Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 3

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School IPs

I realize this is probably a stupid question, but I couldn't find the answer. Would school IPs be banned if people use it to vandalize wikipedia too much? Should they be banned? Is there a case against this?

Yes, I think they should be banned if they use it for the wrong reasons. It is a serious website and should be used for serious discussion and the sharing of views.


No. i reckon they should be able to get permission to read Wickipedia, otherwise some might be diadvantedged. Jared

I disagree, I don't think the entire school should be banned from reading Wikipedia. Is there a reason they can't be given read-only access? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kidane (talkcontribs)

Schools IPs do get banned fairly regularly for vandalism, although rarely for more than 24 hours. Remember that the banning is only for editing, and there is nothing stopping the IP from reading the Wikipedia. BlankVerse 10:28, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

I think banning school IPs is wrong. Many students use this website responsibly and they should not be punished for the stupidity of others. Adam (Unsigned by Adam28)

Ban the problematic school from editing priviledges. Protect the information. End of story.

John 23:54, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

The above seems poorly warranted. Banning a school IP can eliminate contributions from thousands of bright, educated students and professors at a university due to the actions of one irresponsible student.

I would have to agree with the person above. I use and edit wikipeida at school and these wiki vandals at school only make up a minority at schools. I have an idea, if you want to edit wikipedia at school, you need to be registered and must not have any records against you(i.e., bans, vandalizing, etc.) I was trying to edit an article and my school IP is banned from editing wikipedia untill June 12. This would be a better suggestion than banning the school cause of a few students. Loompyloompy313 22:21, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Any school that has "thousands of bright, educated students and professors" almost certainly has more than one IP. Banning a single IP willl ban a subset of the school's network. Affected students can usually easily use terminals from another part of the network. rdude 20:28, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

That is not true, All the students go though the schools sever to access websites, so all the IP's are the same when they vist a site. 19:47, 4 June 2006

Most larger schools employ a number of servers with different IPs. Blocking one of these IPs will only block part of the campus network. rdude 00:13, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Key policies

I changed "Generally accepted policies" to "Key policies" to try and be more newbie-friendly, and also because lots of generally accepted policies weren't in that short list.

I removed the copyright thing from key policies, as it's duplicated by "By submitting your work you promise you wrote it yourself..." in the text under the edit box, and because with the advent of non-free images, it's not as clear-cut as that.

I removed the "Follow conventions" list as I felt it wasn't "key": you can pick up conventions as you go along, and that works pretty well. Martin 15:54, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Ok, Anthony, I take your point. I guess it is key, as we are a free encyclopedia - I just felt it wasn't necessary to shout about it here as well, given that we have the link from every page, and the text under the edit box. Still, maybe it is. Martin 16:22, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Hi everyone, I am Anne Lenoir a new subscriber and yesterday I edited an article (Privacy and Data Protection Act 2006) as an alternative, in the British National ID cards section, but it was removed. Could you please tell me what I have done wrong? Thanks Anne.

Cite your sources?

I have a serious bone to pick. This is open content encyclopaedia. There is no way of knowing who contributes and what this persons expertise is. "Cite your sources" is a Policy here but it is not being done at all or being enforced.WHEELER 13:57, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Yes, nice if you are familiar with the area and want to contribute without having to look stuff up. Not so good when someone else adds something you suspect is not well founded and gives no reference. Fred Bauder 16:01, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)
Nice fix: I like that. Martin 19:26, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)

International English

I suggest we make International English the official language of EN wiki. I have noticed a crude tendancy for some pages to be in International, and others to be American (as in Theater - not even theatre professionals in US call it "theater"). We should keep in mind that in the context of English - American English is a marginal anomoly. We are an internationalist project - hence we should employ international spellings which are recogniseable to the greatest number --Oldak Quill 11:28, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Disagree. -- American English, like it or not, is the true international language of science, politics, and business. We Ugly Americans have imposed our will on the world, much as the British did in their time, the Spanish in theirs, and the Romans in theirs. I sympathize with the political feeling behind any attempt to standardize some other form of English as the international language; anything that reduces the prestige of the Great Satan is a step forward. But this is spitting into the wind. — Xiong (talk) 01:54, 2005 Mar 21 (UTC)
You know what, I'm a new member and I have been looking up random stuff, been using Wikimedia for a little over a year and I seriously can't tell the difference between the different English types. While we argue, some person out there may have corrected or may have increased the amount of English discrepencies.
Reeves 00:51, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Building an open encyclopedia

There has been some recent interest in revisiting the issue of our policy regarding bans and blocks. It seems that a more structured, and hopefully less partisan discussion might be possible if we were to abstract the issue from individual cases. I'm not sure quite how to go about this, but a discussion of values might help to clarify some of the issues. Ideas, comments and suggestions invited. I have avoided entitling this 'bans and blocks', since I believe that closing off the community should be a very minor part of out strategy in dealing with users with whom we disagree. I'd like to encourage us to think creatively about this, and to try to leave recent energetic discussions at the door. Yours, trying to move on, Mark Richards 20:41, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I second that. Sam [Spade] 02:38, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Hi, Mark. I believe there are a handful of interrelated issues, each deserving a degree of discussion.

  • First, there is the question of whether there should be any behavioral norms at all. Some users believe that the wiki consensus editing model and the presence of good editors in greater numbers than bad editors is sufficient. Others believe that there are limits that ought to be enforced.
  • The second question is on the nature of the limits to be set. While WP has many policies and guidelines, compliance is spotty. At present, the AC is really only considering "bright line" cases where there is some identifiable policy violation. This has not always been the case; Jimbo has in the past censured people whose transgression was merely poor judgement, not a rules violation.
  • Then the question arises on enforcement. At present, there is a focus on mechanical measures, like bans, or revocation of editing priviledges for particular articles. In the past, there was greater use of censure.
  • In the matter of bans and blocks, there arise questions of duration and enforcement.

Many of my feelings on this topic have their roots in other communities where I have participated in the past. I have certain strong feelings because most of the communities where I participated in the past were destroyed by troublemakers of one kind or another. Since the various terms for troublemakers are loosely defined, I'll try to illustrate rather than name:

  • Troublemakers who misuse a community's communication channels as a means of advertising, promoting a web site, or promoting a particular belief set not in concert with community goals
  • Troublemakers who incite unproductive conflict, either deliberately and for no reason, or in pursuit of an iconoclastic agenda, or unintentionally as a result of an abrasive personality
  • Troublemakers who engage in personal attacks upon valuable contributors to the community.

I believe that such behaviors, left unchecked, drive valuable contributors away, and embolden those who remain to engage in troublesome behaviors themselves. Many communities that were once dear to me have disappeared, or become shadows of their former selves, as a result of such destructive acts. The best and most prolific editors will walk away if they believe the community values its troublemakers as much as it values them.

As in other strictly social groups, the only effective sanction available for dealing with those who ignore social expectations is to deny them the ability to participate. All real-world social groups do this, and usually with little process: anyone who is enough of an ass at the poker party just won't be invited back.

I believe that Wikipedia is a community like any other. Without the community, there is no one to build the encyclopedia. As a community, Wikipedia can and should choose its participants. Like many other communities, Wikipedia welcomes newcomers. This does not mean that any newcomers should remain welcome if it becomes clear that they are troublemakers. Those who do not respect community norms should be shown the door. If they return, they should be watched and be shown the door again, rapidly, if it becomes at all clear that they are still up to their old tricks.

At present, Wikipedia is overtolerant, IMO. The highly tolerant attitude helped build the contributor base in the early days, when stakes were small and Jimbo had at least passing familiarity with all major contributors. The community is larger now, and has changed qualatatively as well, a shift often described in a colonization metaphor between a community of "pioneers" and a community of "settlers."

So, firstly, we need a rapid, predictable, community-supported means of dealing with troublemakers. The arbitration committee has failed in this regard: it is very slow, lacks community support, and is prone to adversarial proceedings that are a distraction to the community. I believe this is mainly due to an unclear mandate, the use of courtroom-like proceedings and ridiculously high evidentiary standards, and the presence of arbitration committee members who are opposed to essentially all bans.

With the process of banning a troublemaker who is smart enough to "game" the system extending to six months or more, it is important to be able to identify reincarnations. Otherwise, returning banned users can and do draw out the community response for another six months. Also, the cases of Wik and Michael illustrate the disruption that a savvy ban-ee can cause even when their identity is transparent.

Thinking outside the present structure for a time, I believe that we would be better served by a tribunal-type response to troublemakers rather than a committee. Here's one way it could work:

  1. A troublemaker arrives at the community
  2. Someone concerned about the troublemaker brings their actions to the attention of a group empowered to deal with such matters.
  3. A single member of said group is chosen at random to deal with the matter
  4. This member contacts the troublemaker, privately, and carries on a dialog to understand the problem.
  5. If the problem is nonexistent or can be resolved through discussion, the matter is closed.
  6. If the troublemaker won't cooperate, or trouble continues, the designated member of the group may ask the troublemaker to leave. Most cases are simple cases. Some amount of review may be necessary, once decisions are made, but I think it is crucial to avoid the sort of tit-for-tat that we see so often at RFC and similar pages. Once a decision is made, it may be appropriate to publish supporting material, discussion excepts and so on.
  7. A method should exist for escalating difficult cases (e.g. Wik).

The whole process shouldn't have to take more than a few days in the case of clearly unrepentant individuals. That should reduce the need to be concerned about reincarnations. And while some individuals may game the system, the possibility of that is reduced compared to the mess we have now.

UninvitedCompany 19:28, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

wow, thats really great idea, esp. if the review aspect can be worked out. Sam [Spade] 20:28, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I support UninvitedCompany strongly on this. Like him, I believe that Wikipedia has become overtolerant, and has become so worried about being inclusive that we tolerate users who don't even pay lip service to Wikiquette and other community standards. Our current system, while better than the anarchy of late fall last year, is still too slow and unwieldy. Personally, I liked the idea of using quickpolls to gain community consensus for banning a troublesome user. I was not happy when they were instead used only as a means of enforcing the 3 revert rule. It was a waste of a potentially useful process.
The proposal here sounds like a good alternative, especially the idea of having a single member approach the troublesome user. If the two can work out a resolution, then the problem goes away, everyone is satisfied, and most of the community never had to worry about it. If on the other hand a user is defiant or unwilling to change troublesome behavior after being approached about it, there really shouldn't be need for much further discussion before a ban is declared. Isomorphic 04:08, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Gedday all. I find this a truly fascinating issue. One solution may be a facilitated peer review or scoring system along the lines of e-bay or . Both of these sites are underpinned by reputation derived from simple mutual flagging of ‘good’ and ‘not-so-good’ transactions. E-bay appends your “score” to wherever it displays your userid. No other action is required and the process does not depend on e-bay granting special privileges based on the score.

In wikipedia, such a system could enhance meritocracy, and the troublemakers would find themselves being placed on a short leash, even by newbies.

The source forge folk could implement a system very easily. All that is needed is a ‘rate this edit’ button so wikipedians can peer assess each other’s edits. Note that is peer-reviewing edits, not each other (ie that was a lousy edit, not you’re a lousey editor). Wiki being wiki, I would expect us to be spending most of our time congratulating each other, and we’d all cruise around with our constrant stream of warm-fuzzies.

Technical bit: add a single table with fields for (rater_userid, ratee_userid, datetime, editID, rating). The rating field could be an integer, say 1-10 or 1-7 translating into vandalism-superb or somesuch. In its crudest, the scoring system would simply be the mean rating. (have’t looked at mediawiki’s schema so those names won’t follow convention, but you know what I mean).

Invariably people would attempt gaming with sock-puppets but this easily overcome with weighting systems to:

  1. weaken the effect of repeat voting (use the mean of ratee-rater pairs score so if the Amanda rates Bruce’s edits 7,5,6 this only contributes 6 to Bruces score not 18)
  2. weight the raters scores according to their personal weight. (If Charlie, with a personal score of 1.5 give Bruce’s edits a score of 1, this is more than negated by Debbie, personal score of 6.5, giving Bruce’s edit a score of 6)

The clever collective wiki-mind would soon refine the scoring math... does any of that make sense? Erich 04:25, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

PS. SQL clutter deleted - see history if want.

I think that system, while useful in the long run, isn't necessary for the problem at hand. I agree that the process, as it stands now, is broken--there's essentially no way to deal with problem users. I would agree with Uninvited's idea, but a better way might be to:
  • make a committee that's empowered to determine "problem users" and what to do about them, as per Uninvited
  • If at least three users from that committee decide to, they may ban any user for 24 hours
  • After the 24 hours are up, the banned user may appeal to the arbitration committee
  • Unless and until the AC finds the ban wrongly done, the banned user is not protected--he may be banned, for any reason, by any sysop, without penalty
  • The AC should be enlarged and should receive an injunction to work faster
  • If the AC finds that an initial ban was issued in poor judgment, then the offending users would be immediately removed from the "banning committee"

These are just my suggestions. [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 13:12, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)


No discussion of scoring systems would be complete without mention of Slashdot and Kuroshin, where scoring systems are an integral part of the culture. Use of scoring is powerful, and creates some interesting effects. If you're interested, you could drop by for a while and observe how scoring works there (tho perhaps you already have).

The trouble with scoring systems is twofold: it creates unwanted side effects as people try to game the system; and such systems mainly reward activity rather than wisdom and judgement. I don't think such systems are right for Wikipedia, because of this and because it would cause a huge, unpredictable culture shift, which may not be positive.

UninvitedCompany 16:11, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Hi UC. I'll have a look at those sites. I understand (indeed share) the concerns about gaming and unforseen effects. Certainly the cultural impact would need very cautious implementation. In support of the idea, and in reply to your extremely reasonable concerns, I offer these additional points:
  • If media-wiki incorporated the voting and recording parts of a peer-review assessment issuing system endeavor (PRAISE!! he he) the summarising and reporting system would be very flexible. It would literally take a programmer 5minutes to modify the queries that summarised the scores or place/remove the scores from particular types of pages. This means that media-wiki developers could respond quickly to unanticipated gaming or cultural sideffects.
  • Peer review, while imperfect, remains the method of choice for assessing high-quality factual publications. Any form of assessment is 'icky' and is anxiety provoking. But if Wikipedia is going to take the next step it is going to need it. (I am no journalist but even in non-academic publication, your boss or you publisher reviews your work).
  • By taking average scores rather than total scores the index would assess quality rather than quantity.
  • Actually it would be possible to derive many different summary indexes from the PRAISE (he he) log. The three indexes I'd be interested in would be:
  • a straight average of average peer reviews as I described above
  • a weighted average of average peer reviews (where a rater with a higher personal rating is given higher weight - this is more meritocracy than democracy)
  • a concordance (or reliability) rating (kappa I think is the formal method) to see if a user concurrs or diverges from peers.
  • Discretely displaying the score (perhaps the bottom left corner of the users' page in small font) would help to minimise the cultural impact.
  • Reports on new editors would enable them to be rapidly triaged - who needs early guidance urgently, etc.
By the way, just to clarity, I wouldn't propose this technological solution as an alternative to the other proposals on this page - just an idea to facilitate the much harder tasks at hand... some people care about numbers, some care about human interaction - but you can use numbers to more efficently direct your human interaction where it is needed. (those that don't care about anything, well the sooner you know the better!) anyway just a pie in the sky idea. Erich 02:35, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I agree with much of what UC says, my concern is still how to distinguish between people who are troublemaking, and those who have an alternative, but valid, vision for the community. Is the 'community' just those who can garner enough support in a quickpoll to eject those who are not part of their vision? There has to be more tollerence than that.

Mark Richards 19:43, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I share UC's hesitancy about a scoring system, and also UC's doubt that Wikipedia is a good place for such scoring systems. I also agree with everyone generally that a system of higher accountability is vital to preserving this place that we love. Some thoughts on what needs to occur to preserve it further.
  1. As a result of the increased "troublemakers" recently, we have become less welcoming to new users and anons, and less willing to chastize those who are rude to newbies, in my opinion. We need a renewed commitment to making new users welcome and helping them learn the increasingly complicated ropes (imagine a new user making an edit, and being accused of being EntmootsOfTrolls's latest incarnation, followed by a retort from someone else that it doesn't look like 142's style, followed by a remark from a third party than everyone should either take it to the AC, or else ask TimStarling to check the IP log and see if it's really him). I think if we made the Welcoming Committee a more visible entity, and generally tried to keep the community focused on positive interactions with new editors, we'd save ourselves the trouble of a few trollish types who are really just sore about their first experiences here.
  2. I think UC's comment about censure is right on, though I'm worried that censure _can't_ play as big a role anymore because we don't know each other as well. When there were 30 major names on RC, one of them being chastised publically by Jimbo really stung, and made everyone take notice. With 330 major names and more every month, we've got situations where many important editors here don't have any clue who the other people are. Censure carries less weight where there is less sense of community. I think using censure effectively will demand a concerted effort to build community. How that will be accomplished is beyond me, at this point.
  3. I think the idea of tribunals, etc., is pretty close to the mark for real troublemakers. I think a tribune needs to be chosen with a little more care, however. If I and a new user are squabbling over changes to Mickey Mouse, editors who have a well known bias concerning Disney, or articles about fictional characters, etc., should probably stay out. Get me one of the cryptography specialists who doesn't give much of a damn about the topic -- that person can focus on the behavior, not the content, and do so sensibly.
  4. Also, we all need to get used to the fact that everyone usually needs a good talking to after things break down. Most arbitration cases involve two sides that have done something wrong. We need to be less focused on "who won" this kind of situation, and we need to remain willing to provide consequences to both sides, even if it is merely censure.
  5. Everyone who observes me here should know I do my best to "assume good faith". I try very hard to remain polite and kind even when the person I'm working with is pretty heated about something. That's why I think I'm in a good position to say this -- assuming good faith needs to end sooner around here. Yes, many of us need to assume it more in the first place. But too often we are working with troublemakers who are obviously here to promote agendas and assault those who disagree with them. Once that becomes clear, there is no good faith to be assumed. We may extend a certain level of confidence in the editor that they can change their ways, but we cannot act as though they are new once again. They aren't. When an editor violates our rules, is censured, and takes up their troubled path again within a week or two, we need to be swift to bring them to justice.
  6. That swiftness demands a more fast-moving process than the current AC (and I say this with all due respect for them -- they've done a great job at an unmanageable task). The AC is not equipped to hand out judgments in less than 3 weeks. Often that leaves virtually intolerable consequences in the meantime. Whatever we decide about tribunals (or whatever we call them), they need to have swift decision-making possibilities, open judgments openly arrived at (for transparency so that they may be reviewed by a higher authority, if necessary), and limited power. The ability to ban for, say, over 2 weeks should remain in the hands of a more deliberative body like the AC. In this way, decisions that need to be made in a matter of days, can be. Decisions that require more care still have an avenue available to them. And tribunes who misuse their power (intentionally or not) should be open to removal as a tribune by the AC.

There, way too much from me too. At least we're all finally having our say. :-) Hopefully something comes of this. Jwrosenzweig 21:02, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Hopefully something comes of this. - I agree! Mark Richards 01:08, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

OK - in an effort to clarify those issues that we already substantially agree on, and those that need more disussion, I'm trying a structure here: /things we agree on, and things we will. Mark Richards 02:56, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

One thing I feel strongly about is that editors should be banned by their own choice. What I mean by this is that before a ban is given (however the decision is made,) the offender should be given a polite "ultimatum" of sorts: told what the problem is, how they can resolve it, and what the consequence will be otherwise. If they are willing to resolve it (and actually do) then they can remain as editors in good standing. If they still continue the offending behavior, then they have chosen to leave and we shouldn't feel any guilt about helping them do so. Isomorphic 04:29, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Dealing with trolls has one recent proposal. Martin 21:25, 3 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia is a good job well done. Hopefully, u will not be too restrictive to the definition of the word encyclopedia. Wikipedia can be more constructive in searching of new hypotheses and paradigms. Maybe u can create a specific new space for hypotheses. --ETTan 09:45, 30 July 2005 (UTC)


I was involved in a vote where everyone on both sides encourage friends to join the vote by registering just for voting. It was ugly. I am not proud of it. I suggest that only people registered before a vote, can vote on an issue. If such a policy came up for vote, I would encourage all of my friends to register, after the vote began, just to vote "Yes" on not letting people vote on issues who were not registered before the pole began. ;-)


So that who I am will not influence your judgment, I logged out before writing this. If you feel that who I am truly is germane, the logs will reveal that this IP was used by a user who logged out just before posting this and then logged back in on the same IP after posting this.

Anonymous Coward

In reviewing a number of entries, it is apparent that there is a significant bias on certain "controversial" topics and I plan to go around through the site and make the topics more neutral.

Submarine Veteran

It might be more interesting to integrate within those topics arguments that you feel are getting short-changed. If you were able to document some of the interchange between those different interpretations, I think that could go some way toward presenting a richer and more comprehensive feel for the reason why those topics are "controversial" in the first place.


Over-Extensive Summaries?

I'm assuming that there is a guideline for this, but I have not found it written out anywhere. Maybe I am mistaken for believing that it is wrong-- but I think this would be the place to tell me for sure.

I've seen a number of Wikipedia articles about television series or fictional characters that include extensive blow-by-blow-by-blow summaries of everything that happen in the series or to the character. Any 12-year-old can summarize a television show, but I don't personally believe that it adds much to an encyclopedia to do so. (It's much more interesting to tell why something is important than to tell, in great detail, what it is without any context.) Four or five lines of summary (or a bit more) might be appropiate, but not too much more. For an example of what I'm talking about, see Fusion Saga. (Dragon Ball Z) I'd like to thin the herd a bit and trim it down so it flows better, but I want to make sure it would be correct and within the mission of Wikipedia to do so. JRP 18:21, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Fantasy Universe Characters Breeding Like Rabbits

Go ahead and thin the herd, but I'd rather see one gigantic article in detailed exposition of a fantasy universe (be it World of Darkness or Bewitched) than what I see now: dozens of stubby little articles profiling every character (and location, and weapon, and vessel) in this or that fantasy universe.

My personal, highly NNPOV, is that most of this borders on patent nonsense and has little value here, but where does one draw the line? Pokemon? Middle Earth? Star Trek? Uncle Remus? If I were Lord of Wikipedia, I'd make decisions pretty quickly, but in the interests of consensus and group harmony, I'd be happy to accept one substantial article about the appearance, character, costume, diet, and supernatural powers of all 931 gods, goddesses, demons, warriors and common thieves inhabiting a universe whose extent is limited to a card game played only by seven socially disadvantaged young men in Newark, New Jersey and three more in Buffalo.

Once all that stuff is swept up and merged into substantial articles, one per fictional realm, then we can work to edit these frumious bandersnatchi down to mere elephantine proportions. — Xiong (talk) 07:14, 2005 Mar 15 (UTC)

when to bold, italicize, quote?

I just added this article: Elvis has left the building

I know I'm supposed to bold the title of the article when it appears for the first time in the article.

But I'm wondering, since this is an _expression_ (a phrase that people say), should it be italicized? Or should it be in quotes? Or both? Single quotes or double quotes?


Like the article is now - bold like all article titles must be, as well as double-quoted. Italics probably unnecessary since there are quotes. ··gracefool | 03:06, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

What Wikipedia is not

How did that come to be referenced? A horrible, highly negative document that isn't terribly useful. I suggest that m:Wiki is not paper would be a more suitable reference. It could read, "3. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, but not a paper one." Dan100 17:20, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)

"Horrible"? What has WP:NOT ever done to you? Seriously though, in an effort to define something as organic and ambiguous as WP, sometimes a little definition- in-the -negative is necessary. The article is actually incredibly useful in pointing out to newbies what not to do on WP. It very clearly outlines a number of things that are not appropriate for this site. - Che Nuevara, the Democratic Revolutionary 18:57, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

How are policies decided?

I found this section lacking as it does not say how Wikipedia policies are decided. It indicates ways in which policies are not decided, and then it indicates that policy isn't actually decided, but acquired. This is not an encouraging state of affairs for someone looking to resolve disputes through information about how policies are decided. It leaves those who wish to create or impliment policy and those who oppose policies and practices with no where to go. Hyacinth 00:20, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Could someone tell me please exactly what the difference is between a policy and a guideline? I was told today that Wikipedia:No original research is a policy but Wikipedia:Cite sources is not. If this is true, it seems wrong-headed, because the only safeguard against original research is to insist that the editor cite sources, so if the first is policy, the second should be too. If Cite sources is currently only a guideline, how does it get changed to policy? SlimVirgin 00:35, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
In general there are three ways to make policy official:
  • It is pronounced official by Jimbo or the Wikimedia board
  • It is receives a supermajority in a poll
  • The idea of making it official has been prominently advertised on the mailing list, village pump, and on related talk pages, and after a reasonable length of time no one has raised any reasonable objections or all objections have been dealt with. (or the more common, but less prefered, method of marking something as official and waiting to see if anyone reverts you)
-SimonP 00:54, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, Simon. And I can do this by myself (telling people about it, creating a poll)? Sorry to ask you another question, but how do I create a poll? SlimVirgin 03:02, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation, Simon. I added it to the page. - Pioneer-12 12:25, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Removed again. It's a decent summary, but gives the impression of being exhaustive when it is not. As noted already, voting is not always encouraged, and it's also possible for something to become policy because it's simply established practice. I think the previous text is pretty adequate. --Michael Snow 21:14, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Beyond policy

"Policy is not an exhaustive list. There are bad things you can do that nobody has thought of yet, and if you do them, it is entirely likely that you will find yourself in trouble. Edit in good faith, with civility, seeking consensus, and trying to build a NPOV encyclopedia, and you should be fine."

I removed this section from the page, as well as previous incarnations of it. There seems to be some strange idea that there are as yet unwritten policies by which user conduct can be judged. I find that notion silly, and open to vast abuse. We should not succumb to that notion on the official page where our true policies are documented. At best, this section restates what is already here. At worst, it invites wide interpretation and encourages us to be lax in creating well-defined rules of conduct. -- Netoholic @ 22:18, 2005 Mar 4 (UTC)

It's more a statement of fact than some radical new idea. People have been banned for coming up with creative ways to be abusive/trolling/disruptive/etc. These bans have been upheld by the community, the arbcom, and/or by Jimbo. To not make their existence explicit seems to me fundamentally dishonest. Snowspinner 05:06, Mar 5, 2005 (UTC)
I don't trust your interpretation of what constitutes a "creative" new disruption, because you've been proven wrong often enough. This page is not where you ask for a "blank check". If something new comes along, discuss it with the wiki community and get some agreement that the action is disruptive and that it needs to be covered in written policy. -- Netoholic @ 06:21, 2005 Mar 5 (UTC)
I don't see where the content has anything to do with my interpretation. The fact of the matter is, people are banned for violating policies that don't formally exist. Not just by me. It is irresponsible not to note that on the policies page. Snowspinner 00:56, Mar 6, 2005 (UTC)
"I find that notion silly, and open to vast abuse." Then you're way too late, because the Arbitration Committee already does exactly this, when disruptive idiots come up before us having found an exciting new way of violating m:Don't be a dick. It's necessary to describe things as they actually happen on Wikipedia. I should know, I'm part of them happening - David Gerard 01:00, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Please describe an example of where someone was punished by ArbCom for doing something that is not covered by existing policy. -- Netoholic @ 02:24, 2005 Mar 6 (UTC)
Off the top of my head: Xed is about to get dinged for "assumption of widespread bad faith", which is a new phrasing (despite being derivable from "assume good faith"). WP:POINT was a guideline, but has been ratified by the AC several times. Editors are now explicitly expected not to edit unreasonably (multiply ratified). That last one is a good example - it's not something you'd expect to have to say explicitly, but it seems someone did need it said to them. The new things are derived from existing policies and guidelines, but the process of having to say them in words when we didn't before should be flagged.
Note recent edits from User:John Gohde in which he claims that since WP:POINT wasn't ratified by a consensus vote, it doesn't apply and he can blithely ignore it ... despite it being ratified and used by the AC in several recent cases. That's the sort of attitude that needs to be told "new stupid things will in fact be treated as stupid, whether they're written down as yet or not."
You may prefer a different phrasing, but something like this really does need to be in here - David Gerard 10:29, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think you proving my point. In your examples, either they are derivative of existing policies and guidelines, or they demonstrate that the Arbitration Committee may be actually overstepping its authority by creating new ones. I do not support adding any phrase to this page which I see as granting a license for ArbCom to do just that. If the ArbCom sees there is a gap in our policies, they should find some better way of getting that information out to the community so that we can get those issues in writing and approved by consensus. -- Netoholic @ 15:21, 2005 Mar 6 (UTC)
Netoholic, there are some very basic guidelines, described under "Key policies", which cover a lot of malicious behaviour that may not be explicitly forbidden. Common sense tells me that the trolls and other wrongdoers will always find a loophole in our rules, because that's the troll's way. And the defense against the troll's way is quite simple: common sense, not legalistic nitpicking, which would make us inflexible and vulnerable. It is good to have strong and well-considered policies, but it would be naive to assume that any amount of policies would be good enough without a degree of flexibility. The paragraph in question is not policy in itself, but rather describes a perception that, as far as I can tell, a majority of Wikipedians would accept. Therefore it should stay, at least until clearly proven otherwise. Kosebamse 18:33, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Edit warring is dumb. When a new addition is contentious, the page should revert to the most stable version. In this case, the phrasing of (and even the idea behind) the "Beyond Policy" section is not something easily solved. Leave this page as it is until concerns are addressed.

I really worry that those wishing to add this are not able to truly see from an outside perspective how wrong this section is. I do not respect Snowspinner's quest for more admin power, and I do not like that a novice ArbCom member is suggesting that the Committee should be allowed to create new policies. From my outside perspective, and I know I share this with others, taking liberties with policy in this way leaves me apprehensive. Take a moment and reflect on how it looks. -- Netoholic @ 04:56, 2005 Mar 7 (UTC)

Edit warring is dumb, indeed. Why, then, do you take part in it? The question whether there are unwritten policies, or those that are not described in detail but rather covered in the "key policies", has been around for long. It's a description, not new policy to state that many Wikipedians feel that way, and it looks inappropriate not to mention that situation on the central policies page. If you are unhappy with the facts behind the description, tackle the facts, not the words. Kosebamse 05:57, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I have rephrased the paragraph under discussion to make it (hopefully) clearer that it's descriptive rather than a policy itself. Although I lean towards the "common sense" faction (as opposed to the "legalistic"), I agree that it may not be appropriate to describe the common sense approach as desirable. However, nobody can deny that that approach is practiced and the underlying philosophy is shared by many Wikipedians, and that's good enough reason to mention it here. Kosebamse 15:33, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I would have really preferred you suggest your new wording here on the talk page first. The problem with this "edit war" (like many other ones) is the fact that people choose to reinsert the contended material, rather than attempt true collaboration by working out the wording on Talk first.
That being said, I find your version to be more fair than the previous ones. I don't like to imply the notion of "unwritten policies", though there certainly are universal standards of behavior. Policies, strictly defined, are to be written and agreed upon. As such, I've removed that heading, and also further toned down the wording. Compare it to the first versions, and it now becomes cautionary rather than threatening. -- Netoholic @ 17:30, 2005 Mar 7 (UTC)
Although I believe that the concept of "unwritten policies" is widespread and legitimate, I find your version adequate and believe that most others should be able to agree with it - so let's hope this reversion war is over with that. Further comments (David? Snowspinner?) welcome. Thanks. Kosebamse 20:27, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
OK to me for now, may tweak further. A bit weasely. I'm entirely unconvinced the previous version had any discernible "threatening tone" (per the edit summary [1]). But it'll do for the moment - David Gerard 16:39, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

For more on "unwritten policies", see Wikipedia:Semi-policy. Also, for an example of the evolution of Wikipedia rules, see WP:3RR "The three-revert rule is not an entitlement", added after the arbitration over the behavior of User:Vfp15 in editing Charles Darwin. Perhaps there needs to be written Wikipedia:Use common sense, which should cover most of those "unwritten policies". BlankVerse 09:53, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Unwritten rules are bad

Netaholic is right. Unwritten rules are bad. Having unwritten rules is akin to saying "the rules are whatever I feel like they are".

On the other hand, having a policy of flexibility and common sense in dealing with situations not covered by current policy makes sense, and is a good thing. However, every effort should be made to make as clear as possible what to do in situations not specifically covered by the current policy. Something like Wikipedia:Use common sense would be very helpful. - Pioneer-12 13:29, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)

IP Civil Rights

I came across this yesterday. There's nothing on it's talk page, it looks like someone just slapped a policy tag on it. I thought I'd ask about it here, before doing something hasty. I can put it on VfD if that's appropriate, actually I don't know what to do with it but I'm pretty sure it wasn't created via process. Rx StrangeLove 13:13, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Use ISO units and internationally standardized measures

I would suggest to add a guideline to use international standard units wherever possible, or at least always add standard units if non-standard units are used (e.g. always add a length in meters if it is given in feet).


We do need to agree on a guideline for this. Also, when should an article summarize relevant units, and when should it refer to Wikipedia articles about units? The vacuum page got rewritten in Pascals - fine and dandy - but then the mention of the Torr as alternate unit was completely deleted. In my country, (Canada,) I challenge you to find vacuum equipment specified in Pascals. The Torr is the de facto standard of vacuum measurement. I support the standardization of measurement units, but some realism is needed.

I propose that articles be written in SI units as a general rule. However, if a field makes common use of other units, those other units and conversions can be given at one location in the article.


I just think that whatever units are included intially, other alternative units are always preferable although MUST be checked. I just commented about the SS United States article there, one of the tables values for the operating pressure of the boilers had incorrect units, in3 instead of psi or lbf/in2. The value in MPa was included though, and that was how I understood the in3 to be false.--Hengineer 21:26, 16 July 2006 (UTC)


This may seem like a silly question, but shouldn't this page be a policy? I mean, the stuff on how to make policy certainly seems to be a policy or a guideline right? There should be some sort of tag here, maybe just semipolicy for now, but having just that feels weird to me. --Dmcdevit 02:57, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

  • Okay, I was hoping for a response. So is the info on how something becomes policy somewhere else, or not policy, or what? --Dmcdevit 00:42, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
    • There doesn't seem to be a formal, central place where the policy-adoption process is layed-out. This page doesn't itself give a lot of detail. -- Netoholic @ 00:58, 2005 May 18 (UTC)

announcing policy proposal

This is just to inform people that I want Wikipedia to accept a general policy that BC and AD represent a Christian Point of View and should be used only when they are appropriate, that is, in the context of expressing or providing an account of a Christian point of view. In other contexts, I argue that they violate our NPOV policy and we should use BCE and CE instead. See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/BCE-CE Debate for the detailed proposal. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:55, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Towards a clearer definition of terms

I think that some of the discussion we have had over policy and guidelines shows that we don't all have a common understanding of what those words mean, or what kinds of "policy and guidelines" we need. This is an attempt to outline useful definitions of these terms. I'll use "convention" as a general term for all kinds of policy and guidelines. Please feel free to copyedit. Zocky

Kinds of conventions
content conventions
What should and shouldn't be included in the encyclopedia, how it should be written and formatted.
workflow or meta-conventions
How are content conventions implemented. Things like Wikipedia:Deletion policy.
community or meta-meta-conventions
How are content and workflow conventions decided, changed and enforced. Things like Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines and WP:POINT.
Degrees of conventions
Advices describe how things can be done on Wikipedia. They are a good place to refer confused newbies to, and also a good place to describe a successful technique you encountered. If there are several ways of doing things or several reasonable opinions on whether they should be done, they should be described. If you don't like following an advice, don't. If you don't like other people following an advice, discuss it on the relevant talk pages. Example: Wikipedia:Boilerplate text indicates how to create a certain kind of layout.
Guidelines describe how something is normally done on Wikipedia. If there are several ways of doing things or several reasonable opinions on whether they should be done, they should be described. A guideline applies as long as there are no reasons for breaking it. If you break a guideline, it is polite to explain why you did it. If somebody else breaks a guideline and you disagree, you should discuss it with them and decide what to do. Mass edits contrary to guidelines should be discussed beforehand. Example: Wikipedia:Be bold in updating pages indicates a good way of behaving on the Wiki (and explains when you should and should not do so)
Policies are conventions that always apply. They are either basic principles of the project, conventions necessary for the functioning of the community, or standards for issues where consistency is more important then correctness. You should not break policy. If somebody else breaks policy they should be reverted and directed to the policy in question. Example: Wikipedia:Copyrights, which is inviolate.
Other stuff
All convention pages in Wikipedia project namespace represent the opinion of Wikipedia as a whole and must adhere to the standard of NPOV, i.e. they must truthfully and accurately present what their status and support on wikipedia is. Consensus should thus exist for the wording of every convention, even if there's no consensus on the benefits of the convention itself.
style guide
Conventions must be written in a friendly and factual manner.
creation and ammendments
As said, all conventions should be consensual, but the approach to changing them should depend on their degree. The basic idea is "respect other editors". Any degree of convention should be proposed and agreed on to be accepted as a Wikipedia-wide convention. Conventions followed by a single user should be stored in their userspace, those followed by a group of users should be stored on clearly marked and signed pages in the Wikipedia namespace, in Wikiprojects, or on meta.
  • Advices can be written, edited and expanded, but read relevant talk pages beforehand to make sure you understand what the people who follow them are using them for and how they intend to develop them further. If in doubt, ask. If an advice is found to be a good solution for an issue where standardization is beneficient, it can be upgraded to a guideline.
  • Guidelines can be written, copyedited and clarified as necessary, but since they are likely to apply often and be used in many discussions, substantial changes should be proposed, discussed and agreed beforehand. If adherence to a guideline is found to be essential for functioning of Wikipedia, it can be upgraded to a policy.
  • Policy is the only degree of conventions that requires what could be called rude enforcement, i.e. revert and point to the policy without discussing the merits of the case. All policy should be widely known and accepted, therefore policy should be created and changed rarely. Policies can be copyedited and clarified as necessary, but any changes in meaning must be proposed, discussed and agreed beforehand. If controversial, consensus should be demonstrated in a credible manner.

Notice that the above goes on about consensus, but doesn't ever mention voting. That's because it generally shouldn't be done. Sure, strawpolls are a very useful tool for assessing the mood and moving debates forward, but formal votes are rightly treated as an excess which only encourages competitiveness and the culture of vehemence.

But the thing is, we only need to vote rarely. If we agree on something, we've "achieved consensus" and there's no need to vote. If we agree that we disagree, there's no need to vote either - there's clearly no consensus. It's only when we can't agree whether we agree or disagree that we are forced to vote. I suspect that the frequent need for voting has something to do with the fact that we often mistake consensus to mean "My option wins".

Anyway, does the above outline sound reasonable? Zocky 12:12, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

Creating a new convention should be done by adding it to Category:Wikipedia policy thinktank and widely advertising it, such as on the village pump. Please do not call for a vote - Wikipedia is ruled by consensus, not majority. If you can get sufficient discussion and can get a significant group of people to agree, your proposal can be elevated to how-to or guideline. It is quite possible that people will later revisit and suggest changes; guidelines are only so because (and as long as) people support them. WP:NOT a bureaucracy, and the spirit of the Wiki is more important than the guideline-as-written.

Modifying an existing convention should be discussed on its talk page. Please do not call for a vote - Wikipedia is ruled by consensus, not majority. However, if you simply wish to remove typos and the like, just be WP:BOLD.


  • Very good. I've added some samples. And the above. Please copy-edit if it's unclear. Radiant_* 12:49, May 19, 2005 (UTC)
    • Judging by the pages in that category, "how-to" was an inappropriate name for the weakest degree of convention. I've substituted "advice". If there's a better word, feel free to rename it. Zocky 15:39, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
      • I don't know, I kind of like "how-to". Most such documents indicate 'how to' make a merge, for instance. Radiant_* 11:13, May 20, 2005 (UTC)
        • Sure, but things like VFD guidelines are also sort of how-tos, i.e. "How to put a page up for deletion". We surely don't want to make those sound more optional. As said, this should be thought out. It would probably be good if we had an inventory of all convention pages on a single page so we could shuffle them around without recategorizing pages and try to find out definitions that fit reality. That wikiproject sounds more and more like a good idea to me. I'm sort of busy these days, but I could find a couple of hours on the weekend to set it up. Would you be interested? Zocky 13:35, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
          • Sure, I'll join if people find it useful. Radiant_* 13:40, May 20, 2005 (UTC)
  • Once these are agreed on, someone ought to copy them over to the WP:G.--Dmcdevit 00:37, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
  • I want express a certain sense of humor about all this. You have basically defined "guidelines" to be what I would have called "semi-policy", and defined "advice" to be what I would have called "guidelines". So yes, I think having those three categories and offering clear definitions for what they mean makes sense. Of course, aside from the fact that the categories were poorly defined (and consequently poorly organized), I would have said that roughly we already had those categores a week ago, before this mess began. Anyway, I do think this outline is well-designed and does a very good job of clarifying the issue. Assumming other people also agree that this is a reasonable way of categorizing conventions, you may need to give some thought to how to incorporate the above text into Policy & Guidelines page, as it seems likely that this will also require modifying existing text to make it flow well. Dragons flight 23:08, May 19, 2005 (UTC)
    • Good points. This things should be well thought out and agreed on in advance, otherwise their implementations and reimplementations will cause unneeded consternation. We might want to consider starting a Wikiproject for cataloguing and categorization of conventions? Maybe Wikiproject Registry? Zocky 03:03, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
  • I like the above definitions, and find them both logical and clearly-explained. "Semi-policy" was a confusing word and I won't miss it. I would just like to reiterate that WP is not a bureaucracy. Immense amounts of time can be wasted when one becomes more concerned with process than product. Hence, there should not be overly much wrangling about which of the three categories a page belongs in. Isomorphic 02:52, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
    • Agred. I added some description of when an advice or a guideline could need to be upgraded, since these changes shouldn't be done without a good reason. Zocky 03:38, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Fooling with this page is Wrong and Bad

To an extent, Netoholic is right -- most of this page is an index. But to that extent, it is Bad and Wrong to fool with it. Changing structure on the sly is not the honest way to advance one's position.

This page includes a summary of important foundation principles -- and to that extent, it is a flat-out violation of those principles to fool with this page. This page is policy -- it is one of the true cornerstones of all policy. No change should be made to this page without a great deal of discussion -- discussion not only on this Talk page, here, but on Pump (policy); and probably not without a note from Jimbo and the WMF Board.

There is exactly one type of edit that should be made to this page: reversion of any other edit. — Xiongtalk* 08:04, 2005 May 21 (UTC)

  • So I'm allowed to revert your addition of policy? :) (only joking) --Dmcdevit 08:11, 21 May 2005 (UTC)
    • Ironically, Xiong has been reverted. But obviously, if policy or guidelines change on Wikipedia (as happens all the time) then this page should be updated to keep it current. The simple fact is that, since policy and guideline are dictated by consensus, one is unable to unilaterally push one up. If one were to create Policy:Add smiley icons to all pages then 1) nobody would use it, and 2) someone would quickly rename it or BJAODN it. Some rare pages require protection to prevent edits (such as the copyright disclaimer) but this isn't one. Radiant_* 13:21, May 23, 2005 (UTC)

Discussion pages, posting and reposting

Is there a policy dealing with discussion pages, off-topic posting, and reposting of old discussions (on the same and on other talk pages)? 17:30, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the reply, but I meant not so much on the user page, but on the talk page of an entry. 16:41, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

  • Oh. Okay, WP:CIV, WP:NPA and WP:FAITH pretty much cover it. Since you're not going into specifics, I have no clue what you're talking about, but basically 1) if you and someone else hold different opinions, agree to disagree and ask a third-party opinion; 2) if someone is being annoying (e.g. off-topic, spamflooding, crossposting, rudeness, whatever) ask them politely to do things differently; and 3) if politeness doesn't work once more ask for a third-party opinion, or failing that, go to WP:RFC. Radiant_>|< 07:39, Jun 14, 2005 (UTC)

Policies vs. Guidelines?

Where can I read more about the difference between policies and guidlines? I've seen that the WP:ArbCom uses both in their rulings, so is there a difference at all? Thanks, nyenyec  04:12, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The difference is basically that policies should always be followed and guidelines should usually be followed unless you have a good reason not to. Dragons flight 04:25, Jun 18, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks! Is there a difference in the ratification procedure (i.e. the number of votes to create or change a policy vs. a guideline)? Where can I read about that? -- nyenyec  14:15, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Since most policies and guidelines develop semi-organically, there is actually not a great deal written down about the process, though Wikipedia:How to create policy does give some idea. Policies are very rarely created or amended. In principle they can be dictated by Jimbo or the Wikimedia Board, but that hasn't happened in well over a year. More generally, they are made official after recieving a supermajority in a poll (typically >80% support). Guidelines are more flexible and are basically enacted by consensus (roughly 60-70% support). Also guidelines are not neccesarily voted on, since in many cases it is obvious that a proposed guideline either does or does not have consensus support just from the associated discussion. Dragons flight 23:11, Jun 19, 2005 (UTC)

Bully Policy

I've started a new page at: Wikipedia:Bully which I invite others to take a look at. I apologize for not being too familar with the rules about making such pages, I went ahead and followed the guideline of being bold. In any event, I feel it is a problem on Wikipeida and needs policy. I invite others to take a look at what Ive started. -Husnock 6 July 2005 04:05 (UTC)

Wikiblower protection policy

Page has been created at Wikipedia:Wikiblower protection. Please comment and vote in the Vfd (running under the Proposed RfD process). Benjamin Gatti

Birth and death lists on year and day pages

I would like to propose the following guidelines for these lists (after looking at the questionnaire that has circulated):

  • The words born and died should not be spelled out in these lists (contrary to general Wikipedia policy). (Asterisks for born and daggers for died should be phased out.)
  • No links should be inserted in these lists. Only the name and date should be links, except for heads of state or Nobel Prizes, where the reader might want to go to the list of heads of state or recipients of the prize.
  • Birth dates should be included in death lists and death dates in birth lists, when available.
  • Titles should be included, for example King Henry VII of England.
  • No approximate dates should be included.
  • No one should be included in these lists that does not have a Wikipedia article about them.
  • Descriptive phrases about the person should be very brief, usually just the nationality (if known) and a word or two describing the profession or activity the person is prinicpally known for. If the reader wants to know more, they should go to the article about the person.
  • If the person is known only as someone else's relative, they should not be on these lists.

Ksnow 08:49, 11 August 2005 (UTC)Ksnow

Sometimes approximate dates are all that are known. Historians use the abbreviateion "c." for circa to indicate this. Other times, particularly in the entertainment field, a number of different birth years exist throughout such authoritative records as Facts on File pubs, NY Times obits, Encyc Brit, etc., and the disparity ought to be noted. — Tenebrae 13:52, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Multiple pages

I had an idea to break really long articles into multiple pages. When MediaWiki tells you that the article is too long (32 kb or more), somebody could move the bottom text to a page titled PAGENAME/page2. This could help older browsers, and people browing Wikipedia on a slow internet connection. Please tell me what you think.

Thank You, shardsofmetal 00:30, August 29, 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is inconsistent

Recently an editor chose to remove this section from WP:POINT. He suggested, and I concur, that a better location is probably on this page. However, since this page is official policy, I'm not just going to offload it and run. The text is as follows:


There are two unusual aspects of Wikipedia culture that often lead to misunderstandings:

  • Wikipedia is inconsistent.
  • Wikipedia tolerates certain activities that it does not condone.

The nature of consensus editing, combined with editor churn, means that Wikipedia is not consistent. Where there are two or more equally correct ways of handling matters, and no consensus or guideline has been established, Wikipedia tolerates inconsistency except where it creates some sort of practical problem. For example:

  • Spelling using either American English or other forms of English is accepted. Articles written using one spelling should not be changed to use the other. However, where spellings are mixed in the same article, a practical problem of readability is created, and so spelling is unified within the article.
  • There are naming conventions for article titles, because inconsistency creates a practical problem in that articles are harder to find and the likelihood of creation of duplicate articles increases.
  • Implementation of deletion policy is not consistently applied to marginally suitable articles. The vote-based nature of the deletion process results in decisions affected by the mix of people following Wikipedia:Votes for deletion during any given week. Consequently, some articles that are deleted are arguably more meritorious than others that have been kept. Since marginally useful articles are indeed of marginal value, this doesn't create a practical problem.
    • It would seem likely that with the addition of major-leage support from such "corners" as Yahoo! (lent some months ago) we might perhaps see also influence become apparent on the judgement calls being made regarding allocations of physical and mental assets to some extent, though, wouldn't one reason? Indeed, can we truly no longer support a bifurcation as likelihood might be promulgated by such a division of purpose? I say nay. Why not find room for a bit more? Why not, indeed? I believe it was Snr Hed PE that saic, "War." -B 1 2 01:30, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

I believe the text of this guideline is fundamentally sound, though the last sentence of the last paragraph is very much an opinion and should probably be removed. Comments? Denni 02:26, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

I like all of it(including the last sentence). I support putting all of it in, in a section titled "Wikipedia is inconsistent" (although finding a place that's not policy for it might be slightly better). It makes much sense, and would be helpful to point various questioners to. JesseW, the juggling janitor 18:05, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Five pillars

Is a summary. It is not policy. I have removed it. The Uninvited Co., [[User_talk:UninvitedCompany|Inc.]] 20:50, 15 November 2005 (UTC)


Although Wikipedia:Spoiler warning is listed as one of the this article's content guidelines, the guidance it provides is minimal. There's a bit of implied policy available from the examples in Spoiler (media), but it appears like little work has been done to attempt to reach a rough consensus about what constitutes a spoiler. Does such a consensus exist? Does Wikipedia need one? I contend it does, because pop culture is one of those areas that gets a lot of contributions for all sorts of editors, particularly new ones. I've seen cases such as The West Wing where the bulk of an article was bracketed with spoiler/endspoiler templates (see this revision as of 10:41, 2 December 2005), including the cast list, which was considered a spoiler because cast members changed jobs over the course of the series.

Here are some questions I would like to see answered in such a guideline:

  1. What kinds of articles warrant spoiler notifications? Entertainment such as films, TV series, video games, and books are the no-brainers. Solutions to magic tricks and puzzle are on the list already, with their own template.
  2. Film critics have the longest history of avoiding spoilers. Has Roger Ebert or Pauline Kael or any other well-known film critic defined what a spoiler is? Such a definition could be a respectable starting point for Wikipedian use.
  3. Can a spoiler lose its status as a spoiler? Darth Vader's "secret" revealed to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back is specifically cited as an example of a spoilers too well-known to be considered a spoiler anymore. M*A*S*H (TV series) is over twenty years old: does that reduce what qualifies as a spoiler in its universe? The article on the Henry Blake character supposedly has no spoilers, while only the infobox and a single sentence in the article on Lost (TV series) are spoiler-free. Even the so-called "Basic facts" about the Shannon Rutherford character from Lost are tagged as spoilers.

Editors will fall back on calling every twist and turn a spoiler if some guidelines aren't developed. 07:05, 4 December 2005 (UTC).

Editors will fall back on calling every twist and turn a spoiler if some guidelines aren't developed.
I fail to see the problem. I am of the habit of pretty mindlessly applying the template to almost anything that deals with a work of fiction which has a plot (I don't write magic tricks/puzzle articles, so these parts rarely concern me). In addition, I tend to put it at the beginning, perhaps after a very short introduction, and not add a "spoiler end". I hope that in the print version, or in some permanent version, there'll be an automated solution to not see them, and other than that, if wikipedia truly believes people do not expect to see spoilers, we should put them liberally. Even if the article happens to not contain spoilers, you can be pretty sure a future version will -- after all, do you truly expect to read about "Romeo and Juliet" in an encyclopedia and not learn they both die? The problem, as I see it, is that to the untrained eye, 'pedia looks like a website, not an encyclopedia :) MosheZadka 16:08, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Personally, I hate the spoiler tag in general. I wonder if there is a preference that allows me to not see it at all? Logically, I appreciate that newcomers to WP could find the spoiler tag useful if they don't realize this site is an encyclopedia, but as MosheZadka says, encyclopedias should be expected to have spoilers on literature. That annoying tag before every fiction entry bothers me. Even so, my proposal is that spoiler warnings only be applied to final plot twists- the revelation of the murderer, the figuring out of that final clue that makes everything fit into place. In The Empire Strikes Back, for instance, I feel the spoiler warning should come before the sentence, "Luke arrives at Cloud City..." which is the paragraph where the Father thing is revealed.Ferret-aaron 18:13, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

When in doubt ...

  1. "A post to a newsgroup that divulges information intended to be a surprise, such as a plot twist in a movie." - American Heritage Dictionary
  2. "A remark which reveals important plot elements from books or movies, thus denying the reader (of the article) the proper suspense when reading the book or watching the movie." - Jargon File (Usenet)
  3. "When someone reveals a previously unknown aspect of something which you likely would have rather learned on your own." - The Urban Dictionary

Whether or not there is a Wikipedia consensus, there is a consensus on the internet at large. There are things that a reader / viewer / player is not supposed to know at the beginning of a piece of ficion / game. I would use a rather inclusive definition: as a rule of thumb, anything not in the first few pages/minutes of a story is not intended to be known before the story begins ... otherwise it would come earlier. The concept is pretty unambiguous. In cases such as Darth Vader's "secret", of course, there are exceptions. But a spoiler warning does not mean "do not read this", and an article is not any less helpful if a user is forewarned. Che Nuevara, the Democratic Revolutionary 18:44, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

From a personal standpoint and from time to time writing reviews for films, I think spoiler consitutes anything that reveals any part of a plot that can specifically reveal the ending or any major plot points that have not been revealed to the public through advertising or general storylines. It is tricky and can from time to time differ from not only film to film but person to person. I guess if I am unsure I either ask someone, or just ask myself would I have found this bit out if I had not watched the film or show.

So if someone was reading about Usual Suspects they would know that the police are using an suspect to find out where Keyser Soze is. However someone who hadn't seen the film wouldn't know that the suspect they have is actually the man they are looking for. Now in this example it is still a major spoiler but after a long period of time, it can be generally assumed that by and large the majority of the public has either seen the film and knows the ending or has heard about the ending. Much like Darth Vader to Star Wars or Bruce Willis is actually dead in The Sixth Sense. The period of it being a spoiler is more likely well and truly over. Lummie 15:10, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I would say that your exceptions are too broad -- only extreme cases (such as Darth Vader) ought to be exceptions. - Che Nuevara, the Democratic Revolutionary 14:05, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
But many spoilers become well known because of general popularity. Sixth Sense's and Usual Suspects are very well known. Films like Scary Movie for example use these films for material and many times because the material is so well known this is why the jokes or material have a chance to work. Whether we can make them exceptions or not is not up to us but the general public. We can do everything we can to avoid these spoilers but many can pop up in tv shows, comic routines, film etc. By and large many films will eventually fall out of favour so the spoilers start to become less well known and many who have not seen the material in question may go in with no idea of what will happen. In the example of Darth Vader its popularity has continued so its impossible to keep people guessing the major plot twist. Lummie 15:00, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

I have seen a number of fiction article which virtually start ..Spoiler warning... I find this ridiculous, as no one would be here in the first place if they did not want to discover something about the subject. Spoiler warnings become meaningless if they are plastered generally over everything. They are only useful to a reader if they are making a distinction between part of an article which is general information, and part which contains critical information. Shouldn't this be stated somewhere? Sandpiper 21:28, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

No legal threats

I notice that "No legal threats" is listed under "Behavior guidelines". Judging from the situation at Alan Dershowitz, surely this item can be removed. - Xed 08:59, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

"Legal threats" and "disputes over legal issues" are different things. - Che Nuevara, the Democratic Revolutionary 17:22, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Proposal to downgrade the status of Wikipedia:Avoid weasel terms

The guidelines here are ostensibly here by editor consensus. A glance at Wikipedia talk:Avoid weasel terms shows there has never been anything like consensus on the merits of that guideline. I therefore propose to remove the "Style Guide" header from it and downgrade it from the guidelines section to some sort of "Proposed guidelines" or "Disputed guidelines" section. Kwertii 01:13, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Proposal to downgrade the status of Wikipedia:Avoid peacock terms

I also propose that Wikipedia:Avoid peacock terms be downgraded in status, for the same reason as Wikipedia:Avoid weasel terms above: there has never been anything approaching a consensus on the adoption of this policy. Kwertii 01:24, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Totally agree with lack of consensus - the talk page shows a 50/50 split. IMHO the peacock guideline is just a style thing, it has nothing to do with POV. Stevage 18:09, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
Agree too, do it--BozMotalk 15:50, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Time for a major overhaul?

This page is, quite frankly, a mess. It basically directs the user to another 50 pages in case they feel like they need more guidance. I suggest a careful re-ordering and re-prioritising of the guidelines here, making it clear which are firm policies (3RR), which are fundamental principles (verifiability, OR etc), which are general guidelines agreed upon for happy editing (civility, don't bite newbies), and which are somewhat tangential or only apply in special situations (eg, notability of music groups).

I would further suggest a simple one-line statement of each of the policies here, so that with a simple scan down the page, the reader can pick up a quick dos-and-donts. So instead of "Three revert rule (Revert wars are considered harmful)", which really requires you to click the link to make sense of it", it would become: Three revert rule: Don't revert any page more than three times in 24 hours, or you may be blocked from Wikipedia. Ideally, each page here would have its one line summary on its own page, and that would simply be copied here.

Note that I'm not advocating changing any policies, just the presentation of the "guideline book", which is what this page is.

Comments before I dive in? Stevage 17:46, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

Good Idea! Have fun!! :) Gerard Foley 00:55, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
Agree. Go for it! Doovinator 03:47, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

Andalusia is referenced in the Doors' song, Spanish Caravan: "Andalusia with fields full of grain / I have to see you again and again..."

Wikipedia notice

Hiya. I found a notice to visit this page when I signed in today. Is this boilerplate, or have I inadvertently done something contrary to policies and guidelines? Thanks for any info -- Tenebrae 13:45, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

--Agree-- --Masssiveego 23:32, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

To the best of my knowledge, I think it's a template edit to the login page... I certainly can't think of something I'd done recently that would violate any policies since I've only made two edits in the past week, and the comment notice is unsigned. I assumed that it was a general reminder to us all to be civil, encyclopedic, and , in genereal, place play nice with each other. :) Janet13 02:42, 16 January 2006 (UTC) (And as can be seen, I not only can't type but also didn't realize it for 3 months :P. Janet13 05:09, 30 April 2006 (UTC))
--Agree-- I get that every time I log in. Its just the template for logging in. I think its so that new users will read the policies and guidlines.
Primate#101 02:43, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Cool. Thanks for the info, all!!! -- Tenebrae 06:48, 29 January 2006 (UTC)


Im not sure if this should go here. But Im noticing how images are constantly being removed from pages and ending up unused (while being replaced with other images). So people should upload newer versions on those image pages instead of adding new images. How could we make this a policy? -- Psi edit 19:49, 18 January 2006 (UTC)