still find it very controversial if a party in a content dispute tries to amend Policies during an ongoing conflict to support his case. If we can have special provisions for 100s of unusual situations in the regulatory framework we can add something about this too. Right? MaxPont (talk) 12:17, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Once again

I've run into another editor who seems to think that Wikipedia's policies, guidelines, and processes must comply with policies, guidelines and processes. This time it's about whether saying "This is important" complies with WP:NPOV. In the past, I've had editors complain that the these pages needed to cite WP:Reliable sources to prove that Wikipedia's advice to its editors really was its advice to editors. (I never did figure out how we were going to do that -- perhaps by finding a friendly journalist to write stories about the Wikidrama on policy talk pages?)

Can we add a short section to this page to directly address this point? Perhaps it would say something like this:

==Not part of the encyclopedia==
Wikipedia has many policies and guidelines about encyclopedic content. These standards require verifiability, neutrality, respect for living people, and more.
The policies, guidelines, and process pages themselves are not part of the encyclopedia. Consequently, they do not generally need to conform with the content standards. It is therefore not necessary to provide reliable sources to verify Wikipedia's rules, or to phrase rules in a neutral manner. Instead, the content of these pages is controlled by consensus, and the style should emphasize clarity, directness, and usefulness to other editors.

(I'd be happy to see improvements to this suggestion.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:31, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Agreed that this would help, but we'd have to get specific. I can't offhand think of any conduct, enforcement or deletion policy that we'd need to single out as not applying to project space. Even for the content policies, the BLP policy is clear on which parts apply where, we don't want non-free content in policies, NAME isn't a problem, and some of NOT is very applicable to project space. So regarding policies, we're mainly talking about the core content policies, V, NOR and NPOV. - Dank (push to talk) 13:07, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree with this proposal as well. Seems strange that one would even come to the conclusion that our policies would need to be written with citations. As you mention, where would we cite from?!Camelbinky (talk) 21:47, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps what people are saying is that they want us to quote and link to the relevant policy section ... not "cite" it. Just a thought. Blueboar (talk) 22:17, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
No, Blueboar, you're assuming too much good faith. The "reliable sources" dispute was a professional journalist (and otherwise good editor) trying to get information critical of his industry removed from WP:MEDRS. The failings of the popular press when reporting, e.g., "new cures for cancer" are very well documented, and his effort to invoke the content policies was, I think, a bit of grasping at any straws that might advance his position against the firm opposition of other editors.
Another example: WP:TALK was invoked recently to justify refactoring a WQA complaint.
I think it's more commonly an honest mistake, but the breadth of the incidents suggest that a general statement might be appropriate. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:24, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I've added the text, and invite people to improve it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:22, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually, some sort of variant on NOR, V, and NPOV would do policy pages a world of good, for the same reason that they're good for the encyclopedia. :-)
  • "NOR": Don't make things up, instead, document existing best practices
  • "V": Link to where the best practice is being followed, show why it works.
  • "NPOV": Sometimes people disagree on what the best practice is. Describe the differing opinions in neutral terms. Partisanship turns these pages into a political playground.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 00:32, 17 October 2009 (UTC) I can't believe it's not policy ;-)
I agree with Kim except on using the same terms we use for the article pages, even though her definitions of NOR, V, and NPOV for use on policy/guideline pages are similar to the "real" NOR, V, and NPOV. We should use different terms for those practices she has outlined because we dont want editors to get confused or intentionally confuse the use of V on an article with V on a policy page. The strict constructionists out there make things difficult for all of us. When there are editors out there that want the strict letter of the "law" obeyed we must be careful how we word things, lest it bites us in the ass later.Camelbinky (talk) 00:40, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
We don't want to leave anyone with the impression that, e.g., determining that "Most editors use ==References== instead of ==Works cited==", on the basis of a survey of articles, is unacceptable because it violates "Original research". There's no way to crunch the stats yourself and call the results anything except original research, but this is a permitted activity on Wikipedia's project pages. This is the usual context for these problems: Someone erroneously thinks that you can look up the community consensus in a book or newspaper article, or thinks that since you can't, then editors can't figure out the consensus. I think that using the same terms is likely to result in significant confusion and no benefit.
I have no trouble with people providing reasonable documentation, and I favor not being rude to the "losing" side of any given subject, but I don't want to reach the point at which 'the friction owns the machine'. I'd rather have a clear, intelligible, and well-written policy with zero examples and zero links to a practice in use, instead of one that obscures the points through meandering examples. Our most carefully constructed content policies provide relatively few examples, and this is probably the Right Thing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:55, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes agree with that, a guideline is more appropriate for examples, the policies are better off written as clearly as possible. As for justifications they should go in the talk page I think. I guess it is better to explicitly say, like the policy now does, that the general article editing policies for verifiability etc don't apply anywhere else. Personally a policy I'd like is a cap on the verbiage so one couldn't add bits to policies without having had at least that amount of verbiage removed somewhere else. That would concentrate minds! :) Dmcq (talk) 01:41, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

Policy description

Currently it states- "Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are standards that all users should follow." That wording flies right in the face of IAR and the idea of consensus and common sense. Policy means "policy" as in "it is good policy to do such and such", policy does not mean "you must do it, it is a law". Policies are there to show what works in general and in typical situations. IAR and commonsense guided by policy and guidelines and being implemented by consensus is what rules the day, not the literal word of policy. Policies were not written by any Wikigod, and they dont cover every possible problem. That is why we have IAR. There are those who are vehemently opposed to IAR and the use of common sense, and they will oppose rewording, but I think we need to ignore them. A rewording I propose is "Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are of great importance in helping editors come to consensus on issues and problems that my arise during editing. While the spirit of a policy should be adhered to, remember that policies are not cookie-cutter solutions to problems and conflicts that may arise. Common sense should be used in their implementation, what works in one situation does not always work in similar situations. Respect consensus where it deviates from existing policy." That of course is the farthest reaching rewrite I could accept, perhaps a middle ground rewrite that is not so extreme would be preferable to others.Camelbinky (talk) 01:15, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

There already is 'ignore all rules' and 'follow common sense' as reasons to not follow policy. I disagree with adding any more. If you don't follow policy you are liable to be blocked. They are the law. Dmcq (talk) 08:42, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
@Dmcq: your statement is incorrect. To wit, wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Policy/guideline/essay pages document known best practices, they are not law. You are actually unlikely to be blocked for not following policy, provided you remain in discussion with people, show good cooperation, and all in all stay in line with consensus.
Of course, in theory, in a perfect world, policy/guideline/essay pages would document consensus perfectly, and your statement would be exactly true by happenstance. In practice, we do not live in a perfect world, so consensus and common sense will at times be at variance with what is documented on policy pages. In that situation, consensus and common sense (and "acting along the line set by consensus", which requires a bit of intuition), will do the trick.
When (not if) you discover discrepancies, please update the policy/guideline/essay page(s) to reflect the (new) state of consensus on-wiki. --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
There is no consensus, and the struggle get to the end of that rainbow provides much of energy here. Once it is declared that we *have* consensus, further edits are not welcome, then you'll know that we've entered the death phase. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:33, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Let's hope it never gets that far. Wait, what am I saying?
Let's work to make sure! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:47, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
So, other than Dmcq who has a very minority view on what policy is, what are the thoughts about rewording the paragraph on what a policy is to reflect that it isnt in fact what should be adhered to in all cases.Camelbinky (talk) 12:33, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
You are mistaken in your conception of what a law is. It does not have to be handed out by a god. As the law article says at the start "Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions". In democracies those rules are decided by some approach to consensus. The policies are enforced by the wikipedia administrators aided by the community in general, and removing any force from them means an administrator would have no rule to enforce. Their power would be without basis in consensus and capricious as far as anyone could determine, especially all the people trying to game the system. Is that what you would really like for wikipedia? That they do not straightaway block you for sticking in original research if you're willing to talk to people and not keep trying to stick it in does not mean it is not a law. If you keep sticking it in you can eventually get banned. Dmcq (talk) 13:15, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, but you'd be being banned for keep sticking it in, not for what "it" is (unless it's particularly gross). The more I see people arguing about the philosophical nature of policies and guidelines, the more convinced I am that we shouldn't have them. We should have a (relatively) concise manual that tells editors what they need to know about editing on WP, including recommended behaviours ("best practices") for eds and admins. Nothing that implies that there are rules to be obeyed and punishments for breaching them (even IAR is guilty in this regard - why say "ignore all rules" unless there are rules to be ignored?) Well maybe we should have just one page of policy, setting out (but not elaborating on) the key points of our mission and how we treat people.--Kotniski (talk) 13:50, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
(ec-ish) This is a common misconception: The Admin role does not encompass the enforcing of rules, at all. Admins are not policemen. Admins are allowed to be as capricious as any other user, within the boundries of consensus and common sense.
The "powers" that Admins do have are derived from PHP code, (and have been well and thoroughly nerfed at that.)
You get people to adhere to consensus in cooperation with your peers, just like every other wiki-activity.
If you refuse to cooperate, sure, you will eventually get banned. So once again, you are partially correct. The outcome is roughly as you say, but the premises are somewhat different. The premises are different because this is an online community, rather than a real-world community; and things do work a tad differently online.
There is no force whatsoever in the policy pages themselves. Counter-intuitively (to some), this is to prevent them from being gamed*.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 15:13, 15 October 2009 (UTC) *One way to look at it: Actually, real world law also contains quite a lot of flexibility, to give the wise judge room to be just. On wikipedia, every wikipedian could be said to be judge, jury and executioner, so you can imagine we need quite some flexibility ;-)
If these are common misconceptions, though, then (a) they end up being true, to some extent; (b) we ought to be looking at how to present the information to people in such a way as not to give them such misconceptions. (Removing or rewording the policy tags seems to be an obvious step to consider.) --Kotniski (talk) 15:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree Kotniski, though that proposal probably wont ever be implemented, its alot easier to keep out "instruction creep" than it is to actually rollback existing instructions. As for Dmcq, his opinion is in the very extreme minority regarding our policies and guidelines. He seems to imply that administrators are here to "enforce rules", they are here to administer and maintain administrative functions beyond that of regular editing; they arent here to police us or render judgements, though their opinions are valued they arent considered binding above opinions of regular editors, there are no class structures on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is very clear in that it does not have laws, you cant get around that no matter how much you declare them to be "rules" or "laws"; I believe Kim is the one that put the relevant page links that make that clear so I wont go and look them up again. Consensus blocks you, not the policy itself. An individual admin who blocks you but interpreted policy in a wrongful manner can be overruled by consensus using common sense that you shouldnt be blocked. Consensus using common sense, appropriately knowing when to apply existing policies and guidelines and when to use IAR to ignore them is what makes Wikipedia work. What Dcmq describes has never been our the way Wikipedia works and the declaration by Jimbo makes that clear, in fact I do believe IAR is the OLDEST policy we have, and it is indeed given priority and prominence above all others, by Jimbo, the Foundation, the community-at-large, and on all policy pages. So, again- is there a consensus (disregarding the minority view of Dmcq) that I (or someone who wishes to reword it for us) add to the policy description paragraph on this page to clarify policy's role and to mention IAR regarding its implementation. An admin recently said this on ANI- "policy is descriptive, not prescriptive", which is a good succinct way of putting what I am thinking. Perhaps if we dont want a wordy addition as I originally proposed we can just add that five word sentence.Camelbinky (talk) 14:06, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Well since admins have no more power, what exactly is the thing I do to block a user? Saying something ain't so doesn't make it not so whatever about verifiability rather than truth. If it has the effect of law and works exactly like law it is law however you feel about calling it that. Dmcq (talk) 16:04, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
As to the proposed change to this particular policy might I quote "maintain scope, avoid redundancy" from this policy itself. Not that you need take any note of such precedent, you can always quote "ignore all rules" ;-) Dmcq (talk) 16:30, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry Dmcq I'm having trouble understanding your first post so I'm not quite sure I understand your point. The fact of the matter is that Wikipedia specifically states that it is not law, it is not applied strictly by the letter, and is the complete opposite of what you are stating. Please see the relevant links Kim provided above. Perhaps after reading them you will understand why your beliefs on WP are in the minority. I'm sorry if I have to totally disregard your views on this matter, but your views are extreme and fringe regarding the scope and use of policy, so I will ignore your views. Anyone have any comments on the changing of the words of the policy section? If no serious objections backed by already established views of what a policy is I will be bold and change the policy section to reflect that they arent concrete rules to apply strictly in every case, that in the words of an admin- are descriptive, not prescriptive. They do just that, they describe previous consensuses they do not prescribe that you MUST do the same in all similar cases forever. In a similar case the facts may be a little different just enough to require a different consensus using common sense and thereby ignoring the policy (through use of IAR). This is the standard operating procedure in Wikipedia. Dmcq most importantly seems to be ignoring Jimbo regarding what our policies are and the role of IAR.Camelbinky (talk) 20:33, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
It is as much as I expect. One of the things big groups like this do when they organise is have some contrafactual thing the members must believe in. It is quite amusing I think. fairly typical too that because I have disagreed with a basic in-group identity badge my statement regarding avoiding redundancy is totally ignored even though it is supposedly a reflection of general consensus. Dmcq (talk) 20:55, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
What is the contrafactual item you are referring to? Avoiding redundancy is always a good thing. What do you propose?--Kim Bruning (talk) 20:43, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
I propose this proposal be dropped. I believe it is copying and emphasizing WP:IAR n a way that'll cause trouble. The contrafactual thing was the belief that the policies were not law or rules, and it reminds me of religious groups in that they quote their holy book to back up their contention rather than using reason. Dmcq (talk) 03:27, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
By the way I note that on the IAR talk page I saw no consensus on this, instead there was talk of perhaps the difference with Camelbinky was semantics and people saying that there definitely are rules. Dmcq (talk) 03:33, 17 October 2009 (UTC)


Perhaps this may help from WP:NOTSTATUTE:
  • "Wikipedia is not governed by statute: it is not a moot court, and rules are not the purpose of the community. Written rules do not themselves set accepted practice, but rather document already existing community consensus regarding what should be accepted and what should be rejected. When instruction creep is found to have occurred, it should be removed.
While Wikipedia's written policies and guidelines should be taken seriously, they can be misused. Do not follow an overly strict interpretation of the letter of policy to violate the principles of the policy (see Wikipedia's guideline on gaming the system). If the rules truly prevent you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore them. Disagreements are resolved through consensus-based discussion, rather than through tightly sticking to rules and procedures. Furthermore, policies and guidelines themselves may be changed to reflect evolving consensus.
A procedural error made in posting anything, such as a proposal or nomination, is not grounds for invalidating that post."
  • Obviously that specifically states that our "rules" arent LAWS ("Wikipedia is not governed by statute"). Policy is clear that policy is decided by consensus, consensus based discussion can override policy, and those decisions change policy and therefore policy evolves to meet those consensuses that have happened. Consensus shapes policy just as much as policy will shape our consensuses. This page regarding what a policy is should reflect what we have written on other policy pages. So, if no other objections within the next day or two I'll go ahead and change the wording. I believe I have put forth a strong argument based on existing consensus and on existing wording of policy pages themselves.Camelbinky (talk) 20:45, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Quoting bits of wikipedia saying not statute is only good for writing an article about wikipedia and establishing verifiability. Talkpages are not governed by WP:V. We're allowed to talk about what is fact and use straightforward logic just like a proper study of the truth in the primary sources we try and avoid using. We do not have to accept the hermetic reasoning that because somethings says it is so then it is so any more than we have to agree with religious groups about their particular beliefs written down in their holy books.
As to the change which, is the relevant part to this page, I oppose it. It should not be put in. It in effect duplicates ignore all rules. More than that it stops it even being a rule. What is the point of ignore all rules if you don't even have rules? It is an irrational and unnecessary change that would just cause trouble and dissention. Dmcq (talk) 00:38, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Again I cant understand the first part of your post. Second part- they arent rules, "ignore all rules" is just semantics regarding its use of the word "rules". The very essence of IAR is that THERE ARE NO RULES. Yes, this page duplicates other information, it already does. I think you arent catching the point of this particular page- it is to summarize (ie- duplicate in a short condensed form) what polices and guidelines already are. Since IAR is the overriding and most important and number 1 policy there is, it is going to be duplicated in what a policy is. All implementation of any policy requires consensus, and sometimes consensus requires IAR. We shouldnt put forth that policies are things to be strictly adhered to if they arent strictly adhered to (which is what IAR tells you). This change is going forth. I've asked around, have found no other editors who disagree, in fact have found an admin is the one that pointed me to wp:notstatute. It is a policy that completely overturns what you are saying Wikipedia policies are. I dont understand why you dont seem to think WP:NOTSTATUTE is important to this discussion. You stated your opinion on what policies are, I showed that the consensus of the Community is that they ARENT what you think they are. I find that very relevant, as it disproves your very theory. Is your problem really that you dont want it to duplicate IAR or is it that you dont want to see IAR mentioned because you have a philosophical problem with IAR in the first place? It sounds to me that you want policies to be enforced like laws, and strictly. We dont do that here in Wikipedia. Perhaps something like Compendium is more up your alley.Camelbinky (talk) 00:56, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
You are quoting text saying something as proof of truth about itself. That is verifiability not truth. What is written is law whether people on wikipedia like to say so or not because it fulfills all the criteria of law. It is even statute if you read what statute says, not that law needs to have a statute, it can be by consensus if you care to read the law article.
As to the point of this page again and this talkpage which is to discuss improvements. I see no good purpose in your change. It isn't how a lot of people understand the policies. You don't have consensus for a change. There is no purpose in replicating one policy in another. The consensus expressed in this article is that policies should not overlap. Please don't mess around with the policies without good reason. Saying something flies in the face of IAL and common sense provides no evidence that they fly in the face of IAL or common sense. Those words simply indicate that you think they fly in the face of IAL and that you don't understand the thinking of the consensus that formed the policy before you. Dmcq (talk) 01:26, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Dude- seriously. I'm not going to take you serious anymore. Kim pointed out at the beginning the flaw in your logic, I have continued to do so. I have consensus. Just because YOU disagree doesnt mean there isnt a consensus. Replacing the word "rule" or "policy" with law doesnt make it a law. We have no judicial system, we have no legislative body, no executive branch, no police force. I am sorry your personal opinion is the minority in Wikipedia, but consensus and policy is very clear that we do not have laws here, we do not "obey" the letter of the law, only the spirit of what they describe. I really feel sorry for you as you seem to feel strongly about this. But your opinions are not those of this Community and are the opposite of what is done on Wikipedia. You seem to believe there is one truth about our policies and that they are what they are regardless of what the consensus is. The consensus of Wikipedians as a group is- our policies are not laws. That makes them not laws. Consensus is what matters, not that you think our policies are laws because they fit the definition of what the law or statute articles say. (which btw quoting our own articles is no different, and is in fact a worse debating tactic, than me quoting our own policies on what a policy is; the difference- mine is an actual debating tactic, yours is...well...just not.)Camelbinky (talk) 01:44, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Why exactly are you putting effort into trying to change this policy to a form that as far as I can see will lead to nothing but bickering and wikilawyering? Is there some sort of purpose or gain you can point to other than changing it to your conception of what policy means? Does your idea of consensus normally involve ignoring people who disagree with you? Dmcq (talk) 02:03, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, my definition of consensus does mean ignoring a minority view, in this case a minority of ONE INDIVIDUAL. This actually wont affect wikilawyering because most wikilawyering is done by those who think policies are laws and can be applied by the letter. I'm sorry you cant see the consensus of the community already reflects what I am proposing, which is how it works. Policies are written, consensus sometimes goes against it (which is fine and good for the community), overtime as it becomes more and more obvious that consensus continues to ignore a policy the policy is rewritten by someone bold who has brought up the inconsistency. This procedure and way in which we do things is spelled out in numerous ways and has been discussed at the Village Pump many times, in fact its the very way the Village Pump (policy) and Village Pump (proposal) works regarding finding new wording for policies and new ways of doing things. In fact I'm a regular at both VPs along with the RS/N and OR/N. I had brought this up at the Village Pump before bringing it here, it found good consensus. I'm sorry, again, you are in the minority. Please dont take it personal. You really seem to have gotten worked up about this. Perhaps you should take a step back and relax and not worry about this so much. Nobody who has commented here has shared your opinion, no one who has shared your opinion has bothered to comment, in fact Kim and others showed that your view is in fact not what Wikipedia is about. Again- you seem to think there is one truth about our policies, our policies arent something that is what they are, they are only what we say they are and it is clear we say they arent rules or laws to be obeyed blindly and accepted and applied to the letter. In fact if you were to go around strictly enforcing them on everyone you would find yourself at AN/I and eventually blocked. My proposal simply clarifies and makes the language of this policy description consistent with consensus views of the Community on what a policy is or isnt, per WP:NOTSTATUTE and the various other policies out there (see Kim's first post). It does not open the door for anything more. If you have a problem with IAR (not IAL, dont be smart) then bring it up there, but any move to weaken IAR wont work, to paraphrase Jimbo (because I dont have the exact quote but this is pretty close)- "IAR has always existed and is the core of what Wikipedia is" its hard to fight the man who built this.Camelbinky (talk) 02:21, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you could refer me to where the discussion on Village pump was. Maybe you have given some coherent reason for your proposal there but you certainly have not here. Dmcq (talk) 02:39, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Seriously give it up. No one has commented here in support of you. Read everyone else's comments after you made your point about policies being law. They arent law. I'm not discussing this with you anymore. I dont know what your problem is, but I'm thinking it goes beyond the scope of Wikipedia or my ability to get across to you the core values of Wikipedia. I suggest you take some time to read the five pillars and get acquainted with our procedures and beliefs. At first your statements were quaint and cute in a naive way, now they seriously are annoying. Its you against the way Wikipedia works. If you think Wikipedia should work a different way then start your own competitor, its pretty easy to do Mediawiki software is inexpensive and easy to use; in fact one of the original people who created Wikipedia didnt like how it worked out and he created Compendium. Feel free to go there. They have a more stringent class structure of "editors" and "authors" and rules to follow. You might like it more. As for this conversation- my part is over, I will wait for a couple days, see if anyone else wants to put in their two cents, and if not then I will be bold and change policy wording as is my right. I have tried my darndest to be polite to you and let you have your say. You have had your say, you didnt seem to sway anyone or me. Have a nice night. I wont be responding to any further comments from you unless you have something new and novel (and correct) to say about Wikipedia structure and policy, per my own dear mother- "if you dont have anything to say, dont say anything at all". Therefore, after giving you plenty of time and alot of my patience (more so than I usually show people) I simply no longer have anything else to say to you.Camelbinky (talk) 03:56, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
This has gone on far longer than it needed to.
Camelbinky, you're selectively quoting pages to promote your POV on the optional nature of "policy", and it won't wash. We all know that WP:COPYVIO and certain sections of WP:BLP most certainly are prescriptive, as in "handed down from the WP:OFFICE" -- and woe to the editor that even accidentally transgresses them, if someone happens to declare himself publicly aggrieved in the right quarters.
You might want to look up wikt:policy. I suggest paying careful attention to the definition, "A statement of commitment to a broad requirement, often used in an organisation to instruct personnel as to a required outcome." COPYVIO definitely qualifies as policy under this (very standard) definition, and the notion of "a required outcome" certainly indicates "you must do it", contrary to your odd assertion that compliance is optional. There are certainly a very few bits of policy on Wikipedia that editors must conform to, whether they like them or not.
However, this document doesn't actually tell editors that. The words used in this disputed sentence were very carefully chosen: This sentence says only that policies (including WP:IAR) should be followed. Note that this is critically different from saying that all policies must be followed at all times and without exception. Here, as elsewhere, Wikipedia follows the IETF conventions for the use of these terms. You can read a summary here. You may find it enlightening.
As I understand your fundamental goal, you would like to see this page indicate that there might be certain situations in which at least some policies should not be followed.
It should be clear now that this page already says exactly what you want it to say, and that it does so in a concise, carefully worded way that points total newbies in the correct general direction, which your emphasis on the optional nature of policies would not do.
Is that clear? Can we consider this resolved? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:45, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out that glossary. I fully agree with what it says about 'should', I believe that is the common meaning and I think it is precisely the right word for the occasion in this policy. Dmcq (talk) 10:46, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I completely disagree, and frankly Whatamidoing was a bit rude in his posting and I dont appreciate it, I have been more than accomodating towards Dmcq as he continued to put forth a POV that as Kim and I and others pointed out is just plain wrong. Dont go around saying I am pushing a POV when it is the other way around. Our policies are not laws, and they arent written in stone. The only thing I see as being Dcmq and WhatamIdoing's point is that there was a consensus on the writting of this, so keep it that way. Well, the consensus of every single policy out there says otherwise on what a policy is. So now we need to change the wording here. Just because What says "is that clear" doesnt mean you get your way. Ridiculous. Rude. And uncalled for. It has been pointed out in many discussions we DO NOT WANT NEWBIES TO THINK THEY HAVE TO GO BY THE LETTER OF THE POLICIES, FINDING NEW WAYS TO DO THINGS IS GOOD, PUSHING THE ENVELOPE AND IGNORING THE RULES IS GOOD AND ENCOURAGED, OUR POLICIES EVOLVE AND ARE RE-WRITTEN TO REFLECT NEW CONSENSUS. THE NEW CONSENSUS COMES BEFORE THE POLICY. POLICY WORDING LAGS BEHIND WHAT IS DONE. If you cant understand or believe that about Wikipedia then you are in the minority. I dont care if the strict constructionists suddenly pile on this discussion, minority views are often the held by those that yell the loudest. Try again, this is going forward, its not done.Camelbinky (talk) 17:02, 17 October 2009 (UTC)Addendum- and I didnt agree to this arbitrary break that moved certain comments from where they were to being behind comments that came later. The thread, if it was decided TOGETHER by all of us to break, should have been broken with no later comments added above the break, now I have basically two discussions to debate, plus this is being taken up in other locations splitting my time because now I have to go to other pages and defend my view. Bad faith when people take their issues to multiple locations trying to find more people who view the same as them and bring them here.Camelbinky (talk) 17:04, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
You said "I had brought this up at the Village Pump before bringing it here, it found good consensus". Please point me to that discussion as I am unable to find it. Dmcq (talk) 19:34, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Please note that at WP:AN/I#Request for fair admin or clarification on wikipedia guidelines a discussion has just been closed out with the administrator's note being "Policies are not laws" and also I have started a poll at the WP:Village Pump (proposals) in which everyone and anyone is encouraged to vote on the question of- are policies and guidelines laws. Feel free to vote there. As of my posting this, three have voted against policies being laws (for the same reason I have given here) and all three are admins. For the purpose of deciding community consensus here on this talk page, I will throw Kim in as well, and I will throw in the admin that pointed me to wp:notstatute and whose quote I would like to use as a succinct way of slightly modifying the description of a policy on this page. So that would make it six people, of which 5 are admins (at least I think Kim is...) and at least one of them (MR ZMAN) has even higher qualifications and abilities than a mere admin, who say "Wikipedia policies are not laws and arent strict". I am not saying any of them endorse my change to this page only they can make that known. I am only proving that Dmcq and WhatamIdoing have a wrong interpretation of what a policy is. What more do I need to show I do have the consensus that WhatamIdoing says I dont have?Camelbinky (talk) 05:38, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
As I have not asserted anything other than what's been in this policy for years, I sincerely doubt that you will find that the community consensus is different from my own personal position. A more careful re-reading should prove to you that I have not once asserted that Wikipedia's policies are laws. I have, in fact, provided you with information that conclusively demonstrates that this page already says that they are not. WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:38, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
What I am concerned about is your proposed change to this page. I am against the change. What you believe is your concern. I am happy with WP:NOTSTATUTE and WP:IAR as they are. Using your poll method of deciding I see there was no discussion on Village pump of this proposal. You explicitly asked Kim and "the admin that pointed me to wp:notstatute" (User talk:Kim Bruning and User talk:LessHeard vanU) on their talk pages to support you on this proposal and they did not. And despite what you said about me touting it elsewhere I did not, though I think perhaps I should have in my comment on WT:IAR since it is very relevant. So that would make it two explicitly against the proposal and just you for so can we please consider it dead. And since "This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Policies and guidelines page." the discussion is closed and you can talk about beliefs about law or not law on the Village pump instead. Dmcq (talk) 09:01, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
OMG! Have you read the village pump poll before it was closed out? Even the reason it was closed out said "Policy is not law"!!!!!! You were well outnumbered. This is not over! YOU lost, how many admins need to keep saying your view is wrong. Both of you please stop with your insane idea that you are in the majority. Admins with more responsibilities, experience, and knowledge have come forward telling you this is not LAW, none have said "btw I oppose Camelbinky's suggestion", you'd think if they did they'd also mention that. This is not closed because you say it is, how dare you imply you that the poll said something it didnt, or that you somehow have the community on your side, if anything it showed you dont, how many admins need come forward and say it isnt what you say it is? I will be changing the policy tomorrow. You've twisted everything and as Equizcon stated- you are either ignorant, or stubborn and refuse to see what our policies are". Deal with it, I dont need your permission to change policy, I dont have to have everyone in the world agree with me. Enough have put forth that policy is not what you have stated.Camelbinky (talk) 17:41, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
If you had actually put your proposal onto village talk(proposal) then there might have been progress. Instead you put a poll that an admin closed down. I have added an Rfc to this talk page on this proposal. Dmcq (talk) 18:17, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Rfc: Have grounds been established for a change to the policy description?

There is a dispute in WT:POLICY#Policy description where a user wishes to change

"Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are standards that all users should follow."


"Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are of great importance in helping editors come to consensus on issues and problems that my arise during editing. While the spirit of a policy should be adhered to, remember that policies are not cookie-cutter solutions to problems and conflicts that may arise. Common sense should be used in their implementation, what works in one situation does not always work in similar situations. Respect consensus where it deviates from existing policy."

The poster says they will change it despite objections.

Have grounds or consensus been established for such a change? Dmcq (talk) 18:09, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Excuse me, but that is not what I proposed. In fact final wording was never decided upon due to your insane rantings on policy being law and not respecting the many instances of individuals showing you that they arent. What was mostly decided on was ALOT shorter. This is premature and completely your POV to push your agenda.Camelbinky (talk) 18:11, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Well then go ahead and write what your actual proposal is please. Dmcq (talk) 18:23, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
By combining the comments of Kotniski and Kim Bruning above, with the multiple comments in other places by Equizcon and Lessheard vanu at wp:ANI along with what wp:NOTSTATUTE describes our policies as being I propose the small section on this policy whose purpose is solely to describe what a policy "is" be changed to say: "Policies are descriptive of consensus, not prescriptive of future actions" I brought this proposal so others could decide on further or different language. The proposal was hijacked by this discussion on whether or not policies are laws. It never got vetted properly because of an individual's personal belief on policies being laws. I would like to start over and allow people to comment properly without Dmcq ranting about laws that dont exist, if he'd be kind enough to back off perhaps we can archive the above discussions and start over without his interference of bringing up red herrings.Camelbinky (talk) 19:22, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
That's too loose as far as I'm concerned. You could put in 'normally' to make it like in the template at the top, that doesn't weaken it to just being commentary like your proposal. The rest of what you said seems to be personal about me, perhaps the Rfc editor would like to comment on the idea that I should back off? Dmcq (talk) 20:41, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • No consensus. "Changes made to it should reflect consensus" -- how can anyone claim have to have consensus to remove long-standing text (whose removal he never proposed to the so-called supporters) and to insert text that he still hasn't written? Of course such changes are premature. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:17, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • No. Local consensus may override policy in practice because of the way wiki (or indeed any community) works. To enshrine that in policy is to make a nonsense of it. Rd232 talk 21:41, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

I notice from the discussion above that -at this point in time- no-one actually appears to be proposing the statement this RFC is ostensibly about. Further discussion is therefore a waste of time. Shall we close? --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:40, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

I'd support that -- if Camelbinky agrees not to make the as-yet unspecified changes: "I will be changing the policy tomorrow. Deal with it." and "I dont need your permission to change policy, I dont have to have everyone in the world agree with me.". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:48, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Welllll.... that's not very diplomatic... :-/
@Camelbinky, you *do* need to take into account the opinions of other people. We do confirm actions via consensus; and right now, it looks like you're ignoring one of your peer wikipedians in this? In that case, the peer in question (Dmcq) is right to draw other people's attention here. --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:48, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
I do not quite follow what you are saying Kim. Are you saying the discussion about a proposal should still go ahead or not? Do you agree with Camelbinky that I should 'back off' away from this talk page and then he can get on with changing his proposal to whatever he thinks of next? I still do not agree with his new proposal. Dmcq (talk) 22:54, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
I do think there's some points on which we haven't reached an agreement yet, but that definitely doesn't mean you should go away. Quite the opposite. It's important for you to share your opinion with everyone here, and then we can decide together what the most logical course of action is.
Sure, if people prefer (and they think it's ok), they can also just simply do an action and see who (if anyone) opposes. If done right, generally one judges consensus correctly, and nothing untoward happens .
In that case, people can still discuss the change post-hoc, however.
So the order in which you do things doesn't matter hugely; but what one can't do is just make a change and ignore what other people are saying, like Camelbinky appears to be pending to do here. @Camelbinky: Do please listen to Dmcq, and try to reach an agreement? You haven't done anything really bad yet, so there's still plenty of time to correct yourself here. :-)
--Kim Bruning (talk) 23:48, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment - I would at least remove the RFC tag here until you guys determine what exactly you're each proposing. Each side should come up with their respective preferred wording, then list them in a new section with a new RFC. That way people can weigh in on which they think is best, and a consensus can be determined. For the record, I predict "not prescriptive of future actions" will not go over well with the community. Policies have historically been quite prescriptive, as they are quoted in defense of nearly every action taken on the wiki. Equazcion (talk) 00:03, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Apparently Equazcion misinterpreted my previous attempt at being nice as actually being snide. (WP:AGF says to read text in the nicest way possible.)
So let's just be bluntly harsh instead.
I would like to insist that we actually use the wiki.
Mediawiki provides tools, and the community provides different forms of infrastructure. I do not think that writing out proposals by hand in text on some talk page is a useful application on our time, even if one were to claim that large numbers of people are following this procedure at other locations. It is most decidedly not a best practice.
Instead, we can use edits, diffs, WP:BRD, and a large helping of WP:AGF. These have proven to be effective in creating a wiki with 3 million pages, largely because there are many KLOCs of code to actually support that procedure, and take a lot of the manual work off of our hands. Let's continue with the tradition, shall we?
--Kim Bruning (talk) 01:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
There's already a clear dispute occurring here. If we tell the major two parties involved above to BRD, one will be bold and the other will revert. Then we'd have to discuss. Why not skip right to the discussion then? Equazcion (talk) 01:06, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Unless this is no longer wikipedia, the objective is to get back to using the actual wiki-page as quickly as possible (this is what the process described at BRD aims for). We should definitely avoid complex handwork. We have computers for a reason, let's use them to best effect. Certainly, before we can do that, we may need to discuss to ensure everyone is acting in good faith. With that much I agree. But going far beyond that and replicating wiki-functionality by hand is just a bit odd, I find. ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:17, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
The objective is to get back to the wiki page as quickly as possible? That's news to me. The talk page is for settling disputes, among other things, and I don't see how moving back to the main page before the dispute is settled would be a good thing. This "by hand" terminology you've invented is not very helpful in conveying your point, Kim. This is a website. We're all using our hands during all tasks, to type and click. If you're trying to say "editing main pages as opposed to discussing on talk pages", it might be best to just say that. Equazcion (talk) 01:21, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
"As quickly as possible" means to at the very least weaken the dispute to the point where both parties assume good faith. Once that prerequisite is met, we can say that there is (effectively) no further dispute, and normal wiki-editing can resume.
"By hand" is not a terminology I have invented (it's in the W3C lexicon, for one). In this automated society, we can do things with differing levels of automation. If something is fully automated, a computer does it without human interference. By contrast, if something is done "by hand", a human being is doing all the work. (w3c defines it as literally typing things into a text editor, like when you type out different versions on a talk page). You then need to do a lot of comparing and soforth by hand.
When you actually modify the working document (Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines in this case) , you actually get a large amount of computer assistance that helps you collaborate; diffs, diff highlighting, revisions, reverting, user attribution, etc etc... the wiki helps you in a lot of ways. So this is called "computer-assisted", or "partially automated". It is definitely not "by hand" ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:58, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 0

"Just editing" works best when nobody likes the existing version, and this is both rare in general with Wikipedia's policy pages and specifically not applicable to the current dispute. In this instance, it would probably play out like this:
  • Camelbinky would make a change that seems 100% reasonable to him. (Based on what he's said so far) I will believe his change is (1) worse than what we already have and (2) sufficiently misguided as to not be worth attempting to incorporate his ideas. I will therefore simply undo the change.
  • Camelbinky will not accept the long-standing statement that editors "should" follow policies (including IAR) in their normal editing, so he'll try to restore his "policies are optional" idea, perhaps in a slightly different form. Another editor, e.g., Dmcq, will object (revert), because the fact is that Wikipedia's editors generally don't think that policies (including IAR) should be treated as optional advice.
  • Camelbinky will still believe that there's no difference between "should follow" (what the policy says) and "must follow" (what a law would say), and will therefore try a third time. Another editor will see the change, decide that it is worse than the previous version, and revert it. Before long, we'll have a full-scale edit war on our hands, which we'll be able to keep it up until someone (i.e., Camelbinky) gets blocked (yes: for attempting, in good faith, to figure out some way to incorporate his "100% reasonable to him" idea into a page, over the steady objection of other editors, and no: I don't think setting someone up for that role is a friendly act).
If Camelbinky believes that a round of WP:BRD would be fun and interesting, I'll volunteer for the "R" role (unless someone else beats me to it), and of course I will do my share of the "D" process, but I think an edit war is more likely to be the actual outcome, which is why I specifically think that this dispute needs to be resolved here, and not be escalated through sequential editing-and-reverting the live policy page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:11, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
So you're declaring that you will revert any edit made by CamelBinky. Correct? Would you consider that an a-priori Assumption of Bad Faith? }:-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:32, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't. I'd consider it an assumption that the user will do what he's stated he will do. But I'm sure WhatamIdoing didn't mean he would revert CamelBinky's edit indiscriminately, without check it first. Equazcion (talk) 01:36, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I never revert changes indiscriminately, but based on my impression of Camelbinky's point, as evidenced in lengthy discussions on this page, the chance that Camelbinky's first proposal would be even faintly acceptable to me is essentially zero. This is an assumption of good faith: faith that Camelbinky has attempted to accurately describe his actual views in these conversations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, even in the case of 0% agreement, instead of reverting, would you consider replacing Camelbinky's version with an edit of your own? We could then examine the diff you see. When one does, it's actually uncommon to see 0% agreement or 100% agreement, it's usually some value in-between. --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:06, 19 October 2009 (UTC) Actually, you even see that in reverts. It's quite interesting!
Kim, I cannot imagine why this is not yet clear: My preferred definition of Wikipedia's notion of a policy is exactly what is already there. There is no difference between what I think is best, and what I think represents the current community consensus, and the text that is already there (yes: three separate things, and the first two are often not the same). At this time, IMO any change made to that definition would necessarily be making worse. I will not voluntarily make the definition of policy worse than what it is. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:34, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 1

What is completely misleading the entire "audience" with his continued inflammatory declarations about this. I havent changed anything, and if he let me explain I would, I would like an apology from him because he has continued on each post to make it more inflammatory, he has yet to talk about the issue, only make statements that make it seem like I'm a rogue. I'm trying to have a discussion here and it gets hijacked. The whole problem is that a discussion never took place regarding what the proper wording should be. That is all that I would like to take place. I got hijacked by this whole discussion of "policies are laws". If Dmcq would allow that to be set aside and the original discussion topic to take place perhaps ideas could be allowed to flow and Equazcion could elaborate on a possible change that would explain that they are prescriptive (though in my opinion only certain policies are). I am glad to see Dmcq mentioned, in a way, a compromise that we could put in "normally". I like that line of thinking and that is what should have happened instead of what did happen in the thread. I apologize for my statement that I would change it tomorrow and blah blah, but you took it out of context and putting it here was in just as bad taste as my saying it, and it was put here specifically by What to discredit me instead of using logic or debate on the points of the matter. My comment regarding Dmcq "backing off" was in regards to his comments and push on the view about policies are laws, at no point did I ever imply or tell him to leave or stop commenting, though in the past I have told him I no longer want to respond (as is my right) to his rantings that policies are laws and I'd ignore any more postings on that matter, frankly I had been more than courteous about it, asking multiple times for the topic to get back to the original topic and off this. As far as I am concerned all I want is for all the discussions on here to be archived and then a new thread started so we can all go over the language about what a policy should be described as. Just because there was a consensus in the past regarding this language does not mean that it is it forever, the language is not not perfect, those who decided on it are not God, and the whole point is that it should be allowed and encouraged that every so often if someone doesnt like it they can start a discussion. All I wanted was a discussion, perhaps there would be soemone who could point out something to change my mind, but no, that never got to happen. My opinion is that the current language is not acceptable, it implies to newbies that policies are strictly enforced and this can be used by established users who are "strict constructionists" as policies "must be adhered to"; because to use semantics and justify the word "should" does not mean "must" is not acceptable because you can not use that in an argument against strict interpreters of our policies. Having policy like this encourages newbies to "grow up" into strict constructionists, and we need less of them, not more. Yes, I have an agenda, I do not want to see editors go around interpreting our policies as things written in stone that must be adhered to and if you cant quote policy then your common sense deductions are not valid, which from some of his comments it seems Dmcq also hates policy quoters so it is possible we have something in common. If we have to spell out in this page that policy is not the end all of everything and that it does not prescribe how a consensus must play out, then that is what I want. I hate when a discussion has a clear consensus but the minority keeps the consensus from being implemented because "policy says the opposite of the consensus"; CONSENSUS TRUMPS POLICY when it comes to IMPROVING the encyclopedia and this page should reflect that. I see nowhere on this policy page that says policies might not be adhered to by the letter and a consensus may ignore it and still abide by the letter. In a lower section it might, but I dont remember seeing anything about "abide by the spirit, not the letter". Perhaps that would be a good addition to the policy description section "adhere to the spirit, if you cant to the letter of the policy". But we didnt get a chance to do this discussion. I care about what policies actually impact day-to-day editing and dont give a * about any of this "well there are policies that have to for legal reasons...blah blah blah", that is a red herring and irrelevant to actual editing and REAL laws (especially American, as Wikipedia does reside in the US, servers I believe are in Florida and the Foundation resides and is incorporated here (Delaware?)) would apply regardless of what we put in our policies. I want all newbies to know that "policies change and it is good to question policy", but this entire process of me wanting to change one freakin sentence has proven that there are those who think once a policy has been written "god forbid it be changed", that type of thinking is terrible and those who think that should be ashamed. Our policies are not analogous to the US Constitution, they should be easier to change than what has happened here. At no point did I want to change the consensus of what a policy is, only the wording to more accurately portray what we already believe about what a policy is. I can understand all of this uproar if I was trying to move a policy in a direction ahead of consensus, but this policy is actually lagging behind of consensus.Camelbinky (talk) 01:16, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
In re your assertion that to use semantics and justify the word "should" does not mean "must" is not acceptable because you can not use that in an argument against strict interpreters of our policies: It's not mere "semantics" that declares that the word should is different from the word must. Every English dictionary in the world defines them as having different meanings, and people around the globe use these words daily to indicate quite distinct concepts.
If the problem is "strict constructionists" that believe X policy always trumps Y policy, then they're simply wrong -- but the correct solution is education, not re-writing this page to make all policies always seem non-binding. If you wish, I'm perfectly willing to introduce the relevant definitions of "should" and "must" to this page, so that you have something easy to point other editors at. Like most experienced editors, I also stand ready to assist you in educating any stubborn "strict constructionists" that you encounter -- just leave a note on my talk page -- and I can additionally recommend that you remember the content of WP:5P, which clearly and plainly says that "Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles presented here."
IMO it would be both redundant and improper to turn this Five Principles' statement into the definition of a policy, but I have no objection to adding a sentence that describes the Five Principles in this section. IMO it should be the first paragraph.
Your assertion that consensus trumps policy is false. WP:Consensus is a policy -- as a matter of logic, a thing can neither trump itself nor invalidate itself -- and consensus is not the primary policy. Despite Kim's ardent desire to the contrary, consensus has no special ascendancy over all other policies. Mere consensus cannot excuse us from complying with NPOV; it cannot be invoked to turn Wikipedia into a web directory; it cannot justify intellectual theft by editors. When consensus impairs our work on the encyclopedia, it's consensus that goes out the window, not the encyclopedia.
As for assuming that I oppose change to policies: I have made literally hundreds of major and minor changes to Wikipedia's policies, guidelines, and procedures -- including writing a good deal of what is in this very policy. I oppose your effort to make this page suggest that policies are entirely non-binding because I firmly believe that such an idea does not reflect the community's consensus. In short, I do not believe that your view of policies is the same as the community's view. I cannot, with any integrity, support a change to a policy that I believe to go against the community consensus. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:50, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 2

Quite a lot of things you're saying there appear to be correct to me. This doesn't quite excuse you from being diplomatic, of course. ;-)
Sounds like you'd like nothing more than to actually handle this diplomatically, so I think the good faith is there. That's a good start.
Please don't assign bad faith to folks like Dmcq. They're acting the way they think is correct, and assuming bad faith is counter-productive.
Let's be constructive and take this step by step.
Your core issue appears to be that policies are not binding at all, and are not law.
Let's see where that gets us.
Does anyone disagree with that, at this point in time? --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:39, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
"Not binding at all" and "not law" don't seem synonymous. Policy is a little binding. They are called policies, after all. Equazcion (talk) 01:42, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm glad Kim see's what I'm trying to get across, I know I need to work on my diplomacy! I take my fair share of blame for how it worked out, and I would like a real debate and discussion about the role of policy. I think there has been alot of "talking" and no "discussing", we've all been talking "at" each other instead of "to" and nobody is listening, and alot of miscommunication is happening. Such as- I dont think that policies are not binding. I agree with Equazcion that they are not law. Policies are still binding, certain ones alot more than others. I am concerned about disputes you would find on an article's talk page, the OR/N, the RS/N, the Village Pumps, and AN/I (among other places) where discretion and common sense are just as important as policy and where the consensus may in fact override policy. If policies were implemented by the letter and with no common sense and no right to ignore them then we'd hae no use for the OR/N or RS/N or the various other noticeboards regarding content in an article, because we'd just implement the letter of the law; and we'd also have to write a specific policy saying "this is RS in this situation, but not in that situation" for every single situation.
  • My "core issue" is that I want this policy page to describe ACCURATELY what a policy is and how it should be used in a discussion regarding normal editing activity. Which is what the majority of us (and practically 100% of newbies) do.Camelbinky (talk) 01:57, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    • The problem with defining policy on Wikipedia is that no one really knows what it is. They're rules, but we're allowed to break them, but if you break certain ones we could block you, but you should break them when you really think its necessary, in fact we could block you if you don't break them where appropriate. There's no real terminology yet for what what we have. If you're trying to formulate a concrete definition that everyone will agree on, that seems sort of futile to me. I would abandon this prospect for the sake of your own sanity. Equazcion (talk) 02:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You feel that the term "Policy" is a misnomer? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:07, 19 October 2009 (UTC) My best try at a better term is "known best pratice"
Not necessarily. If we need to call them something, maybe that's the best word for them. But it certainly doesn't seem 100% ideal. Consider the amount of misunderstanding the term has created in the past. Equazcion (talk) 02:13, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
<scratches head> Some folks speak of !votes. Perhaps we can speak of !Policy? </scratches head>... so ... some way to express that we mean something that sometimes/often looks a bit like policy, but isn't actually the exact same thing as what we have in "the real world" --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:17, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Ha, I love that -- !Policy. See, now that's perfect. It's really the same kind of situation as with "votes" on wikipedia, so why not solve it the same way? Brilliant. Equazcion (talk) 02:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 3

I know but I have to try. The current wording on this page has "those who violate the spirit of the rule may be reprimanded even if no rule has technically been broken." well, ok, but what about those who adhere to the spirit but break the letter of the rule?! Why is it not mentioned that it is ok for that. It nowhere mentions that, and I cant remember any instance in which the page references IAR specifically! It seems the whole page was written to appease those who are unhappy that IAR exists, we shouldnt have wording and portray to newbies ideas that those people hold. IAR exists and is our number 1 core principle, highest policy we have, and it gets no special treatment? I know we've gone over in a different thread that policies dont have to be NPOV, but this page is completly on the POV of punishing those that dont conform. We should encourage non-conformity and people who push the envelope and question why things are. Discussions like the one we have should occur MORE. This page basically says to a newbie "do what the policy says and adhere to it and its spirit or we kick you out, dont question it, just do it the way we've already decided on, too bad you didnt sign up earlier when we were deciding things". Camelbinky (talk) 02:09, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
"Best known practice" is perfect Kim! Could that be the genesis of what we could put in? I would be very happy if a policy would be described as being that.Camelbinky (talk) 02:10, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
"Known best practice" doesn't convey much in the way of being prescriptive, so that would be the other extreme. Equazcion (talk) 02:13, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • "Documentation on current consensus and most common dissenting opinions on best practices topic XYZ" ... is a bit long, and might miss stuff...
  • IETF uses 'Request For Comments' (as the ultimate understatement for something that defines exacting standards you must adhere to if you want your hard and software to work on the internet) , but that's already taken here.
<scratches head /> --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:20, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You're an odd and hysterical fellow, Kim :) I wonder though if mediawiki would accept a page name starting with a "!"? Equazcion (talk) 02:23, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
It sounds like "!Known best pratices" would possibly gain consensus with at least 3 wikipedians, though I'm not sure of the rest O:-) .
Incidentally, ! seems to work just fine. --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:30, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
No. Our guidelines also represent our "known best practices", and some of our policies do not represent a "best practice" so much as a "how this thing works at the moment, whether it's good or not". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:47, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
How it works at the moment is most likely gonna be the best known practice. If we knew of any better practices, they would be how things work at the moment, I would think. Equazcion (talk) 02:51, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You would hope. But policy pages are always going to document what the known best practice was "yesterday". Because no one has had time to update them "today" yet. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:00, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, then, how it works at the moment wouldn't be documented either; the document would describe how it worked yesterday. As long as how it worked yesterday matches up with what the best practice was yesterday, there's no problem; and again I would think that they would. Equazcion (talk) 03:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Usually. A lot of people vandalize the wiki at the moment too. ;-) It's a known current practice. Just not a best practice. (Hence the "best" qualifier)
Incidentally, WhatAmIDoing says that sometimes policy does not document known best practice? If he can provide examples, those will probably be examples of where our current procedures are failing. That would be interesting and useful. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:09, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 4

Maybe I'm going at this the wrong way then, instead of restating in a different way what a policy is, perhaps we could simply change or add to the other sections to make it clear that, while yes you can be in trouble for violating the spirit even if you dont violate the letter, you can do good by violating the letter by adhering to the spirit. We arent taking away the prescriptive declarations already in this policy, simply adding that prescriptive and punishing isnt the only purpose of policy. The flexibility that is inherent to policy needs to be shown, because it exists, and newbies need to know that.Camelbinky (talk) 02:29, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

I'd suggest adding a subsection for the summary of IAR, with a main article link to it. Or we could just add a sentence to the lede, with a link to IAR. I do think some mention of spirit vs. letter is appropriate, and it should be mentioned in the context of IAR somehow. Equazcion (talk) 02:35, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
<The documentation of consensus> and <the use of wiki-editing> seem to have been lost from the page entirely, at the moment. Most puzzeling, especially since they're (still!) very prominent. Quite likely just as prominent as ever, in fact. --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:41, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Camelbinky, if it is possible to adhere firmly to the spirit of a policy, while breaking the specific requirements of that same policy, then the policy itself is broken and must be fixed. Very few of our policies are so badly written that this is possible. I won't vouch for the guidelines, but I don't need to: they're all supposed to be "treated with common sense and the occasional exception," as each one says in the box at the top of the page.
It would be enlightening to know why you are so convinced that our policies are self-contradictory. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:46, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm... It's a good point that those policy tags say that, but does this page really say that? If not it should probably be added here somewhere. Perhaps under "Role", we could say that all policy/guideline pages should be treated... etc. Equazcion (talk) 02:50, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
No!! Policy tags do not say that. Guideline tags say that. Guidelines are the hundreds of pages that we describe here as being "primarily advisory". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:55, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, my bad, only guidelines say that. Maybe policies should too though. Are we trying to say people should not apply common sense regarding application of policy, and there are not occasional exceptions for them? Policy tags have a link to WP:Use common sense anyway, they just don't say it outright. It seems like intentional ambiguity to evade actually making a decision. Equazcion (talk) 02:59, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Intentional ambiguity seems to be a common failure mode of the consensus system. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:03, 19 October 2009 (UTC) Or maybe it's not a bug, but a feature?
Kim, you should be bold and add them in, and same with Equazcion's IAR and spirit vs. letter statement.Camelbinky (talk) 02:49, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

(several ec's later... boy do you guys type fast! ;-)
(ec, @whatamIdoing, in response to "why are you convinced that our policies are self contradictory")
Besides the obvious Godel reference, it's actually pretty much impossible for a policy page to be accurate at any point in time (same problem as any other wiki page).
Unless you assume that the internet, the web and the wiki are perfect, inviolate, unbreakable and unchanging.
But that would be an insane assumption in this 21st century society we live in, with our knowledge doubling roughly every 18 months and our technical capacity to store and analyse it doubling at the same rate. (And our wiki being somewhere uncomfortably close to dead center, and possibly contributing to the situation.) --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:58, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You assume, without evidence, that the consensus actually changes measurably on every single policy, every single day. And even that fact (which I do not admit) would not make the policy self-contradictory.
But I want to know what Camelbinky believes that one or more policies are self-contradictory. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:10, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I can't speak for CamelBinky, but page history for most policy pages does appear to bear me out, at least to a large extent. (large numbers of edits over time). I wouldn't say that consensus changes on every single policy/guideline/essay every single day, but it certainly does change over time, because the world changes, the web changes, and we certainly learn new things every single day, unless we deliberately close our eyes and turn off our brains while working. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:16, 19 October 2009 (UTC) I definitely learn new things every day in my day job. But that's often boring compared to the wiki! ;-) If you're not learning something new every day, there's something not quite right, I think.
It seems that What has an inappropriate fascination with what I think. His comments seem to be more in opposition of me than in opposition to any change in wording that Kim and Equazcion have been more than happy to work on. If that is the problem then I will not address What again and any questions can go to Eq and Kim.Camelbinky (talk) 03:29, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Kim, it is possible to change a policy an infinite number of times without any version of the policy contradicting any part of itself.
Camelbinky, I'm interested in what you think because you have asserted the existence of a concrete, important, and fixable problem. You have asserted the existence of at least one policy that simultaneously asserts a general requirement ("Editors should...") and a specific requirement ("Editors should...") for which it is not possible to comply with both requirements at the same time (under at least some conceivable circumstances, i.e., circumstances that you have personally encountered).
Unrelated to this discussion, this policy (or policies) needs to be identified and fixed, and ideally in a time frame that looks like "immediately", at the very latest.
Based on your comments below, however, it appears that this asserted situation does not exist. It appears that you have misinterpreted the freedom allowed in our policies as "disobeying" them because they don't lock editors into robotic pathways. If I'm wrong, do -- please -- give me, or the relevant Wikiprojects, some idea about what the problem really is. The fact that the guideline WP:RS does not provide a complete list of all acceptable statements that are adequately supported by all possible sources is not the same thing as saying that it is impossible to comply with the letter of policy without violating its spirit. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:38, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, you're specifically interested in self contradiction. I'm not sure how often that happens. I do know that policies tend to lag behind current best practice, and need to be continuously updated. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:48, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
@camelbinky. Do your best to communicate with everyone; don't give up! :-)
Now WhatamIdoing has every right to question you personally, if he so chooses. You have the same right in return, of course. The only thing you may not do is ignore people.
Figure out what (s)he is trying to achieve, and then come up with something that makes sense to him/her. You don't need to be perfect all in one go. You can ask "is this closer to what you think?", "how about this?". Later you can then go "Ok, I agree with this part, but how about if we think differently about this other part? Would that work better?". But start with figuring out what WhatamIdoing is thinking at the moment. There's probably a lot of clues around already! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:37, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 5

  • Continuing from above (Kim's ambiguity statement): Let's make it less ambiguous then. I say policies should be applied with common sense, and with occasional exception. Does anyone disagree with that, and if not, is there any reason not to add those statements to both this page and the policy template? Equazcion (talk) 03:07, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Equazcion's proposal.Camelbinky (talk) 03:10, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Policies Are Not Guidelines

If we aren't even talking about the same pages, then no wonder we're having problems.

Does anyone here really want to tell newbie editors that they ought to assume that the major policies are pages that they should ignore whenever it seems like a good idea at the time? WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:11, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, as long as they are improving Wikipedia. IAR applies to the other policies as well.Camelbinky (talk) 03:13, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Per Camelbinky, yes, IAR applies to policies as well as guidelines. Equazcion (talk) 03:15, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
To further clarify my statement- I am a regular contributor to the RS/N and OR/N; there we often have to clarify and stay within the spirt of V, NPOV, and RS while not obeying the letter (often because there isnt anything specifically spelled out). At my suggestion a new essay was recently written to clarify something that just isnt in V or RS and lots of editors were interpreting policy wrongly and bringing this same perennial question to us, so I thought an essay was needed to point them to in the future instead of constantly rehashing with editors our previous discussions. Policy is vague. If it were interpreted strictly then the noticeboard would have been wrong in its previous decisions, and this was a perenial question which is why I asked for the essay to be written. Chances are over time it will be a guideline, its quite good actually. Because that's how these things work, consensus is reached and documented.Camelbinky (talk) 03:20, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
If "the letter" is not spelled out, then you cannot, by definition, be disobeying the policy by implementing its spirit. It is not possible. The process you describe is called "applying" or "implementing" a policy. Doing this is not "breaking" or "disobeying" or "ignoring" the policy in any sense. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:28, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I actually agree here, vagueness in policies isn't a source of violation. However that doesn't negate there being the need for common sense and exceptions, even to the vague rules. Equazcion (talk) 03:31, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I said "often" there isnt anything written. That doesnt mean in every instance. In the case above if you read WP:V and applied it strictly as written, we would have been violating the rule because what we said WAS verifiable did not met the current criteria as written which is why it was a perennial question, though it did fit the spirit. It was a perennial question because too often editors would read WP:V too strictly and say "well its not verifiable" without applying common sense. Too many editors dont seem to see the penumbra of our policies, or dont wish to for philosophical or political reasons carried over from the non-wiki world. As an aside- I just checked WP:V and our essay has since been incorporated in shortened form into a new section.Camelbinky (talk) 03:45, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
There is not a single word in this policy that says that common sense and exceptions are not needed for policies. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:40, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
There are no statements that say they are needed either, though. It seems like an important thing to say, if true, which we've established is the case. Equazcion (talk) 03:42, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Please go read the bit that says Editors are expected to use common sense in interpreting and applying these rules; those who violate the spirit of the rule may be reprimanded even if no rule has technically been broken. and then come back and tell me if you're still convinced that common sense is not already required by this page. You'll find it at the end of the very section that Camelbinky wanted to change. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:55, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
And I already pointed that out well above when Eq and Kim and I started this new discussion. The problem is this entire policy and especially that section concentrates on "reprimanding" and breaking the rules. A proposal I put forth was not to remove anything from that section, it was to add something along the lines of "you may obey the spirit even if you dont obey the letter of the law" or "it is more important to stay within the spirit than the letter". We shouldnt make this policy all about scaring editors into conformity, it should be about letting newbies be flexible and letting them know that they can question things and start discussions like this one. If we make it seem like "you werent here when we made the rules, so tough luck, you have to obey what we decided" then its violating the spirit of being a wiki. IAR does apply to policy. But you can bring that up with Jimbo if you disagree.Camelbinky (talk) 04:01, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
In reply to WAID, you're right, I didn't notice that at first. Camelbinky's point is valid though. It's important to say that common sense should be applied and that there are exceptions, which would tell people that the rules aren't steadfast -- rather than merely the current statement, which tell people they need to apply common sense as an additional restriction. Equazcion (talk) 04:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Personally, I would not have connected the common sense statement to the bit about violating the rules. Common sense is equally necessary to comply with them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:30, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Common sense is needed both to comply with rules, and to make the encyclopedia better by occasionally ignoring them, when necessary. That was my aim. If you have better words to say the same thing, let me know. (continue discussion at break 6 below though, just for ease, thanks) Equazcion (talk) 04:42, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Especially newbies. As an informal mediator, I can't begin to tell you how many conflicts were caused by people first interpreting policy wrong, and then being inflexible about it. (I call this "non-negotiating yourself into trouble" after a famous phrase in some of our core policies :-P). As long as people are flexible and open and willing to communicate and learn, it's often fairly easy to correct any mistakes they're making. Therefore, I think it's wisest to promote this attitude of openness and communication. As an added bonus, people who happen to read IAR and WIARM first tend to be more likely to assume good faith, which is one of the key things we need on-wiki.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 03:22, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm assuming this means you agree to my proposal above (correct me if I'm mistaken). So do we need a new RFC to see if we should make those changes (to this page and the policy template), or should we just make them and wait for people to come here complaining? Equazcion (talk) 03:27, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I pretty much agree. And BRD works for me. Especially if we word carefully to start with. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:39, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
It's bedtime for me now. I'll be back sometime tomorrow. Was fun talking with all of you in (near) real time! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:44, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Time for bed for me as well. Good luck with BRD Kim!Camelbinky (talk) 04:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

break 6

I've made an edit to this page that hopefully shouldn't be too controversial. I'll wait on editing the policy template, til we can determine how well-accepted this edit was. Equazcion (talk) 04:20, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Camelbinky, I know that you read what this policy says. Equazcion apparently hadn't. He may be relieved to know that the injunction to apply common sense has been on this page, as applying to everything (not just essays or guidelines) since at least January 2008.
I don't want to bother with the soapbox, but writing policies is hard. It's especially difficult in a complex system like Wikipedia. What you change in one place can screw up what happens in another. What you don't say is as important as what you do. And you really must assume that someday, a complete idiot is going to take the words at plain, simple, uncomplicated face value, for the purpose of bludgeoning opponents in a dispute, and therefore write them very, very carefully. It's not just a matter of writing down whatever seems like a good idea at the moment.
So you want to make a change. Here are your two current proposals, with my comments:
  1. "You may obey the spirit even if you dont obey the letter of the law."
    • Wikipedia does not have laws. I have taken the liberty of striking the term "law", because although it's a classical phrase, it is inappropriate and might confuse inexperienced editors. The usual substitute is "rules", although sometimes "pages" will work.
    • Because Wikipedia should not have policies that are self-contradictory, the option of obeying both the spirit and the letter should always be available to the editor. I am not convinced that advocating for minimal obedience is the proper role for this page.
    • Taken as a descriptive sentence, this statement is probably correct: it is certainly possible for an editor to obey the spirit (of a policy) while not bothering to obey the letter (of another page), or even while directly violating the letter (of a guideline); this is why this page says that policies trump guidelines. (But see WP:Use common sense and several others, when trying this in the real world.)
    • However, taken as a statement of permissions, which is how I believe that it is intended, it is, under perhaps infrequent circumstances, incorrect. Wikipedia does have a small number of policies whose exact letter must be obeyed (in certain sections). It is beyond the scope of this page -- and perhaps beyond the capability of any page -- to detail the exact relationships of the various pages, but as an example, it is not acceptable to obey merely the "spirit" of WP:NFCC #10; images routinely get deleted when the exact form is not followed. Not following some processes precisely is a simple waste of the editors' time. Therefore this claim is, unfortunately, factually inaccurate, and should not be included.
    • Even if the inaccuracies were glossed over, I doubt that the community really wants to encourage editors to believe that obeying "the spirit" is an acceptable alternative to obeying "the letter". I strongly suspect that the community would prefer that the policies, at least, were obeyed in both.
  2. "It is more important to stay within the spirit than the letter."
    • This proposal, on its face, is much more promising. It's essentially IAR re-phrased. If this is your primary goal, then you might consider introducing the WP:5Ps instead. The Five Principles have the advantage of placing IAR in its proper context -- the context in which it is one of five co-equal principles, and not a trump card or a do-whatever-I-want-free card.
    • With respect to specifically policies, I am not sure that I can identify any situation in which an editor could (1) violate the letter, (2) keep the spirit of that same policy, and (3) be certain that this conduct was going to be widely accepted. Editors do occasionally get censured and even blocked for what they thought were justified applications of IAR. New editors are at particular risk for this problem, and re-stating IAR here is not going to protect a single one of them from being blamed for mis-applying it. [Item (1), naturally, requires that the policy have "letters", which is not the case for quite a number of them.]
    • I assume that your goal is to reduce the "punitive" tone by elevating the "encouragement". I don't interpret the warning to "those who violate the spirit" as a punitive measure. It is merely fair warning that mere technical compliance against a measurable yardstick is not always adequate. (If I had to guess, I'd bet that "WP:3RR is not license to revert three times per 24 hours" is the original dispute behind this sentence.)
    • It seems probable to me that the community consensus is that it's best to do both.
    • Separate from whether or not the community would agree that IAR is "more important than" e.g., NPOV (which is also one of the co-equal five principles), I also don't know whether the community would support including this idea here.
    • You should only write what's needed and useful, in a practical sense, in a policy, because WP:CREEPiness increases noise and decreases value to the reader.
    • Encouraging editors to believe that IAR trumps all tends to lead to disputes. This IMO does not serve the encyclopedia. Even True™ statements may be excluded from this page if they seem likely to impair the encyclopedia.
    • I doubt that any experienced editor can find this page, but not IAR. Why would anyone cite this page as the justification for "following the spirit" when IAR is so much more to the point?
Note that I'm not doing this to pick on you. I'm not fundamentally opposed to any and all changes. I am, however, not entirely convinced that these changes would either serve your purpose or reflect the community consensus. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:37, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You're basically saying that erring on the side of more restrictive language will bode best for the encyclopedia. "The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either." - Ben Franklin. This seems like a fear-induced decision. Personally I prefer (and I think Wikipedia has generally preferred) to let everyone know (newbie or not) just how restrictive, and unrestrictive, our rules really are. Equazcion (talk) 06:00, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Language getting more abstruse

While doubtlessly becoming philosophically more satisfying, it seems the language on this page (including the introductory paragraph) has moved in the direction of not saying clearly whatever it is it's trying to say. Can we try to do it in a more straightforward manner? (I might make a bold attempt anyway.)--Kotniski (talk) 06:49, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Well, I've had a shot at improving the clarity of the lede. Let's see what people think.--Kotniski (talk) 07:20, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Humph, someone reverted it wholesale. Do we get an explanation why? (I can't agree with the edit summary that the previous version was more straightfoward, though I suppose we always tend to see more clarity in text we've written ourselves.)--Kotniski (talk) 09:21, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Well I think it's clearer to say in the leader what the point of the whole exercise is rather than get bogged down in non-compliance, not following rules and punishments. Actually the leader as it was and as I've restored is what I would have called a policy. Anyway I'm done with being bold, I've added an IAR link to 'should' to help people who mistake that for must, and put in a link to the Sanger quote. The other main difference from what was there yesterday is a new heading 'Adherence' and some small changes to text under that that someone else put in. Dmcq (talk) 10:09, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
As I see it, though, the restored leader actually says virtually nothing to the reader about policies and guidelines (the subject of this page), and uses a lot of long words to do it. My proposed alternative is a bit longer, but it does give people some key information on the subject, reasonably clearly I hope. What do other people think? The two versions in question are:

1. Previous (restored) version:

Wikipedia policies and guidelines are developed by the community to describe best practice, clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia; indeed, the largest encyclopedia in history, both in terms of breadth and in terms of depth.(+cite)

This policy page specifies the community standards related to the composition, structure, organization, life cycle, and maintenance of policies & guidelines and related pages.

2. Proposed version:

Wikipedia policies and guidelines are pages intended to describe best practices that have become accepted by the Wikipedia community – some concerning the content of the encyclopedia, others concerning the conduct of editors and organization of the encyclopedia-building process.

Wikipedia does not have hard-and-fast rules, but editors are expected to abide by the principles laid down in policies and guidelines except where there is a good reason not to. If by disregarding these principles an editor is found to be acting disruptively, he or she risks being blocked or otherwise restricted from editing.

Policies and guidelines can be edited like any Wikipedia page, bearing in mind that they are intended to reflect the consensus of the editing community. Edits that would imply a change in accepted practice normally require prior discussion to ensure that the community really does accept the change.

Which do we prefer? Or is there a better way?--Kotniski (talk) 10:22, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Well I prefer the original as you might guess. It describes what the purpose is and is upbeat and encouraging, in fact it adheres to the purpose of the policy to develop WIkipedia. It doesn't get involved in cruft about not following policy and punishments. When the next problem comes along do you want to add more to the leader about the differences between policy and guidelines or how biography policy is different? Dmcq (talk) 10:28, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
No, I don't want to add more to the leader. What do you mean by "cruft"? Surely it's better to be on topic than off?--Kotniski (talk) 10:31, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry I see there is a specific injunction against calling things cruft. I'll have to think of some other way of phrasing it. The meaning I mean from the article cruft is "any accumulation of ... redundant, irrelevant, or unnecessary information". What you have put in overbalances the leader to deal with a specific problem that has arisen. What you say is already implicit in "developed by the community" and is explained better later on. It shouldn't be duplicated and rephrased. One clear explanation is enough. You don't need to replicate the whole policy in the leader and that's where this is leading. Dmcq (talk) 11:05, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the term I should have used is WP:instruction creep. Dmcq (talk) 11:39, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I think there may be a misunderstanding about what this policy is about. Its stated purpose in the leader is
"This policy page specifies the community standards related to the composition, structure, organization, life cycle, and maintenance of policies & guidelines and related pages."
The things you wanted to put in the leader are more about the policies themselves rather than this policy in particular and therefore is to a large extent off track. Dmcq (talk) 11:18, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Well yes, it seems preferable to me that the lead paragraph give the main facts about the topic rather than self-referential facts about the page. I believe what I want to include is pretty much the key facts about the topic, and is not at all implied (to a reader of average brain) by the vague phrase "developed by the community".--Kotniski (talk) 12:20, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Or if we want to keep it short while still giving it some relevant substance, we could shorten the proposed version to something like this:

3. Shorter proposed version:

Wikipedia policies and guidelines are pages intended to describe best practices that have become accepted by the Wikipedia community – some concerning the content of the encyclopedia, others concerning the conduct of editors and organization of the encyclopedia-building process.

Wikipedia does not have hard-and-fast rules, but editors are expected to abide by the principles laid down in policies and guidelines except where there is a good reason not to. When policy and guideline pages are edited, it must be remembered that they are intended to reflect the consensus of the editing community.

(Though personally I don't think the full version 2. above is too long for a page like this.)--Kotniski (talk) 13:31, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Just arriving here. Kotniski, I like your proposal #2 the best. I was thinking before that the lead looked rather confusing, being too abstract. The part about being blocked if you're found to be acting disruptively is honest and shouldn't be left out. It might actually deter some of the activity we see from people who don't realize this (perhaps cause it isn't mentioned here yet). Equazcion (talk) 15:13, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Kotniski, Wikipedia does have hard-and-fast rules, and has said so for a very long time: "Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles" (see WP:5P). If there were actually zero firm rules, this sentence would be half its length. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:58, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I perceive a difference between general principles and "rules", but adittedly not everyone will see that. How about "Wikipedia does not operate on a system of hard-and-fast rules..."?--Kotniski (talk) 18:30, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
If you don't like what WP:5P says, then you need to make a case over there to improve it. The Five Prinicples are not optional; we cannot contradict them, and we should not appear to contradict them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I thought the current leader was one of the best I've read. It says what the point of the document is and it says what is in the document. The whole reason for IAR for instance is because developing the encyclopaedia is what it is all about. It says that the policies are developed by the community but it is evident that trying to use consensus for anything other than developing an encyclopaedia would be wrong. I am sorry if some people find it rather confusing and too abstract. I'm not sure how to make it clearer but I'm pretty certain that the suggestins here harm the cause of giving clear directions about policies and guidelines. The more nitty gritty bits are included in the article body. Since this policy applies to itself may I invoke "Do not summarize, copy, or extract text. Avoid needless reminders"? Dmcq (talk) 18:44, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Don't you agree that the lead section of a page should contain the key information about the subject of the page (to be developed in detail in later sections)? It's what we do for articles, should policy pages be different? I don't know which parts of my proposed text you consider to be "nitty gritty" - it all seems pretty fundamental to me. The present lead just looks like management speak when management has nothing to say.--Kotniski (talk) 18:53, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree, as I said earlier. The present text reads like an abstract mission statement. Leads are not supposed to be excessively detailed, but they're also not supposed to be devoid of useful and actionable information. Leads are not merely supposed to describe the motivation behind the information below it, but to actually summarize its information, though in a relatively concise manner.
From WP:LEDE: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview of the article. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the subject is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points" (emphasis added). The current lead here does not do that. It merely describes the motivation behind the page's existence. Equazcion (talk) 20:18, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Per policy, this page does not need to follow WP:LEDE. If I can direct you to the "Not part of the encyclopedia" section of this very policy, I hope that will support my point. Hiding T 22:11, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Exactly so. Leads on policy and guideline pages usually serve an entirely different purpose: helping the reader find out whether he's on the right page. Not attempting to summarize a page (in a process that will remove nuance and thus may introduce errors) is sometimes the correct choice. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I prefer 2. I find it more clear and instructive than the other two. That said, I think the first one is also acceptable. Hobit (talk) 19:31, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

I've grown to dislike the "besides these 5 general principles" wording at 5P. I know what is meant, but strict constructionists seem to think it gives them an end-run around IAR. This is not the intent: WP:5P is a summary document, and can not and does not override that which it is summarising. --Kim Bruning (talk) 20:23, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Kim and as probably guessed by everyone I agree with Kotniski's proposal for the lead (I hate the fake-word lede btw, but understand why people use it ;-}). I would also like to thank WhatamIdoing for putting forth the post that started this particular break of the thread, it was good language, kind worded, and conciliatory. I would like to take time out to thank him, apologize for past heated exchanges, and thank him again for this debate. I wish I could be on 24 hours to debate this with everyone, I've missed alot!Camelbinky (talk) 00:20, 20 October 2009 (UTC)


This policy doesn't have a nutshell at the moment. If you look at WP:N for instance it doesn't start on in the leader about particular reasons for notability, but the nutshell does give major reasons for notability. Do you think you could try summarizing the contents for a nutshell instead please? I think that could be far more useful than trying to rewrite the leader into an extended nutshell. The nutshell doesn't have to have any reason, justification or overall guidance which seems to be the bit you think of as empty management speak. By the way this is a fairly high level management document by any standards. Dmcq (talk) 20:27, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

I think N's lead does indeed contain a summary of its points. The first sentence, "Within Wikipedia, notability determines whether a topic merits its own article," describes the motivation for the policy, as we currently have here. Then, "Article topics are required to be notable, or 'worthy of notice.'" - Summary of a point, then "Determining notability does not necessarily depend on things like fame, importance, or the popularity of a topic—although those may enhance the acceptability of a subject that meets the guidelines explained below." - Also summary of points shown later on in more detail. Perhaps this page could use a nutshell box as well, but the current lead is simply not what it should be. Equazcion (talk) 20:33, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
And where in "Wikipedia policies and guidelines are pages intended to describe best practices..." is there a motivation for writing down these best practices? That is what your empty management speak is about. One should only write a policy if one has a good reason. Dmcq (talk) 20:55, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You may be right, perhaps proposal #2 is missing that statement of motivation. Would care to propose an addition to it? I might give that a shot too. Equazcion (talk) 21:16, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Why are we discussing removing the raison d'etre of Wikipedia from the page? Granted things could be added to the current lead, but I'm not clear why we'd want to remove things. Hiding T 21:31, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    • That seems like a good compromise. I think I'd be alright with leaving what's currently there and just making additions. Equazcion (talk) 21:39, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the current motivation paragraph is a good one. The leader of this page has been hacked quite a bit in the last year, but not as far as I can see to elevate the crime and punishment aspect. A bit about the difference between a policy and a guideline seems to have been in for a while and then disappeared. I really think that trying to write a good nutshell first would be a good idea as any change to the leader would probably be fought over again as soon as there was a nutshell. Dmcq (talk) 21:42, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
This seems to go back to defaulting to ambiguity as a means to appease everyone and avoid edit warring. There's no current dispute, though, as far as what the purpose of policies are, and I don't think we should let the fear of a future dispute dictate our editing now. Equazcion (talk) 21:45, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, so given everyone kind of likes version 1 and version 2 from above, I've sort of integrated them into each other so we get to have our cake and eat it. Nothing has been removed, so the original lead is still there, and yet clarity has been brought in the shape of Kotniski's proposed changes. Since we weren't looking to change anything but only make it say what it already said much more straightforwardly, I think the circle may be squared. Hiding T 22:05, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Good job, Hiding, I like it. I've cut down the mission statement though, to remove "largest encyclopedia in the world", etc, because that seemed like irrelevant preening. Equazcion (talk) 22:11, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Would you mind awfully if I put it back, since it isn't irrelevant, it's actually part of the mission statement. When you think about it, a mission statement is a bit, well, not preening, but optimistic and bright eyed. It's also long been a part of the page, so removing it is kind of re-writing history. Many editors on Wikipedia signed up for a project that aims to be the "largest encyclopedia in the world" etc, probably actually both you and me did, so I think we're kind of really in agreement with the text. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here. Hiding T 22:18, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Oops, actually the goal you signed up for was to "to create a free encyclopedia." So it is quite possible we have competing goals. I won't change it then, we'll see how it fares. Hiding T 22:23, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'm in agreement with it, but I'm also in agreement with "Elephants are large and eat peanuts". The statement is accurate but doesn't seem relevant here. This page is for describing policies and guidelines. There are probably a lot of pages where an argument could be made that wikipedia's general mission statement should be included ("Wikipedians should ignore all rules because Wikipedia aims to be the largest encyclopedia in the world, and therefore....").
But, tradition for the sake of tradition being as powerful a motivator as it is, by all means leave it in. Equazcion (talk) 22:25, 19 October 2009 (UTC)


How about this? Dmcq (talk) 16:50, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't think the point of this page is to set restrictions for policy pages. This page doesn't actually say what policy pages should and shouldn't do. It's more to discuss what policy pages are. The nutshell box shouldn't introduce anything new. Maybe something like, "Policies and guidelines exist to help editors determine the best course of action, and should generally be followed." I'm not nearly as eloquent as some other people here, but I think it should be something along those lines. Equazcion (talk) 17:09, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Only two of the six sections -- #Content and #Life cycle -- on this page establishes any standards at all that the policies and guidelines could possibly follow. This page gives more attention to editor education (e.g., "Policies trump guidelines", "Policies are not subject to mainspace-only rules") than it does to establishing an "standards" that could be "followed". WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:13, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
"Policies trump guidelines" and "Policies are not subject to mainspace-only rules" are things a person who is editing policy should know and do I think constitute part of the standards for policies and standards. They might also be required to resolve a dispute but in general I can't see them being of interest to the vast majority of people following the 5P to edit an article. Dmcq (talk) 17:30, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I like the bit about "Policies and guidelines exist to help editors determine the best course of action" but at least one editor here seems to have a thing against giving aims like this as far as I can make out. Dmcq (talk) 17:36, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
If you're talking about the motivational statement and Kotniski (and in the future please do spell it out despite who might be offended, these vague allusions don't help the discussion progress), I understand his point and may even agree with it, but this situation is very different. My proposed wording states the immediate goal of policies and guidelines, rather than stating the end goal of every page on Wikipedia. Equazcion (talk) 17:48, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I know I promised to stay away, but since it's being implied I might object to Equazcion's proposed wording, I'm just confirming that I don't (for the reason Eq. has just stated). --Kotniski (talk) 18:15, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Fine by me, and Equazcion will do and sounds good. In fact I'm off for a while so perhaps that'll make consensus easier :) Dmcq (talk) 18:26, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Motivation quote

I reverted the quote, but now I see it isn't in fact an exact quote. Should we have the quote? I think it is a very good one but we should do it right if at all. Dmcq (talk) 22:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

  • The quote has been edited down the years. I think Larry edited it a bit himself. I think perhaps Equazcion is right to limit the quote to "a free encyclopedia". Hiding T 22:25, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    Well it does state things clearly so fine by me. I think some of the rest of the leader would be better chopped down but my own personal 'policy' is if it ain't broke don't fix it. Dmcq (talk) 22:34, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    Just to address Dmcq's edit summary, even if it were a direct quote, cutting it down isn't the same as altering it. Often when there's a large quote, a decision needs to be made of how much of it needs to be used. But it's a moot point now. I'm glad we all came to an agreement. Equazcion (talk) 22:37, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    By the way it isn't just a general mission statement. It was put on this policy page before the name was altered to include 'and guidelines'. Dmcq (talk) 22:41, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    In fact I'm not altogether sure J...o would approve of it still being around and referred to as a mission statement :) Dmcq (talk) 22:46, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
    Well that was just my assessment. That was the only reason I could see it being here. Though now that it's cut down, the goal of a free and reliable encyclopedia does seem to be a pretty good over-arcing description of what policies and guidelines are meant to ensure. Equazcion (talk) 22:52, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
I"m happy with the lead as it now stands, though I'm sure there's some better place for this motivational quote than this page - it doesn't belong here any more than it belongs on any other policy or guideline or informational page - perhaps it should be at 5P?--Kotniski (talk) 09:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
It does belong here, because this policy in part delineates why we have policies, and the reason we have policies is to ensure we do what we do. It isn't a motivational quote, it's a raison d'etre. Not sure why we'd shuffle it off to some meaningless page, especially as it has been constant on the page since inception. If it's not on the page, the page isn't fulfilling it's reason for being. Hiding T 11:41, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you exaggerate - the quote is no more a raison d'etre for this page than it is for any other project page. And now you describe 5P (if I understand you right) as a "meaningless" page, whereas in the thread below it's said to be fundamental and widely read by newcomers. Can we make up our minds what it is?--Kotniski (talk) 12:32, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I haven't described the 5P as a meaningless page, so you obviously misunderstand me. I'm glad we've cleared that one up. Now since I think you exaggerate, we're kind of stuck playing politics, aren't we. Given that the page is our policy on why we have policies, I'm failing to understand why we wouldn't tell people why we have policies. I'm also failing to understand why you insist on describing it as a motivational quote as if that were an accepted fact rather than your subjective opinion. Hiding T 13:51, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
No idea why it matters whether we call it motivational. But my suggestion was to move the quote to 5P where it would get more exposure. I thought your comment about shuffling it off to a meaningless page was a reply to that; if it wasn't, then what would your reply be to that suggestion? (The quote doesn't serve specifically to explain why we have policies; it explains the motivation for everything that we do or have.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:03, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
It was me called it a motivational quote rather than Kotniski. The quote gives the reason for having the policies and guidelines. If the policies and guidelines are written in accordance with that they also follow it but they should concentrate on the particular reasons for their existence rather than overall reasons. The 5P approach the whole business from the other end, in a sense they merely describe the overall consensus but they are also the bit that people ought to read first and buy into if they are editing wikipedia. Most people won't bother trying to edit policy, they just try and follow it. The support of the five pillars is such that the policies must be in line with them even if they seem also just to give an overall description of policy. They give the nitty gritty that I think Kotniski is looking for in this policy and trying to change this policy to actually have.
As to trying to stick the quote in there. I think that would be undiplomatic. It was put here and it fits here. Have you read much about the history of Wikipedia? Dmcq (talk) 14:23, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Don't understand any of that last paragraph. Why "undiplomatic"?? Why are you asking us if we've read the history of Wikipedia?? By "it was put here", are you implying that because Sanger wrote it on a page called "Policy" it should always be on a page about policy? It certainly wasn't originally put on this page for the purpose that you want to use it for now. Had there been a general principles page like 5P in existence at that time, then that's presumably where it would have gone, because it was intended as an overall principle, not specifically as a reason for having policies. (I'm not saying any of this matters much, but it would be worth sorting out our confusion, if only because it might help us to write something that will prevent others from becoming similarly confused.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:41, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm. The argument seems to be about whether we should explain why we have policies on a page that describes why we have policies. I'm at a loss to understand the argument. Can someone explain it to me slowly, because there seem to be all sorts of tangents that appear irrelevant. It appears kotniski wants to move it because Kotniski doesn't like it. Is that correct? I think Dmcq is pointing to the history of Wikipedia as it might give a greater understanding of why things are. I would imagine it is a good idea to understand why things are, isn't it? Do you actually know why we have policies, because your statements to date in this section of the thread seem to indicate otherwise, and I can't in all good faith believe that to be the case. So I am a little perplexed. Hiding T 14:52, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
No, I want to move it because I do like it, and I want it to be somewhere where lots of people will read it, and in the right context (i.e. a much more general one than the context of this page). I will ignore the jibes about my not knowing anything - I don't know why this perfectly trivial discussion should have got so bad tempered - anyway, I'll get out of it at this point.--Kotniski (talk) 15:29, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
The WP:Five pillars were mainly derived from a write up of Jimbo_Wales/Statement_of_principles (from the nostalgia wiki) for wikipedia editors. It and the original policy page with the quote were both around in September 2001. As to history read Jimbo Wales. Dmcq (talk) 15:09, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Maybe they were originally so derived, but in their present form and substance they are so different from that page that the connection is totally irrelevant. --Kotniski (talk) 15:29, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you could prefix such statements with "I think" and explain why you think the reasons given by others are wrong. I normally apply a 2/3 factor to my original estimate of how wonderful my ideas are and how stupid everyone else is for not seeing that to try and get a little closer to reality. In fact I think I'll have a go at a nutshell. Then I won't have to apply that factor to my estimate when comparing it with what's there. Dmcq (talk) 16:22, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I think that Kotniski quite reasonably assumes that the editors here will be able to differentiate between her opinions and verifiable facts even without adding words like "I think" to alert them to this. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:52, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Don't make stuff up, please. The derivation of WP:5P is from a policy simplification project, not directly from Jimbo's principles. The timeline is documented here: Wikipedia_talk:Simplified_ruleset#Historic_information.

Executive summary: following pages (+ their talk pages and history) show the evolution up to WP:5P.

In order: Wikipedia:Wikirules_proposal -> Wikipedia:Simplified ruleset -> Wikipedia:Trifecta -> Wikipedia:Five pillars

--Kim Bruning (talk) 22:16, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Fundamental principles

Where does 5P fit into this policy/guideline scheme anyway - is it supposed to take precedence over policy, or be policy, or just information, or just something someone made up one day?)--Kotniski (talk) 06:45, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

The 5P are derived from User:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principles. They take precedence over everything. Dmcq (talk) 07:21, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Seems a very loose derivation to me. And on what basis do you state that they take precedence over everything? If that's true, shouldn't we be mentioning it somewhere very prominent?--Kotniski (talk) 07:43, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
You're allowed to edit WP:5P just like anything else. They are the five pillars and stand by themselves, they need nothing else to give them legitimacy. You can think of them as the constitution or current working principles if you like. They are mentioned in the very first paragraph under the leader in role. Do you want to stick something about them in the leader as well? Dmcq (talk) 07:52, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I've added the wikipedia principles template at the end. I suppose really their authority derive from that they are what new editors are pointed at for a quick summary, they are very widely read, and they are formed by consensus and accepted as the guiding principles. There is also the founding principles and Jimbo's current statement of principles if you want to go to an external authority. Dmcq (talk) 08:39, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Good to have the template, but if these pages of principles are really regarded as having some "authority", then we'd better decide what, and write about it in the policy. In fact, though, there seem to be too many of these pages of underlying principles, and since people are editing them all the time (and probably very few editors are watching them - that applies particularly to the one at meta) they can hardly be considered to have any fundamental force. Can't we just have one page of principles which makes everything totally clear? --Kotniski (talk) 09:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

How I see it is this. The page User:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principles can also be edited but it belongs to him. It states the basic principles for what he pays for. The WP:5P and the policies are specific to and belong to the community creating the content in wikipedia - which could in theory disappear off to another server with everything intact if need be. If the consensus was to change to something incompatible with what Jimbo decided he wanted in User:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principles then all sorts of hell would break loose. Pretty unlikely I grant but when you get to fundamentals distinctions matter. Dmcq (talk) 10:38, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • You need to clarify the question a little more. Basically, I'm unsure why you say "or just something someone made up one day", when everything on Wikipedia is just something someone made up one day, so it can't be part of an either/or condition. Hiding T 11:43, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Maybe I've read you wrong though. If you are asking what the 5P is, I'd think the best place to ask that is either the talk page of the 5P or at the village pump. I'd assume you'd want as wide an input as possible, so the VP might be best. This seems a little out of the way for that discussion. Hiding T 11:47, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
What matters for this page is this:
  • The five principles are co-equal: you cannot invoke "ignoring all rules" to produce a non-neutral article, and you cannot justify "unencyclopedic" content by saying that the editors followed the code of conduct.
  • The five principles are the only "firm rules". Note that this doesn't mean that the document WP:NPOV is a firm rule: it means that the principle of neutrality is a firm rule.
A short summary of this would look something like "The Five Principles are the only firm rules on Wikipedia. All five principles are equally important. Wikipedia's policies, guidelines, essays, and procedures help users understand, interpret, balance, and apply these five principles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:00, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm, you can invoke ignoring all rules to temporarily drift away from NPOV, if that's the best path to reaching a better NPOV in the end. (Think avoidance of local maximums). Hmm, I guess you can say the principles are tools that *enable* you to improve the wiki , rather than rules that *forbid*.
(That's one of the reasons why it's often more useful to write descriptive documents that show how you can apply the principles, rather than just statements about what doesn't work. (With some exceptions to prove the rule ;-) )
I'm actually sort of warming again to the concept of getting 5P into a more prominent role, and casting other stuff more in shadow. <scratches head>. --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:03, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

The actual founding principles are here: m:Founding principles. Agree with them, negotiate them on meta, or leave, as you see fit. But do not mistake them for the five pillars please.

The five pillars are a summary of policy, derived from a summary project. If we were to go ahead and declare all other policy null and void (with exception of just 1 or 2 pages) that would be great. Unfortunately, 5P leans heavily on lots of links, so it's probably not the best suited for that task right right now; but that could be remedied, I'm sure. O:-)

--Kim Bruning (talk) 22:23, 21 October 2009 (UTC) I put some more data in the section above this one, and/or you can look things up at Wikipedia_talk:Simplified_ruleset#Historic_information

Thanks for that pointer to Simplified ruleset historic information. I meant foundation principles rather than Jimbo's somewhere. I don't think anyone has said that the five pillars are actually policy. Most people don't read every policy and the five pillars are the main expression of consensus in wikipedia with the policies. If I may quote to you foundation principle 3 "The "wiki process" of consensus building as the final decision-making mechanism for all content." Not the foundation principles but the consensus. I admit doing anything against the foundation principles would be wrong and silly and the Wikimedia Foundation would be quite within its rights to intervene if wikipedia went against it foundation principles, but they are not now the working principles as far as I can determine. Dmcq (talk) 22:48, 21 October 2009 (UTC)


Not to bring up past wounds but; arent we ALL glad we could have this debate and work this out and edit and talk and come to conclusions and compromises instead of dismissing the idea of changing at all and being conservative in keeping the existing language? I think we should have these "reevaluations" of language more often, perhaps if they were done more often new things would come up and old unneeded language would be replaced with better language. Would get the newer editors a "say" into policy that they have to "obey" and make them feel better about "obeying" it. I think what alot of us get frustrated with is- we werent here when these things were last overhauled. We have in our heads, perhaps, better wording, or better ideas. Here in Wikipedia we all enforce these rules, we should all have a say in them. If we worked on the wording, we'd feel empowered even if the consensus ends up being "no changes needed right now" which for most policies it would be that way. By starting this discussion it was, and is, my intention to give voice to unheard and update wording that hasnt had major changes in years, and in my opinion didnt reflect current understanding and consensus. I respect and encourage Dmcq and What and anyone who disagrees with my views. A debate is no fun without opponents, I apologise again for any language that made it seem I wanted to change and have no discussion. Thank you for this discussion, and thank you for everyone who agreed with me as well, for it made me feel less lonely as I often fight for those who arent listened to much around Wikipedia (IPs, newbies, editors with little knowledge of how to handle bullying "rule quoters", and other good faith editors who dont know how to handle an argument they are in because they edit and dont know the arcane stuff) and it makes me happy to know there are others who do the same for me when I am the one who is "less heard" in a discussion.Camelbinky (talk) 00:47, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
This policy page has been extensively and continuously edited on an ongoing basis. Please have a look at the history page.
With this encouraging newbies to change the policy page all the time so they buy in more – maybe you are trying to set up a different policy like the doctrine of continuous revolution in Mao's China? If you'd like to write and propose such a policy you are free to do so.
There is a big difference between the better words in peoples' heads and them actually being any good when written down.
If you want a debate wouldn't it better to start an article on something like the relative merits of Christianity versus Islam as expressed by writers through the ages?
I am surprised you felt so lonely when you knew everyone backed you up.
Overall perhaps a soapbox is not a good idea. Dmcq (talk) 06:01, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
If soapbox isn't a good idea, then encouraging soapbox by replying to it is surely a worse idea. It's easy to find similarities between unpopular figures in history and whoever you're currently arguing with; I think Camelbinky's point though was simply that established editors should be less the sticklers for tradition and more open to reevaluation and considering change. I'm inclined to agree, somewhat. Camelbinky probably felt lonely because despite how he knew people surely felt, there was still a lack of actual participation here. For such a widely-held view, it wasn't getting very much actual support here. Equazcion (talk) 06:10, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
As a purely practical matter, it is not possible for every editor -- or even every with Camelbinky's ~4800 edits -- to re-write policies. There are simply far too many editors. We would have to re-write every policy each day to allow everyone to do so once a year.
Personally, I'd prefer that 99% of editors directed their attention towards the real work, which is writing an encyclopedia. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:05, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually the "real work" of writing encyclopedic articles is why I havent been in this discussion lately, as work on articles has been taking up much of the spare time I have that I can devote to Wikipedia. I figure Equazcion and Kim have the matter well in hand and that What and Dmcq, though they disagree are still trying to do what is best for the encyclopedia. (Are my number of edits really that high? Wow, I need a life, maybe I'll cut back my Wikipedia time a little...)Camelbinky (talk) 22:31, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Help:Edit summary

Help:Edit summary says it's an infopage, but it's listed in the policies and guidelines template as an editing guideline. Rd232 talk 12:59, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Seems to me it ought to be a guideline rather than a help page - people should be advised how to use edit summaries properly, not just told what the software has to offer. So I suggest moving it to WP:Edit summary (currently a redirect to it) and marking it as a guideline (assuming what's written there has consensus - I haven't examined it in detail).--Kotniski (talk) 13:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
What can be deduced from the history of Help:Edit summary and discussions on Help talk:Edit summary? And where would teh best place to have this discussion be? Hiding T 13:54, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Not here, I'd say WP:VPP instead maybe. If you do start a discussion elsewhere post a link here though, please. Equazcion (talk) 17:01, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Um, guys, the process for getting something accepted as a guideline is on this page... (Be sure to read the footnotes.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:14, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
You could just move and retag it, and probably no one will notice, if it's already listed as a guideline elsewhere.
If this page hasn't changed much since last week, I seriously doubt the procedure-as-written to get things guidelineized is actually correct at this moment in time. --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:30, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Missing bits

I had a good read and the following bits seem to be missing to me

  1. Something in the nutshell or leader directing people to the five pillars if they just want to edit articles.
  2. A principles section talking about the foundaton principles and the five pillars.
  3. A little bit on Wikimedia Foundation, This being Wikipedia which is owned by the foundation but being self governing. The status of Office action policy.
  4. The difference between policy and a policy page which may at any given time not reflect policy or consensus or even be vandalised.

Dmcq (talk) 17:15, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I'd certainly like to see a page with all these things in; but we ought perhaps also to be thinking about a change to the title of this page. It already incorporates policy on essays (which are not policies or guidelines); it seems natural (as Dmcq suggests) for it also to take in principles and Foundation issues that are felt to override policy; so in fact "policies and guidelines" will end up being just two aspects of the page content. Any ideas for a more comprehensive name? Wikipedia:Governance? Wikipedia:How the project is run? (Just two perhaps not very good suggestions of the top of my head.)--Kotniski (talk) 17:51, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Not keen on a name change but how about this as text?
The Wikipedia policies are formed by collaborative consent. Editors should strive to ensure the policy pages faithfully express this consensus.
The Five pillars summarizes those policies editors must follow and is the clearest expression of the consensual principles under which editors work.
Editors should strive to ensure the policies conform to the aims and ideals expressed in the Founding principles and the Statement of principles
The Wikipedia project is operated by the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation.
The Wikipedia project is self governing but the Wikimedia Foundation reserve some rights, in particular to remove illegal or questionable content.
The Arbitration committee is a panel of editors with the power to impose binding solutions to disputes between editors.
- Dmcq (talk) 20:17, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the name and coverage are both alright. We cover essays here because they're sort of in the same category as guidelines, only... "lesser". They seem a logical inclusion, at any rate. But that doesn't mean we need to make the title "Policies, guidelines and essays" or change the title altogether to something more technically all-inclusive.
As for 5P, as Kim Bruning pointed out earlier, I'm not crazy about language indicating 5P is some sort of special policy that carries more weight than others, when really it's just meant to be a summary of them.
Your governance additions look like they might serve a good purpose, as fair warning that editors can expect intervention from time to time that might not seem congruous with the written policies. I'm not so crazy about the principles additions though. They seem instructive of how to write policies, and I don't really see that as the purpose of this page. It's more to let everyone know what policies are and how they're to be regarded. I could be mistaken. Equazcion (talk) 20:28, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure how to remove the didactic bit. Without that I get something like "The policy pages should describe that consensus". Not sure how to express that they aren't the precise words especially as the page might be vandalized. The next one is a bit easier, it could just say "The aims and ideals of the Wikipedia project are expressed in the Founding principles and the Statement of principles. I've described the 5P as summaries and principles rather than a policy, not sure what you were saying about them. It could be chopped down to "The Five pillars summarizes the consensual principles under which editors work." Dmcq (talk) 20:56, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
By the way I see this policy page as providing a context for people writing policies guidelines and essays and we should quickly direct people who just want to know policy so they can write articles somewhere else. Dmcq (talk) 21:04, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I *am* glad to hear that people think WP:5P is so important, I just wish we'd pushed a bit harder to have it replace everything else entirely ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:34, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I would like to point out that if you are going to mention how the Wikimedia Foundation reserves some rights then you really should point out Jimbo's "role", though that is in itself a touchy subject as many dont think he has a role or should have a role, though I believe his word still trumps anything put out by us "mere mortals" (as, in my personal opinion, it should). I dont know about the whole name change, I think it might be best to keep this article under topic of the current name "policies and guidelines" and not get off-topic about arb com and the Foundation. Principals, the five pillars, essays and other things like that are ok in my opinion as they are closely related to the topic (essays are often promoted to guidelines). Arbcom settles disputes, it does not create new policy nor are its individual decisions on specific disputes then carried over as a type of "common law" that now applies to every situation nor do their decisions become binding precedents for future disputes; theorectically arbcom can decide in favor of one side in a dispute and then turn around and rule in the opposite way in the very next identical dispute. Its less a "Supreme Court" and more as the title says- "arbitration". Ive edited here for over 2 years I think as a username, and more than one as an IP before that and I've never been touched by Arb Com nor has it affected my editing one bit, so its not something that is inherently needed to know as far as affecting policies and guidelines or editing. This should really be a description page of what policies and guidelines ARE, so that newbies and established users alike dont get it wrong about their role in editing; that is very important because we ALL share EQUAL responsibility in enforcing policies and guidelines, so we should all know their role. I dont see this page as giving any guidance on how to WRITE a policy, there is no "special RIGHT way" to do that. You discuss and you be bold. How is that different than anything else? Are you advocating the removal of our right to be bold on policy pages? I would IAR on that if it was ever codified into policy that I dont have the right to be bold.Camelbinky (talk) 22:53, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I though Statement of Principles was about the right amount about Jimbo. That sounds to me like you want an essay describing policies, not a policy. Anyway if there isn't a policy that you normally should follow when writing policies and guidelines what would you have to be bold about when writing one? Dmcq (talk) 23:15, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
A policy about what a policy and guideline is supposed to do and how it is to be applied. Why cant that be a policy? Yes, it ends up being an essay in the generic sense but so are all our policies. The only difference is that it is not an essay in the Wikipedia definition. Alot of guidelines start as essays and the only difference is that enough people said "thats a good idea, we should listen to it more" and it gets promoted. I dont understand your last sentence, perhaps commas or punctuation might help, but plainer "common" language is probably what I need. But yes, I want this to be a POLICY that describes what policy IS and how it should be applied, when it should be ignored, and its role in Wikipedia. To make this a "how to edit policies and guidelines" policy would smell like instruction creep to me. We do not need instructions and policy on how to edit a policy. Editing a policy is done the same way as editing an article, but without the criteria of V, NPOV, etc. You need consensus on an article just as you need consensus on a policy no difference there. You can be bold on a policy just as you can be bold on an article, no difference there. If you are, in good faith, bold and an editor or the Community at large disagrees with you, you get your wording changed, you bring it to the talk page, but you do not get censured or warned or blocked or anything; because you were being bold in good faith. Our policies arent meant to be hard to be changed, they arent equivelant to the US Constitution as some around Wikipedia seem to think; and no I'm not a Maoist in favor of continual revolution as you asked in the Soapbox thread above, though I am a Marxist.Camelbinky (talk) 23:42, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

(undent) "The Wikipedia policies are formed by collaborative consent" is not entirely accurate: Some policies are imposed by the office and are thus not really formed by "collaborative consent". Additionally, such a sentence -- regardless of what you actually intend -- will be used as ammunition in the next effort to get WP:Consensus enshrined as the most important policy on Wikipedia. I think that most of this suggested text needs to be redrafted to lose the undue emphasis on consensus. This would also allow you to dramatically shorten the proposed statements:

The Five pillars is the simplest expression of the principles under which editors work. They summarize the aims and ideals expressed in the Founding principles and the Statement of principles.

The normally self-governing Wikipedia project is operated by the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which reserve some rights, including the right to remove illegal or inappropriate content.

What do you think? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:48, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

You seem to have removed mention of consensus entirely. This also seems to make a passing reference to self-governance, with the foundation's right to intervene being the objective. So where exactly would this go, would it be a replacement of something or merely an addition, and what exactly is its purpose? Equazcion (talk) 01:06, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I'd like to have a moratorium on this bs about the office "imposing" stuff on us. When is the last time you edited an article and the Office kept you from doing something or forced you to do something in a certain way? Can we use common sense and stick to what we are actually here to do, edit an encyclopedia. Policies and guidelines are for helping us edit an encyclopedia. What the office deals with is legal issues and their "meddling" with us is only to inform and keep us in step with laws which we have to obey regardless of the existence of an "Office", they telling us to do things is just to make sure we know what the stuff is. Can you find an instance of the Office giving a directive that we didnt already have to obey because it is the actual LAW? The mentioning of the Office is simply an end-around red herring to make it seem like consensus is not how we do things. You can bash consensus all you want, but THAT IS HOW WE DO THINGS. Consensus is how we decide to edit policy, it is how we decide to edit articles. Consensus, whether it is explicitly stated or not, DOES trump everything; even arb com is simply a form of consensus; and again I dont care about anything that has nothing to do with editing the encyclopedia, because we are an encyclopedia we are not a business we are not a bureaucracy and we do not exist to make laws and regulations and regulatory bodies and judiciary bodies; if it doesnt have to do with editing an encyclopedia then it doesnt need to be mentioned here on a page about policies and guidelines. All of our policies are decided by consensus, you cant just go throwing whatever you want in them if the majority of us dont agree, you'll get your wording changed or reverted and discussions will be started to find a common ground (like we are trying to do here). Can we agree to keep this policy relevant to what is relevant to Wikipedia's goal- to edit an encyclopedia?Camelbinky (talk) 01:26, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think I've ever actually seen them impose exactly, just put things on "probation". Scientology-related articles was one thing. Assumedly the community was doing things they didn't like and revisions were deleted, but I didn't actually see that happening. There may have also been some passing concern at a debate regarding the Virgin Killer image, but with no actual imposition that I'm aware of.
All that said, I'm going to have to agree with Camelbinky here, even regarding some of his brave and borderline-hostile comments :) Consensus is how we do things. You guys seem to want more restrictive language, and I can guess as to why, but it's really not honest. Anyone making illegal edits or uploads will likely be dealt with by an admin, not a lawyer, and that's not what this page is about anyway. Read the nutshell. It's here to help, not scare, and not to provide legal coverage. Equazcion (talk) 01:44, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
There's also no point in mentioning the law in an external sense as if it meant anything much in an overall sense because the editors are from many different countries with many different laws. The community has to deal with the foundation and the foundation has to deal with the law in the US. Skipping direct to US law isn't quite right I think. Many different laws have to be considered in the content on Wikipedia. Dmcq (talk) 07:00, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I like the way WhatamIdoing has chopped things down to two paragraph. I'm believe the second paragraph says everything that needs be said here about governance and lets office action be included as a policy. The first paragraph seems problematic though. I am concerned that the element of consensus has been totally removed which is the basis for being able to write the policies and guidelines in the first place. Also I don't think the five pillars summarizes the aims and ideals of the Wikimedia Foundation or the Statement of Principles, there's important bits left out of the 5P which aren't of interest in everyday editing. Also it would be nice to express that it isn't the policy pages which are the policy but the consensus behind them. That allows for common sense instead of following the latest vandalism and some people do need to be told that. Dmcq (talk) 07:31, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

I really don't think we should be referring people to the meta founding principles page or Jimbo's age-old statement of principles as if they had some meaning. The meta page is something anyone can scratch around on and doesn't seem to reflect anything except the views of a random few editors who happen to inhabit that page; Jimbo's statement no doubt made sense at the time but it has surely been superseded since then (though we should perhaps ask him).--Kotniski (talk) 07:51, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't think we can leave them out, they do control the project. The 5P are stuck before them. How about this to raise consensus up:

The Wikipedia policy and guidelines are intended to reflect the consensus on how to make decisions in the Wikipedia project. The Five pillars is the clearest expression of the principles under which editors work.

The aims and ideals of the Wikipedia project are expressed in the Founding principles and the Statement of principles.

The normally self governing Wikipedia project is operated by the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which reserve some rights, including the right to remove illegal or inappropriate content.

- Dmcq (talk) 08:16, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I've substituted 'clearest' for 'simplest' which I had written there. Simplest would chop out everything except the first statement of each pillar I think. Clear can be a bit longer but not overly long. Dmcq (talk) 08:35, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Still this gives too much emphasis to the two pages I mentioned. I don't believe they control the project - they (or rather their original versions) may be of interest historically, but I think we mislead readers if we direct them there implying that they are fundamental to anything. I'll see if I can get any response out of Jimbo though.--Kotniski (talk) 09:41, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Or actually, I'll experiment by trying to edit the Jimbo principles page (remove the surely outdated info about the mailing list being the main forum for discussion) and see what happens. Really I think it just serves the same purpose as 5P, and if people weren't so fearful of change in this area, we would just combine the two pages (possibly taking ideas from the meta page as well) into one honest list of principles.--Kotniski (talk) 09:58, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I guess the mailing lists are important in the Foundation but they're definitely not basic to this project. For instance they give a way of reporting problems to them. Good luck, I'm not sure the documents can be logically combined even if at one point they stated exactly the same thing as they are the wishes of different parties. Dmcq (talk) 10:17, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, we'll see. If Jimbo himself reverts my edit, I might believe that this page represents his personal take. But looking at recent history it seems that it's a page edited by the community just like 5P is.--Kotniski (talk) 10:25, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Just be sure to preserve the original statement somewhere too, eh? (for historys sake, if nothing else :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 10:43, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Incidentally, if people fundamentally disagree with the founding principles, I can, do, and will -in the politestand nicest terms possible- point them to other projects on the internet -which I will take the trouble to look up-, where I suggest they can use their time (and ours) more productively. --Kim Bruning (talk) 10:52, 22 October 2009 (UTC) I'm not sure if it's possible to tell people to go forth and procreate more politely or nicely than that, but I m willing to take pointers!. ;-)
Re history: there's a link on the page to the original version of the page, which I suppose suffices. Re the founding principles: I don't think there's currently anything there anyone would disagree with (though since it's a freely editable page there's no guarantee that will always be the case), but it's hard to see what their use is when we already have 5P. The same applies to Jimbo's page. Why do we need three pages that are effectively forks of each other?--Kotniski (talk) 12:50, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand your point about the foundation principles being written on a freely editable page. Since all our policies are written on freely edited pages, what sort of limit do you see applying to the foundation principles that would not apply to any other page on a wiki, which, by definition is freely editable? Hiding T 13:32, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I didn't say anything about the foundation principles. I meant the page referred to as "founding principles", whatever that's supposed to mean (it certainly can't mean the principles WikiMedia was founded with, because that would be a constant and hence not editable).--Kotniski (talk) 15:58, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
By writing foundation principles as opposed to Foundation principles and given the context of the conversation I'd hoped I might have been a little better understood, but I apologise for the issue there. I'm still not clear why being written on a freely editable page prevents a version of that page being a constant? And they aren't the principles WikiMedia was founded with, since the projects predate the WikiMedia Foundation. Hiding T 10:17, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
They are statements by the interested parties and I see no reason to try merging them or get rid of any of them. Why not just accept them as in "What I tell you three times is true"? Dmcq (talk) 13:44, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
The interested parties are the same in each case - us. I think the fact you are quoting from a nonsense poem to justify the status quo sums it up pretty well;) --Kotniski (talk) 15:58, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I think I'll try being bold for now and sticking in that wording. I don't think we could remove them without a wider discussion on the Village pump because they have been in Template:Wikipedia principles for a few years now which is stuck on loads of pages. Dmcq (talk) 16:01, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
All right, we don't need to remove mention of them, but I think the description of them of being pages that serve to describe the principles is more accurate, rather than implying that they "are" the principles. --Kotniski (talk) 16:24, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I may be misreading you, but are you suggesting the founding principles are not actually the principles, but only describe the principles? And could you clarify what exactly the difference is. Hiding T 10:17, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
It's all a bit metaphysical I know, but the principles are somewhere in our collective mind, while the "founding principles" page (like the other two pages in question) is just an attempt by a few editors to articulate those principles (like our policy pages are an attempt to describe what we know collectively our policy to be).--Kotniski (talk) 10:27, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, fair enough. Hiding T 11:02, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
That's how I see it too. Wikipedia was given a catecism and told to be good when it was set up but it is now supposed to make its own decisions. It's been given the keys of the car. With great power comes great responsibility. etc etc. How often does anyone make decisions strictly according to something that's written down? The policy changes with time, the 5P may go a little out of sync with the policy pages for a time, any of them may get vandalized. Dmcq (talk) 10:46, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

kitkat break

I'm still not entirely sure what the purpose of this new section is, despite the fact that I'm trying to edit it to sound more accurate grammatically and otherwise. Just stating that for the record. Equazcion (talk) 16:27, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

It's to tell people about things analogous to policies and guidelines but at a "higher level", I'd have thought. We should also mention that the Foundation has Policies (real ones I mean, not publicly editable) and give people a link to where they can find those.--Kotniski (talk) 16:32, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good to link to those. I still think clearly is better than concisely as it doesn't imply we should chop it down to something like the foundation principles from wikimedia. Dmcq (talk) 16:36, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I think concisely is more accurate. The five pillars are intended to be a succinct representation of the more important parts of policies. Conciseness, in other words. I would attribute clarity more to the expanded descriptions in the actual policies. Equazcion (talk) 16:40, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Hmm. I think I'll just try removing the 'most' instead then. Dmcq (talk) 16:42, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
That would be fine with me, good idea. Equazcion (talk) 16:43, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The first and second sentences don't really state their connection to each other currently. Presumably there's supposed to be an implied connection between 5P and all the policy pages, and that should probably be stated more clearly. Since the nature of that connection is under debate, this may be difficult to come to an agreement on. Any suggestions? Equazcion (talk) 16:51, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

I gave it a shot. Equazcion (talk) 17:07, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Looks good to me. In fact the only bit of the page I'm still eying critically is the rather large leader. Dmcq (talk) 21:38, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
I trust you Dmcq to cut down the lead as long as the sentence- "Wikipedia does not have hard-and-fast rules, but editors are expected to abide by the principles laid down in policies and guidelines, except where there is a good reason not to." remains intact. Other than that I dont have much of an opinion of cutting the lead down.Camelbinky (talk) 18:24, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd rather it didn't be cut down, as we basically just got finished lengthily establishing consensus on all its individual points. I don't think it's too long at all. Do you mean it's too long as in uses too much extraneous language, or that it expresses too many points inappropriate to a lead section? Equazcion (talk) 18:31, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
There are standards on length of leads for articles, is there any similar standard used on policies or what should be in the lead of a policy? That might be a good place to start on deciding if there should be any change to the lead. I agree with Equazcion that it doesnt look too long, but at this point I would like to make Dmcq happy by doing this minor change if it means this gets over with quickly. ;-) I love the rewrite that has happened and all my original complaints have been addressed with it, it actually incorporates all I asked for.Camelbinky (talk) 18:48, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I too don't find the lead too long, though if it can be cut down without losing any of the key points, I'd be fine with that too. (If anything can go, it's the last paragraph that tells people the purpose of this page - there is a table of contents right below it, after all.)--Kotniski (talk) 19:30, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I removed that last paragraph of the intro, as it did indeed seem to be redundant with the table of contents. Equazcion (talk) 19:56, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

So, I assume if there are no exceptions from Dmcq regarding the length and/or content of the lead that we can declare this discussion resolved and the rewrite completed (as far as any policy can be "completed", meaning we're done for now until another user has an issue in the future we havent already discussed). If there are no exceptions then I suggest we consider the gavel has been banged and the judge has dismissed the jury with her thanks. I hope to see all of you around sometime and that we can all be on the same side of an issue (what an imposing team that would be in a debate).Camelbinky (talk) 21:23, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

I'd prefer the leader just gave the scope of the policy instead of rephrasing bits of it. This policy itself warns about this type of problem. For instance in WP:N it gives no examples, it says "A topic is presumed to be notable enough to merit an article if it meets the general notability guidelines below", and also lists other policies which give conditions for notability in particular areas. I'd say something like
Wikipedia policies and guidelines are developed by the community to describe best practice, clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia.
This policy describes how policy is derived and the basis for adherence. It also describes how the policy and guideline pages normally should be developed and maintained.
Rather short but I think it includes everything I think should be there and no more. It does reproduce the contents list a bit but I see no great harm in that. Dmcq (talk) 21:56, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
The harm is that that's all it does. Lead sections are supposed to be more than that. And didn't we already discuss this at length above? I don't think this needs rehashing. Equazcion (talk) 21:59, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) That just goes pretty much back to where we started, though, with an empty-worded leader that tells the reader nothing. What do you have against telling people things they might want to know? --Kotniski (talk) 22:03, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
(after two edit conflicts) I can not agree to anything that cuts out- "Wikipedia does not have hard-and-fast rules, but editors are expected to abide by the principles laid down in policies and guidelines, except where there is a good reason not to." By not including that sentence you are undermining the very reason why I and others began this discussion and it is an endrun around the entire endeavour at the last minute. I put my "vote" with Equazcion and Kotniski that the lead is fine the way it is. It is in fact already shorter than the lead in WP:N that you mention, and you accidently fail to mention just how indepth WP:N's lead is, with it mentioning specifically guidelines that fall under it as well. Most policies I have taken a quick look at have longer and more indepth leads than this one. And ditto Equazcion's and Kotniski's post right above.Camelbinky (talk) 22:04, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I'll reproduce the relevant section of this policy
maintain scope, avoid redundancy. Both purpose and scope must be clearly provided in the lead, and not merely as an aside. Content should be within the scope of its policy.[4] Policies should not be redundant with other policies, or within themselves.[5] Do not summarize, copy, or extract text. Avoid needless reminders.
I thinks that's pretty clear. The leader should concentrate on the scope. It shouldn't rephrase parts of the policy. What was there was stating policy in the lead. If you can rephrase the important parts of the policy in a nuthell that is the appropriate place but not the leader. Dmcq (talk) 22:09, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you're quoting (and please let us know what that is), but I don't see anything there that says "It shouldn't rephrase parts of the policy". Equazcion (talk) 22:14, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
It really is getting harder to give you goodfaith on this issue. I dont see that as applying to leads, only to avoid redundancy on writing a policy, dont repeat yourself adnauseum when writing a policy. Check out other policy's leads. This is perfectly fine. If your problem is mentioning that they arent hard and fast rules etc, as I am trying very hard to give you good faith and not to think it is, then come out and say that is what you are objecting to. We are down to the final stretch where we can end this discussion, and as stated above by Kotniski this proposal of yours simply puts things back where we begin. To attempt that is not acting in good faith.Camelbinky (talk) 22:20, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Ah, you were quoting from this policy. Well not every caveat is going to be clearly listed. Intros are supposed to be summaries, so they will by definition be redundant in a sense. If you want to take the policy's wording that strictly, then fine, but I think we have consensus in this case to ignore it. Not that we need to. Consensus by practice seems to show that lead sections ought to summarize the content, as Camelbinky points out. Equazcion (talk) 22:21, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I would like to point out that, at least in my opinion, in the subsection quoted by Dmcq only the first sentence that explicitely states "lead" applies to leads in policies, the rest of the subsection applies to the core of the policy. "Content" meaning the core of the policy as opposed to the sentence before it which mentions "lead" and applies there. I know I'm wikilawyering here, but that is my interpretation of how it is written.Camelbinky (talk) 22:28, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
I really think it is wrong to go on so much about enforcement in the leader compared to all the other important stuff in the policy itself. It isn't even a decent nutshell. It obscures the bit about people following the principles of wikipedia. If you are determined to stick all that stuff about blocking in the leader then the policy should at least mention Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies. I thought the policy was supposed to be about the basis of support for the policies and guidelines and how they were written, not get into blocking policy or restate parts of IAR unnecessarily. If people know the five pillars you don't need most of that stuff in the leader. They should be sent there for all that stuff. They'll either really wat to get to 5P and so should be sent there or else they'll resd the body after finding out the scope. There's no need to repeat the scope and restate policy in the leader. Dmcq (talk) 22:44, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
We've been through this. Consensus is for the current intro. I don't have the energy to tell you why again, but it would just be a repetition of what's already been said anyway. You appear to disagree with the consensus, and it may need to be left as that. Equazcion (talk) 22:54, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Well I think what's there is against the spirit of wikipedia. The 5P do not go on about punishment. It is about encouragement to doing the right thing. All the business about enforcement is properly in separate policies I think and this policy could survive quite well without the adherence and enforcement sections. I'm happy about those being in as a general overall idea even though they duplicate the function of the proper policy pages. If you really feel you must have what I consider flaky and ill-though out text in the leader I guess I'll just console myself that it seems to be completely rewritten every couple of months. Dmcq (talk) 23:27, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Sounds like a plan. Equazcion (talk) 23:30, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Well as Camelbinky says its not part of the policy proper and I don't think it says anything actually wrong, it just gets the weight wrong and seems against the policy itself in repetition. Dmcq (talk) 03:25, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Ok, sounds like we've got an agreement that everything is finalized as far as something on Wikipedia can be. If no further objections from either side of the courtroom, I'm officially banging the gavel now. Bailiff please clear the courtroom! As the bartender often says at closing time- "You dont have to go home, but you cant stay here". Let's go do some real editing before another rewrite of this policy is suggested in another couple months.Camelbinky (talk) 03:31, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

'nother break

I was hoping we'd come out in a different place. There's been a lot of discussion and editing, and when it's this hard to follow what's going on, I'm not sure it's time to bang the gavel. Just for instance:
  • "Wikipedia does not have hard-and-fast rules ...": it does according to the fifth pillar, which has had a lot of editing with no significant changes (other than the departure from GFDL) all this year. The fifth pillar says that there are no hard-and-fast rules except for the five pillars (italics mine), and 5P covers a whole lot of ground.
  • "... but editors are expected to abide by the principles laid down in policies and guidelines, except where there is a good reason not to.": by whom? How can that be? Policy and guidelines are a uniquely Wikipedian institution, and they're very useful, but guidelines pop up and wilt like weeds in a garden ... is it really true that any Wikipedian expects compliance simply because the guideline exists, that is, that they have no expectations the day before and expect compliance afterward? Does anyone have evidence of that? It's more accurate to say that there are certain understandings of the community, many of which are written down in policy and guidelines.
  • "If by disregarding these principles an editor is found to be acting disruptively, he or she risks being blocked or otherwise restricted from editing." I appreciate the effort to tone it down, to put the emphasis on acting disruptively rather than disregarding "these principles" (which principles?) Still, there's a heavy-handedness here, and I don't think it's supported by actual practice at ANI, RFCU and Arbcom ... that is, I don't think that decisions there track and faithfully reflect whatever today's version is of the hundreds of policies and guidelines, as opposed to yesterday's or tomorrow's version.
If we're fatigued with all the discussion over the last two month (and we should be), I have no objection to leaving the page like it is for a month, but I'll be coming back to this before long. - Dank (push to talk) 16:41, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Yep that covers most of my feeling about the leader and the status of the 5P. I think the rest of the policy page is okay though. I'll be happy to join in. I think the compliance is supposed to be a description of what happens rather than that people comply with the guidelines because they are written down. being written down conveys information about consensus. Or something like that, it's hard to pin down. Anyway arbitrators are happy to quote them. Dmcq (talk) 17:05, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
You miss understand the fifth pillar, you claim it says we do have firm rules. The fifth pillar specifically states that Wikipedia does not have firm rules, which is what we say here on the policy page. The five pillars are specifically not classified as policy, that is why they arent covered very much on this page which is about what policies and guidelines are and how they are used. This page isnt a description of our "rules" in general. Another attempt to impose on this policy page the concept that there are "laws", which we've already been over in this discussion and came to the consensus that policies are not laws per WP:NOTSTATUTE. If you want to bring this up again next month then fine, I'll be here and we can repeat this very same discussion all over again. I dont see the point so soon though. This seems like an attempt to simply wear this side down and hope that some of us dont feel like returning. What if it is that Equazcion, Kim Bruning, and Kotniski dont come back because they are tired of this, but they still have the same feelings and points. Are you going to roll over and bully me? It took me long enough fighting alone to get the conversation even going when other editors were trying to sweep this discussion under the rug with things like "this is how its been written for years, why change it?" (one of the worst arguments I heard claiming we shouldnt change a policy), and "policies are laws" (still dont know how that was an argument saying we cant change policy). I'm all for changing policies when it can be shown that policy is significantly lagging behind consensus (it will always lag behind consensus), but having the same discussion a month later? Seems like a tactic to me. We've been through everyone of the points listed, we've come to a consensus. I really tire of this.Camelbinky (talk) 19:23, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
AFAIK, I've never bullied or intended to bully you or anyone else. I don't mind having the discussion now; I'm saying that it's unrealistic that we'll be able to get everyone to read the very long discussions, keep up with the long edit history, and stay focused month after month. But I'm open to discussion any time. - Dank (push to talk) 20:46, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Also ... I think you misunderstand me ... the best I can tell, I'm on your side in this debate, I'm advocating that we change the introduction so that it doesn't give a false impression that policy is the same as law. Of course, that opens up the question of what policy is. - Dank (push to talk) 20:50, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
What you think is not necessarily consensus. Dmcq (talk) 20:14, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
The fifth pillar is actually a pretty funny paradox. One of the five pillars says there are no firm rules except for the five pillars, one of which is that there are no firm rules. Think about that long enough and you'll be sitting in the corner drooling and hitting yourself on the head with an imaginary box of baked ziti. 5P needs some repairs before we can even begin discussing this. Personally, I'd say 5P is a summary of other policies, and is not meant to set new rules not already existent elsewhere.
As for your problems with the compliance part: "there are certain understandings of the community, many of which are written down in policy and guidelines" -- That seems pretty accurate too. My only concern is that it doesn't state any need to comply at all, when in practice we really do pretty much expect everyone to comply. If they don't they get reverts and warnings. We don't expect them to know about every rule we have beforehand, but nevertheless, we expect compliance once they are informed that they've broken a rule, in the vast majority of situations.
As for practice not agreeing with policy 100%, well, that would be a general Wikipedia complaint. I think it would be pretty contentious to say something like "You might not be able to predict what we'll do to you", which seems to be what you're suggesting. Wikipedia may have its problems, according to certain opinions, but we do our best. We don't need to represent opinions on how well the place is run -- only on how it's meant to run, and what people can generally expect. Equazcion (talk) 20:15, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
I think of the 5P as not just a summary of the main policies but also expressing principles because of its wide coverage and being used that way for a while now. The paradox doesn't matter too much, I guess people ought to try removing such things from policy pages but I don't think it is expected that principles be totally logical. It is better to express ones desires as best one can rather than get bogged down in logic. Dmcq (talk) 20:37, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
5P is a product of the WMF and en.wikipedia at the same time; what makes it the latter is all the attention it's gotten, with no significant changes, over a long time. Wikipedians must be happy with it, and it's easy to see why; it says a lot of things that are fairly obvious.- Dank (push to talk) 22:11, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

←You have good points, guys; we don't do people any favors by saying that policy pages change every day so there's no point in paying attention. I'm not willing to make an argument for what guidelines are; I don't have the expertise, and they live in kind of a quantum world where they're right and wrong and applicable and inapplicable at the same time, depending on what day you read the page, what got changed recently, etc. As to what policy is if it isn't law, we can say at least 4 things about all the policy pages that belong to one of the main policy subcats (conduct, content, deletion and enforcement):

  • Even when the pages aren't perfect, they're still more likely to be right than any other page on Wikipedia that claims to cover the same or overlapping material, because they've gotten so much more attention (although a few of the enforcement policies, such as Wikipedia:GlobalBlocking, don't get a lot of discussion because they're really more WMF policies; maybe we should have a subcat for that).
  • Long-standing text in long-standing policies tends to be very persuasive at ANI, RFCU and Arbcom, so people who like to skate on thin ice should be particularly interested in policy pages.
  • Policy pages tend to be an efficient way to get up-to-speed, because so many people have removed things that they didn't think were universally true, or particularly helpful even if true.
  • Mostly: policy pages attempt to speak the unspoken rules of our culture at en.wp, the things that people in other places generally don't spell out for newbies, so that you don't have to pay attention to every conversation and learn by trial-and-error. - Dank (push to talk) 22:11, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I agree with Dank that we do agree on the ends, but I think we disagree on the means to that end. I do not, and can not, agree to the removal of the sentence stating that Wikipedia has no hard and fast rules etc etc. That is the very core of what I wanted in the first place and completely strips the whole meaning of everything worked on so hard over the last couple weeks (month?). I really dont care what people use the 5P for, I've never had any use for them, and except for today never read them, and couldnt have told you what they said, they have no bearing on everyday editing, which is the only thing I personally care about, and in fact editing the encyclopedia is the only thing Wikipedia is here as, this is not a bureaucracy nor an experiment in creating one or in creating "laws". The 5P are specifically not policies, they summarize our policies, basically the 5P page is a summary of all the things commone on policy pages. This page is a description of what policies and guidelines are, it tells newbies and established users alike what the purpose of policies are and how they are meant to be used. I know Dank is working in good faith on the same principles I hold dear, but I think some of his solutions will end up weakening the use of IAR and give editors like Dmcq more ammunition in diluting its ability. I have an agenda- I want IAR and common sense to be strong enough to withstand challenge by those who quote policy as the word of God. On Wikipedia there is but one god, his name is Jimbo, other than that I recognize nothing as binding except for the consensus of the community at the current moment (which is constantly changing and for the better). I dont want this policy page to be able in any way to be interpreted as policies must be obeyed to the letter, that policies are laws, that policies can be used by one individual to "overrule" or ignore the consensus of the community in a debate. I think Dank may agree with my motives and goals, perhaps we can find a compromise on our methods and means for that end.Camelbinky (talk) 22:21, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
In other words you know The Truth. The leader is the wrong place to put it. The body text is the right place. The leader doesn't attempt to state policy, it should try and give the scope and purpose of the policy - not the policy itself. The body overrides the leader. Dmcq (talk) 22:36, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Putting words in my mouth making it seem like I ever said I know "The Truth" is awfully close to a personal attack, please dont again. When I say "I think", "I want", "in my opinion" I mean just that, "I" as in ME; dont go reading into it thinking I'm speaking for anyone else when I write a post, I dont speak for the community, EVERYTHING I WRITE IN A POST IS MY OWN OPINION NO MATTER HOW YOU READ IT OR HOW I WORD IT, unless I am quoting a policy or someone else's statement and then I will put it in quotes and make it clear it is not me. I only accept what you write as your opinion, I never accept anything you write as the opinion of anyone but YOU. It is your opinion the body overrides the leader, I have never read anything that says that. Nothing in the body of this policy contradicts the leader. I dont care what your opinion on IAR is, just as I have an agenda to strengthen IAR, I believe you may have an agenda to weaken it. I have been honest with my agenda from day one, do you have anything you would like to share? If you think that IAR is wrong and you are doing this because you dont want anyone to use this policy to justify IAR then say so, there is nothing wrong with that. You have stated your opinion is that policies are laws, consensus has told you they are not. In my opinion you are continuing to do an endrun around consensus by removing the teeth from what was already agreed on.Camelbinky (talk) 22:53, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Please read this policy itself. "maintain scope, avoid redundancy. Both purpose and scope must be clearly provided in the lead, and not merely as an aside. Content should be within the scope of its policy. Policies should not be redundant with other policies, or within themselves. Do not summarize, copy, or extract text. Avoid needless reminders" And as you said yourself about this "I would like to point out that, at least in my opinion, in the subsection quoted by Dmcq only the first sentence that explicitely states "lead" applies to leads in policies, the rest of the subsection applies to the core of the policy. "Content" meaning the core of the policy as opposed to the sentence before it which mentions "lead" and applies there. I know I'm wikilawyering here, but that is my interpretation of how it is written.Camelbinky (talk) 22:28, 24 October 2009 (UTC)" Where you justified that repetition was allowed in the leader because it wasn't part of the core. Dmcq (talk) 23:15, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

←I'm not sure what change Dank is advocating now, but it doesn't seem the same as what Dmcq wants, which is to change the lead section into a nicely-worded table of contents. Dmcq, consensus is against what you want, as we've already established twice now, both times having ended with you stating some form of acceptance. At the end of the last section, you said "I'll just console myself that it seems to be completely rewritten every couple of months". When does the consoling yourself start? You seem like you're pretty intent on hammering on the same point no matter how many time it's been refuted. How is a talk page supposed to function if a lone proponent of something never gives up? I'd point to WP:JDI. The way to end a discussion with someone intent on getting their way is to simply stop responding to them. This means you, Camelbinky. A repetitive and useless comment is not worth a response; responding provides validation and fuel. Equazcion (talk) 23:21, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Camelbinky seems to be saying he achieved something useful by trying to state a policy in the leader and he is very adamant he wants to defend that bit. I was merely pointing out to him that the proper place for a policy was in the body. This policy says the leader should give scope and purpose and you've tried to do some sort of summarizing as well but that is a summary of the policy, not the policy. What he should really be doing with these ideas about policy he has is try and get a consensus on changing the statements in the body of the policy page. What exactly is your problem with that? Dmcq (talk) 23:33, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
And sorry if he is a she. I should really try harder and fix my sentences to get round that problem. Dmcq (talk) 00:10, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

What are we discussing?

I'm lost now - just when I thought we'd got everything settled, a new round of arguing breaks out. I understand Dmcq is still trying to argue for the removal of any helpful information from the lead, which is becoming a bit tiresome, but really is a secondary matter (if this policy's later wording implies that leads of policy pages mustn't tell the reader anything more than the table of contents, then I think it's that later wording that needs changing). More importantly, is anyone proposing that the information we give be changed so as to be more accurate? Looking at it again, it's still not quite right - we probably shouldn't be saying "principles laid down in policies and guidelines". In fact the structure of the lead should probably be more like "Although Wikipedia does not operate on a systm of hard-and-fast rules, it nonetheless has principles (practices?) relating to behaviour/content... these principles derive from common practice or explicit consensus or Jimbo or WMF... editors attempt to document these principles... when consensus is reached that a page successfully and usefully documents such principles that page is marked as a policy or guideline... these pages are maintained and updated so as to explain the principles better and more accurately... therefore(?) editors are generally expected to abide by these pages except when there is a good reason not to." I'm not proposing any exact wording here, but isn't that the story we ought to be telling?--Kotniski (talk) 08:10, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

I am not arguing for the removal of useful information from the leader. In fact I wasn't even proposing to do anything at this time even though I am unhappy with the leader. It was Dank who came along and said they didn't like the leader and might come along in a month to look again at it again and I said I supported their ideas.
What I said was that the leader should outline the purpose and scope of the policy and the nutshell was a good place to summarize the content.
I particularly disagree with the second paragraphs in the leader. I believe it gives undue weight to enforcement. Overall the leader says little else except thankfully the purpose of the policies which has survived in the first paragraph. It doesn't give the scope properly.
I hope that makes my position clear.
As to the point about 'laid down'. I much prefer the wording in the derivation section. And the other points are better covered in the adherence section. Dmcq (talk) 08:57, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Don't forget our goal also guides our policies and guidelines. A lot of our policies stem from the fact that we are writing an encyclopedia, and were formed long before the idea of having policies took hold. Like you I have kind of lost the plot a bit, so I agree it is useful to think about the story we are telling here. We're basically summarising the story of what policies are on Wikipedia, so we need to convey how they can and have come into being, how they work and what they do. I'm not quite understanding what the derivation section of the page is trying to do, to be honest. If it is attempting to show where policies and guidelines derive their "power" from, then I think there does need to be a mention of the fact that being an encyclopedia is quite important. The encyclopedia came first. The community came second to build it. Does that help any? Hiding T 09:31, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
This comes down rather to the nub of it. This policy is about policy and guidelines. It should not really be trying to set up general principles about the main body of the encyclopaedia because it isn't read enough by the main community whereas the 5P fulfills that role very well. The derivation section points to the main principles and if you follow the link to 5P you see that building an encyclopaedia is the first pillar. That is entirely as it should be I feel. Repeating principles or other policies is just not the right way for this policy to go I feel. It should concentrate on what it does best which is describe community standards for policy and guideline pages and the procedures for looking after them. Some indicators where the principles are derived from and the basis for adherence and enforcement sound okay too but I'd prefer all that referred to and deferred to the 5P and the appropriate policy pages. Baically the scope should be in the leader whereas at the moment only the purpose is. Dmcq (talk) 10:30, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't see the goal of this page as being to summarize the existing policies and guidelines... I see it as telling editors how best to write and edit policies and guidelines. Blueboar (talk) 13:23, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the Blueboar has a useful and practical perspective on this page. I also think that it may be a minority view, based on how this page has changed during the last year. For example, if you're trying to provide practical advice instead of a philosophical treatise, you wouldn't normally bury most of the practical instructions in the footnotes. You probably also wouldn't care very much about the precise definitions of "policy" and "guideline" and so forth, since they have very little practical impact. Defining "Policy" as "an invisible pink unicorn that some editors like to argue about for entertainment" would probably not hurt the encyclopedia, whereas writing "If you think something should be a policy, then you're invited to unilaterally slap a {{Policy}} tag on it" clearly would. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:08, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Grin, that's probably right. No harm would come if this page were shorter. In fact, conciseness is one of the qualities I look for when trying to decide if a page reads like a policy page or not. - Dank (push to talk) 17:22, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Concision is not best measured by overall length. This page currently stands at half the size of WP:NPOV, but no reasonable person would suggest that it is therefore more policy-like than NPOV in any respect. (For myself, I think this page is a blend of policy, essay, and procedure.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:33, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Well I wonder how big this minority actually is. I guess it can be reduced to whether this policy is mainly supposed to describe overall policy like the 5P or whether it should mainly be concerned with describing how to look after the policy and guideline pages. Some question like that could be phrased on the village pump. If the scope of this policy could be thrashed out on the village pump that would solve a lot of problems here. Dmcq (talk) 17:38, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
5 Pillars is neither policy nor above policy, policies do not HAVE to follow the 5 pillars "by law"; the 5 pillars is simply a nice summary of what is in common across all policies already; the 5P flow FROM the existing policies, not the other way around. I think people are giving the 5P too much weight and thinking they are a Constitution and our policies are statutes. We've already had a consensus above regarding "polices are/arent laws". I'm not rehashing this argument over and over until it gets the way some want it to be. I will not agree to any removal of language or addition of language that violates agreements we made earlier regarding that policies are not laws and they are not to be treated as such. I have stated three times already the specific sentence in the lead that in my opinion can not be taken out. Just because Kim and Equazcion arent talking as much doesnt mean the opposition can just keep talking and make separate "consensus" because everyone got fed up with the same thing being brought up again. I ask politely that whatever changes are decided you do not break the consensus that was reached above regarding what are policies. They are not to be enforced by the letter and this page is not to portray them as such, we arent a bureaucracy or government in the business of ensuring our policies are strictly enforced. We are the opposite. Please stop trying to put in language that would make it seem otherwise.Camelbinky (talk) 22:37, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Could you try and give a concise summary of what you believe the scope of this policy page is please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dmcq (talkcontribs)
I don't see anything wrong with this page being both about "how to write policies" and "how to regard policies". We could start from there and think about a new structure, perhaps separate sections for each. The lead issues are separate, secondary, have been discussed to death, and may require rethinking but only once this more important issue is dealt with first. As for the derivation section, I added that because certain folks insisted on including mention of 5P and of the Foundation and their "reserved rights". I had trouble wedging those in without that section, and I understand if it doesn't look like it fits. Equazcion (talk) 22:50, 26 Oct 2009 (UTC)
To answer Dmcq's question- the scope of this policy is to state what policies and guidelines ARE. That is the scope. "Scope" means "the breadth of the topic" or in even simpler words- "what the topic covers", it is not a summary of the topic, nor is it a summary of the content of the topic. The topic is what the name of the page is. The name of the page is "Policies and guidelines", since a page's scope is only what the topic states, and all pages must stay within their scope, it is clear the scope of any page is what the name of the page is. In this case- policies and guidelines. It doesnt seem that hard to understand to me.Camelbinky (talk) 23:38, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
So you would exclude "how to write, get approval for, and maintain policies and guidelines" from the proper scope of this document? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:00, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I would like to mention that I have spent the good portion of my day at work today reading the talk page of the 5Pillars and I am more convinced than ever that they were never intended to override policy and that policy does not "flow from them" as some say, they werent written by Jimbo, nor handed down by the "office", the Wikimedia Foundation never imposed them on us, most of our policies are older than the page itself, which dates from 2005. It was also surreal to notice that Kim Bruning was among the first to comment on the talk page of the 5 Pillars way back in 2005! Her opinions have not changed, and it seems she was even involved in the same argument of "are policies laws or not" here on this talk page back in 2005 as well; consensus supported her back then as it did this time. I guess I shouldnt have been so surprised this same exact discussion has happened before, though I am comforted by the fact that, at least in 2005, the outcome was in favor of the position I hold now.Camelbinky (talk) 01:07, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
To answer What's question in a nutshell- no. When writing an article on a city we dont just describe the city, we also have a history section, and we describe what is going on in the city and developments that are planned. I see no reason we cant describe "how to write and get approval for policies" though I think "maintaining" is going to get a little tricky. We dont want to in anyway give the impression we are limiting a Wikipedian's right to be bold when editing a policy nor do we want to go in the other way and tell Wikipedian's "its ok not to discuss things in a talk page that may be controversial". Unless you are vandalizing being bold on a policy page is not going to get you banned or even warned despite what is implied by the current wording on this page last I read it. All I really care about is that this page makes it clear that policies are not hard and fast rules or laws and that it does not contain (in the lead or the core) any language that can in any way be interpreted as undermining IAR, saying there is no common sense, or stating that they are laws.Camelbinky (talk) 01:15, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your prompt reply: it clears up a source of confusion. You said above that "the scope of this policy is to state what policies and guidelines ARE. That is the scope".
Most people believe that "what you do with something" is, or, at least, 'can be', different from "what it is". (For example, you may have heard someone claim a distinction between a human being and a human doing.) Consequently, other people on this talk page have (apparently, and IMO reasonably) interpreted your statement that the scope is what P&G "ARE" as an exclusive statement that specifically rejects including on this page any information how you write them, how Wikipedia approves them, and how you maintain (=update) them. "Put a note on the Village Pump" does not tell anyone anything at all about what policies and guidelines "ARE", in any standard sense of this intransitive verb.
It sounds like your notion of the scope, despite your first effort at describing it, is the same as most of the other editors. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:49, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
Like I've said many times, I couldnt care less what is on this page as long as nothing can be construed in any fashion by any editor that there are hard and fast rules that are laws, or anything that weakens IAR or makes common sense unneeded because "policies are laws and enforced as such". As long as nothing is inserted that does that, you can edit the entire page to say "silly boy blue, badoop adoop, fly me to the moon" for all I care. Actually, anyone who can find a legitimate way to add that to ANY policy would get a barnstar from me and become my hero.Camelbinky (talk) 03:54, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
The nonsense text? It could be used as an example at WP:CSD G1. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:18, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
That was funny, and accurate. Wikihumour!Camelbinky (talk) 05:23, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
Policy on notability describes good practice on ensuring notability in articles. Policy on policies and guidelies is in my view mainly about describing good practice in the policies and guidelines pages. So I'm fairly firmly in the setting, up, writing, getting consensus camp. As part of that it has to explain the role of policies and guidelines, what their purpose is, how they derive their authority, and how they achieve their function. The principles on which they derive their authority and the consensus whereby they are decided are described on other pages. The methods whereby they are enforced are described in other policies. The main role is to support writing good policies and guidelines.
As to the 5P it is true they weren't here from the start. Jimbo's principles were and then there were the founding principles. But Wikipedia is now self governing. Decisions are by consensus. Ultimately Wikipedia is run by the WMF, but for normal running it has to decide for itself to do what's right. The 5P is by now the de facto statement of principles. It has been on the bottom of most of the policy pages under 'principles', no qualification, for a number of years, and people are happy with that. By now it is more than just a summary of policy. A cycle has been set up whereby policy should be in line with it also and if there is a conflict it becomes a wider issue than just that policy page.
What is written on this policy page is only relevant for good practice on other policy and guideline pages. It is not important enough to appear on the 5P. WP:IAR for instance does not depend for its existence or validity on this policy. Dmcq (talk) 08:44, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
  • We don't have policy on notability. We have guidance. And that distinction is something this page should probably be making a little clearer. I'd also differ somewhat with the way policies evolved. Even the founding principles were written backwards, in that they cam after the event. A lot of what we now see as policies actually stem from Larry Sanger as much as they do Jimmy, and I don;t think we should duck that point. My digging through the history of Wikipedia indicates that the way the policies evolved is that the idea of the encyclopedia came first. Then "rules" were put in place by Larry, Jimmy and the community, in no particular order and with no particular authority. Larry left/was fired, but the community and Jimmy still created rule, and at a certain point the Board was created and Jimmy's power slowly passed to teh community and the Board, such that the community makes policies and guidance in most areas although the Board can mandate in certain areas where they have legal responsibility. Larry leaving is one turning point, the creation of the board is another, and 2005 is probably the last major one, because in 2005 the policies and guidelines tags were implemented and it was also when policies started being framed without the direct input of Jimmy or the mailing list. Hope that helps inform the debate in some way. Hiding T 09:42, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out notability is a guideline rather than a policy and the bit of history. I'm not sure the status of WP:N will change what I do though, I only noticed a couple of days ago a page that called itself a guideline and people seemed to follow and quote but wasn't even in the guidelines category :) Dmcq (talk) 10:07, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
This issue is one of the reasons that I think trying to pin down precise definitions of the types of pages in the Wikipedia namespace is largely a waste of time. There are essays that have nearly the force of major policies in certain limited circumstances, and there are parts of bona fide policies that are "honored more in the breach than the observance", as the saying goes.
How to write, propose, and maintain such pages is useful information that this page can communicate to editors. Trying to tell editors which page will trump which other page in any given type of dispute is not helpful. For example: IAR is both a fundamental principle, and the rule most likely to 'lose' in any dispute.
Most of the changes in the last week or so have been to take the page away from the previously stated purpose ("This policy page specifies the community standards related to the composition, structure, organization, life cycle, and maintenance of policies & guidelines and related pages") towards warning editors that they have to follow the policies, and they might get blocked (but feel free to change them), and so forth. Consequently, I think that most of the major changes to this page have been unhelpful -- not "wrong" exactly, because they're fairly accurate statements, but more "pointless", because telling editors that they should adhere to policies doesn't tell you anything about writing, proposing, or maintaining them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:28, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
That all depends on what you see the purpose of the page being. You see it as instructive of how to write and maintain such pages, while others see it as educative of how such pages are to be regarded. I don't see why we can't compromise and make it about both. Does anyone object to that? And if so, why? Equazcion (talk) 20:44, 28 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I agree with the compromise Equazcion has stated that it can be both, I believe What did politely ask what my stance on that was and I had hoped I put clearly that I am O.K. with it be instructive along with educative. I do disagree with What, however, if I have understood him correctly regarding his statement that this page NOW is about warning editors and it wasnt before. As the editor who started this whole thing I can tell you most definitely that the way the policy was written at the time of my very first posting on this page, it did include most of the words (and even harsher) regarding "you might be blocked" and warning them about being blocked. It was precisely BECAUSE the policy had such wording, and harshly written, about punishment and blocking that I brought up this proposal of a rewrite. I believe if What wants to focus on how to write and maintain a policy or guideline that is very good. Showing a good way of how policies are written and maintained is good, because it will cover common sense, consensus, talking, and of course it has to mention the Village Pump (proposals) and Village Pump (policy), and I guess some of the other village pumps are tangentially relevant; and it would need to mention that we do listen to new opinions and welcome them, that we are a work-in-progress, and that our policies do evolve and change as new consensus' are formed. I think we have shown through example on this page on how to successfully write, rewrite, and maintain a policy. It isnt all that different than an article, you be bold, you talk about controversial subjects, and you respect consensus as it evolves. Policies and guidelines arent static, written in stone, or unchangeable, nor should anyone be subject to being told "this is how its been written for over two years, no need to change it" as I was told. We should make it clear we are open to new ideas and suggestions, not all will be used, but all should be listened to and if they arent helpful then it should be politely shown why logically the policy shouldnt be changed, other than "this is how we've done it so far". That's my two cents.Camelbinky (talk) 23:33, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Camelbinky, I'd recommend that you compare the lead from a couple of weeks ago with the current one, which says "If by disregarding these principles an editor is found to be acting disruptively, he or she risks being blocked or otherwise restricted from editing." The only material changes I've seen have been to add a link to IAR, to spam the word consensus a bit, and to rearrange existing sentences, including promoting "you're going to get blocked" to the lead, out of its previous context, which mentioned common sense. If your goal was to remove any mention of risks to editors that violate Wikipedia's standards, then IMO you've failed. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:01, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Consensus is important, What, and with all due respect, the prose you suggested made no mention of consensus at all, which is why consensus was against it. If "spamming" the word consensus means including mention of it, then I say let's spam away. Putting something in the lead isn't a promotion, it's an attempt to summarize, which is what the lead is for. Regardless, let's try not to just express our soreness about things that have already happened. If you're attempting to be constructive, What, IMO you've failed. Let's try focusing on this compromise instead. Equazcion (talk) 04:11, 29 Oct 2009 (UTC)
What, here is the diff that shows what the page said prior to our work and what it is today, please read it and point out to me how you think it did not say anything about being blocked and punishment? Because it did prior to our work, I know there's been many changes and its been awhile, you may have forgotten just how harsh it was. So, yes I have compared the CORE of the policy, and it is as I stated.Camelbinky (talk) 06:09, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
That diff shows to me that WhatamIdoing is totally correct in what he says. The adherence and enforcement sections are unchanged. You can switch on a better diff in your preferences under Editing gadgets called wikEdit which will make it even more obvious once you learn how it works. The changes have taken away the scope from the leader and left behind some spam about IAR and punishment which doesn't follow what's said in this policy anyway closely. The content about adherence and enforcement is unchanged and better written. Dmcq (talk) 10:12, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Camelbinky, I specifically said that the changes promoted the "you'll get blocked" sentence to the lead, which IMO this change makes punishment seem more important, not less, to the readers. SlimVirgin removed this statement a couple of hours after my comment. The correct comparison is this, since yours includes three changes made after my comment. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:59, 29 October 2009 (UTC)


If anyone has any thoughts as to how to move forward with combining educative and instructive information on this page, on how policies are to be regarded and written, respectively, do post your thoughts. Equazcion (talk) 06:17, 29 Oct 2009 (UTC)

Am I correct in saying Camelbinky, Equazcion, Hiding and Kotniski are quite happy to insert all this business about IAR and blocking in the leader, and if I wasn't around they would have been quite happy to remove the first paragraph in the leader about the purpose of the policies? And that they approve of removal of the paragraph
"This policy page specifies the community standards related to the composition, structure, organization, life cycle, and maintenance of policies & guidelines and related pages"?
If that is a fairly accurate summary of the state then I think we are not done yet with discussing scope and purpose. How can there be an easy compromise between such disparate views? The scope needs to be worked out in a proper clean fashion so there is much less room for disagreement. I reject what has been inserted as irrelevant and undue emphasis of one section which isn't the point of the policy, and they reject the old paragraphs which I am defending as irrlevant or repeating a contents list. In particular they have removed the paragraph stating what as I see as the scope of the policy. Dmcq (talk) 10:37, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
In fact the edit SlimVirgin is what I would think of as a reasonable form. I'd like to keep Larry Sangers quote if only for nostalgia's sake. It says something about the difference between policies and guidelines which is in the title, and it says something useful about editing which is in line with the scope of this policy as far as I see it. So overall thumbs up. Dmcq (talk) 10:53, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
What does the Sanger quote say about the difference between policies and guidelines? (I didn't think they even had such a distinction in those days.) Oh sorry, you meant Slim's edit. OK, let's leave it, it's not worth arguing about any more. This sentence that tries to explain the difference between policies and guidelines doesn't really mean anything though - it would be better if we just admitted that there isn't really much difference between the two (and even better if we stopped distinguishing the two altogether).--Kotniski (talk) 11:18, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry should have got my referents better. This is an encyclopaedia and what do you expect people doing such a thing to like doing excedpt to categorize things? People would be unhappy with one great bit heap. The various guidelines are in various subcategories as well. Dmcq (talk) 11:33, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and that makes sense, because the subcategories are based on the topics of the pages, not on their perceived "status". But the artificial breakdown into policies and guidelines is largely just an inconvenience.--Kotniski (talk) 14:14, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't like Slim's edits because I don't agree with the "discussed in advance". I believe changes should be discussed, but I don;t think it matters if you make the change and then discuss, or discuss and then make the change. Hiding T 12:22, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, it talks about changes that "change accepted practice" (that wording could be improved), so in principle, that's right - you can make changes that better describe accepted practice without discussing them, but it's wrong to write that something is the accepted practice before it's been accepted.--Kotniski (talk) 14:14, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
There is a fairly strong consensus that significant edits (whether the intent is to change the accepted practice or just better describe accepted practice) should be (at least) proposed on the talk page first (with some rational given for the change). A short explanation and discussion of a prposed change can help eliminate knee-jerk reaction reverts (such as when editors revert simply because the edit changes "long standing language"... A brief discussion helps everyone think about whether the proposed language might actually be better than the "long standing language".) Blueboar (talk) 14:58, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
This policy uses the word ' substantive' when talking about changes. I just stuck in substantial or controversial in the leader a moment ago. Significant also sounds good, is there somewhere it is used that is like this? Dmcq (talk) 15:08, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
My support for including a (suitably qualified) "discuss first" statement is for purely practical reasons: editors that make changes without prior discussion are likely to have people get mad at them. Having people get mad at them reduces our editors' numbers and enthusiasm. IMO, telling editors about the "unwritten rules" (which affect different pages to different amounts), and thus retaining happy, active editors for Wikipedia, is properly considered an act of kindness that helps the encyclopedia, not mindless instruction creep.
Note that I don't always follow this advice myself, e.g. [1], but I do think it's kind to give editors a bit of 'fair warning'. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:12, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

OMG. We had a consensus and in one swoop you undo the entire consensus by simply pushing and pushing until others give up. The wording on enforcement is now just as harsh as it was when I started and warns editors that they can get "punished" for not adhering to the spirit even if they adhere to the letter. Where is the wording on the other flipside, of being ALLOWED to violate the letter if you dont adhere to the letter? You've stripped IAR and the ability to show that policies ARE NOT LAWS per consensus. I dont care if some of you think they are, THEY ARENT, AND WE HAD A CONSENSUS that they werent. I find this in bad-taste. I find it annoying and ironic that now people are talking about whether or not you can be bold or if you have to talk first when the entire leader was changed without talking and against consensus. We had a consensus on the leader the way it was. I am disgusted with how this just played out and I'm done arguing about this. I've found support everywhere I take this about policies being "laws" or the role of the 5P, so I dont care what this page says anymore because it is getting hijacked by those with minority opinions and this entire page will simply be ignored about what it says regarding the place of policy. Dmcq's agenda of making policies laws is not consistent with consensus or the practice of the Community. Also- Dmcq, I suggest you read What's statement at the end of the previous thread and re-read the diff I put in, I think you got it backwards about what What said and what the diff said, or your just having your own bias, I've noticed you jump on the bandwagon and state your "agreement" with anyone who comes with a legitimate criticism and think they are on your side when mostly they arent even close in coming to your view of how things work with policies. I have not seen one legitimate or even helpful point come from your posts. If you think what I wrote is harsh, reread the various posts you put on here and the 5P talk page regarding "Camelbinky wants to..." and "Camelbinky thinks..."; as you state "I'm simply writing my opinion on what you think", so if its OK for you to do that, what I'm typing is OK as well. I'm outta here, have fun making changes against Community practice.Camelbinky (talk) 17:05, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Camelbinky, you keep making this assertion... and you keep failing to provide a concrete example, despite repeated requests.
So here's a concrete example of getting blocked for violating the spirit, but not the rules: Editors get blocked every single day for WP:Edit warring, even if they don't technically violate the 3RR "specific rule". This is an example of what this page describes as "violating the spirit, but not technically the rule" -- and getting in trouble.
Now, can you show me a single instance of someone breaking a specific, detailed, written rule, while obviously and fully complying with the spirit of the same document, and actually getting in trouble for it? You will need to identify both the general page (e.g., WP:EW in my example), and the specific rule (e.g., WP:3RR). (Note that pages that don't have any (relevant) specific rules can't have this problem: you cannot break a specific rule that does not exist.)
And if you can't, will you please quit asserting that it happens? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:18, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Excuse me? No, I dont have "quit asserting it". And I dont have to give an example, and I find yours not only very rare and not "every single day", the edit warring you speak of is usually in regards to the vandalism and not the edit warring the editor who gets blocked for. I dont need to have an example of adhering to the spirit while disobeying the letter BECAUSE IAR says you can. Other editors, in fact the vast majority, have the same view, so I dont care if you keep making this about "Camelbinky" when it isnt just me. I'm sick of seeing that. Is it somehow beneficial to your view to "pick on me" in this manner, for you and Dmcq to continually make it seem like I'm a lone gunman here and make me seem to be out of touch with consensus when well over 5 to 8 editors have supported me here at various times regarding policies are/arent laws and the role of 5P (here and at the Village Pump (policy) discussion). Do you really think you can change people's opinions by going after me? Fine, I'll leave; obviously you think if I do then you can get what you want, since in your opinion it is just me alone against you with crazy ideas. I guess Equazcion, Kim Bruning, and everyone else who told you and Dmcq earlier we had a consensus and supported this were figments of my imagination. Oh, and dont ever ever ever try this again of telling me what I must prove to you. You are not a moderator, a teacher, or a cop or any other authority figure who can tell others what they must do in order to talk. I find your entire attitude harrassing and in bad faith. Read the harrassment policies and guidelines regarding "any actions that make it uncomfortable for an editor to contribute" and various other language that makes "editing unpleasant". You have all along gotten very very very close in these respects with you and Dmcq's various (and WRONG assertions as to what I do and dont believe) and your above post requiring that I dont assert my opinion or that I must give you information that you want.Camelbinky (talk) 17:31, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
So you admit that the problem you want to ban already never happens. Writing a policy to prohibit a non-existent problem -- even an inconceivable problem, since none of us can imagine anybody ever punishing a sensible action -- is too WP:CREEPy for Wikipedia. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:04, 30 October 2009 (UTC)


Do not revert edits as vandalism unless there's adequate reason to think they were made with the intention of damaging the page. You're in a content dispute at the moment, so the word vandalism should not appear at all when you revert each other. Equazcion (talk) 17:45, 29 Oct 2009 (UTC)#

I apologise for calling it vandalism as I've got to assume Camelbinky did it in good faith and really thinks the change will improve Wikipedia. May I point to the bit in this policy itself about changes where a 0RR or 1RR policy should be adhered to rather than edit warring on the policy page. Dmcq (talk) 18:02, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Appreciate the apology. Just to be clear, 1RR is per-person, so if I wanted to revert you I could still do that. I don't generally like to revert though. Reverting is like a slap in the face. It's better to make a well thought-out edit to someone else's version, then they edit your version, and so forth. In conjunction with discussion, there's more of a chance that way for you to end up with a compromise. Equazcion (talk) 18:11, 29 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Anyway I'm off to a dance which is as good as a coffee break any day. Silly of me to get annoyed by something like that. Dmcq (talk) 18:39, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

My edit

  • Removed summary of difference between guidelines and policies -- "primarily advisory" vs "standards everyone should follow", this falls right back into the ambiguous trap, totally useless especially to new editors.
  • SlimVirgin removed mention of blocking on the basis that blocking wasn't actually all that possible for most guidelines. I'd contend that it's just as possible for guidelines as it is for policies, as long as people are found to be acting disruptively as a result of the violation. People can certainly be deemed disruptive by continually editing without regard for notability or the manual of style, both guidelines.
  • Generally SlimVirgin's edits didn't take our discussion into account, which I'll assume was because she wasn't aware of it. Just because one person comes along and reverts doesn't negate the discussion, especially when they haven't participated themselves in said discussion. Equazcion (talk) 15:48, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
  • Oh, and SlimVirgin removed "Wikipedia does not have hard and fast rules", which her edit summary didn't cover. I can only assume she's of the "that's a dangerous thing to say" camp, but of course since she didn't explain, who knows. Regardless, it's the truth, and people should know it. Equazcion (talk) 15:54, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)

Please Change Incorrect Web Site To Locate My WLOL-FM Classical Music DJ Experiences

Dear Folks--I, Jim Stokes, was a classical music DJ at WLOL-FM, Minneapolis MN, for several years before they changed format in 1972. It was perhaps my favorite radio job. I had wanted to be a classical music announcer since childhood. So God does fulfill wishes. :)

And Wikipedia was kind enough to offer a web site address to view my 9,000 word article "What Does A Classical Music DJ Do Between Selections?" The British musicweb site does not own my copyright. I HOLD THE COPYRIGHT. However it is a joy to have such a prestigious internet service host it. They did a great job of laying out the copy.

Unfortunately, the wrong web site is listed in Wikipedia. However I CAN give you the correct web site. So please change accordingly. There are three options for you. For myself and others, I very much prefer the simpler access, which is to simply type into a browser, "Jim Stokes, WLOL-FM Classical Music DJ." Or you can type in the full name of the story and my name. See below.

"What Does A Classical DJ Do Between Selections? by Jim Stokes"

The other way is to laboriously type in the specific British web site, which has my story. See below.

That address is " Stokes"

And many thanks to Wikiepedia. If I can ever help you in any way, let me know via my email. It's "". I have a long history of working in radio and TV and would be most happy to share those adventures.


Jim Stokes —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 30 October 2009 (UTC)