Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 13

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Problematic essay

I'm dealing with an essay that seems to blatantly contradict accepted policy and practice. The redirect is here: Wikipedia:Redirects are costly. The writer of the essay has cited it in Redirect deletion discussions that have no basis whatsoever in any Wikipedia policy ever written. See Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2012 March 22#Putat, Tuburan, Cebu, Philippines. There were also several seriously flawed nominations on March 19. What action should I take to get this essay taken down, tagged as contradictory, or whatever is appropriate? D O N D E groovily Talk to me 17:56, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Anti-consensus (as opposed to minority-viewpoint) essays are normally moved to the author's userspace. WP:MFD is normally the correct forum for the discussion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:52, 24 March 2012 (UTC)


I've noticed recently that a lot of policy and guideline debate involves arguments which go along the lines of: "that sentence has been a part of the policy for months now." I think that this is something we should address, and I think that this is the place to address it because this policy tends to govern the editing of other policies and guidelines.

Aside from the "ownership" aspects inherent here, I also think that we're in danger of allowing our policies to become stale, if not outright irrelevant, if this trend continues unabated. Right now I'm thinking that I'd like to see something added which expressly refutes the idea that time alone provides a patina of acceptance to any particular content (particularly specific phrasing) within a policy or guideline document.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 17:39, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Time is prima facie evidence of a consensus, although it's less convincing in the case of specific phrasing that is more likely to go unnoticed. Such an alleged consensus can be refuted by demonstrating a new consensus. But if someone unilaterally announces that the consensus is the opposite, well, isn't that why we have a guideline? Art LaPella (talk) 18:50, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
This is essentially the nub of what I'm trying to get to. I think that time being evidence of a consensus breaks down when it comes to policy, simply because policy pages are not heavily edited (or, frankly, payed much attention to on a daily basis... at least, not by most editors). There's a significant barrier to successfully editing policy and guideline pages, as the character to them differs significantly to articles in the main space. In my experience, the full effects of changes to policy are often not felt for months after a change is made. That being the case, the "it's been there for months" argument only serves to obstruct the possibility of constructive discussion over an issue. Note that I'm not talking about big things like the existence of policy pages or whatnot, but more about the minutiae that all policies and guidelines tend to accumulate.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:05, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
The more obscure the minutiae, the less of a consensus is demonstrated by its existence, and the less we need to demonstrate a consensus to overturn it. I think you want to argue that time is an often overstated evidence of a consensus, not that there is no evidence at all. If none of the details in any of our policies have any consensus at all, then we should remove all those details for that reason alone. Art LaPella (talk) 19:38, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Right, that's an accurate representation of what I'm thinking of, that time is an often overstated evidence of consensus (and, I'd add, is often only indicative of local consensus rather than project wide consensus). Now that you bring it up, I wouldn't be at all averse to removing the vast majority of "all those details" either, but that's a completely different subject (I think that there's something to be said for minimalism).
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs)

Proposal addressing time

OK, I think that I should propose an actual change. Here's what the Policies and guidelines policy page currently says under the Content changes section:

Policies and guidelines can be edited like any other Wikipedia page. It is not strictly necessary to discuss changes or to obtain written documentation of a consensus in advance. However, because policies and guidelines are sensitive and complex, users should take care over any edits, to be sure they are faithfully reflecting the community's view and to be sure that they are not accidentally introducing new sources of error or confusion.

Because Wikipedia practice exists in the community through consensus, editing a policy/guideline/essay page does not in itself imply an immediate change to accepted practice. It is, naturally, bad practice to write something other than accepted practice on a policy or guideline page. To update best practices, you may change the practice directly (you are permitted to deviate from practice for the purposes of such change) and/or set about building widespread consensus for your change or implementation through discussion. When such a change is accepted, you can then edit the page to reflect the new situation.

Right now I'm thinking that I'd like to change that in order to read:

Policies and guidelines may be edited like any other Wikipedia page. It is not strictly necessary to discuss changes or to obtain documentation of a consensus in advance. Because policies and guidelines are sensitive and complex, users should take care over any editing in order to ensure they are faithfully reflecting the community's view and to be sure that they are not accidentally introducing new sources of conflict or confusion.

Because Wikipedia practice exists in the community through consensus, editing a policy, guideline, or essay page does not in itself imply an immediate change to accepted practice. To update accepted practices, you may change the practice directly (you are permitted to deviate from practice for the purposes of such change) and/or set about building widespread consensus for your change or implementation through discussion. Policies and guidelines may be updated to reflect current practices, but editors should note that such changes are only accepted for as long as they remain unchallenged.

Here are a few miscellaneous changes first:

  1. changed "can" to "may" in first sentence.
  2. removes "written" prior to "documentation" in second sentence, because it's redundant.
  3. Removes "However" leading third sentence, primarily for style reasons (more... formal?).
  4. Edits third sentence to remove comma after "complex", and changes phraseology used in remaining part of the sentence.
  5. Changes "Error" to "conflict" in third sentence, for sense. policies can't really introduce "errors" after all, but they can certainly cause conflict (and confusion).
  6. Removes conversational sentence talking about what not to do. It's "naturally" understood, right?
  7. Changes slashes between policy/guideline/essay into commas in fourth sentence.

The closing sentence is what's really changed. I don't think that it's perfect as is though, and I'm certainly open to suggestions and criticism(s).
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 03:30, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

"changes are only accepted for as long as they remain unchallenged" That also seems much more broad than your own opinion. I hereby challenge all policy updates that have ever occurred, so does that mean all policies are no longer accepted, and I can personally attack you for instance? Art LaPella (talk) 04:27, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Face-grin.svg. Yea, I'm not happy with it either (although... IAR, anyone? lol). But hey, it's a first pass... I'll sleep on it and see what I think (and what yourself and others may say) tomorrow.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 04:46, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
It also takes out 'It is, naturally, bad practice to write something other than accepted practice on a policy or guideline page'. People have this idea that they can write what they think things should be like rather than what is or a new consensus that's been agreed. The new last sentence also is like that, the change should be accepted before putting into the policy document. It should be what one believes the current best practice actually is or one should have a discussion about changing the practice. Dmcq (talk) 11:23, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for proposing a solution. I'll leave it to others to help you fine tune it. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 12:23, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
A solution to what problem exactly? Dmcq (talk) 12:44, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
To the problem discussed above in the "Time" section. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 14:31, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
The "It is, naturally" bit is completely unnecessary. Worse, it serves to muddle the message that the paragraph is attempting to convey by bringing up what should not be discussed in a paragraph about what should be discussed. If you really believe that it's important to attempt to specify what is bad practice (which is usually a bad idea, because it's generally impossible to prove a negative), then we should do that in a separate paragraph and provide more support for it.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:46, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

1) While I don't particularly like the "Content changes" language, I disagree that the current construction supports "time" as an argument for conserving policy or that we can address the problem in the "Time" section by changing it. The current language is clear that practice establishes policy and even if the policy has been there a long time it can be changed if our practice changes or we can develop consensus to change our practice.
2) I think this proposal muddles the notion that practice takes precedence over policy by permitting any challenge to obviate policy before a pattern of practice or consensus to change is established for the challenge.
3) Many of this proposal's minor copy edits are improvements.
4) I also think we should work on this language but for very different reasons (too much BRD and not enough discussion prior to policy/guidelines edits).
Jojalozzo 16:07, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Mostly replying to 1) here, but I don't think that the current language is clear at all. About anything really (which is fairly standard for our policy pages, unfortunately), which is where the slew of minor changes came from. Anyway, I agree with what you're saying here in principle, and from what I've seen so does everyone else when they're directly asked about it. The problem that I see time and time again (in other words, in actual practice), is that editors become activists about some particular issue (which I think is OK, as long as things don't get out of hand) and one of the first things that they do is to either create or change policy. The problem comes up when the change goes unnoticed or unchallenged, sometimes for months, until something happens at AN or AN/I, something happens with a BLP, or whatever, you know? Invariably, the argument that "this was put into policy months ago, and hasn't been challenged at all!" comes up, when in reality that challenge is the first time said change has really been noticed (occasionally even by people who 'supported' the original change!).
So... I'm not out to prevent that sort of scenario from occurring or beat people over the head with it or anything. I just think that we need to somehow capture the idea that challenging bits of specific policy language is expected, and even encouraged to a certain extent. I don't think that an edit to a policy or guideline page standing unchallenged, even for months, gives it much authority. Actually, I think that certain language being challenged, and either standing or being altered, is what gives policy and guidelines any authority at all.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:46, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I think everyone agrees that longevity does not confer authority for policy content and perhaps we could add something along those lines. However, it's also inappropriate to remove or change policy content when it doesn't make sense to the editor or is causing disputes in some context without first determining if it reflects consensus and practice. Here is an alternate version that incorporates some of your suggestions and an explicit comment about longevity vs. status:

Policies and guidelines canmay be edited like any other Wikipedia page. It and it is not strictly [added emphasis] necessary to discuss changes or to obtain written documentation of a consensus document a pattern of practice in advance. However, because policies and guidelines are sensitive and complex, users should take care over any edits edit with extra care, to be sure they are faithfully reflecting the community's view and to be sure that they are not accidentally introducing new sources of errorconflict or confusion.

Because Wikipedia practice exists in the community through consensus, editing a policy, guideline, or essay [commas replacing slashes] page does not in itself imply an immediate change to accepted practice. Likewise, because editors may sometimes change policy without taking special care, the fact that policy or guidelines content has been in place for some time does not indicate that it reflects consensus or established practice.

It is, naturally, bad practice to write something other than accepted practice on a policy or guideline page. To update best practices, you may change theattempt to institute and establish new practice directly (you are permitted to deviate from practice for the purposes of such change) and/or set about building widespread consensus for your change or implementation through discussion. When such a change is accepted, you canmay then edit the page to reflect the new situation.

Jojalozzo 01:25, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, nice work! Let's let this percolate at least overnight (see if anyone else has any input), and come back to it tomorrow. Face-smile.svg
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 01:35, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
How about "content has been in place for some time does not necessarily indicate ..."? All our policies have been in place for some time; if none of our policies or pillars are evidence of consensus or practice, then consensus and practice is of course to do it My Way, and variations of that argument are very familiar. Art LaPella (talk) 01:43, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Additionally, I'd like to loose the "however"'s and "naturally"'s... they're too conversational, I think. These pages are intended to be a bit legislative, and so they should be as succinct as possible, don't you guys think? (and I think that Art is correct in his reply above, if that's not clear.)
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 01:49, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I think that it would be more direct to simply refer to WP:CCC. The proposed "Likewise" language will have the (unintentional) effect of undercutting the "it's not strictly necessary to discuss changes in advance" section—because if you don't discuss in advance, then someone who dislikes the change is going to come back five years later and say "But I can't find a discussion about the phrase WP:Verifiability, not truth in the archives from before it was added, so that phrase has no consensus, has never had any consensus, and needs to be removed."
Exactly like in an article—with all of the usual qualifications and limitations on that—silence demonstrates consensus on advice pages. A long-standing change in a heavily watched (or "carefully guarded", if you're talking about the main MOS page) advice page can be safely assumed to have had consensus, exactly like a long-standing change in a heavily watched encyclopedia article can be safely assumed to have had consensus.
And exactly like in an article, that consensus no longer exists as soon as someone indicates dissent.
What we need is not a special loophole for challenging old sentences in advice pages; we just need the normal process of stepwise refinement to be permitted. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:52, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Actually, I think that you're bringing up the perfect example of what I'm talking about by mentioning the MOS. I agree that the MOS is "carefully guarded", but the effect of that is not necessarily any sort of authority. Changes to MOS are, as often as not, reflective of desire rather than actual practice. Precisely because the MOS is "carefully guarded", the details of what is says are not often noticed until they are attempted to be put into practice, at which point conflict sometimes (usually?) breaks out. Just look at the history behind the Dates and numbers issue(s) for examples.
I understand where you're coming from with the "exactly like an article" points, but I don't think that's actual practice (it would be nice if it was, but...). As a matter of fact, one of the Principles in the recently closed Article titles case expressly disputes the idea that policy pages are just like articles (See: Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Article titles and capitalisation#Policy and guidelines), and if that's not a crystal clear indication of what actual practice is then I don't know what would be.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:16, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I think that the "exactly like an article" process described here is reflective of actual practice. It just depends on which article you have in mind. Editing a major policy like WP:NOR or a contentious page like some of the MOS is "exactly like editing Muhammed or Transcendental Meditation". Editing the less-famous guidelines like WP:SISTER is "exactly like editing Algebra or Education" (i.e., we want you to get it right, but we're not going to hassle you too much), and editing the average essay is "exactly like editing an obscure article that frankly nobody cares much about".
ArbCom does not set policy. ArbCom expressed in that case their interpretation of the community's practice as it applied to the particular situation, which was highly inappropriate edit(warr)ing at a major policy while serious objections were being raised on the talk page. It wasn't a case of bold-revert-discuss there; it was a case of bold-ignore-ignore-ignore-I-can't-hear-you-la-la-la-la-la on the one hand and revert-revert-revert-revert-revert on the other. We "encourage" people not to make this kind of anti-collegial mistake in editing articles, too. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:55, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Special protection for essays?

The time discussion causes me to notice the following language: "editing a policy/guideline/essay page does not in itself imply an immediate change to accepted practice." I have always thought that one of the purposes of essays is to act as a laboratory for new ideas. Am I wrong? If not, should we remove "essay" from this clause? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 12:26, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Why? What would you be trying to say or what's wrong with that? Dmcq (talk) 12:47, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I am trying to say that we should remove the word "essay" from "policy/guideline/essay." Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 14:29, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I think you are partly wrong. A lot depends on where the essay is located. An essay that is located in someone's user space can certainly be a "laboratory for new ideas". We can essentially think of it as being a draft, and as such, it is not expected to reflect the views of the wider community... people can experiment. Such an essay should not be moved to mainspace, however, until there is some indication that it reflects community consensus on its topic... at that point the "laboratory" phase is over and the essay and should have some degree of stability. Blueboar (talk) 12:51, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
wp:ESSAYS says (emphasis added); "Essays are the opinion or advice of an editor or group of editors (such as a WikiProject) for which widespread consensus has not been established." I don't see a distinction drawn depending upon where the essay appears. Is that text found somewhere else? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 14:29, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Exactly, so changing parts of an essay very definitely does not imply an immediate change of accepted practice. Just like this policy says. Perhaps you are thinking that this policy is implying that changing an essay can mean a delayed change or that someone thinks the accepted practice is different? People can handle negatives a bit trickily. Dmcq (talk) 14:57, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Well let me try it this way: The two paragraphs quoted above speak to editing practices with respect to policies and guidelines. Why does this one sentence have the word "essay" in it? AS you point out, the statement is true enough on its own. But in the context of the two paragraphs it gives the impression that, with regard to editing, essays are on the same level as polices and guidelines. So I am suggesting we remove the word from that sentence. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:43, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I think that you're right, actually. Dmcq and Blueboar have a point too, though. Maybe instead of just removing "essay" from that sentence, we should break it out into it's own sentence with a bit of explanation?
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:52, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Short answer: it depends on the essay. Changes to essays like WP:BRD can and do affect actual practice. Changes to essays like WP:YDOW don't. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:55, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. I think that what Butwhatdoiknow and myself are saying is that we should capture that point here.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:20, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Categorization proposal

I made a proposal on the Village pump regarding adding an "importance" or "scope" tag to policies and guidelines, in addition to the policy or guideline tag. The proposal is currently located at Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Policy and guideline classification. I'd think that those watching this page would be interested in the proposal, so I wanted to advertise it a bit here.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:10, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals/Copyright

This phhhjroposal relates to copyrights. Feel free to discuss. --George Ho (talk) 17:05, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 22 May 2012

Hi Wikipedia: Thanks for your wonderful service...much appreciated...

I have donated some time back...

The reason for my EDIT request is the correct SPELLING of JAMAICA...

In the following site, there are three incorrect spellings of JAMIACA under the three images of the Loggerhead Kingbird...

I lived in JAMAICA and came to the US in 1959 at age IOWA (ISU) of all places... enjoyable but extremely cold in the WINTER and hot in the SUMMER...

much obliged... E Ray Lyn (talk) 20:30, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top.
The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:57, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Essay for enforcement section

A link to WP:EditEnv was stuck at the beginning of the enforcement section. I didn't think much of it so have removed it. Does someone here other that the person who wrote it and stuck it here User:Brews ohare think there's some merit in it? In fact I just had a look at that user page after putting that link in and it talks about rancour and ArbCom. Whatever about that I think we need someone a little more supportive of the system for a top level policy to get a good environment for new editors. Dmcq (talk) 16:44, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

Padding like the proposed link is not helpful: the verbage may or may not accurately reflect practice, but it is essentially one person's opinion and is not helpful—duplications rarely are. It is common to advise editors that it is almost always a bad idea to adjust policy to suit their side of a dispute. Perhaps similar advice should be offered that someone who has required massive amounts of volunteer time to manage is not the best person to write essays about how Wikipedia is or should be run. Johnuniq (talk) 00:52, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Are there any Wikipedia policies that oppose bribery of various sorts.

I have encountered a user who attempted to bribe me with an offer that he/she would support a position that I had taken on a talk page, and abandon their previous opposition, on the condition of an exchange where I would support that user's stance on another article that I was not involved with. Other users noticed that this involved a violation of WP:CANVASS, but they noted that there is no such thing as a Wikipedia policy opposing bribery. I believe that an policy that explicitly states that bribery of any sorts - be it financial or an offer of favours - is contrary to the principles of Wikipedia. If there are no existing policies that deal with this, I suggest that such a policy be created, and that the policy be named Wikipedia:Bribery known in short forms as WP:BRIBE, WP:BRIBERY.--R-41 (talk) 04:10, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

If there are no known previous examples of this problem, I would say at most just a few more words in a place like Wikipedia:Conflict of interest#Close relationships. Art LaPella (talk) 05:24, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I have come across the same sort of thing myself with people trying to do horse trading between different articles, not just whether something would be better covered in one or the other but actually offering to suppor an RfC in one if others would support another RfC in a different article. I do think it may be worth a paragraph and a WP link about it somewhere. Dmcq (talk) 09:29, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Wouldn't WP:Village pump (proposals) or the policy one be a better place for this? Dmcq (talk) 09:32, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
I have raised the issue at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) here: [1], first to see if concrete Wikipedia policies do exist that deal with bribery, and if none exist, I have recommended that such a policy be created within Wikipedia:Conflict of Interest.--R-41 (talk) 16:40, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Logrolling is banned under WP:MEATPUPPET as "promot[ing] their causes by bringing like-minded editors into the dispute". While MEAT is mostly worried about newbies, it also applies to "editors of longer standing who have not, in the opinion of Wikipedia's administrative bodies, consistently exercised independent judgement". WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:54, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Setting up a new guideline or policy

The following "This has actually always been somewhat controversial, as there are multiple modes of thought on this: Note eg. that this paragraph and "Wikipedia:How to contribute to Wikipedia guidance" contradict to quite an extent" has been put on the ibusiness of raising an RfC before accepting a new policy or guideline as such. All I could see at that essay was some business about using mailing lists which doesn't sound at all like a good idea to me though it might help at the level of ArbCom policies or something like that. What on earth is this all about? Dmcq (talk) 18:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, I spotted that one along with the MFD discrepancy. The meta-guidance on how to maintain Wikipedia guidance is not well maintained atm. There are all kinds of strange things in there that don't make sense.
(To answer your question, for instance: The Wikipedia-l mailing list was originally a source of policy on en.wikipedia. The mailing list is currently all but unused, and probably should be deprecated. A number of the other items on that particular page *do* still make sense though. It's a bit of a hodgepodge.)
I'm not entirely sure what to do about all this really.

Note that I don't really agree with the approach listed on this page either, as it has often been proven to generate more heat than light.
Actual effective methods of generating new approaches to solving problems are relatively badly documented at the moment, though they do exist, and have been used effectively throughout Wikipedia's lifetime.
The current status quo makes it fairly hard for the community to respond rapidly to the world changing around us. That can't be a good thing, from the perspective of continuity, let alone continued growth.
I guess we should start by tagging discrepancies and historical aspects, before tidying up. What's the best / lest disruptive way to go about this at the moment, do you think?
--Kim Bruning (talk) 23:04, 25 July 2012 (UTC)


What do you all think about adding an external link to (the famous RFC 2119 that defines the differences between words like "should" and "must") to this page? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:08, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

It's already linked in Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Content - possibly you meant something else? Or repeating it at the bottom? Or linking to it with additional context, such as "We have NOT gone through all policies and guidelines to make sure they conform to a legal-eagle level of defensibility, especially with regards to word choices such as these, which well-intentioned editors are often changing on any given day." ;) -- Quiddity (talk) 00:28, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I think that we need more than just a link. I think that we need to have something that explains the terms (briefly) and recommends that using them precisely is the best practice. Perhaps something like this: "Use the word must to indicate that something is mandatory. Use the word should to indicate that something is appropriate and recommended under nearly all circumstances, but not actually required." WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:46, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
The trouble that the document referred to has no authority for Wikipedia use. "Should" and "must" are not distinguished as that document stipulates: neither in actual practice on Wikipedia, nor in natural usage generally. This can be confirmed by checking standard dictionaries (including OED) and the major descriptive grammars published in recent decades (such as CGEL, the pre-eminent current grammar of English). WhatamIdoing, weren't you the one who inserted the Easter egg link to an external document into policy, without explaining in your edit summary what you were doing? I think it should [sic] be resisted. If you want such an appeal to an external "authority" that runs counter to the current usage of all policy and guideline pages on Wikipedia (and also the usage we see in ArbCom decisions, for example), please present the proposal in a neutral RFC, so that the community can assess the value of such a radical innovation.
NoeticaTea? 03:59, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't mind setting up an RFC. The purpose of that section is to provide "best practices", rather than an accurate description of the overall sorry state of advice writing to date. Given the responses at WT:AT, I expect that the community will support defining these terms this way, but I have absolutely no objection to an RFC on the matter. What do you think about this style:
No, we should not make this change Yes, we should make this change
We should not make this change because:
  • We've used should to mean must for years, so we should stick with our old practices.
  • The word must scares people.
We should make this change because:
  • It confuses people when should sometimes means "if you feel like it" and other times means "with no exceptions".
  • Editors need to know what's mandatory (like removing copyvios) and what's not (like notifying editors of AFDs).
What do you think of that style? Would you like to write the "anti" statement for it? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:48, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
That looks good/reasonable to me (if the "anti" statement can be worked on and agreed to. Ie. get the wording to a consensus-neutral before posting).
Note to anyone not watching the other thread, the WT:AT responses about this are at the very bottom of WT:AT#Discussion (Search for "Presenting"). —Quiddity (talk) 20:13, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing, thank you for the work you have done on this. Some responses to comments above:
  • Your proposed style of presentation is fine, except that we lack details of the exact proposal. I'd need to see that before making a definitive judgement.
  • The provisional text you have in the presentation is not yet satisfactory, of course. One problem: you use the word "should" even in presenting the options! Strangely, this might be distracting and confusing. It is essential to keep all the issues lucid and separate. Also, the text is based on presuppositions that compromise neutrality and clarity. This, for example:

"It confuses people when should sometimes means 'if you feel like it' and other times means 'with no exceptions'."

This presupposes that the variation mentioned does actually occur, in quasi-legislative contexts where policy or guidelines are presented. This is not so, except in expressions such as "if an editor should revert". These are quite distinct from the core deontic uses of "should", and a complete red herring.
  • These matters are technical, and should be presented in a way informed by sound linguistic theory. This has not been the case at the WT:AT RFCs. Those have been disastrously confused. It is not at all certain that the community would want to change how we use "should", from discussion at WT:AT.
  • I would be happy to draft a "no" case: that is, the case against distinguishing "should" and "must" according to the stipulation of that isolated external source. I would also be happy to assist with technical advice, to achieve the essential clarity and precision. Please call in at my talkpage, if you would like that. ☺
NoeticaTea? 00:21, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I think the next step is to create the question, since it will be difficult to write a sensible case for or against it if we don't know the proposition. Do you like the proposed text (in green serif above), or is there another change that you would like to discuss? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:36, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I like the use of green xt markup, but not that wording. Frankly, I don't know how this can be managed effectively: if legacy uses of "should" would mostly be left as they are, and the new policy provision would be picked up mainly for new text!
Let us see precisely what you have in mind: accounting for the weight of that legacy, and for inevitable and often undetectable non-compliance with the new provision you propose. The core problem: How would guidelines and policy be interpreted, if it is not known what is legacy and what is new, and not known what complied with and what ignored the new distinction you propose? Compare the recent and continuing chaos over "should" in that infamous WP:AT provision (subject of two inclusive RFCs so far). Much easier and safer to treat both "must" and "should" as having equally clear deontic intent, whatever their differences in tone.
We're tinkering in Wikipedia's CNS here.
NoeticaTea? 01:17, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I object to this entire process. First of all, Wikipedia has its own internal rules and standards, policies and guidelines. If you say we're going to use some obscure Document X as an authority to override policy, in contravention of standard English usage, then what's to stop anyone from elevating Document Z, or the CMOS, or the amusing and much-cited Elements of Style as an authority over MoS? You think there are quarrels now over style guides, just wait until everyone brings in their favorite pamphlet or memo from work and wants to apply it across Wikipedia as a whole. Second of all, no one has shown that there is any true confusion over "should". It is not all that uncommon that people's description of their usage is different from their actual usage; that's why linguists use tape recorders instead of self reporting. Even the people who have claimed to be confused have had no problem using and interpreting the word correctly. 3) "Must" is British; Americans prefer "have to". Both of these are the proper register for talking to naughty 5-year-olds, this is not the proper register for an encyclopedia or for corporate policy. 4) The degree to which anything in Wikipedia is mandated does not rely on specious definitions. The role of policies and guidelines is already defined. Neotarf (talk) 19:54, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
  1. Not a geek, are you? Far from being some obscure, unimportant outside document, RFC 2119 is one of the reasons the Internet works. It is so basic that it's a WP:Magic word on WMF websites. It also does not contravene standard English usage. (Did you read it?) Its definition of should fits neatly within Merriam-Webster's fourth, "used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected". This is not the only possible definition of this word, but it's the only relevant one for rule-making. Its definition of must is similarly compatible with the dictionaries I've consulted. And, importantly, none of the dictionaries I've seen so far believe that must is a valid definition of should, which is the particular dispute that we're dealing with.
  2. Have you forgotten the recent mess at WP:AT already? Noetica just spent a couple of weeks trying to tell everyone there that when that policy says "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves" it actually means "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title must be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves". We definitely have confusion caused by undefined use of these terms. If we mean that RM is required, we need to say that, and not hide that requirement. And if we don't mean that it's required, we should put editors on notice that when we said should, we actually meant should instead of must.
  3. This particular American prefers the term must over the term have to. It's possible that I'm not the only one, either.
    The proper register for corporate policies is the one that clearly communicates the desired behavior, in ways that don't leave reasonable people drawing opposite conclusions. The proper tone is whichever tone doesn't result in Noetica and a handful of other people having a 200-kb-long tis-tisn't "discussion" over the meaning of the word should in a particular sentence. The proper register for corporate policies is also one that doesn't result in Noetica (or anyone else, but that's our current example) opening ANI and ArbCom requests over a disagreement about whether something that "should" be done absolutely "must" be done with no exceptions.
  4. We're not talking about specious definitions. We're talking about expanding the existing text about using these terms to encourage everyone to use them with precision and consistency, so that when a policy says "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves", nobody will wonder whether that means "absolutely required, and you are entitled to start endless discussions and request ArbCom sanction everyone else if it's not done" or if it means "it's a good standard practice, but there are some legitimate exceptions". WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:46, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Disappointing, W. Shameless personalising of a key issue in the interpretation of policy and guidelines throughout the Project. Don't believe the loud and indignant rhetoric. I was not the one! I did not go to WP:AT while I was involved up to the hips, unilaterally overturning a plain provision that had been serenely and explicitly in policy for three years, with a wikilawyering quibble over the meaning of "should". I did not then start a stupidly disruptive RFC that had no structure and no hope of resolution, wasting days of editors' time and peppered with confusions so basic they would be dispelled in the first week of Linguistics 101. For the rest – your risibly misunderstood evidence from M-W, your appeal to a geeky backroom text that rests on equally flawed assumptions about real English – it is not worth going through all that now. If you want an RFC, frame it well and fairly – or I will well and fairly object. Someone has to! If despite appearances you are ready for expert assistance rather than piling on the populist calumnies, just let me know, OK? ♥
NoeticaTea? 22:13, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Noetica, I am aware that there are some legacy problems with our policies. It's taken a couple of years just to clean up the mess caused by people who didn't understand that WP:Secondary is not another way to spell good. But if we decide to define these terms, then we can clean up the policies, and as a bonus, you'll (eventually) never again have to wonder whether any given instance of "should" actually means "must".
My question about the green text is whether that's the question you want the RFC to focus on. We need a brief question. One option is
"Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Content's existing advice on writing policy and guideline pages says "be clear. Avoid esoteric or quasi-legal terms and dumbed-down language. Be plain, direct, unambiguous, and specific. Avoid platitudes and generalities. Do not be afraid to tell editors directly that they must or should do something." Shall we add the following text to that item?
"Use the word must to indicate that something is mandatory. Use the word should to indicate that something is appropriate and recommended under nearly all circumstances, but not actually required."
Does that sound like a fair and brief question to you? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:52, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
(The sequence of these posts got mixed up. A server problem? Somehow I did not see that post before I posted my own last one. Anyway, it stands.) No, W. That's not going to work. You should first remove the aberrant link from core Wikipedia policy to an external source, which on a charitable interpretation you neglected to signal in an edit summary when you inserted it. Then the whole issue could be looked at freshly. Your proposed wording for the RFC question does nothing to address the questions of implementation, compliance, and interpretation that I outlined earlier. You may think we can "clean up the policies" on the basis of some 1997 reworking of the English language; I do not share your optimism.
NoeticaTea? 22:27, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
This is why I was asking; I didn't know whether you wanted to have an RFC about the new proposal or about the edit from 14 months ago. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:13, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
O, I think you should right now remove your addition from 14 months ago, regardless of what happens next. It is an unjustified link to an external source, right there within a Wikipedia policy document. And you did not signal what you were doing in your edit summary.
NoeticaTea? 01:04, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Doubleplusungood. What's next, a specially defined alphabet? Hmm, here's Merriam-Webster. Definition 2: "—used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency". Neotarf (talk) 23:50, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
Neotarf, apart from several descriptive grammars and other truly relevant resources, I have surveyed a dozen dictionaries on this topic. The M-W treatment of "should" is the worst I have seen, mostly because the citations are very poorly sorted. From the Collegiate, which you and WhatamIdoing appear to be citing:

5 used in auxiliary function to express a request in a polite manner or to soften direct statement {I should suggest that a guide ... is the first essential – L. D. Reddick}

Does Reddick's "should" express a request? No, not by itself. If anything, the verb "suggest" does that work, and "should" (functioning very like entirely non-deontic "would") adds to the circumlocution. Does that "should" soften direct statement? Possibly. We would need to see the context. It might turn out to be conditional: "[If it were up to me,] I should [≈would] suggest ...". The fuller version under this heading from Webster's Third New International (big sibling of the Collegiate) adds these citations (and the lemma is now numbered 6, not 5):

{one aspect of his critical work to which I should like to call attention – Malcolm Cowley} [...] {should you wish to look at it – O. Henry} {in general I should say that the salaries ... make up very nearly two thirds of the budget – Deems Taylor}

In these "should" plainly does not itself "express a request". Not unproblematically. Does it "soften direct statement"? Yes, but only in a way that is remote from the expression of obligation. Certainly not in any way that is germane to contexts such as this statement from WP:AT: "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves, and consensus reached before any change is made." And that O. Henry citation is squarely conditional, equivalent to "if you wish to look at it" or the awkward "if you were to wish to look at it" (for a conditional with irrealis mood). It is therefore misclassified under that lemma. It belongs under 1, which in the Collegiate version is this:

1 —used in auxiliary function to express condition {if he should leave his father, his father would die – Genesis 44:22 (Revised Standard Version)}

When we add people's misreadings of M-W, we glimpse the scale of the problem. Those are all distractions from quite separate uses of "should", where obligation is clearly to the fore.
These things are better treated in a properly conducted RFC – if we can still hope for such a thing, after recent examples of that genre in decline. ☺ I don't want to waste more time on them.
NoeticaTea? 01:07, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Noetica's deep immersion in his learned sources reminds me of a person who drives into a ditch because according to the map, there is no ditch there. IMO, it is incontrovertible that should is ambiguous for a significant portion of the population. If the goal is to indicate an obligation for which one will be subject to sanctions for ignoring, then "should" is not the right word to use. olderwiser 01:36, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Indeed... in fact, I would go a step further - in most cases where we do use the word "should" in policy, we chose that word because it is a somewhat ambiguous word. In most cases, what we are describing in the policy is "Best Practice" not a mandated rule. We are intentionally not saying "must" because we recognize that the normal "Best Practice" being described has exceptions... situations where it makes sense to do something else instead. So, in those few situations where we really do mean "must" we should use that word instead. (or, better yet, use the active voice and simply say "Do X"... or "Don't do Y"). Blueboar (talk) 02:31, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
That's what RFC 2119 says, and that's why many editors support it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:18, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
But that document does not say what Blueboar says about preferring direct instructions (like "Do X"). When it does mention imperatives, its use of the term is idiosyncratic (like most of the document). It also limits its own scope, with strange and amateurish wording that shows how ungeneralisable its advice is:

"6. Guidance in the use of these Imperatives / Imperatives of the type defined in this memo must be used with care and sparingly. In particular, they MUST only be used where it is actually required for interoperation or to limit behavior which has potential for causing harm (e.g., limiting retransmisssions [sic]) [sic: no period here] For example, they must not be used to try to impose a particular method on implementors where the method is not required for interoperability."

Weird. And weird to think that such a document should have any force on Wikipedia.
NoeticaTea? 01:04, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
≠ (alias User:Bkonrad):
  • Better to be "immersed in learned sources" (as I cheerfully admit that I often am) than to be unable to parse a sentence when challenged to support one's reading of it (as you were when we last discussed all this, in a doomed RFC).
  • Yes, the plainest deontic reading of "should" (usual in policy and guidelines, as in any quasi-legislative context) can be distorted, and can be misunderstood. Sure! But the solution is not to assume that it has a less common and typically stipulative meaning. The solution is to survey the issues without prejudice, and adopt an approach informed by sound analysis of the language as most people use and understand it.
  • You make an interesting claim, without support, about why "should" is typically chosen. In a proper RFC, I will show another reason for people preferring to use "should", still with full obligatory force. Backed by empirical evidence from a corpus-based grammar of English.
  • I agree with you about using direct instructions instead. It solves a multitude of problems in policy and guidelines. But you misidentify that as active voice. It is no such thing. Most "should" and "must" constructions are in active voice! (Not the one that occasioned all this wrangling, though: "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised ...".) I think you mean imperative mood. Not a bad idea to check those "learned sources" from time to time, right? ♫♪
NoeticaTea? 03:18, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
You're right, it would be a good idea to check those learned sources. Must and should are auxiliaries and may be used in both passive and active voice: "We must do it" is active, and "It must be done" is passive. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:18, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
A dangerous thing ☺. As auxiliaries, "should" and "must" are not in any voice. "Should" and "must" constructions (the accurate term that I used, note) may be in either active or passive voice. In most general uses they are active, I would say (like "you should go now"); but of course, in quasi-legislative contexts where the intent is often to avoid imperative constructions and second-person forms generally, there are more passives: "proposals should be advertised", rather than "you should advertise proposals" or "advertise proposals". Some reasons for choosing passives are sound, and some are not sound.
NoeticaTea? 01:04, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Noetica, (and I have lost track of the threading here), not the Collegiate, the online version of M-W is identified as the "Eleventh Edition". It has been superseded of course, that's why it's free, but there is much readily accessible information there, -- did I mention that it was free? Many of the examples you cited (and also from the online version) seem like they are no longer in common usage, at least not in my neck of the woods. The second definition certainly applies to policy:

—used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency <'tis commanded I should do so — Shakespeare> <this is as it should be — H. L. Savage> <you should brush your teeth after each meal>

Clearly "should" can be used to express obligation, such as the obligation to follow policy. "Policies have wide acceptance among editors and describe standards that all users should normally follow." "Normally" here links to WP:IAR; clearly "must" would be inappropriate here. Does the markup code cease to work if policy is not followed? No. One can choose whether or not to fulfill obligations, but of course, either way there are consequences to be calculated.
Can anyone mistake policy for being a mere recommendation just because it uses the word "should"? I think not. The guidelines are recommendations. "Guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus. Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply." The difference between "should normally follow" and "should attempt to follow" are much clearer descriptions than arbitrarily redefining words in some obscure back page somewhere. Neotarf (talk) 12:07, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Noetica's examples do not reflect the principal use of this term in policies. We need should as in "You should be friendly to new editors" or "You should brush your teeth if you don't want dental caries", not as in "If I were asked for an opinion, I should share mine". Somehow, none of the definitions Noetica admits to reading address the most common use of the word. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:13, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
They are not intended to reflect the principal uses of "should" in Wikipedia policy. Read carefully, and do not misrepresent what editors have said or done. That's a bad habit. I wrote: "The M-W treatment of 'should' is the worst I have seen, mostly because the citations are very poorly sorted." And then I proceeded to show how, with pretty close analysis. I was prompted to do that by your appeal to an M-W dictionary.
NoeticaTea? 01:04, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I got that some dictionaries don't list deontic usage at or near the top and I agree that it's unfortunate for our purposes, but I found the detail ("close analysis") as to what is listed to be more distracting and confusing than clarifying. Jojalozzo 02:22, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Find what you like, Joja. I repeat: my aim here is not to deal systematically with the core issues. I said what I intended to show, and then I showed it. A systematic treatment belongs in a properly constructed RFC. Editors are not very good at setting those up, I think; but we can hope. I do not start an RFC here myself, because I am not the one proposing change – except the easy matter of WhatamIdoing removing from Wikipedia policy her undocumented and unilateral inclusion of a link to a spurious external authority.
NoeticaTea? 02:32, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
more distracting and confusing than clarifying an insightful observation with which I am in strong agreement. olderwiser 04:02, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
≠ (alias User:Bkonrad): If you can't handle the detail stay out of the dialogue. If you can't admit that you were plain wrong concerning the syntax of the sentence that sparked all this (in WP:AT), don't attempt to compensate by captiously clutching at straws to discredit me. You are out of your depth. If you can't stay dispassionate, stay away. You're an admin? Amazing.
This is all a waste of time anyway, unless we get an RFC that can settle the question of dubious external technical "authorities" determining how Wikipedian policy is written and interpreted. ♥
NoeticaTea? 11:23, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I also think it was largely irrelevant, and I think you are additionally being needlessly rude to Bkonrad. Anyone's welcome on this page, not just people who are upset that Men's rights was moved via RFC instead of RM.
I have no intention of removing the information about the words must and should being permitted, or the link associated with them, that was added over a year ago and which has been accepted by everyone except you and Neotarf. We have a problem with some people believing that "mere guidelines" aren't permitted to use words like must, and we need to address it here. Addressing the confusion that leads people like you to believe that should means "under no circumstances is anyone permitted to move Men's rights without first notifying WP:RM" is also apparently something that we need to address. When we mean must, we should say must. When we mean should, we should say should. Then when you read "should use WP:RM", you will be confident that we mean "WP:RM is the normal process, but not actually required", and if you ever read "must use WP:RM", you will be confident that we actually mean "using WP:RM is required without exception". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:09, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Jojalozzo, that's exactly what Noetica is saying (in Australianese). The Merriam-Webster dictionary bunches several meanings together in one entry, and gives archaic examples (from the Bible, Shakespeare, etc.). This kind of shorthand may be useful for a specialist, but is not good for explaining new concepts to people for the first time. I have seen much better treatment of modals elsewhere, that expands each separate type of usage with examples, but unfortunately do not have access to these resources right now. Neotarf (talk) 06:32, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
W: I support your proposed addition to #Content but I'd prefer the phrase "not mandatory" or "not obligatory" instead of "not actually required" because it more clearly contrasts "should" usage with "must" usage and "actually" makes me wince a little, actually. I think this is a useful clarification of long standing usage/interpretation of "should" and "must". Has anyone put together an analysis of "should" usage on policy pages? Jojalozzo 02:43, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
That works for me. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:13, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Y'all can find out "how we currently use 'must' and 'should'" most efficiently, by downloading either Book:Key Wikipedia Policies & Guidelines or Book:Be Wikipedia Wise (and/or making/updating a book). [They're around 700pages; 20mb-pdf or 30mb-odt.] There are 402 uses of "must", 2105 uses of "should", in that second book/collection. HTH. —Quiddity (talk) 05:56, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. That's helpful. Most of the occurrences of "must" appear to be related to the five pillars and legalities (copyright, BLP), with "should" is used otherwise. I think one interesting analysis would involve breaking out the text by various categories (policy vs guidelines, legal/BLP/five pillars vs everything else) and counting occurrences. Any other ideas? Jojalozzo 03:33, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Should (arbitrary break)

OP wrote: What do you all think about adding an external link to (the famous RFC 2119 that defines the differences between words like "should" and "must") to this page? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:08, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

  • I don't know about need this particular link, but the content is very widely and very well respected and understood in professional writing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:51, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
    • SmokeyJoe, I think you mean "technical writing". It was meant for writing specs. Neotarf (talk) 06:35, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
      • While it is even more certainly true for technical writing, I'm going out on a limb to assert it as true for professional writing. Wikipedia aspires for professional quality, and not so much for "technical". It's a bit of a limb because in professional writing, technically precise word like must/should/may/shall/verify/ensure/if-then are not so common, but I believe that when used, they are used correctly with respect to their technical meanings. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 09:12, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
        • You are indeed going out on a limb, Smokey. And you go there without the support of evidence or argument. The English modal auxiliaries are extraordinarily subtle and multivalent, we can agree. Professional writers manage them with great care and nuance, no dispute there. But the distinctions made in RFC 2119 are not the distinctions made by professional writers – nor even reasonable extensions of everyday usage. They are flawed and amateurish, founded on linguistic misconceptions. They might work in stipulated norms for certain sorts of technical writing, but they do not emerge naturally from English as it is used. The language used on Wikipedia does though; and it should not be contaminated by such artificiality.
          NoeticaTea? 11:44, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
          • Maybe.

            A different thought ... These technically precise word, uncommon in professional writing, maybe are actually avoided. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:22, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

SmokeyJoe, the use of "should" for lists of rules and standards is quite proper. For example, if you look at the BBC online style guide [2] you will see examples like:
~It is the policy of BBC Radio News that collective nouns should be plural, as in The Government have decided.
~Broadcasters should always identify the source of an assertion before making it – always say who before you say what they said or did.
~Assassination should be kept for the violent deaths of royalty and seriously prominent members of society, such as political or religious leaders. Everyone else is murdered or killed.
On the other hand, the use of "should" in RFC 2119 was so specialized that it was required to be at the beginning of every technical specification so that the users would understand that the word was being used in specialized and non-standard ways.
Neotarf (talk) 21:23, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Actually, those are good examples of why RFC 2119's definition makes sense. "Collective nouns should be plural"—but there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, e.g., it is the policy of the BBC not to muck about with direct quotations, even if that means that you occasionally use the singular for collective nouns.
The reason that RFC 2119 says to note that you are following its convention is to deal with the legacy problem. If it says "we are following the widely used convention in RFC 2119", then you don't have to wonder whether "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves" means "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title must be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves, and you are entitled to have the move of Men's rights reversed if it wasn't advertised there", or if it means "Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves, but there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore that advice and use another process, like WP:RFC instead." WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:02, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
You mistake what the BBC does. They do not use the RFC 2119 software protocol policy in their style manual at all. And they use "should" consistently throughout their document.
And like Wikipedia, they have a statement at the beginning to fend off the bean counters, "This is not a “do and don’t” list but a guide that invites you to explore some of the complexities of modern English usage and to make your own decisions about what does and does not work." It is the spirit, not the letter of the policy, that gives life to the written page.
Neotarf (talk) 23:05, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
The BBC says that you "should" use the plural, but they also say that there exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to use the singular. If there weren't any valid reasons, they'd have used wordds like "must", e.g., their policy on identifying paid informants. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:59, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
You're guessing. Stop pretending that you are not. There is not the slightest evidence in that BBC styleguide's 50 instances of "should" to support your prejudgement of the matter.
NoeticaTea? 03:34, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing: NO, the BBC online style guide does not say that at all. In fact, what they say is that BBC Radio News uses plural, BBC Online uses singular, and BBC Television News has no policy at all for collective nouns. It's purely a style choice. Technically, in the context of the policy, the writer only needs to write in a way that is reasonable, but in practice, if someone uses the wrong one, an editor will probably notice it and correct it before it is published. Neotarf (talk) 15:14, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Noetica, Do you have a suggestion for a good and concise way, that we can distinguish between advice that is obligatory, vs advice that is strongly encouraged? If not "must" and "should" – whether we use RFC2119, or a cited-dictionary, or our own definitions/clarifications of those 2 words – then what? (The whole point of this thread, is to minimize confusion, and minimize wikilawyering/argument, in the elsewhere/future. The faster we get to the point, the more time we have for writing articles and other real work.) —Quiddity (talk) 21:05, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Quiddity, while we are waiting for noetic insight, let me point out that the role of policies and guidelines is already defined in a core procedural policy. The people who are proposing to change it could be more forthcoming about their agenda. Neotarf (talk) 22:08, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I'd be happy to tell you about my agenda: I want any editor who reads "should use WP:RM" (for example) in a policy, guideline, or even an essay, to know that the community recommends, but does not absolutely require, them to use WP:RM. And I want any editor who reads "must not violate copyrights" (for example) in any advice page to know that the community truly means that they must not violate copyrights under any circumstances whatsoever, with zero exceptions (except any specified exceptions, e.g., "must not use self-published sources about a living person, except if the author and publisher is the living person in question").
That's my agenda. What's yours? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:13, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Agenda? I am not proposing any policy changes whatsoever, much less raising the same issue over and over on multiple RFCs and multiple threads. The Men's rights people have got their stealth title change, and they have even had Arbcom say their pet involved admin did not do anything serious enough for any sanctions, yet this forum is being disrupted yet again. Neotarf (talk) 22:50, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
The agenda is less argument. Less quibbling. Less time spent analysing the loopholes of the law, and more time writing articles.
We're all old hands, and I think we can all agree that flames are annoying and depressing and timeconsuming, and these grammatical nuances and disagreements are a distraction from writing articles (except inasmuch as they prevent battlegrounds at article talkpages).
The only admin who has commented in this thread so far, is bkonrad. I don't know if you're insulting him, or someone else - but please don't. We're all aware that humans are complicated animals, and that large organizations have "politicking" going on in many ways, but insulting/demeaning/mocking people does no one any good. (ie, I don't know what you're talking about specifically (and given the article's topic, I probably don't want to!), but my respect for you has decreased ever so slightly, simply because of the way you phrased that "pet involved admin" part. Sorry for my bluntness, but a hostile environment is pretty much our worst goddamn problem, and that needs to be pointed out whenever the hostility is increased. (And I'm at fault sometimes, and am usually thankful for being called on it, though often not for 24hrs or so... Peace.) —Quiddity (talk)
Quiddity, you seem to have walked in at the middle. Perhaps I have expressed myself inelegantly, but for something of the beginning, see here [3], for something of dynamics surrounding the article that they are attached to, see here [4]. Oh, and the beginning of this thread is actually this RfC here [5] at WP:TITLE, which some of us do care about. There is more of course, much more; I stopped counting at around 8,000 words. Perhaps someone else has time to spell out all the forums this same RM issue has been taken to, and all the incivilities that accompanied it, but for the moment, know that I too would like to create new content, and have many other things to do in RL besides. Neotarf (talk) 00:41, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm vaguely acquainted with the "Don't use accented latin characters in article titles!" dispute, but not many of the others. It's about as painful to watch as the the/The Beatles issue. (and I can understand/agree with both of the pedants perspectives (the and The), as well as the omgwtfgahheadache perspective (which I lean towards)). —Quiddity (talk) 07:40, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Quiddity, you ask:
  • "Do you have a suggestion for a good and concise way, that we can distinguish between advice that is obligatory, vs advice that is strongly encouraged?"
    Yes I do. First, as I have suggested above, I agree with Blueboar about "using direct instructions instead. It solves a multitude of problems in policy and guidelines." For example the contested sentence in WP:AT could be reworked in the imperative: "Do not make any potentially controversial page move without submitting it first for advertisement at WP:RM to establish consensus." Brief, crisp, simple. No problem at all. At least, no problem if we adopt the natural-language understanding of "should" for that directive. (I would like to see the fully articulated reasonable alternative: one without a list of codicils, and plausible reasons for not advertising at WP:RM.) Second, as I suggested above, "the solution is not to assume that ['should'] has a less common and typically stipulative meaning. The solution is to survey the issues without prejudice, and adopt an approach informed by sound analysis of the language as most people use and understand it." I will not submit all of my ideas until we have a properly neutral RFC, in which I would not be wasting my time. Meanwhile, I reject submissions such as WhatamIdoing's, which attempt to prescribe medicine with neither a proper diagnosis nor any expert knowledge of the pharmacopoeia.
And you write:
  • "The whole point of this thread, is to minimize confusion, and minimize wikilawyering/argument, in the elsewhere/future. The faster we get to the point, the more time we have for writing articles and other real work."
    An admirable agenda! A pity it is not the agenda that WhatamIdoing states above; and she started the thread. She prejudges what policy does and does not require – not according to common usage, but in the precarious light of an external technical "authority" of demonstrably amateurish linguistic competence, and of doubtful relevance beyond circumscribed technical applications. Better if she had not smuggled their text into Wikipedia last year as an Easter egg, failing to show what she was doing in her edit summary. That external link should be removed as lacking any demonstrated consensus.
NoeticaTea? 04:33, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
So... as I understand it: You're both claiming that "should" must be interpreted in a different way, regarding an instance of it at WP:TITLECHANGES (WP:AT).
And this is critical, because of a set of disputes over articles titles, and the methods used to resolve those disputes. (ie, whether the WP:RM process is obligatory in all cases of any measurable controversy).
In the spirit of good faith, and non-psychic powers, I'm going to assume that WAID added that link a year ago, because it is a well known (and much used by geeks) set of definitions, that have been used successfully in the past to make technical communications clearer to a wide diversity of demographics. (Ie. everyone from erudite linguists, to the seething masses, can easily understand the definitions given, with "must=obligatory" and "should=recommended"). So, it was added purely in an attempt to make things clearer around here. And in the opinions of some editors it does exactly that.
I understand that you're arguing for a more nuanced understanding of the way the word "should" is used in that single instance at WP:AT, but the interpretation seems to be utterly subjective (and possibly supportive of your position in whatever that debate is currently about, so a COI).
Also, you say "Brief, crisp, simple. No problem at all." but there is a problem, in that making WP:RM an obligatory process, means that anyone who doesn't use it, for any page that turns out to be controversial after the fact, will result in potential sanctions against the user. And templating-of-the-regulars. And ANI threads. And more work on a day-to-day basis for all the people who generally just ignore the rules and use common sense and write the fracking articles, and only glance at the projectspace pages when they have questions.
Which, according to File:Model7alpha labeled.png and personal experience, is the majority of editors.
Aside from the talkpage hostility, our labyrinthine pages upon hundreds of pages of "Guides/Requirements/Laws" are the thing most newcomers (and regulars) complain about.
Afaict, that's the reason everyone is saying "should doesn't mean obligatory (including/particularly in this instance)". To avoid as much instruction/process creep as possible. —Quiddity (talk) 07:40, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
A lot of incautious commentary there, Quiddity: sweeping, broad-brush portrayals and inaccurate summation of positions. But as I have repeatedly stressed, there is no point picking over it all again and again. Not without a fair and neutral RFC that starts without presuppositions favouring one side over another, and without assuming one conclusion rather than another. We have had enough of long meandering discussion at WT:AT, in RFCs that I warned at the outset were ill-advised. Let's not do the same here.
NoeticaTea? 07:58, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
"Incautious"?! We have a rule about that now?! Good grief. I'm trying to be straightforward and clear. Well if you're going to ignore my points and perspective, then I guess, "good night and good luck". —Quiddity (talk) 19:21, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
No, Quiddity. There is no rule about being incautious. But look, people are wasting time here, as we did earlier at WT:AT. Fruitful discussion is structured, and based on uncontested ground. If you ignore that reiterated theme in my posts, you have been incautious in your responses. I do not want to ignore your points; but I've already said all that I want to say in an unstructured discussion, with repetition even. Perhaps what is most incautious, though, was this:

"Afaict, that's the reason everyone is saying 'should doesn't mean obligatory (including/particularly in this instance)'. To avoid as much instruction/process creep as possible."

It is singularly unhelpful, and I think uncivil, to assert "everyone is saying that X", in answer to someone who is among the many who do not say that X. I have demonstrated, perhaps, that I have some competence in English (shared by several here) and in linguistics (not shared by many here). Why simply wave aside my claims about the questionable 1997 document that WhatamIdoing insists on importing as authoritative? Earlier you wrote:

"The agenda is less argument. Less quibbling. Less time spent analysing the loopholes of the law, and more time writing articles."

You repeated that in essence later, and I answered it. But there is in fact more to what you call "real" work, beyond the writing of articles. Most of my work involves WP:MOS, a page that many agree is vital to the Project. It is quite "real". And here also we do real work. While I disagree with her stance and some of her methods, WhatamIdoing does a lot of that, with policies and the like. Those who are impatient with the special demands of such work can avoid it and do something else, just as a teacher may avoid the work of a lawyer if it makes her uncomfortable, without belittling that work.
It is all too easy, and manifestly unfair, to dismiss as "wikilawyering" either the work of editing policy or the approach editors might adopt to such work. I will happily stop using that pejorative term, if we can all agree to. From my point of view KillerChihuahua was guilty of wikilawyering of the most blatant and egregious kind, right through the sorry history that leads to the present discussion. And I can be accused also (I can defend myself, be sure of that ☺). Certainly WhatamIdoing can be accused, covertly bringing in an interpretation of the crucial word "should" from an external document that runs counter to common usage, for artificial use in circumscribed technical contexts.
I hope we all want to avoid confusion and reduce instruction creep. But it is not as easy as you seem to think, especially if we try to achieve it with still more legalistic instruction from this vaunted RFC 2119. There are linguistic and psychological facts about how people (including Wikipedia editors) write and read English. It is unproductive to pretend otherwise, resorting instead to some jumped-up "authority", welcomed as somehow capturing all that is important for our purposes in policy and guidelines. It does not do that. A hard fact, supportable from dictionaries and descriptive grammars.
Does that help? If you have some particular issue with me, take it to my talkpage. Nothing useful can be achieved here. Yet.
NoeticaTea? 00:24, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
The ramifications of the decision (of how to interpret that one instance of "should"), are what I'm concerned with.
Sorry I was unclear. I meant:

"everyone [whom] is saying [...] [is saying it because they want] To avoid as much instruction/process creep as possible.".

From my perspective, you're coming at this from an idealistic or academic standpoint, whereas I'm coming at it from a practical standpoint. I too, have spent hundreds of hours reading and commenting on and occasionally tweaking or writing the Ps Gs and MoSs over the years, but the in-the-trenches view is critical to both writing and interpreting/understanding those wikilaws. I know you've done your fair share of article editing/writing, and even if you (or anyone) hadn't I wouldn't dismiss your opinions/perspectives, but, like all the perspectives, they need to be balanced against all the others, in order to work well with those who hold differing viewpoints on subjective or ambiguous issues.
The Meat: What a dictionary states, or what the current sentence-structure implies (or the diff from 42 revisions ago), or what rfc2119 suggests, are all potentially helpful, but are not crucial - the core issue is: What widespread ramifications will decision A or B have?
Eg. if we decide the WP:RM is obligatory, then editors will start claiming that any "Move" suggestions/decisions made in AfD threads are invalid. That's demonstrably bad, for reasons that can be extrapolated from the phrase "process-creep" (and the items specifically mentioned above, eg ANI threads, templating-of-regulars, etc).
Red Tape has Ramifications, ramifications, ramifications. (As the realestate agent said to Steve Ballmer ;) —Quiddity (talk) 01:39, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Quiddity, anyone can come here and make wild claims, but I would suggest that if you want to know about technical moves or potentially controversial moves, or any other policy matter, you look at the policy itself. Better yet, try to use the process yourself. In spite of your concern about how us newbies encounter "labyrinthine pages upon hundreds of pages", I have been able to understand and follow these policy instructions myself with no problem. As far as your claims about "ANI threads" and "sanctions" and "templating-of-the-regulars", where are your diffs? The procedure has been in place for 6 years. If all these abuses you describe have really been taking place for all this time, surely you must be able to provide some horror stories.

No, I am not trying to get "should" used in some weird way. People use the word naturally, and in many different ways and situations, all of them perfectly correct. The policies are peppered with the word, something like two thousand occurrences. Now there is a proposal, maybe serious, maybe not, to use the word in only one way, based on some historical standard for writing computer specifications, without demonstrating that there is any problem with the present system, and without even trying to figure out how it would change the meaning of the several thousand instances of the word where it already appears in policy. That does not make any sense at all.

Yes, I think WhatamIdoing should take out her Easter egg. I'm not opposed to occasional humor, and this is a curious little historical factoid, but it doesn't really belong here. If she means to introduce it seriously, she first needs to demonstrate a problem. I don't know if her statement to me in the thread above: "Not a geek, are you?" is meant to imply that she has some kind of software expertise, or if it is just sarcasm directed at me, but I believe the burden should be on her to document the need for such a thing, and to show how exactly it is meant to change the Requested Moves process that the Men's Rights group seems to have such a burning desire to see changed. Neotarf (talk) 02:24, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

I'm not hugely attached to the mention of RFC2119 in this page. See the very first reply to the original post! It's not exactly supportive... I've barely mentioned RFC2119, except to ask "if not that, what?" in various ways. I'm mainly discussing how we differ, in our subjective perspectives, and beliefs on how the fineprint should be written and wielded (gently... gently... ).
Ramifications: No no! I suggested the other way around! - We don't currently treat WP:RM as obligatory "in all cases where anybody could conceivably object". However, if we start to treat RM as an obligatory process in 100% of cases, then we will also start to see increased negative repercussions. (I suggest/predict, based on ample experience of history repeating itself).
  • Ie. Currently, it is completely acceptable to !vote "Move" in an AfD thread, and if the thread-closer sees "Move" as being the consensus of the thread participants, then he/she is not obligated to then start a new & separate WP:RM process, they can just move the page.
Re: Newbies and other archetypes (because some of us enjoy reading/improving technical manuals! but not everyone...) disliking Wikipedia's plethora/overabundance of (increasingly complex) manuals and rules: See meta:Former Contributors Survey Results and snippets and more, and "The procedures can be off-putting to newcomers", and Wikipedia:Help Project/Community fellowship and it's Wikipedia:Help Project/June 2012 survey and Help pages fellowship - page 2 and more (incl readability statistics (dire)), and strategy:Editor Trends Study, and New users find Wikipedia too difficult to use, and dozens more. —Quiddity (talk) 07:23, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't have time to dig up the diffs for you right now, but I see this more as another attempt to make RFC standard for moves. But no one can give any advantages for this, and it has been noted that the main effect of going this route is obfuscation, as the disastrous "Men's rights" RfC illustrates. But if you are really interested, read the discussions I linked to earlier; all of these things you bring up have already been brought up on other forums, over and over and over. Neotarf (talk) 13:17, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Noetica, I think your re-write to make AT absolutely require use of RM is very good, but ANI, ArbCom and a very high proportion of the editors at WT:AT recently said that they do not want to AT to indicate that the use of RM—no matter how sensible using it might be—is actually required in every cirumstance. In their opinion, using RM is not required in every circumstance. So how would you re-write that sentence to plainly communicate that RM is the normal and recommended process, but that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to use some other process, e.g., the RFC on abortion titles? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:55, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
  • That is not a rewrite that changes policy, nor a draconian one. You yourself made policy instruct editors, in WP:POLICY, not to be afraid of telling editors what they should or must do! You showed them by your example. Of course there will always be exceptions; hard cases made bad law and exceptions make bad Wikipedia policy. WP:IAR covers them, if nothing else.
  • You are wrong that ANI has "ruled" in such a way. ANI is a drum-head lynching tribunal for summarily dispatching matters according to which cohort howls loudest, and the whim of a premature and self-appointed closer. Here is where matters of policy are decided, and at such talkpages as WT:AT. That is, when editors have the integrity to discuss first and not to plant external links in core policy without marking their action with an edit summary.
  • You are also wrong about ArbCom, if you are referring to the recent action there concerning Men's rights, WP:RM, and the conduct of admin KillerChihuahua. There was a great deal of vocal protesting from partisans who did not declare their partisanship, and the arbitrators decided on their testimony against taking the case. Their reasons differed, but there was a sense that KillerChihuahua had acted irregularly but that this did not rise to a level requiring ArbCom to do anything. Again, without a full case and a full consideration of evidence, ArbCom does not in any way determine policy. We do, here: on a consideration of the community's wishes. Preferably by wide and well-advertised consultation, which I always favour but apparently you do not.
  • Yes, there is a variety of opinion expressed also at WT:AT. Much of it is again partisan, after the facts concerning that wretchedly political article Men's rights, and KillerChihuahua's prejudicial presentation to change policy in a way that would have the effect of rationalising her own questionable admin actions – without declaring her deep involvement. Given such diversity and frank confusion, better to start from scratch, and not from the opinion that "should" means what you think it does. That is unsupported by corpus-linguistic examinations of how the language is actually used.
  • You ask how I would rewrite that notorious provision in WP:AT, if it were to be understand as merely recommending advertisement at WP:RM. As I say above already, I would like to see how advocates of that position would do it. I cannot do it myself, because I do not understand the turns and subtleties of what they have in mind. Note that, by your reading and their reading of "should" in the present wording, even the getting of consensus is a mere recommendation. Perhaps you will show what you have in mind. Myself, I have no conception of a coherent and plausible policy statement that would take such a cavalier approach to determining consensus for controversial moves.
  • Once again though, please stop all this: unless we are going to have a reasonable RFC that starts without prejudice and ignorant assumptions about English. And please remove your non-consensual addition to this policy page, of a covert link to the external document "RFC 2119". This might do something to counter the appearance you give of implacable adherence to an idea that never had consensus from the community. It wasn't even asked, and it wasn't even told.
NoeticaTea? 03:34, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Sigh... how many RFCs and talk page threads do we need to resolve this? The question is simple... Is the RM process the only acceptable mechanism for resolving debates about titles, or are their other acceptable mechanisms? Looking at actual practice, the answer to that question seems clear to me: While most title disputes are indeed resolved through the RM process, there are disputes that have been resolved through RFCs, arbitration, and other mechanisms. We may not like this fact, but it is a fact nevertheless. Policy should be descriptive, not proscriptive... or to put it another way, Policy should describe actual practice, not what we wish practice to become. Resolving disputes at RM can be described as "Best Practice" or even "preferred practice", but it can not (and should not) be presented as a "must". Blueboar (talk) 13:30, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
If there have been disputes that have been resolved by anything but an RM since the process was established, I've missed it. If someone is proposing to replace the current flexible language about policy with something that says policies are written in stone, I have missed that too. As far as I know, IAR is still in effect and is still being invoked. In actual practice, the Men's Rights so-called RFC violated at least 4 of the 5 pillars, and rather than resolve a dispute, inflamed it by conducting a proceeding in secrecy, until a proper RM had to be initiated. Policy should describe successful actual practice, yes. If a particular practice is going to be encouraged that can only be attempted by certain elite groups of editors, perhaps the guideline should specify who can use what method.Neotarf (talk) 16:15, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I suppose that it depends on what you mean by "resolved". Things like Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Macedonia/other page titles and Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Abortion article titles were not handled at WP:RM. They're also sometimes handled at WikiProjects, as in this discussion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:26, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

I have a question

Is it OK for a wiki to copy policies from Wikipedia and use them for their own site? I mean, would that violate any rules or something? -- (talk) 03:44, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't see why not. But if you copypaste the text word-for-word you should attribute Wikipedia. -- œ 04:07, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Remember that editors adding any WP content are informed that by submitting the edit, "You irrevocably agree to release your contributions under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL". So any reuse of policy of other content would be subject to those terms. PL290 (talk) 07:43, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Spirit of a rule

Hi, new to wikipedia, and I have a few questions regarding "reprimanded for violating the spirit of a rule." What in Sam Hill is that? I mean... seriously? So, one can obey all rules, but if they show opposition to a rule, or stubbornness in apologizing, they violate some undisclosed portion of a rule that says you must abide by not only the letter of the law, but the spirit as well??? That seems a tad unreasonable to punish someone for sharing a different view. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Joshua Torelli (talkcontribs) 13:37, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

No one will reprimand you for having or stating a view... they might reprimand you for your actions. This is to deal with people who look for loopholes in our rules, and people who "game the system" by "Wikilawering" over the letter of the rules... To give the most common example: Technically, the WP:3rr policy allows for up to three reverts in twenty-four hours before action is taken... but... if you show a consistent pattern of reverting twice, and then waiting till the clock "resets" and reverting again, it can be deemed a violation of the spirit of 3rr (ie "don't edit war")... and you will be reprimanded. Blueboar (talk)
One more question, BlueBoar. I noticed articles about Christopher Columbus, and the Murder of Meredith Kercher. I'm not entirely sure of the details of the MoMK case, but on the Christopher Columbus one, it seems he had verifiable research. However, his edits were undone, and he was warned not to use the talk pages of the article to discuss his evidence? So, the discussion pages are not to discuss the article, but ways to improve the article. But what if you are trying to improve the article with verifiable facts, but your ideas aren't "popular"? How do you prove the research you or someone else has done if no one lets you? I'm seeing this all over the site, and it kind of scares me from even trying to improve the quality of the encyclopedia... It seems the admins have a little to much power..````
I had forgotten all about this. I think I kinda understand that the context used to explain the proposed revisions in Christopher Columbus and Murder of Meredith Kercher were fairly out of line with the neutral point-of-view policy, but I still think that some of the actions involved in those, and other instances like it, did seem like a liberal use of the power to apply policy. It's a shame, but unfortunately, you just can't find enough legitimate links sometimes. For some reason, I can't links to work right. Would someone mind sharing what I did wrong?Joshua Torelli (talk) 05:13, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Single-author essays and userfication

I've updated the WP:ESSAYS section to reflect the guidance given at Category:Wikipedia essays that An essay here may be moved categorically into the Wikipedia namespace, Category:Wikipedia essays, if it is frequently referenced, as evidenced by becoming an evolving expression of multiple editors. (Note: from 2007 until recently it read Essays in Wikipedia namespace that are mostly written by a single person, and not frequently referenced, are generally moved to the userspace of their author.)

This reflects the consensus formed in this discussion on the policy pump in 2007 that essays in the Wikipedia namespace should be collaborative works, and single-author essays are subject to userfication. As I understand it no subsequent change in consensus has been established. — Hex (❝?!❞) 17:43, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Sorry about that. Busy times for me and I missed this comment. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 12:55, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
No worries, thanks for the reply. — Hex (❝?!❞) 13:02, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but no. Anyone may start an essay in the Wikipedia namespace. If we-the-pople don't like it, then we have the option of forcibly userifying it, but there is no rule excluding single-author essays from the Wikipedia namespace. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:33, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
(Huh, I thought that other person was you. Confusing.)
Yes but no but. I have to say that I think you're conflating two different situations. There is certainly the issue of whether we-the-people like a given essay, as you say, and userfication is clearly called for on that basis on some occasions. However, we've had clear-cut guidance for five years that the location/categorization of essays stems from its number of authors, and I don't see that my change that you reverted was anything but a reiteration of such. The status quo was set by the discussion I linked to above, with Radiant's suggestion:

...every essay that has only be edited by a single user (not counting typo fixes, adding the essay tag or a category, nominating it for deletion, or similar minor stuff) should be moved to that user's userspace.
— User:Radiant! 08:22, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

getting consensus. That led to the creation of the two essay categories. Since then, though, this policy page hasn't reflected it.
What this page currently states is that essays... that are found to contradict widespread consensus, belong in the user namespace, but that's only one side of the coin. Consensus can certainly be contradicted (and indeed change), but it must also be gained. The understanding since 2007 has that essays which have not yet gained consensus also belong in the user space, and that "gaining consensus" as an essay has been measured in two respects: being the product of multiple editors, and/or being widely linked to.
Can you explain why you felt my addition was anything but an explicit clarification of the status quo? I'm looking forward to sorting this out with you. Thanks. — Hex (❝?!❞) 18:53, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
A five-year-old discussion is not proof of a current consensus on anything.
Most essays begin in the Wikipedia namespace, and stay there, and nobody counts the number of authors. As an example, I wrote Wikipedia:How to lose, and it was almost two years before anyone else made a substantive change to it. But nobody says that the essay was inappropriate for the Wikipedia namespace during those two years, or that it should have sat in my userspace until someone wanted to make a change to it (a process that would have been discouraged by the fact that it was in my userspace), or that we needed to have a discussion about its location.
I've written a handful of essays over the years. Wikipedia:Applicable law has only two revisions, both by me. Wikipedia:We don't care what happens to your website has two edits by me and one small copyedit by one other user. Wikipedia:Likely to be challenged has had no changes to its actual content by anyone since the first revision more than two years ago. And if you take these to MRD because they're "written by one person", you'll just get laughed at.
Our actual practice is that the initial author decides whether he wants an essay that he personally controls (in which case, it belongs in userspace) or an essay that he wants to be part of the general community's space (Wikipedia namespace). If he chooses to put it in the Wikipedia namespace, anyone can edit it, and the community can reject it (by having it userified). That's the status quo: anybody can write an essay in the Wikipedia namespace. There is no requirement to have multiple authors for essays in the Wikipedia namespace, and there is no requirement to get permission in advance to do so, or to have a trial run in your userspace. In fact, if you wanted to write an essay about why people shouldn't be able to write essays in the Wikipedia namespace, then you are free to do that yourself right now. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:37, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Okay. One thing, though: A five-year-old discussion is not proof of a current consensus on anything - it wasn't just that discussion, it was the guidance at the two essay categories that created as a result of that discussion. Which I can see you've now updated.
What I'm seeing from this is that back in 2007, a small consensus was formed that the number of single-author essays in project space was considered to be too much, and that the area should be kept for collaborative essays. But once the task of filing things in the user essay category was completed the idea wasn't taken any further, much less to policy level, and since then has been forgotten, with the situation you describe arising.
Just to make it clear, while I freely admit that I would personally prefer a rigorous separation on the older basis, I've not been trying to change policy to match my feelings. My entire aim during this has been to make sure that policy and references to policy have been consistent with each other. It was a happy coincidence that the (apparent) guidance aligned with what I would have said had I been part of the 2007 discussion.
Well, thank you for clarifying. I actually think that what you've just written here is a good piece of explanation that could do with being enshrined somewhere. Maybe in the introduction to those categories, or at WP:WES. — Hex (❝?!❞) 12:53, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Think our position on this is clear as demonstrated by the long stable wording at {{Essay}} - to quote "This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors". Even back in 2007 as seen here essays were general considered done by only one author and did not need to be in user space if the author wanted it in Wiki space over user space.Moxy (talk) 01:01, 17 November 2012 (UTC)


Shouldn’t WP:GUIDELINES redirect to the appropriate paragraph in the Role section here, rather than to WP:LGL, to be consistent with WP:POLICIES and WP:ESSAYS? I just noticed that it isn’t, and that struck me as confusing. —Frungi (talk) 03:54, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Confusing WP:GUIDELINES, WP:GUIDELINE, and WP:GUIDES is also likely. Art LaPella (talk) 05:02, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
I’m not clear on whether you’re agreeing, but this seems to support my point. —Frungi (talk) 05:10, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm agreeing. When I want to remind someone that a guideline is more than an essay, I cite WP:GUIDES. I can't remember using WP:GUIDELINES or WP:GUIDELINE. So I think any plausible spelling of GUIDELINE should lead to what is now WP:GUIDES. If instead an editor wanted to talk about policies and guidelines, I would think WP:POLICY (or WP:POLICIES, or WP:POLICIESANDGUIDELINES) would be the abbreviations editors would think of first. Art LaPella (talk) 05:27, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Since there seem to be no objections, can someone with a bot or something change the redirect? I’d do it myself, but I think then I’d have to manually change all the links. —Frungi (talk) 23:21, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

I’ve changed it myself. Not sure what to do about the links to it, so someone with a bot should still probably change those to WP:LGL. —Frungi (talk) 19:19, 29 November 2012 (UTC)


I opened an RFC almost three weeks ago at Template talk:Policy list#rfc_32DAC56 about whether or not the {{Policy list}} template ought to include WP:5P. So far, it has only received one comment. If you have an opinion, please consider stopping by that page to comment. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:56, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Precedence when two guidelines are in conflict

I have boldly expanded WP:POLCON to say that if two policies conflict with each other, or if two guidelines conflict with each other, that we choose the more specific one as a temporary measure while revising whichever ones need it. I believe that's the right default, because otherwise IAR will be declared to "trump" every other policy, any time someone disagrees with the contents of any policy. So, for example, you'd follow WP:ATHLETE rather than WP:GNG is this two were found to be in conflict.

Given the probability that someone will complain about this temporary-default (because it will doubtless produce meta:The Wrong Version from someone's perspective), then I think it would be particularly helpful if anyone watching this page would comment about the change, even if all you have to say is "fine" or "I don't care". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:41, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

I disagree with your "temporary default" concept... that will simply resolve the immediate dispute while leaving the underlying conflict in place.
When two guidelines or policies conflict, the correct thing to do is to alert editors at both pages to the fact that there is a conflict, create a centralized discussion to discuss it, figure out community consensus and edit one/both pages so the conflict no longer exists. Then you go back and apply both pages (now in harmony) to the issue that brought the conflict to light.
Yes, that leaves the issue temporarily unresolved at the article level... but doing so simply gives editors a good reason to focus on resolving the conflict, so that the conflict will not be an issue at other articles in the future. Blueboar (talk) 23:15, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
When a policy conflicts with a guideline, the policy takes precedence. When two guidelines conflict, we have an established set of core guidelines -- e.g. RS, MEDRS, CITE, MoS, LEAD -- that would take precedence over any lesser known guideline. Not sure how best to express that though. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:39, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it's possible to express the concept of "core guidelines", and even if we could, it wouldn't be sufficient. The MoS regularly contradicts itself. So if, for example, WP:MOS#Images and MOS:IMAGES contradict each other, it's (IMO) MOS:IMAGES, not WP:MOS#Images, that you ought to follow during the couple of days (or weeks) that it takes to sort out the mess.
Blueboar, I agree that the conflicts must be resolved. But that can take weeks, and we don't really want to put all FACs on hold every time a conflict is discovered. We've established a "temporary default" in favor of policies over guidelines. What we need now is to offer a "temporary default" that tells people what to do when the MOS pages are self-contradictory. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:16, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Years, not weeks, although that list has been resolved recently. Art LaPella (talk) 06:08, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
The problem with "temporary defaults" is that there is no incentive to actually resolve the conflict between (or within) the guideline. At the article level, the temporary default simply becomes accepted as a permanent default. With the dispute at the article level resolved, no one bothers to address the conflict between (or within) the guidelines.
If there is an article (or even multiple articles) "on hold", waiting for a resolution between (or within) guidelines, then there is incentive for editors to actually resolve the conflict. Blueboar (talk) 13:54, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Of course in my case at least, if editors who know won't resolve the conflict, I don't keep anything "on hold". I just unwatch and move on. If anything, the new MoS precedence rule gives me a reason to change the lower precedence rule to match the higher one, if nobody else is interested, and they usually aren't, although everyone thinks someone else should be. Art LaPella (talk) 17:32, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Previous discussion here and here. Notice there is much more support for expecting someone else to resolve contradictions than for actually fixing them. Art LaPella (talk) 15:16, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Blueboar, I have some sympathy for your position; people are fundamentally lazy. But what you say about the two-guidelines or two-policies problem is equally true about the policy-over-guideline default. Do you want to remove that as well? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:43, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
We need to get back to this. If MOS:IMAGES and WP:MOS#Images disagree, and the mismatch matters right now (e.g., for a FAC or because of a dispute), which one should editors follow during the process of reconciling the guidelines?
Or do you prefer no preference, so that the strongest edit warrior or the rudest person wins? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:46, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
The Manual of Style is different because it already has a precedence rule: "this page has precedence over its subpages ..." Art LaPella (talk) 22:11, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Do you have an opinion on the general case? What would you do if any two guidelines were in conflict? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:22, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I like what happened at the Manual of Style, so I would like to see something similar in general. For instance, use a more specific rule rather than a more general rule that was less likely to have been written with that case in mind. As I wrote here, flipping a coin is better than leaving a contradiction in place, and leaving it in place makes it get fixed slower, not faster. Art LaPella (talk) 00:36, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Separation between policies and guidelines

FYI, There's an RFC at WT:Article titles that seems to make policies and guidelines the same thing. -- (talk) 09:13, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Not the intent... but I can understand how it can be seen that way. Blueboar (talk) 17:12, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
Several of the commentators say that there's no difference between guidelines and policies. -- (talk) 04:55, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
As I understand it, that RFC is proposing that styling aspects of titling be determined by guidelines rather than policy. That is definitely not making policies and guidelines the same thing, just clarifying the boundary between policy and guidelines with respect to titling. Jojalozzo 05:27, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
There isn't a clear or consistent difference between guidelines and policies. See WP:The difference between policies, guidelines and essays for a description of some common misconceptions (which, in case you're curious, were discussed at length on this talk page, and which were put into a separate page because the details didn't seem like a good fit for the policy page, not because the information on that page is wrong or a minority viewpoint). 06:22, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Accepting "WP:Multiple-cross-reference page" as a guideline

I think WP:Multiple-cross-reference page is ready to take the step from being an unofficial essay to an actual guideline. I've found it to be an essential complement to disambiguation pages. Mikael Häggström (talk) 21:08, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

It is a interesting concept, and probably useful. Allow me a couple questions, and a couple suggestion too, before forming a opinion. I think it may be usefull for articles like, e.g. (fast picking from the stub category) Hub of the Universe, Great vessels, National Nature Reserves in the United Kingdom, South Asian Canadian, Grand General, Autonomous province, am I right? The second question is why the "multiple" in the name, would not "cross-reference" - or "cross-references" - be enough, and better marketing (easier to remember)? Sugegstion One, there is no need to "page" nor at the page name neither at the template name - we have wp:Disambiguation and ''{{disambiguation}}'', not wp:Disambiguation page and ''{{disambiguation page}}''. Finally, ig you want more than one answer in over a week, maybe you should use the village pump (and a RfC). Again, I like the concept, I'd use it, I think - Nabla (talk) 20:36, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
See Category:Cross-reference pages for a current list of such pages. Michael Hardy (talk) 04:03, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
I did, before asking... Why do wikipedians (sometimes me included, I must sadly admit) have the very, very, very bad habit of assuming others have not read xxx page, which if they did they would obviously understand the whole thing and ask no more (silly) questions? I did saw that, I was trying to understand by means of further examples if we had the same thought about the concept... But nevermind, I'll carry on below - Nabla (talk) 01:21, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I didn't invent this concept, but I find it very useful. I agree the name may not be perfect, and I think WP:Cross-reference would be fine, so I've suggested a move to that name at Wikipedia_talk:Multiple-cross-reference_page#Move_to_WP:Cross-reference. Mikael Häggström (talk) 19:50, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

I introduced this concept a while back, because it seemed as if pages with certain titles ought to be there, since people would search for those titles or link to them, but they didn't seem developable into articles themselves, and there would be multiple things to which they might reasonably redirect. If there were only one page to which they could redirect, then a redirect would solve the problem. So of course I endorse this proposal. Michael Hardy (talk) 04:02, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

The concept of cross-reference page is a gibberish, especially applied to such cases as circus fire. In an ideal encyclopedia, with very tidy editors, it would have few tens of applications. In the real Wikipedia with real editors it will lead only to degradation of the link graph. WP:Navboxes, WP:Hatnotes and See also sections combined are more than sufficient to meet the current demand in a smart navigation. But even these powerful tools are not all Wikipedia. Links to dab pages from an article are only normally avoided, but, in principle, they are not forbidden. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 08:52, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
Surely, in an ideal encyclopedia, circus fire would have been at least a stub, but in this case it was just a red link, because it was not really an ambiguous term, basically disqualifying it as a disambiguation page. With several articles about circus fires already in existence, a cross-reference is better than nothing, so I think the concept made the encyclopedia a bit better in this case. WP:Navboxes, WP:Hatnotes and See also sections require existing articles, while cross-references can be used for terms that people search for but lack an own article although there are related articles on the matter of interest. Mikael Häggström (talk) 09:41, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

So "Incnis Mrsi", you can cite one example where you say it's a bad idea. How about Continuity (mathematics)? It's about several closely related concepts, each of which has an article. To make it a single article does not appear to make sense. To redirect it to only one of those pages would mislead in some cases. But it makes sense to link to it in some instances. (talk) 18:14, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

For example, in … ? Incnis Mrsi (talk) 18:17, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
For example, in Richard Dedekind or Leopold Kronecker or Constructivism (mathematics) or Foundations of mathematics or any page whose topic involves how to make rigorous the various concepts of continuity, as opposed to those that deal with the concepts that _resulted_ from making these things rigorous. You'll notice Dedekind completeness is a cross-reference page as well. Michael Hardy (talk) 19:51, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
We open Special:Whatlinkshere/Continuity (mathematics), and we see… something but neither Constructivism (mathematics) nor Foundations of mathematics. It is impressive how proponents of "cross-reference pages" evade demonstration of a couple of concrete examples of a link bound to a "cross-reference", within a concrete context. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 07:56, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
Neither Richard Dedekind or Constructivism (mathematics) link to any "continuity" page, while the mention in Leopold Kronecker is very vague and should be disambiguated. My guess is that Continuum (topology) is meant, but I might be wrong. Foundations of mathematics links to continuous function in a rather specific context. Keφr 09:09, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion, links to cross-references is a possibility but not essential. Rather, I think the most important function of cross-references is to direct readers after having typed the word in the Special:Search box. Still, if it would be an accepted guideline then I'm sure there would be more links to cross-references. Mikael Häggström (talk) 22:05, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

I think this is a solution in search of a problem. I cannot find a single example where calling something a "cross-reference" page creates any advantage over using established ways of handling… umm… uhh… vague topics? Let us see:

Keφr 09:09, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

BTW, the concept of ambiguous redirect to an article, proposed by me a year ago, may be applied to ordered set. In short, there is no dab page, but one should similarly avoid to link such titles as it is avoided with dabs. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 14:33, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
The list above describes what to do with the current cross-references if we choose to oppose this guideline. Still, for:
  • Circus fire, I think it is better with a written cross-reference than an auto-generated list of articles matching the terms. For example, Oxford Circus fire appears in the search results, and may be mistaken as a circus fire, but it was actually a fire at Oxford Circus.
  • Orthotopic, I also definitely think it is better for someone searching for it to first find a definition of the term, rather than just links to Heart transplantation and Liver transplantation, where readers may not get any clear explanation (even in the "orthotopic procedure" subsections) of what orthotopic really means.
  • Professional dancing and health, the cross-reference format avoids the situation where a reader needs to go through two sections before actually getting to the information of interest.
For the rest, I'm either not familiar enough with the topic, or I can agree that the formats suggested by Keφr above would work as well. Mikael Häggström (talk) 22:26, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Again, I think the concept is interesting and usefull. I see it as kind-of a cross - :-) - between a disambiguation and a redirect, with a pinch of stub. A cross-reference disambiguates concepts, while a disambiguation disambiguates word(s). A cross-reference points to several likely targets, while a redirect only points at one. And it is stuby, because it is short, yet informative. I think it has potential. Quite a few discussions about where to point a redirect may be solved with a simple cross-reference. Some entangled webs of similar and overlapping articles could be simplified if one or two of them were (downsized to) cross-references. I do not see a problem in "shadowing" the growth of stubs, though. If there is content to add I do not foresee anyone removing content "because this is a cross-reference", quite the opposite, if it has grown, remove the cross-reference tag. The only main downsize I foresee is possible discussion over, is this "a disambiguation or a cross-reference?", "a stub, or a cross-reference?", etc. I suggest we assume that when in doubt, it is the other thing. That said, I support promoting to guideline - Nabla (talk) 01:21, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

I thoroughly agree with this concept. Since circus fire is the topic of discussion — as Mikael Häggström says, this shouldn't be a disambiguation page because it's unambiguous. Does this mean that we must tell people that we don't cover the topic, when actually we have some pages that touch on it? What's more, when a phrase has multiple meanings that are covered in articles with unrelated titles, this would be quite helpful; for example, take the WP:RDH discussion that brought me here in the first place. Someone asked what a Bible believer was, and discussion has revealed that the term can have multiple meanings in different people's mouths: some call themselves Bible believers because they adhere to the biblical inerrancy position, some to sola scriptura, some to Christian fundamentalism, and some to the King James Only movement. "Bible believer" isn't ambiguous for any of them, so it's not a good disambiguation page for them, but redirecting to one risks leaving out people who are seeking a different meaning. Convert it into a "Some people mean biblical inerrancy, some people mean sola scriptura" etc., and you're giving the reader useful information. Nyttend (talk) 03:01, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
"Some people mean this, here is a link. Some people mean that, here is a link" — sounds like a disambiguation page to me. Keφr 14:06, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Not at all. Compare a truly ambiguous topic like Mercury. All that can commonly be said about the topics on that page is that they share the name, Mercury. For a term like "Bible believer", there is a broader common theme, that being a person who has at least some level of "belief" in at least some portion of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The proper title for an encyclopedic article would probably be something more like Belief in the Bible, and it is possible that such a topic should be no more than a section in the article, Bible. However, it is not ambiguous, as the meanings are not ambiguous to one another - that is, they are not generally unrelated topics which only happen to share a name, like the planet Mercury and the car, Mercury. bd2412 T 16:29, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
  • These appear to be list articles (or set index articles, which are lists), and would not need a new guideline. They could be better moved to
    etc. These are not lists of potential redirect targets; if there are multiple potential targets for a redirect, then a disambiguation page is needed. If the multiple potential targets have a thematic fit, then a broad concept article is needed, or a set index list article can be used if there are no ambiguous members that are not elements of the set. Cross references in Wikipedia are adequately handled by wikilinks and See also sections in articles. Making a new guideline here seems like needless instruction creep. -- JHunterJ (talk) 14:40, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
    • First, I agree with everything JHunterJ has said. I would add that if a topic is too narrow to merit an article (as a list of circus fires might be), then we can always find a larger article which encompasses the subject, like List of fires and figure out some way to work in a section on "circus fires", to which Circus fire could serve as a section redirect. There is no limit to the number of short topics like these that can be merged into whatever article covers the next larger encompassing topic. bd2412 T 16:19, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm convinced now that every currently proposed cross-reference page can appropriately remain in another format, except so far Professional dancing and health, but I doubt it's worth that extra instruction creep for those (after all) few potential articles that could be added with a guideline like this. Mikael Häggström (talk) 16:31, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
And if Professional dancing and health is deleted, then readers would land here when entering that in the search box. That seems an adequate solution too, if no list article or broad concept article can be written there. -- JHunterJ (talk) 17:16, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Possibly, but if we choose not to adopt the cross-reference system, I'd rather see Professional dancing and health redirected to Dance and health (which showed up first as the 24th result among the search results) as suggested by Keφr above. Mikael Häggström (talk) 17:45, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Agree: Solution in search of a problem I just skimmed down to there, already skeptical and feel I've read enough. It's confusing enough for readers (not to mention editors who have to keep it all straight) to deal with:

  • Hatnotes
  • See alsos
  • Internal wikilinks
  • Redirects
  • Categories
  • List articles
  • NAV boxes and all the other ones too
  • What else have I forgotten?

Then get in a big POV fight about some topic (which I do all the time editing in areas of Libertarianism and Israeli-Palestinian conflict and weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee we really can have some fun driving each other crazy. Please, stop the madness!! Don't add to it. CarolMooreDC 02:14, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

I agree with you that there are sometimes too many detailed and hard to distinguish kinds of tags. But most of the one you list here have nothing to do with this... - Nabla (talk) 20:53, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Oppose There is no reason we need a new category of page. I can't think of a single case that isn't better handled by redirects, disambiguation, lists, or dabconcept. However, some of the given example could be addressed by a different idea I propose below. Ego White Tray (talk) 13:34, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

I think it is most likely the best thing to merge this concept with disambiguation, given the obvious similarities (and per the previous comment). And that dabconcept is the obvious target for that. The main (maybe the only real) difference is that in disambiguation it is usually required having the same words in the title, while here we are talking about the same concept. Hmmm... somewhat lateral to the subject... tagging with "dabconcept" results in two tags: {{disambiguation}} + {{dabconcept}}; if those should become, say, a single {{disambiguation|concept}} (with {{cross reference}} as a redirect) I guess it would be better - simpler and cleaner, without the top tag imposing on a short article - Nabla (talk) 20:53, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Oppose as per above. In addition, I fear that a cross-reference page may be used as an excuse not to write at least a stub, but instead simply list closely related articles. If there is a difference between the topic at hand and that of any existing article, I may prefer to see a stub explaining both the topic at hand and how it differs from other articles than a cross-reference. Mikael Häggström (talk) 22:07, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

I haven't said anything about this because I don't initiate these categories of pages, however, I am curious how this concept of cross-reference page is limited, i.e. what is an example that is sort of in the gray zone where reasonable people could disagree whether or not it is a cross-reference page? What form of cross-reference is definitely not for a page of this type? (Since on some level everything cross-references with something.) Other forms of page seem to fulfill a specific function in a way that is vague here. So, is it fair to ask you specialists to explain yourself to a non-specialist in this area? If you can't do it in two sentences then I would say the concept might not be sound. --Ring Cinema (talk) 23:12, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Allow stub-length articles to be mixed with disambiguation

I think some of the listed ideas can be addressed by permitting stub length articles to be included on disambiguation pages. I got this idea after being told to make Heinrich Müller and Heinrich Müller (name) separate pages, which just seems crazy to me. Christian conservatism and Circus fire may be candidates for doing this as well. You could then place a note at the bottom saying: "This page is a disambiguation page that includes a short article about its name. If the article section becomes longer than a paragraph or two, you should consider splitting it into a separate article." Or something like that. Thoughts? Ego White Tray (talk) 13:34, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

I see no reason why a disambiguation page can not include introductory text. I agree with EWT that it is silly to have both Heinrich Müller (a dab page) and Heinrich Müller (name) (a stub about the name). It makes sense to me that these should be merged... the one paragraph about the name from Heinrich Müller (name) would make for a great intro on the dab page... sort of "background information". Sure, it might not work on some other page... but it would work in that situation.
Having said that... I see no reason to make a "rule" about it. In fact, this is one of those areas where it is better to remain silent, and leave it up to consensus at the article, dab page level. Blueboar (talk) 13:55, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Meh. The anecdote about the Gestapo leader would have no place on a disambiguation page and is more appropriate for the article on the specific Heinrich Müller. However, a short line saying Heinrich Müller is a common German and Austrian name that translates as "Henry Miller". would not be out of place on the dab page. olderwiser 14:01, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
I think that, in addition, both Heinrich Müller and Circus fire could be stubs, beginning with a short description of the concept, followed by a list of examples. Mikael Häggström (talk) 18:31, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
How is this an improvement over permitting stub-length articles to be created and linked from disambiguation pages? Disambiguation pages are not articles or valid Wikilink targets (mostly); stub-length articles are articles and valid Wikilink targets. Creating articles separate from disambiguation pages is not crazy. If the Heinrich Müller stub is crazy, sanity would be restored by deleting it, not by wedging it into a disambiguation page. (That is, I agree with Bkonrand on this point.) If the stub + list makes the disambiguation page unneeded, then the dab should be deleted, not carried by the stub. In the Müller case, however, I do not see that being the case: the dab would be needed, because Wikilinks are likely to intend one of the particular people and not the name in general. -- JHunterJ (talk) 19:14, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Duplicate archive box

I found this archive box at the top of this page, but I moved it to here because it seems to be a duplicate of the archive box at the top of the page, which is automatically updated. Mikael Häggström (talk) 09:51, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

{{archive box collapsible|

See archive links in hatbox for more recent archives. }}

The use of Bullets and Bulletted lists

Is there a prohibition against the use of bullets in articles, or a just a strong recommendation to use prose over bulletted lists. In my experience in the health care field here in New York, I have seen a greater push as of late for using bullets when the author is trying to highlight key points in documents such as health reports, agency policies, procedural papers, etc. Also, medical directors and administrators are increasingly using bulletted lists in both person-to-person e-mails and documents for public consumption, where the items after each bullet contain technical terms. The argument, as I've been told is as follows: Apparently, the reader can better digest technical terminology on a bulletted list, when the bullets are spaced at 1.5 units, and when each bullet point contains no more than 12-15 words. The argument is that the reader has difficulty digesting the technical terminology when such terminology is "surrounded" by other words (as in a single spaced prose article) and as a reaction to their difficulty will skip the paragraph altogether. I recognize that my experience here in New York in the health care industry may not be the norm across the English-speaking world and may reflect a minority position on this subject. I was hoping for some reaction and advice from more seasoned Wikipedians. Also, I'm not sure that I am writing this note on the best possible "talk page." Please advise me on where to move it, if it is misplaced.Evangelos Giakoumatos (talk) 13:47, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

WT:MOS is probably best. It is a strong recommendation and I can't see people being keen on copying that sort of style here in general. Dmcq (talk) 00:59, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
You might want to talk to WP:MED (the group of people most interested in medicine-related articles), but I suggest you consider reading this short book:
Tufte, Edward R. (2006). The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching out Corrupts Within. Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press LLC. ISBN 0-9613921-6-9.
The administrators that you're dealing with would also benefit from reading it.
As for the place to talk about it, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lists is the specific guideline on when and how to use lists. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:00, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Expanded section

The recently expanded ==See also== section feels odd to me. Isn't most of that covered in the navboxes? Why do we really need such a long section? WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:32, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes I think I agree with you, the principles and policies and guidelines stuff is duplicating stuff which is done well by the boxes atr the end of the page. Discussions about policies is more relevant to this page but most of that should be dealt with inline anyway. Dmcq (talk) 17:40, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I added them (and the links in the navbox) - we get so many questions about were the related policy stuff is - that this seems like a simple solution. But do what you think is best - people will still reply to all the questions as to were this pages are regardless if there linked here or not.Moxy (talk) 22:15, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what question you're answering by directing a person to this page. WP:5P is a good place to send people to if they are starting off and wonder about policy and most welcome message have a list of rasonable places for various entries. Dmcq (talk) 22:33, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Lets be clear as to the pages that were added ( listed below ) having the main lists on the page vs just the nanvbox can only help people find them (thus limiting the questions about were to find them). I also think the tutorial and a few advice page like Wikipedia:The rules are principles is a good idea. But like I said people will still link the directories and tutorial regardless if there here or not.Moxy (talk) 22:53, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Keep in mind – a quick introduction on how to apply policies and guidelines as you go about editing.
Related essays
  • Simplified rule-set – some basic aspect of Wikipedia norms and practices.
    • Eight rules for editing  – if you start out by following these simple rules, the rest should come naturally.
    • Ten rules for editing  – Wikipedia can be daunting, but here we provide tips to make editing smoother.
    • Trifecta – ultra fast overview of foundational principles related to policies and guidelines.
  • The rules are principles – policies and guidelines exist as rough approximations of their underlying principles.
Yes we can see those were the pages added. Hoowever I still can't see what question you were answereing by adding them tho this page. Perhaps you could point to a relevant question that this answered? Dmcq (talk) 17:03, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Some of the questions we get include... is there a index or director of all the policies or guides etc..? Others include is there a simple overview of these overwhelming amount of policies or guides and these rules stead fast? I think the question should be is are the links useful or detrimental. I my opinion they help people find there way.Moxy (talk) 03:46, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Then this policy is the wrong one to send them to. This article is not a directory of policies and guidelines. It is about the overall control and setting up of policies and guidelines. The list of policies and guidelines or 5P are the right places depending on the level they want. Dmcq (talk) 17:21, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
I believe the idea was to obviate the need for such questions by having them preemptively answered here (though as pointed out, the navboxes already do that). But Moxy can of course correct me if I’m wrong. —Frungi (talk) 06:22, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Where are these questions appearing? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:33, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
I can definitely see a new user looking for a list of policies and guidelines at a page named “Policies and Guidelines”… and then they scroll down, click “show” on “Key Wikipedia policies and guidelines”, and see the List links there. I don’t see how the redundancy in See Also is helpful. —Frungi (talk) 06:11, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Actually, why make them click “show”? I propose reverting the additions to the section and setting the navboxes to |state=plain so that new users will be more likely to actually see them. —Frungi (talk) 06:24, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Whatever everyone thinks is best - that solution sounds fine. But would like to pointout as seen here (traffic way up) - it clearly helps people find the related linked pages. Is there a concern with the other section I added as seen below?Moxy (talk) 15:46, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Further reading

I would have thought the main reason for that was that some people had that page on their watchlist and looked at it after you edited it. As to looking for policies and guidelines, the page is Wikipedia:Policy and guidelines and is not found by a normal search. A user would normally look at the main page or click on help on the left of the page or be given a welcome message when they edit something. If you wnat to make it easier to find the basic policies for a new user you should start a bit earlier in the interactions than this page and I'd repeat that Help:Contents or WP:5P or WP:Introduction are far better places for them to go to. If they got here |I would hope they press back rather than using this as a top level directory. It is not a top level directory, it is a policy and not a policy most people need know about even.
The kind of questions thie article can be the answer to are:
Who sets up policies and guidelines?
How can I change a policy?
How strict are the policies and guidelines?
Dmcq (talk) 16:50, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Its not that people should be directed to better pages, but the fact they come here looking for pages related to policies etc.. However as I have said before I no problem with the removal of any or all the links I added (pls remove them if its a point of contention). As for traffic to pages - this is an area I am familiar with as seen here we can prolong the increases traffic to pages simply by making the links more visible on parent pages.Moxy (talk) 17:04, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
And there is a question about how they manage to land on this page without landing on something more useful first? And the question about the statistics was how do you know they came to that page from here rather than because you edited the page and it was on people's watchlist? And looking at it again I can see you are wrong because the increase came when you edited the page on the 18th whereas the link was added here on the 19th. Dmcq (talk) 17:17, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
I've followed through with what I proposed. Please opine. —Frungi (talk) 18:04, 30 March 2013 (UTC)


The language of WP:PGBOLD ("The older but still valid method is to boldly edit the page... you should not remove any change solely on the grounds that there was no formal discussion indicating consensus for the change before it was made. Instead, you should give a substantive reason for challenging it and, if one hasn't already been started, open a discussion to identify the community's current views.") appears to imply that any editor can make a major change to a policy page and that other editors are expected to allow the change to remain in place while they discuss its merits on the talk page. I say "appears to imply..." because I don't believe that this was the intent, as it directly contradicts WP:EDITCONSENSUS, WP:BRD, and WP:TALKDONTREVERT, which say that it is OK to revert the controversial change in policy and to leave it in the old state while discussing the proposed change. Could we perhaps tweak the wording a bit to make this more clear? --Guy Macon (talk) 23:51, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

My read is that the changes should be left in place if there is no reason to revert other than the fact that it was a bold change. Could probably be worded more strongly than it is. —Frungi (talk) 02:41, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Frungi's interpretation is correct. What we're trying to avoid is people saying, "This is a great change. I totally support it. But—I don't see any documented evidence that this was discussed in advance, so REVERT!"
Instead, what we want is to have that person leave it alone and for the change only to be reverted by someone who can honestly say, "This is not a great change. I have concerns about it. One of my concerns is that..."
(We're not always talking about "major changes", either. I've seen this assertion that all changes must be discussed in advance over changes that are barely more significant than correcting grammar errors.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:27, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The situation that brought this up was that someone added a new policy saying that talk page conversations like this are allowed:

Comment 1
:Comment 2
::Comment 3

but that comments like these (where you hit the enter key twice at the end of a comment) are forbidden:

Comment 1

:Comment 2

::Comment 3

Before last week there was no rule either way on this. Shortly after he created the new rule,[6] he started enforcing the rule by editing pages that don't do it the way he wants it done[7] and insisting upon BRRD. You can read the whole sad story at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Accessibility#Policy change or Clarification?

Now I am not saying that the new rule should definitely be rejected -- I think we should discuss it and come to a consensus -- but I see no reason why we can't leave things the way they were while we discuss this. Alas, I am being told that according to PGBOLD the new policy stays in place while we discuss it. So, is my "I see no reason that such a major change cannot wait until we arrive at a consensus" an example of having no reason to revert other than the fact that it was a bold policy change? Is the burden of proof really on me to prove any new policy to be harmful? As I said, this violates WP:EDITCONSENSUS and WP:BRD. Either this page should make it clear that the rule is BRD, or those two pages need to be changed to make it clear that the rule is BRRD. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:23, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

As the person who pointed you to this section of the policy, I'd like to add that I never said anything about whether the text needs to stay in the guideline during the discussion. I only said that advance discussion, especially in the form of an RFC, is not required by this policy. Andy did nothing wrong by adding that text. If you removed it because you actually disagree with it (rather than as a "procedural" step due to a misunderstanding about whether Andy needed to obtain permission to make the change in advance), then you also did nothing wrong by removing it (the first time). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:31, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
The first time? I only removed the BOLD edit once. And was immediately reverted. My only other edit to the page was a full five days previously, when I removed an entirely different BOLD edit. Once. And was immediately reverted.
Yes, I do disagree -- strongly -- with adding a rule forbidding separating talk page comments by hitting return twice. But I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong. And I strongly disagree with the fact that after the perfectly proper BOLD edit that created the new rule and my perfectly proper REVERT there was another REVERT instead of DISCUSSION. I protested and continue to protest against this blatant violation of WP:EDITCONSENSUS and WP:BRD. I am also a bit pissed off that I have been falsely accused (not by you, by the edit warrior who improperly reverted me) of edit warring and (slightly) annoyed by your use above of the phrase "(the first time)". Neither one of my two edits were improper in any way. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:59, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Guy Macon, please stop twisting the facts. Nobody "added a new policy", and nor is it true that "before last week there was no rule either way on this". What actually happened is that a phrase was added that clarified an existing guideline that had stood for two and a half years. That long-standing guideline is the phrase "even when using unordered or definition lists" introduced with this edit on 4 December 2010‎. That phrase stood unchanged until the waters were muddied with this edit and then this edit, when one user who misunderstood the intent of the section started to chop it about. Since then we have been striving to restore the intent as it had stood since December 2010. All that was three weeks ago, and not "last week".
The facts are that: (i) most talk page discussions are threaded using a progressive increase in indent; (ii) such indenting is normally achieved by the use of colons; (iii) for paragraphs indented using colons, the HTML generated by the MediaWiki parser is in the form of the <dl>...</dl> element, an increased depth of indent being achieved by nesting two or more dl elements; (iv) when the MediaWiki parser encounters a blank line between two lines indented using colons, it closes the first nested set of dl elements all the way to zero depth, and then opens a fresh nested set of dl elements to the new depth; (v) the dl element is also known as a definition list; (vi) blank lines within definition lists were already discouraged.
You can verify point (iv) by going to the version of this page immediately prior to my post here, and using the "View source" facility of your browser. Look for the text "Frungi's interpretation is correct" and see what happens immediately before that. This is what I get:
... 02:41, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
<dd>Frungi's interpretation is correct. ...
Here, the <dl> is a new definition list being opened, nested inside an existing one. Now look for the text "The first time? I only removed the BOLD edit once" and see what happens immediately before that:
... 03:31, 29 May 2013 (UTC)</dd>
<dd>The first time? I only removed the BOLD edit once. ...
That </dl> is a definition list being closed, and the two <dl> are fresh definition lists being opened. That is the effect of the blank line in the wiki markup. It's peanuts to a sighted person who hardly notices the very slight increase in line spacing on the rendered page; but to a blind person, it's a different story, as Graham87 (talk · contribs) has pointed out elsewhere.
Of course, all this is highly technical, and Wikipedia guidelines are supposed to be written for non-technical people, who are unlikely to know what a definition list is, which is why we wish to provide an example of where a definition list might be used. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:53, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I just want to point out, for anyone who doesn’t know, that this is a longstanding bug (bug 4521 that is unlikely to be addressed until the way Talk pages work is fundamentally changed with m:Flow or something. And yes, it is kind of awful for Talk page accessibility, along with all kinds of inconsistent use of indents and outdents. —Frungi (talk) 21:07, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
If there's anything worse than forum shopping, it's dishonest forum shopping. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 09:00, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Do not do name calling. Address the issues. Dmcq (talk) 10:05, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Please feel free to point out the name-calling that you believe happened. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 22:35, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
You called a person a forum shopper and dishonest. Please stick to the issues and be explicit about what the problems you see are. What kind of a place is it where editors can't stick to WP:CIVIL on the talk page of the topmost policy? Dmcq (talk) 10:51, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
No, I didn't. Please understand the difference between criticising a person, and criticising their actions. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:58, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Well my feeling on all this are firstly, as this policy says at the very start, 'There is no need to read any policy or guideline pages to start editing. The five pillars is a popular summary of the most pertinent principles.' If there is to be a solution that suits blind people better then it really has to be a technical solution and village pump technical is the right place to fix it. It really is over the top to edit talk pages for this, it will annoy contributors and it will seem like undue officialese and requiring them to read unnecessary guidelines. Secondly, as to reverting edits, if a reasonable reason is given for a revert then the original editor should open a discussion rather than starting a edit war. Dmcq (talk) 09:15, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
The idea with people not needing to know everything is that people like me will come around and clean it up for them. If they happen to read a relevant guideline, we do generally want them to be told that Mediawiki screws up lists when they're separated by blank lines, and even that this problem is not unique to the mainspace, but appears on every single page, including talk pages.
What Guy (apparently) hopes to do in these two related edits is to prevent ACCESS from telling people (those few who actually bother to read the guideline) that Mediawiki screws up its rendering of talk pages, where we are (ab)using HTML's association lists to thread comments. (Here's another good reason to wish that WP:Flow was available now.)
But he's here basically because he wanted to make sure that PGBOLD didn't require a disputed section to remain in a guideline during discussions. It doesn't: there is neither a requirement that it be kept nor a requirement that it be removed. So I believe that this discussion can safely move back to WT:ACCESS now. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:20, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Please do not tell us "what Guy (apparently) hopes to do" when Guy is right here and you can ask him. You got it completely wrong. I believe that you got it wrong because you are not listening when I tell you that you have made a basic conceptual error. You somehow think that one can take a wikipedia guideline that is specifically about lists -- Wikipedia Wikimarkup lists, not lists that are an artifact of how the Wikimedia software renders Wikimarkup into HTML -- tag on a sentence that says that talk page comments are, technically, rendered as HTML lists, and that you can do this in the middle of an edit war over the very question of whether the HTML rendering of talk page comments are covered by this wikimarkup-specific policy guideline and somehow conclude that the addition is somehow purely informational. It isn't. Your thinking is wrong on this. Anytime someone takes a statement of restrictions on wikimarkup lists and tacks on a PS saying that talk page comments are lists, he is changing the guideline. As I have said many times, I am OK with changing the guideline, but NOT THIS WAY. This is a direct violation of WP:CONSENSUS, it is using BRRD to take advantage of the fact that I refuse to edit war, and you should be ashamed of yourself for going along with it. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:31, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Actually, the section is question is specifically about improving and aiding the accessibility of lists (which, of course, are rendered in HTML). That would be why that particular section is part of the guideline (not policy) WP:ACCESS. And yes, the Wikimarkup–HTML translation is certainly relevant to accessibility. But I recommend that all involved parties choose one Talk page to discuss it on, whether here or WT:ACCESS. —Frungi (talk) 05:18, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
(e/c) Ooo, the "ascribing motives" game; I'm good at this!
Guy wants Andy to not change talkpage threads that don't conform to the platonic ideal. Andy wants Guy and Walter to stop reverting this tiny fix. (May 21 and surrounding edits. The word "symptomatic" springs to mind.)
Everyone else wants to ignore the bickering, but we can't.
The rest of this (discussion across numerous talkpages) is just kicking dust, and would make for a depressingly insightful article in some newspaper/journal, as to the psychological makeup of some editors.... [relevant].
Can we stop wasting time and get back to editing articles, now? Please? The quantity of time that's gone into this topic is just wearying. –Quiddity (talk) 05:29, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I thought you (Guy) had undertaken recently to cease describing this, misleadingly, as a policy issue? I'm curious as to the distinction you make, between "Wikipedia Wikimarkup lists" and "lists that are an artifact of how the Wikimedia software renders Wikikakup [sic] into HTML". If we can resolve what appears to be your misunderstanding on this matter, perhaps we can put this tiresome debate to bed? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 10:05, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
The difference is that between conception and implementation. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is a list but it is not implemented using the html for list items.
This is the second paragraph of my response. It is not part of a list but is displayed using html list tags. It would be conceptually better in CSS terms to use a style which indented but it turned out easier some time in the past to use the html list tags. If they had used the blockquote tag instead that might also have worked but it would also be wrong because conceptually the indented text is not a quote. Dmcq — continues after insertion below
Yes, it is part of a list. Doesn't matter what the intent is; as far as the HTML, and anything that parses it (including your web browser), is concerned, your comment is a list item. —Frungi (talk) 12:26, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
No it is misuse of html by the wiki software. It rendered the paragraphs using list tags. This is like translating 'hydraulic ram' into 'water sheep' and then saying an article about them should be counted as biology rather than engineering. Dmcq (talk) 12:53, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
As to changing the talk pages, that has to be the subject of explicit general assent rather than arguments about tags as the current accepted practice is to not worry about the space overmuch between paragraphs and this policy says "Wikipedia policy and guideline pages describe its principles and best-known practices. " What is being asked for there is a change to generally accepted practice affecting most editors and that should really go to the village pump. I really think you should get a solution through the technical village pump and get a technical fix instead. Unless you can show a technical solution is infeasible I would vote against this at village pump. Dmcq (talk) 11:17, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
MOS:LIST describes what Wikipedia means by lists and wiktionary:list gives the normal meanings. Dmcq (talk) 12:02, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I make it a point to read at least one guideline or policy all the way through every day, and I remember seeing that one a while back and thinking that it was a good idea -- but I was evaluating it as being a guideline for lists, not talk page comments. I am pretty sure that 99.9%+ of the readers of that guideline failed to interpret it as applying to all talk page comments until that was explicitly added. A major expansions of a guideline so that it now applies to a situation that nobody thought it applied to before requires careful thought and discussion before being imposed on everyone. That's all I have ever wanted here, and it isn't an unreasonable request. --Guy Macon (talk) 13:26, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
One a day? You're a glutton for punishment! I view that as rather like The Marching Chinese. ;-) Dmcq (talk) 13:33, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I've just checked the link kindly supplied by Dmcq, and at MOS:LIST#Description (definition, association) lists I find "As with unordered (bulleted) lists, items in definition lists should not be double-spaced, as it causes each entry to be its own bogus "list" in the output, obviating the point of putting the entries in list markup to begin with." --Redrose64 (talk) 14:02, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
(Replying to the earlier reply) You're absolutely right that it's a misuse of HTML. But this misuse results in these discussions being lists. It's not a matter of semantics. To use your (faulty) analogy and stretch it horribly to make it fit: we call it a "water sheep" and it's automatically filed under biology because that's how we decided to word it, and it's going to stay there until we change what we call it. You can insist that it's about engineering, but "water sheep" is considered a biological term and that is beyond our control.
As for technical solutions, I mentioned a ways above that this has been a longstanding bug (bug 4521 that has not been addressed in several years, and isn't likely to until the project switches its Talk pages over to a different system like Flow. We can do nothing while waiting for that, or we can make a trivial change in our editing to remove a technical obstruction for screen reader users. I really don't think it's reasonable to refuse the latter. —Frungi (talk) 14:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
And I have given my reasons for not wanting talk pages edited for this problem and I think it is wholly appropriate to refuse to go around telling editors they are entering definition lists rather than replies. And I have not seen evidence this is a problem of a magnitude to make it worth causing such trouble. Dmcq (talk) 15:40, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
By the way are any of the people discussing this blind? I notice you talk about 'see' a lot on your user page. I am not blind but I don't often use the word see myself except as a synonym for understand or where it is explicitly about sight, don't know why but that's how it happens. Please just ignore if you don't wish to answer. Dmcq (talk) 15:47, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Sometimes, editors insert comments in the wrong section of a Talk page, or at the wrong level of indentation, or at the wrong position relative to other comments, or formatted in some way that hurts readability, and sometimes these mistakes are fixed by other editors. Why should this matter be any different?
I am not blind, and I don’t personally know any blind WP users, but I know that at least User:Graham87 is. However, I do recognize the importance of accessibility, and I fully support any efforts to make things better in that regard—especially if it’s something as trivial as not inserting unnecessary blank lines on Talk pages. I simply can’t fathom a reasonable objection to it; the objections I have heard seem perhaps analogous to First World problems. —Frungi (talk) 17:36, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I have explained twice. Try repeating back to me what you understood when I talked about new editors and perhaps I won't have to explain a third time because I'll know you actually read what I said. Or how about my pushing it to the limit instead of trying to balance and decide between requirements. Which do you think is preferable, a site which deters new people coming to put stuff into it but is easy for blind people to access or one which contains stuff blind people want to access but they have difficulty in doing so? Dmcq (talk) 17:50, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
As I said in the first half of my last reply, I don’t see how it’s any different from the other minor corrections that are occasionally made. I sincerely doubt new editors would be any more put off by having blank lines removed from their replies than they are by having their indentation fixed, or having their comments moved to the appropriate section, or having {{unsigned}} added to the end. Of course, it’s possible to do all of these things in both a courteous way and in a dick way, so if this is the problem, I suggest you take it up with the offending editor (but don’t call him a dick! smile). But anyway, if a restriction against mid-comment blank lines is any more off-putting than the requirement of comma indentation, I’m sorry, but I’m simply not seeing it.
Of course, if I misunderstand and your argument is something more substantial than the possibility of experienced editors being rude or hostile (which, again, is always a possibility no matter what the rules), please do correct me. But I just sought out your explanation on WT:ACCESS while writing this reply (why are we still discussing this on this page, by the way?), and it seemed you objected to it because of the possibility of editors trying to be helpful by giving overly-technical explanations—which, again, is always a possibility no matter what rule they’re addressing. —Frungi (talk) 18:53, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
The very first line of this top level policy is "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". Our first aim is to build an encyclopaedia. Accessibility is a secondary aim and is a guideline not policy. Dmcq (talk) 22:14, 30 May 2013 (UTC)


@Frungi - by linking to Graham's name, he'll get a notification, and be obliged to read through this entire thread. Via screenreader. Please consider this, for an equal quantity of minutes as it will consume of his time.
Again, can we please stop discussing this? Especially on this talkpage?
WT:ACCESS is thataway. <----- (Although nothing of substance is occurring there, either. Returning to editing articles, would be best, for everyone.) –Quiddity (talk) 18:48, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
You’re right. I’ve removed the link just in case this removes his notification. I don’t think there’s any particular need for him to read all this. Sorry, Graham, if you have! —Frungi (talk) 18:56, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
As to the original point, I do believe that the 'clarification' on that access page does not count as that and was against this policy's support for BRD. It may clarify what the originator intended but it constitutes a major change in general understanding. There would not be much point in the discussion if it was just a straightforward clarification. Also whatever about discussing it at ACCESS if people there insist on trying to push that generally on the basis of a vote there I will take it to the village pump. I fully realize there's someone there who will go on about forum shopping but that is the wrong forum for a general decision like this. Dmcq (talk) 22:14, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Farther up in this thread, Dmcq asks the quite reasonable question "are any of the people discussing this blind?" I am not, but I just downloaded the NVDA screen reader and eSpeak speech synthesis program, and I am going to attempt to do everything I normally do with my monitor turned off. I did this many years ago with JAWS and found it to be a valuable tool for creating and testing websites, but I couldn't justify the cost of upgrades. NVDA is, of course, open source. --Guy Macon (talk) 01:45, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll go and try that out with a few websites I look after on the side. One is a community centre and I want to try out a bit of Javascript and its fallback I put there to defend some email addresses. Dmcq (talk) 08:14, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Duplicating scope

Is there any policy or guideline that actually says that two articles can't have the same scope? For example, avoiding dangerous climate change and climate change mitigation? Kaldari (talk) 19:08, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

WP:CFORK --Redrose64 (talk) 19:47, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Those titles sound like the difference between you should avoid driving when sleepy and your vehicle should have an airbag in case of a crash. Personally I'd probably just have one article but they are not a straightforward fork just from that if they stay within their topics. Dmcq (talk) 19:57, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Proposed: "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia" should be an official policy

I have proposed[8] that Wikipedia:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia be either returned to or finally accepted as (opinions disagree) an official WP:Policy of the project. Can anyone help me through how that process currently works? It's been about ~4.5 years since I last helped complete the formal process of turning a proposal into a policy, and I have completely forgotten where to begin (e.g. there used to be a community notice template). Any suggestions as to how to get more community feedback on what the status of this page, first created in November, 2005, which only somewhat recently got marked as an WP:Essay, should be would be very appreciated. I'll be back tomorrow. -- Kendrick7talk 05:34, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

We already have WP:5P for a short summary of the main policies for new editors. There's no need to click on Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia and simply get a page saying Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. The current link to the policy WP:What Wikipedia is not is I believe far more informative if they want to find out what that means. Dmcq (talk) 12:25, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Anyway if you really want to waste your time this policy describes under 'Proposals' how to do it and the section after gives some advice. Basically put an appropriate RfC onto the discussion. Dmcq (talk) 12:31, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Just to give some back information on why Kendrick may be wanting to promote the essay is that they tried to replace the link on the essay WP:5P that directed people to WP:What Wikipedia is not with WP:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and they were reverted on the grounds that one is a policy, one is an essay. Those interested in the wording of the essay known as the 5P may want to keep notice of the developments with this essay for that reason.Camelbinky (talk) 15:35, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
If it was promoted, which I oppose, WP:NOT would have to be edited to remove the redundancy. Dmcq (talk) 17:05, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
User:Dmcq is correct, which is an important reason to not promote it in the first place, we don't make new policies that are basically the same as another existing policy; it would have to be shown that there is significant important information not found elsewhere in existing policy and that the information is currently used in existing discussions to make decisions regarding how to solve some issue. Currently WP:NOT solves the problems that WP:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia I suppose could be made to solve if WP:NOT did not already exist. Dmcq mentioned that WP:NOT would have to be edited to removed redundancy, I would say it would have to be the other way around, the essay being promoted would have to be the one that would have to remove redundancy prior to promotion, or it doesn't get promoted. I don't even see it being a guideline as it wouldn't have any significant or meaningful elaboration on, or exceptions to, a given policy as guidelines often do.Camelbinky (talk) 19:03, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Again, WP:ENC was only downgraded to an WP:Essay in February, and that was without any discussion. Prior to that it had the same weight as WP:5P which is also not "officially" a policy, but certainly isn't just "some editor's opinion". I'd be happy with just returning to the pre February status quo, but this also seemed like a way forward. Thoughts? -- Kendrick7talk 18:03, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

I agree with removing the essay banner, per WP:NOTAG, which is why WP:5P etc don't have banners. (Editors have tried to add the {{essay}} banner before (eg 2009) but it was objected to and removed.) –Quiddity (talk) 18:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
OK, that completely works for my purposes. Done.[9] -- Kendrick7talk 18:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

Limitations of RS+NOR, with a solution

The motivation for this discussion is my frequent annoyance over the years with articles that don't explain things well, or don't give enough information, because experts can't simply write what they know, due to NOR.

An example is Sailing faster than the wind, where section "BOLD EDIT NOTICE" of its Talk page presents an excellent explanation (the analogy of a geared transmission) that couldn't be included in the article due to NOR. Note that I don't care if this explanation is correct or not: that is immaterial to the problem I wish to discuss here. I'm giving this as a motivational example, but I am discussing WP policies and guidelines here, not details of the example.

Now to get to it: reliance on the availability of good RSs leads to a good encyclopedia, but this technique has limitations. Once in a while a Talk page provides some NOR explanation that is clearer that the one given in the article. This example, I believe, is such a case. While this isn't the purpose of a Talk page, it is a very valuable service for WP readers who read the Talk pages as well the articles, as I do.

It also shows an inherent limitation of the RS+NOR policies, as applied to articles. An improved WP policy, and the solution I'm offering for discussion here, would be to allow NOR explanations or knowledge, without a reference, until someone provides a good NOR reason to object to them, or an RS is found that supports a good replacement.

This would be an additional policy, modifying the RS and NOR policies, or would be a modification of the RS and NOR policies themselves (I don't care which). David Spector (talk) 15:51, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

This talk page is for this policy about the control, setup and maintenance of policies and guidelines. You'd be better off discussing this on the talk page of the policies themselves or at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy). Dmcq (talk) 17:25, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
This appeared to me to be the appropriate place to propose a new policy, or changes to existing policies. Village pump seems too informal a place for such a proposal. Can you please point to "the talk page of the policies themselves"? It's not obvious! Thanks. David Spector (talk) 16:13, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
The talk page for WP:RS is WT:RS; the talk page for WP:NOR is WT:NOR. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:25, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks both, I'll post my proposed new policy there. Feel free to delete this section if you really feel that it is not relevant here (I thought it was, but I could be wrong). David Spector (talk) 18:42, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Likable stuff

i like this stuff its very impressive and you can learn a lot of stuff — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:10, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Good to know. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 03:55, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Audience of an encyclopedia and tone of articles?

I'm here because I am becoming increasingly exasperated by what seems to be an increasing trend for WP articles to become overwhelmed by academics writing apparently largely for the benefit of other academics. I suspect that these are young academics (their elders too busy writing the books and papers that keep them tenured and funded), writing articles that are often overly pedantic and written in a language designed to impress rather than inform. That's harsh. It's hyperbole, intended to characterize the general problems by caricaturing them.

"Yogācāra (Sanskrit; literally: "yoga practice"; "one whose practice is yoga")[1] is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and (some argue) ontology[2] through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It developed within Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism in about the 4th century CE.[3]"

I selected this sample not because it is as bad as some of the excesses out there but it certainly illustrates my point example (under WP:Yogacara)

This is not intended necessarily as criticism: it is marvelous that people with qualifications are willing to contribute time and expertise to writing articles here. However some of this 'over-enthusiasm' could be easily curbed, for enormous benefit to the reading audience, by better guidelines.

The first rule for anyone preparing presentations is to ask, who is my audience? Answering that question is usually critical to the success of the presentation because it helps define the key objectives to be addressed and the language of the presentation.

So I'd be dumbfounded if WP hadn't somewhere answered the question of, who is the audience of an encyclopedia? If it is somewhere else and I have missed it, I would hope that the answer would immediately be, that it isn't academics. Anyone in a university has access to far better sources of information and should be training themselves to look for them, in a university library not in an encyclopedia.

  • Language: So it is imperative that articles are first written in a language for the average, and perhaps educated person, but specifically NOT in language that will only be of interest to academics
  • Orientation: Academics are often students of a topic, often taking a distant and 'outside' view, primarily interested in the authority of texts, the relationship of the topic to western ideas, etc. This is a decidedly different perspective from the orientation of, say, a person interested in yogacara, who is attempting to understand Buddhism 'from the inside'
  • Focus: primarily on the topic, rather than on the academics who have done the research on the topic or who have been engaged in debate about the topic. That such debate exists can be acknowledged, and addressed further down

as a basic principle, author(s) of an article should attempt to write articles that include no references to writers or academics or to academic rather than general knowledge topics. This should be a guidelines. There might be exceptions but they should be exceptions, not an accepted practice.

I can hear the academics yelping already about failure to acknowledge key contributors etc. However, academic contributions and interests are already served magnificently in academic libraries, periodicals, lectures etc. etc. General interest however has weak and scattered sources and the individuals who are looking to serve their general interest do not devote their lives to or earn a living from gathering that information from these sparse sources. That is the whole purpose of an encyclopedia (in my humble opinion).

Academic interests can be acknowledged with a section at the end of each article, just before the sources section , acknowledging key contributors in the field and central debates. The rule of thumb should be that it be no longer than the rest of the material.

I submit these ideas as a common sense principle that I believe should be included in the guidelines. If I have missed such directives, it would appear that I am not alone. If I am wrong, then clearly I have misunderstood what an encyclopedia is and sincerely wish that there was something out there that better meets my general interest needs. --Jobowo (talk) 01:42, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree that focusing on the general reader is a good idea. But I wonder whether you have chosen the best example. As it appears in Wikipedia, the quoted text reads:
Yogācāra (Sanskrit; literally: "yoga practice"; "one whose practice is yoga")[1] is an influential school of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing phenomenology and (some argue) ontology[2] through the interior lens ofmeditative and yogic practices.
The wikilinks give the ignoramus (me, for example) a chance to quickly find the meaning of words that are not in the general lexicon. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 12:20, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Some users may indeed wish to know what these words mean and to explore these topics. But is it really effective to have these new trails lead away in the opening paragraph? Would it not be more usual to first find out what yogacara means and at some later point follow its relationship to phenomenology and ontology? To follow my points above, I believe that the "Academic" section described above would be where these other trails should lead off from.

I have been very concerned about how our article on Squirrel Girl has become become overwhelmed by academics writing apparently largely for the benefit of other academics. Example: "Her ability to control squirrels is surprisingly effective and has allowed her to defeat major supervillains." You need a PhD just to understand all those big words! Don't the people who write these articles know that one must endeavor to eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation? --Guy Macon (talk) 15:20, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

We have unfortunately not been able to define the target audience. WP:AUDIENCE is the closest we come, and it's not very close. One of the problems is that each type of article is likely to have a very different audience. Articles about abstract algebra are probably not going to be read by the same people as articles about comic book characters. Also, some subjects are necessarily complicated, and of course no one wants to dumb things down until we've reached the point of telling lies to children because accurate information is just too hard for most readers to understand.
Writing guidelines isn't really going to help. I say this because we already have several pages about this, like WP:MTAA, and the problem still persists. WP:Nobody reads the directions. What we need is to reduce the rewards for people being needlessly obscure, and to have people simplify material created by people with more complex writing styles. If you wanted to work on reducing the rewards, you might invest your time at WP:FAC and complain about confusing or needlessly complex styles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:46, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate all of these points. It does at least indicate where I can find some of the topics that I was missing.
Your points seem to explain, in your mind, why the current situation exists at WP but I'm not convinced. Other encyclopedias solve these problems, why can't WP? These problems don't seem insurmountable:
You seem resigned to the fact that nobody reads these pages. Well, if the novice author has as much difficulty finding these pages as I did, that may explain why they're not reading them. Could the AUDIENCE reference not be given more attention in the main guidelines? Large attention is given to such issues as NPOV but in my view AUDIENCE is the first question that should be addressed in the guidelines. Relegate topics like formatting and sourcing to other articles.
I also appreciate that it is difficult to define [exactly] what the audience is for a given article. But surely the default/assumed audience should be a general reader, perhaps with a high school education [if only because high school students, I imagine, would be major users of WP]. That assumption should only be changed if there is strong arguments for another audience. Now I'm sure that most academics would simply say that they are always writing for an academic audience no matter what the topic; that's their accustomed style so why bother varying it? In the instance of 'yogacara', the academics might argue here that it is only an academic audience and a few general readers. Perhaps but I suggest that if there is any general reader audience, that is the audience that should be addressed first. As I've noted above, academics have a huge volume of publicly funded resources available to them and WP would only be used for general knowledge purposes for them too.
I take the points about contributing. I'd be happy to do that but I really don't want to waste time debating topics that aren't going to be read. I'll see what I can do.

--Jobowo (talk) 19:45, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

WP:TECHNICAL is also a guide for more technical articles. My general guide is that the first half at least of an article should be understandable by a person six months away from studying the topic properly. So most articles in general should be understandable by interested schoolchildren. Dmcq (talk) 20:28, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
The average reader should be able to comprehend the erudition. Although you should use a broad vocabulary of regular, non-technical terms, do not provide such a quantity of locutions as to impel those who aspire to derive serviceable information from the article to consult a dictionary or thesaurus.Moxy (talk) 20:39, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Cromulent words embiggen the mind. --Redrose64 (talk) 22:10, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
As my Grandpappy always said, "Why be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be impossible?" (I just wanted to link the previously mentioned targets ;) –Quiddity (talk) 22:59, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
An exemplar of plain speaking was Lord Denning, who would always avoid a multiplicity of words (or syllables) if fewer would suffice. In my experience, any sentence with the words epistemology, ontology, discourse, or post-modern can make one reach for the gin bottle! Arrivisto (talk) 14:17, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Being concise...

Editors are urged to; be as concise as possible—but no more concise. The first part, be concise, is clear; but the exhortation to be no more concise (than possible) is curious. Does it mean we must not be impossibly concise? If so, that's easy to accomplish! Arrivisto (talk)

N it jst mns dnt psh cncs 2 d pnt f bn cryptic. Dmcq (talk) 17:07, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Txtspk? --Rr64 (t) 18:03, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Just illustrating what "be as concise as possible—but no more concise" means ;-) Dmcq (talk) 19:27, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Was clear to me.-- (talk) 19:20, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 January 2014

Please change the word "Content" in the "Content" section title to "Content_", because the "Table of Contents" link to the "Content" section is not working. Takes me to the content of the Wikipedia article. Another suggestion: It says "Policy and guideline pages should:", shouldn't it be "Wikipedia pages should:"? (talk) 19:29, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure I follow what it means to change "Content" to "Content" but the link in the table of contents section works for me. Although some of the advice in the "Policy and guideline pages should" portion is applicable to all Wikipedia pages, this is a page to give advice on policy and guidelines (and not all of it is applicable). --TeaDrinker (talk) 19:43, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
Not done: The "Content" section link in the table of contents works fine for me as well, and the wording "Policy and guideline pages should:" is correct—this page is specifically for "Policies and guidelines", not all Wikipedia pages. LittleMountain5 20:15, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
This is one of those things that behaves differently according to the browser that you use. Some browsers are case-sensitive on anchor names; some are not. Every Wikipedia page has an anchor named content, small "c", which is at the top of the page, just below the tabs and above the page title; but if there is a section named "Content" (as there is in this case), this will create an anchor named Content, capital "C". Hence, on those browsers that are case-sensitive, a link to Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#content, when clicked, should go to the top of the page; and a link to Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Content, when clicked, should go to the relevant section. But on case-insensitive browsers, both links will go to the same place. --Redrose64 (talk) 22:10, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
OK I've made some tests. Case-sensitive: Chrome 32; Firefox 26; Opera 12; Safari 5. Case-insensitive: IE 8 (both links go to the top of the page). --Redrose64 (talk) 22:23, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. It isn't very elegant, but adding a non-breaking space to the end of the section title ("Content ") would probably do the trick. (The software truncates a regular space, so 78.156's suggestion wouldn't work.) Thoughts? LittleMountain5 00:58, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Apparently, placing a soft hyphen at the start will also work, see Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)/Archive 109#Content. Note, if you click that link in IE, you won't get to the right spot, so instead go to Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)/Archive 109#Unbulleted lists issue and scroll down to the following section. --Redrose64 (talk) 10:27, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Ah, a soft hyphen is better. I added one along with an anchor; now the table of contents should work for all browsers, and links to #Content should work in all browsers except IE. I don't have IE installed, so I'd appreciate if someone would check it. Cheers, LittleMountain5 19:58, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the link in the TOC works in IE 8. I've also found WT:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 44#Rename header "Content" for older browsers. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:35, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Hmm. Maybe something like "Page content" would work better. LittleMountain5 02:28, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I use Internet Explorer 11 for Wikipedia on my computer, whereon (wow, rare word, seen it first time through 24 years) the problem occurred. I also have access to Wikipedia on Firefox on other computers. Thanks for the fix. ;)-- (talk) 19:55, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Expanding Methods and Procedures for Low-Level Praise and Positive Reinforcement

Wikipedia editing can be a very negative and discouraging process. It seems very easy for advanced editors and admins to get very caught up in providing negative feedback while only rarely commending good work--

Not all praise or encouragement should have to rise to the level of the coveted Barnstar. Every day, front line editors (Wikipedias grunt infantry) really should be getting more low-level praise and encouragement when they work hard, or get things right. Even when they are making mistakes at the same time.

I have read many times that Wikipedia suffers from a shortage of editors. Perhaps more positive reinforcement, instead of 99% negative feedback would encourage more of us to hang in there and stick around. It is far too easy to zero in on someone elses mistakes and yet would be far more constructive to ALSO say, "But you did a good job on this part and that part..." at the same time that a mistake is being pointed out.

I really hope this common sense suggestion takes wings at Wikipedia. It can be very intimidating and frustrating to spend hours editing and have someone perched over your work, ignoring everything that you do right-- while pouncing on whatever you do wrong. 2602:306:BDA0:97A0:466D:57FF:FE90:AC45 (talk) 02:12, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

One of the village pumps is probably a better place for that,especially if you can think of a more specific way of encouragement. Dmcq (talk) 13:35, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Is a guideline different to a policy?

It used to be the case that a guideline was something different to a policy. Is this still the case, or should the two just be merged?

Current wording
This page documents an English Wikipedia guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should follow, though it should be treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Changes made to it should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss your idea on the talk page.
This page documents an English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow. Changes made to it should reflect consensus.

So a policy is "widely accepted" and should "normally" be followed, while a guideline is "generally accepted" and should be followed. From that I can't even tell which one is more official or important. There is a similar lack of difference in the definitions here at policies and guidelines.

Consider Wikipedia:The difference between policies, guidelines and essays.

I'm pretty sure a policy still does have a different status to a guideline - but what is it? If a significantly different definition can't be given, they should be merged.

··gracefool 19:31, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Good observation. I've just modified {{policy}} to say "must normally follow" instead of "should normally follow", which was an extremely weak wording that didn't convey the prescriptive nature of policies. In fact, come to think of it, "should normally" is a tautology. — Scott talk 13:40, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, it never really was the case that a policy was entirely different from a guideline. Back in the day, people just added whichever tag sounded about right to them, and in the case of guidelines, usually without consulting anyone else. And policies aren't something that you "must" normally follow, in the sense that violations have any consequence. Think about how routinely people violate the WP:Editing policy with zero consequences, and how many of them get praised for it. By contrast, you absolutely "must" follow the "mere guideline" at WP:ELNEVER #2, in the sense that it is enforced in software and attempts to circumvent it have gotten people blocked and banned. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:26, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
A policy has differed from a guideline for as long as I've been editing. There can be consequences for violating several policies. I can't think of a situation where someone would be penalized for violating a guideline. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:36, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
It happens all the time: People get warned and blocked for violating WP:External links, a "mere guideline". WP:IDHT is a common reason for community bans: that's the biggest sanction we have, but IDHT is "just a guideline". People get in trouble for WP:POINTY behavior—another guideline that even ArbCom cites as formal justification for sanctions. We could go down the whole list at Category:Wikipedia behavioral guidelines: COI, GAME, LINKLOVE, and more. WP:TE is "only an essay", and yet it is cited as justification for blocks and bans, and even ArbCom refers to it (e.g., Tea_Party_movement#Tendentious_editing). We ban people who are WP:NOTHERE to build an encyclopedia, too, and that's also "just an essay".
The actual rule, in practice, is that people normally get sanctioned for behavior, regardless of whether that behavior is best or most specifically described on a page labeled as policy, guideline, or essay. In practice, very few people get sanctioned for violating non-behavioral policies, even though they say "policy" at the top. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:20, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
As I see it, if people are regularly sanctioned for violating a guideline, that's a whacking great hint that it ought to be designated as a policy. Unfortunately, efforts to do so almost always run into people claiming it would be "instruction creep". (Quite often it'll be the same people who are performing those kinds of sanctions.)
After eleven years of editing here, over six of which as an admin, I'm of the opinion that we need way more actual policies. It was cool back in the good old days having the whole "we have no rules really, dude" thing, but that era's long gone. The project we are today relies upon rules. I mean, just look at the examples you gave here. Lack of firm policies leads to one thing: arguments. Or worse still, "wikilawyering". We'll be doing the Wikipedians of the future a big favor by letting go of the utopian dream - frankly, growing up. — Scott talk 16:47, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not therapy

Opinions are needed on this matter: Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not therapy#Disupted Title. Flyer22 (talk) 06:09, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Please note I've (perhaps wrongly) corrected my typo in the header so the link is now Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not therapy#Disputed Title. I won't give an updated link to the diff as it doesn't show my response. Sighola2 (talk) 17:41, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Legal or Medical advice

There is a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines#Legal or Medical advice that may be of interest.

It concerns requests for legal or medical advice posted to one of the reference desks.

I am posting this here because of a potential conflict between the talk page guidelines and reference desk guidelines --Guy Macon (talk) 06:01, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Suggested wording change

Discussion at: Template_talk:Policy#Suggested_wording_change. SilkTork ✔Tea time 13:03, 23 June 2014 (UTC)


The Notes section on here is not references cited with text that would get in the way of read-ability. Instead, they are just sentences that cause the reader to skip down and back up, or the reader assumes the statement is reinforced with some kind of reference. Proposal: just move them up with rest of the text. Alrich44 (talk) 15:54, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

We've lost something

Policy and guidelines were originally meant to be more documentation of practice, or at least, of best practice. The lede sentence captures this fine, but the rest of the body of this has kind of diverged into the idea that policies are more like legislation, proposed, considered, adopted, then behavioral changes are enforced. Few of our policies are really like this. As an example, PGBOLD says nothing about how most bold changes should be changing the policy to reflect the reality of current best practices.

The entire "life cycle" section is mostly fantasy as well. A more realistic life cycle might be that 3-4 people get together, write some kind of policy to document something that's already happening. A few RfCs are held where there's massive feedback and opposition on the ground of some minor wording detail (which varies from person to person), but maybe there's rough consensus that "something ought to be done" to get policy documentation in place. Policy is rewritten by the 3-4 people, and then marked as policy or guideline based on "earlier RfC consensus". A few talk page iterations follow with maybe some smaller follow up RfCs on some points. Optionally it can be unmarked and remarked as policy a few times. In the end most of the concerns aren't really addressed, but people get so tired of seeing RfCs on it they stop bothering to oppose it for the 5th or 6th RfC which has maybe 15 or 20 participants. After that it's clearly iron-clad policy with wide community consensus. :) Gigs (talk) 17:47, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

^Yup. And this is the same reason the policies aren't going to admit to it. ··gracefool 07:41, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
What Gigs describes isn't best practice, that's why it isn't a policy or guideline. Dmcq (talk) 08:40, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
@Gigs, Thanks for the heads up on how things really work. Alrich44 (talk) 15:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
What Gigs is highlighting is the difference between actual practice and best practice. We started out by trying to document actual practice... but over time our policies and guidelines have shifted to documenting best practice.
The reality is that actual practice often isn't best practice. This reality upsets people... and to correct the problem editors have rewritten our policies and guidelines so they focus on best practice instead of documenting actual practice ... what should be done as opposed to what actually is done.
We can debate whether this shift in focus is a good thing or not... but I think it was a natural progression. People like having "rules" that they can follow (and enforce on others). Blueboar (talk) 12:23, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

Proposed copyedit and layout change at WP:AVOIDYOU

There is a copyedit and layout proposal at "Avoiding personal attacks". Your participation would be appreciated. Lightbreather (talk) 00:31, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Complexity and chaos: Downfall of WP?

In past years, I had no trouble finding definitions of the quality levels of WP articles. Now, using a direct search, I cannot even find the information that I remember seeing. I find instead numerous links that sound relevant but do not contain the information I seek. Some articles contain links to other articles that sound virtually identical to the article I am reading. In researching "Internet Backbone" and other topics of recent interest, I am running into increasing numbers of links that inadequately describe their content. It seems possible that WP is going to devolve into something so complex, fragmented, and disorganized that its utility is degraded. I think increasing the effort devoted to organizing and simplifying the structure of WP would be useful. Wcmead3 (talk) 14:31, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Please go to WP:Help for queries about Wikipedia of WP:RD for a query about something outside Wikipedia or WP:VP if you are proposing something for Wikipedia. This talk page is for improving this policy. Dmcq (talk) 15:16, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Wcmead3, were you looking for Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Assessment? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:10, 4 October 2014 (UTC)


I need to know if two way radios can be used with other brands of two way radios , like motorola and cobra-- (talk) 02:23, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

You could ask this at the WP:Reference desk, but I have no idea if anyone there would know. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:12, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

Reminder - policies are developed in the community by some but not all

It is always a self selecting fragment of the community that works on governance so it is more accurate to state that they are developed in, with or through the community rather than "by the community" which suggests monolithicism. Wikidgood (talk) 19:16, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Not everyone has to participate for it to be accurate. Mayors are elected by the people of the city, referendum outcomes are decided the community... --NeilN talk to me 19:28, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
@Wikidgood: This might be true in some cases, since the decisions of the Arbitration Committee can override community consensus. Jarble (talk) 04:19, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Remove list of silly shortcuts

I've removed WP:POL and WP:RULES from the list of shortcuts. They still work but that doesn't mean they have to be shown. WP:PAG and WP:MAZE also work be we don't show them. The three links WP:PG WP:POLICY and WP:GUILDELINE are quite enough to display. WP:2SHORTCUTS is the appropriate guideline if one needs a 'rule' about this. Dmcq (talk) 00:01, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

@Dmcq: Additionally, I have found several redundant policy lists: WP:List of policies, WP:List of guidelines, WP:List of policies and guidelines, {{Guideline list}}, {{Policy list}}, and {{Wikipedia policies and guidelines}}. These lists are tedious to maintain separately, so we ought to merge them into a single list of policies and guidelines. Jarble (talk) 04:15, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Well it's not really in reply to me, that's a general question. Looking at their histories they don't have too many edits and probably aren't any great burden I think. Thinking about it, I think it probably would be a good idea if adding extra policies and guidelines was even harder than it is now! They are a burden to editors and should not be expanded without a fair degree of reluctance ;-) Dmcq (talk) 09:26, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
@Dmcq: Nonetheless, these lists add a lot of visual clutter to Wikipedia's policy and guideline pages. If a policy or guideline is promoted or demoted, then it becomes necessary to update every single list of policies and guidelines. There must be a better solution somehow. Jarble (talk) 20:48, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
I have restored the templates ..that appear on many pages and have been stable for years. Those of us that watch them will fix any problems that arise in the need to worry that there is a future problem. Template are there to help people find there way....and have been usfull in there present form for years. No need for a wild goose chases all the why we have them -- Moxy (talk) 11:50, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

@Moxy and Dmcq: Nonetheless, I noticed that several links in Template:Wikipedia policies and guidelines are outdated and inconsistent. The WP:Deletion policy is incorrectly listed as a content policy instead of a deletion policy. Until these templates are merged, it will be very difficult to keep them up-to-date.

Suggested improvement

I am a relatively new editor and have found the WP 'back of house' to be particularly non-user friendly. I know that I have jumped in at the deep-end, taking on a rather daunting task rather than easing in more progressively and that this has accentuated some of the difficulties I have experienced. I think; however, that my experiences serve to highlight some problematic areas.

I had thought to raise this in a project area but these appear to be inactive so, here goes. I think there are three things that could be done relatively simply that would make all of the 'back of house' content much more accessible for all editors, but particularly new editors.

  1. Create a servants entrance. By this, I mean, a 'back of house' home page accessible from every page, possibly just for logged in users but that is a policy decision. It could either be across the top, where the log in/log out and associated options are or it could be with the options on the left of screen under the Wiki globe. These are just suggestions.
  2. A back of house search box. This would be similar to the MOS specific search box but would cover all of the 'back of house'. This could be located on the log in/log out line at the top of page and be active/visible when logged in.
  3. Create a more intuitive way to identify and access material from the 'back of house'. In practice, this is likely to be incorporated into the 'servant's entrance'. Books have (at least) two main ways available for tabulating the information within: a table of contents and an index. The former would be like an hierarchical guide - basically lists of policies, guidelines, essay, templates etc in alphabetical order. The latter would provide functional or conceptual groupings such as all articles about referencing, arranged around key words or concepts and sub-groupings. Furthermore, it may/should be possible to annotate entries to provide context and improve accessibility even more.

I have very little idea about how to approach the actual nuts-and-bolts of such a 'project' but I perceive that a lot of the functionality is readily adaptable from what exists. Cinderella157 (talk) 08:48, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

What you're talking about is different facilities for logged in users. Whatever about any merits I don't think that would fly simply because of the policy of letting people who are not logged in have as many as possible of the same rights. Before going on about solutions you should talk about the problems you are concerned about and why any possible solution you have might fix it. This is probably not the right place for such discussions, one of the WP:Village pump pages is probably best. Dmcq (talk) 09:02, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
My ideas are not contingent on restricting access at all; however, a back of house search box could be confusing if generally seen. Cinderella157 (talk) 09:33, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
What do you mean by "the WP 'back of house'"? --Redrose64 (talk) 19:41, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Re-posted at Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Suggested improvement for accessibility by editors as suggested. Please continue discussion there. Cinderella157 (talk) 23:35, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Best way to handle death threats from a Wikipedia editor

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

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

Gouncbeatduke, you want Wikipedia:Harassment. Anything else, including any potential edit warring, is superfluous. --NeilN talk to me 15:32, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
If you need immediate action, you can report such threats at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. Blueboar (talk) 15:37, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
There is not much useful information at Wikipedia:Harassment. It seems once you email and you get back the very polite letter explaining there is nothing Wikipedia can do about it, you are on your own. Maybe I could research this and help write something better. I certainly feel motivated. Gouncbeatduke (talk) 15:50, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
It looks like a start was made at Wikipedia:Threats of violence. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:12, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ Jones, Lindsay (Ed. in Chief) (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion. (2nd Ed.) Volume 14: p.9897. USA: Macmillan Reference. ISBN 0-02-865983-X (v.14)
    • ^ Buddhahood Embodied: Sources of Controversy in India and Tibet by John Makransky. SUNY Press: 1997. ISBN 0-7914-3431-1 [10]