Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 8

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

Archive 7 | Archive 8 | Archive 9


The difference between policies and guidelines is that policies are regarded as mandatory, while guidelines are advisory?

I am moving this new addition to this talk page for further discussion:

The difference between policies and guidelines is that policies are regarded as mandatory, while guidelines are advisory.

I believe this goes beyond the consensus on policies at WP. Policies certainly carry more weight than guidelines, but the WP:IAR policy recognizes that all policy statements are always imperfect and should not be followed off the cliff, as the "mandatory" statement could lead us to do. The main difference between policies and guidelines are that policies have fewer exceptions and have less room for interpretation than guidelines. Yes, there are some non-negotiable policies like WP:BLP, where a libel lawsuit could be an existential threat to WP, but these are exceptions to the exceptions, not the basis for all policies. Dhaluza (talk) 22:41, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

If you don't like that simple definition of the difference, that both explains and differentiates between policies and guidelines, please suggest your own, so we can compare. Crum375 (talk) 22:56, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the previous formulation was fine. There is no need for a hard distinction. Dhaluza (talk) 23:17, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Imagine I have just arrived at this site, ready to edit. I see you have policies and guidelines here. I am asking you to please explain to me, in 10 words or less, the essence of the difference between policies and guidelines. Can you do that for me please? Crum375 (talk) 23:20, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
See: Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means. Dhaluza (talk) 01:26, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Seven words; not bad. In four: "Don't worry about it." Or, in one word: "Mu." -GTBacchus(talk) 02:15, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree, the question poses a false premise, so 'Mu' is the best answer. Dhaluza (talk) 15:35, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Even BLP, as a "Wikipedia rule", is not mandatory, as in "inviolable". This ties into what Dreadstar is saying above (although he voices other positions I do not agree with) -- we have a few principles which are pretty much inviolable (most of which are Foundation rules), but none of Wikipedia's actual rules are "mandatory" as written (or interpreted). You can't say "BLP is mandatory" and brook no exceptions if you're misapplying the principle that underlies it, even if WP:BLP as worded suggests some absolute action. There's always the possibility that you're misinterpreting the rule or that it's miswritten. We have laws but are not a community of laws, so calling policies "mandatory" is just wrong.
I'm really quite surprised by this conflict, because those who seem to be pushing for this change are quite experienced policy editors. They surely know that Wikipedia policies aren't mandatory, unless for some reason they're not using the usual sense of the word.
Offering a concise explanation of what policies and guidelines are is great, as long as we don't do it wrong. "Mandatory" is wrong. Not just wrong in spirit; it's the wrong word. It has a different meaning from what is actually the case on Wikipedia.--Father Goose (talk) 23:39, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I repeat my question to one and all: I am a newcomer to this site, I notice you have "policies" and "guidelines" here, please explain the difference in 10 words or less. Can someone here help me? Crum375 (talk) 23:46, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Could you explain what you would like this page to say about the difference between guidelines and policies? I think the conversation is somewhat lopsided. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:20, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
My own understanding is: "The difference between policies and guidelines is that policies are regarded as mandatory, while guidelines are advisory." If someone here disagrees, I'd like to hear their version, which should be as short and simple, so a new editor can immediately grasp it. Crum375 (talk) 00:23, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the objection is to the characterization of policies as mandatory. That is an unfortunate choice of word, since Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. That is, we don't have rules for the sake of rules, we have rules to make a better encyclopedia, and this is the spirit embodied in the Ignore all rules policy (which, by the way, links back to this page). Dhaluza (talk) 01:22, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Repeat question: I am a new editor, just arrived here ready to edit. I notice you have "policies" and "guidelines". Can you explain to me the difference please, in 10 words or less, so I can grasp it? Crum375 (talk) 01:29, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Repeat answer: See: Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means. Dhaluza (talk) 01:33, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
And you seriously think that telling that to a new editor asking for a short and simple explanation of the difference between "policy" and "guideline", is a way to attract new editors to this site? Crum375 (talk) 01:40, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, quite. A new editor should not be concerned with policy, they should be concerned with content. That is what the page says in its first sentence, and then goes on to explain what it means. The point is a new editor does not need to know the difference between a policy and a guideline--they need to learn the difference between a poor encyclopedia article and a good one. And the only way to learn that is through editing, not reading policies and guidelines. That should come later. Dhaluza (talk) 01:48, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
So if I am a new editor, just arrived here, and I ask you for the difference between "policy" and "guideline", so that I can grasp what they mean, you would tell me that "I should not be concerned with it"? That would be a way to attract some people here, I suppose. Crum375 (talk) 01:52, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
And just to give you some personal background, I studied all policies and guidelines here long and hard, for quite a while, before I ever started editing. Of course I may not be typical. Crum375 (talk) 01:56, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Everyone has their own way of exploring the world (or not) so there is no right or wrong way. But since you are asking how to advise a new user, if "don't worry about it" was not a satisfactory answer to them, I would tell them that rather than study policies and guidelines and try to understand the difference, they should study WP:GA and articles on their way to deletion at WP:AFD and try to understand the difference. I think that would be less confusing and get them editing productively much sooner. (Of course AfD is a very confusing process, but that's another matter). Dhaluza (talk) 15:16, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
That would basically cover the two main groups. My friend User:Mindspillage also read all policy first, logged in, and then made her first edit. By contrast, I created my first articles anonymously, got corrected by the regulars within minutes, became amazed, and got hooked. I'm not sure I really started reading guidelines 'till much later. I think Crum357 is correct that in that we need clear wording for the "read all guidance first" group of people. At the same time the fact that all project namespace pages are guidance is one of our five core pillars. So we shouldn't contradict that fact anywhere. Unless you believe in the concept of lies-to-children, perhaps? --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:23, 30 December 2007 (UTC) LTC is a defensible concept. Interesting concept to discuss...
I had basically the same experience as you. I read articles first to get an idea of what WP was all about. Then when I could not find an article I was looking for, I took the plunge and created it by imitating what I had seen. Another editor quickly cleaned-up my mistakes, and I was amazed. And I didn't even know the policies existed until later. How does a new editor find the policies anyway? They are not linked from article space, except for the few self-refs on similar sounding articles. There is a link to the WP:Village Pump on the main page, and I think that curiosity about what the hell a 'village pump' was lead me to the main space policy pages. I think policies and guidelines should be written to be inviting to new users, but not so simplistic as lies to children. We need to be careful not to arm crusaders with policy statements that will lead them to do more harm than good. Dhaluza (talk) 14:58, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
(ec) Dhaluza, the way I've always understood the distinction, and the way it was explained to me when I first started editing, is that if you repeatedly violate policies, it can be a case for the ArbCom, whereas the repeated violation of guidelines would tend not to be. This is a crude distinction but it points to the mandatory/advisory one. Original research really isn't allowed, and is removed wherever it's spotted. Ditto with NPOV violations and violations of V and BLP. Whereas violations of the MoS are rarely noticed, and in fact just about everyone engages in them. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:54, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I certainly would not explain it to a new user in those terms! Dhaluza (talk) 14:58, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Ha! Wikipedia:Naming_conventions would never get you in front of the arbcom by itself ever (though edit wars spawned by this {{policy}} have a times lead to arbcom cases). An actual, valid violation of don't disrupt wikipedia to prove a point requires a large amount of policy acumen to pull off. Even though WP:POINT is "merely a {{guideline}}", you are very likely to be sanctioned by the arbitration committee, unless you can do a lot of really fast talking ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:30, 30 December 2007 (UTC) O:-)
(←) That's what it means to say that policies have fewer exceptions. But they still aren't "mandatory" in the ordinary sense of the word. Wikipedia isn't set up that way. I'm sure you know what I mean; I'm not sure where the actual disagreement is here. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:59, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
And you really think that "fewer exceptions" is a good definition? What if I wanted to upgrade guideline X tomorrow to policy status, I would have to say that I want to promote it to "fewer exceptions"? And you really think these are good working definitions? Crum375 (talk) 02:04, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not saying it's a perfect definition, but it has the benefits of being (1) the longstanding definition on this page and (2) not incorrect. On the other hand, while "mandatory" has the benefit of being clear, it isn't accurate. So I do prefer the more vague term over the incorrect one. In practice, promoting a guideline to policy reflects on the gravity with which we view the guideline, but not much more. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
(ec) Carl, I see what you're saying, but I still think there's something worth salvaging. We want to explain the difference succinctly for newcomers. Is there anything wrong with saying (in effect): "If you want to edit Wikipedia, you must not add your own opinions, must adopt a neutral perspective, must not add insults about living people, must not sockpuppet etc etc?" The "must" signals that these issues are mandatory.
I'm trying to think of a word softer than mandatory, but stronger than advisory. No luck so far. :-) SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 02:07, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, there is something wrong with that; we shouldn't use the term "must" in policy documents. This is because our policies are not intended to be prescriptive. Even the policy banner says "should" instead of "must". — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree - many of our policies and guidelines would be improved by being written in more descriptive language. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:15, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Crum375, I think of it this way: "Policies define our project; guidelines are rules of thumb for working on it." That's thirteen words, but it's still succinct, and IMO accurate.

I still think the best answer is "Don't worry about it". Why would anybody ever read WP:CIVIL for example? Does any of us need a page to tell us what "be civil" means? The only reason to study the words of that page is if you're planning to lawyer them. Furthermore, who cares whether it's a policy or a guideline? Just edit in good faith, communicate with those around you, and everything will be fine. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:15, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

That may help some people, not someone like myself, who would like to really understand the clear concepts before editing. I think if you come up with a simple, clear and concise way to explain the difference between policy and guideline, you'd have the solution. I don't see the word 'mandatory' as so problematic, especially if we explain the exceptions to the rules, if any, with examples. No law is without exceptions. Crum375 (talk) 02:17, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Feel free to propose a wording (on this page or via edits to the policy) that would offer newcomers a simple and correct explanation, but avoid characterizing policies as "mandatory", as that is considered incorrect by a large number of respondents here. Good sense comes first, rules come second, and that is why none of Wikipedia's rules are mandatory. They are agreements, not mandates.--Father Goose (talk) 10:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand what's unclear about "policies define our project; guidelines are rules of thumb for working on it." What's a situation in which more clarity than that is required? Isn't the difference between a definition and a rule of thumb clear? At the same time, my strongest recommendation is, "really, really don't worry about it. Find a way to stop thinking in terms of rules." That's difficult for some people, but very worth it. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:06, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Crum375: Hmm, a small, concise answer would be (depending on who is asking) "Policy, guidelines and essays are all practically the same thing, the terms are a ranking, in order of level of support and/or importance". If you just want 7 words or less "Don't worry about it, just write!" (which ~= WP:IAR, as applied to beginning authors. (Darn: I wrote an essay about beginners, admins, and seasoned users someplace, where did it go now? ^^;;)). --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:02, 30 December 2007 (UTC) (see also: zen version, Haiku version)

Hmm: WikiWikiWeb:ThreeLevelsOfAudience, but that doesn't cover complete newcomers on wikipedia. Perhaps I could extend or ReFactor that page as well <scratches head> --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:07, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Random break

With all the understanding about IAR, have you been editing Wikipedia lately? Without some kind of strong wording about the need to comply with content policies, the disruption resulting from it will be massive. It is hard enough to inform new editors of the need for compliance with NPOV, NOR, V and BLP; without such strong wording/caution, it will be even more difficult. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 17:21, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm getting a sneaking suspicion here. :-) Hmm, in which manner have people been informing new editors? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

If the choice is between "advisory" and "mandatory" when describing policy, I'm still falling very strongly on the side of "mandatory". Our guidelines are advisory, our policies are clearly not. The problem I'm having, is the same one SlimVirgin notes above...I have not been able to find something softer than 'mandatory', (maybe editors are obliged to follow policy"?). This entire dispute began because a handful of editors wanted to use IAR to ignore policy, and write policy to fit their estimation of what "all Wikipedia editors are doing.." and not really taking into consideration at what they should be doing. And as Jossi rightly points out above, without strong wording for compliance with our policies, we're in for massive disruption. There are disputes everywhere over this, and they're getting worse...with editors making uncivil remarks and personal attacks, edit's getting worse in my estimation. Dreadstar 19:04, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

We could use neither of "advisory" and "mandatory" - it's a false dichotomy. We got along perfectly well until the middle of December without the word "mandatory", so I think the risk of sudden massive disruption is exaggerated. The source of this discussion is that the term mandatory was added to the policy page a couple weeks ago, but there isn't much support for it. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:17, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
It's not a false dichotomy at all; those are the two ends of the spectrum being discussed here...IAR and Mandatory... And it's not "sudden" massive disruption, it's been building for months now, and really caused huge issues on other policy pages and in article disputes. We're working on trying to find consensus on this issue, there seems to be no consensus in either direction right now. Dreadstar 20:05, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Our policies are "strong" because we enforce them, not because they are worded rigidly. The disruption you're complaining about is called wikilawyering, and we enforce the policy against that, too. We gain nothing by trying to make our policies uncontestable except more wikilawyering.
Here's my advice to you: ignore the rules. All of them. Really. Just enforce good sense and disregard wikilawyering. Increasing the rigidity of the wording to an inappropriate/inaccurate degree will just diminish our ability to enforce good sense, which is all that the rules should be.--Father Goose (talk) 20:09, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Carl, just to address your point about descriptive//prescriptive, the policies and guidelines are both, not just descriptive. We describe best practice and we prescribe that to others. With guidelines, we recommend it gently, and with policies, editors are required to stick to them if they want to continue editing (or if they don't want to see their edits reverted). IRA is seldom invoked, and all the policies are anyway meant to be applied with common sense -- that's built into them. But where you wrote that's why we say "should," not "must," there really isn't much difference between the words in this context. Both are prescriptive words.
The basic difference is with policy, we are saying "If you don't do these things, there may be a consequence for you and your edits." With guidelines, there is never going to be a consequence -- they are just advising that "some people think this is a good idea -- you can do the same or not, as you see fit." SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:10, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Once again, but more strongly: If you truly believe that violating guidelines never has consequences, I invite you to deliberately and openly violate WP:POINT, to errr, prove your point. O:-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 20:17, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Point is a bit of a strange one, and I think it did used to be policy, didn't it? I remember looking at this before and finding something weird about it. But yes, you're right -- the line is not hard and fast. :-) SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:22, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Reply to Father Goose: Yes, I understand that. It isn't wikilawyering when policy is being changed to match the view that one doesn't have to follow policy, essentially just saying "do as you see fit." I can handle the usual wikilawyering and the invocation of IAR, that's not the issue. And no one, afaict, is saying make our policies uncontestable. Dreadstar 20:16, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Replying to higher comments: my opinion here is that the situation is more nuanced than 'polices are mandatory' or 'there is no obligation at all to follow policies'. I think that the longstanding wording does an adequate job of explaining the situation: policies are like guidelines, but considered more important and having fewer exceptions. I would be willing to find new wording, but I don't think we should aim to precisely define here the distinction between guidelines and policies, since the distinction is not sharply defined in practice. One defining aspect of Wikipedia is that we are not a legalistic system with precise definitions and regulations.
Regarding guidelines. Editors are expected to follow guidelines unless there is a good reason not to do so. Guidelines aren't optional any more than policies are mandatory. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:35, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Very good. I think "Guidelines aren't optional any more than policies are mandatory" is a much better explanation. Dhaluza (talk) 21:13, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. The longstanding wording explained it correctly. Wikipedia is community-driven, not rule-driven, which means the rules must obey us, not the other way around.--Father Goose (talk) 22:42, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Another excellent point, but a concept that probably causes cognitive dissonance to someone with an authoritarian personality. Dhaluza (talk) 00:45, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

A lifetime ago (2 or 3 years), I explained the difference as: Policies are things you should always try to follow (NPOV, V, etc.), and guidelines are things you should follow unless you have a good reason not to (style guides, etc.). There is a lot of talk about IAR above, but IAR as written circa 2004 really expressed a different sentiment than it does today. At the time, IAR might have been paraphrased as: Even though you should follow these rules, don't worry about them if they make you uncomfortable (because eventually someone will fix the problems if anything is wrong).

Today it seems that we've fallen into this weird space that policies don't need to be correct because IAR encourages you to ignore them if they are "wrong". Personally, I think we were better off when policies were "mandatory" (in the sense that they described the standard that everything should shoot for), and policies didn't have "exceptions" except where the spirit of such exceptions was explained in the policy documents themselves.

But that's just my opinion. Dragons flight (talk) 22:55, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

The problem with making policies mandatory is that while the principles may be immutable, the expression of them is always imperfect. Since WP strives to be comprehensive, there is no way to anticipate and cover all possibilities. So we judge contributions on their specific merits, and use policies as a guide toward that end. So policies are guidelines too, they just carry greater weight. Dhaluza (talk) 00:50, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
With respect, I realize many people see it that way, but I believe that leads to bad governance. You agree that (at least some) principles are immutable. Good. But if there is a problem with their expression then we ought to be fixing that expression rather than making lots of exceptions that are often hard to understand after the fact. Dragons flight (talk) 01:14, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Or in the alternative, we should be explicit about which bits are judged on a case by case basis. That NPOV is mandatory is not inconsistent with the fact that following the policy often requires discussion and careful balancing. Dragons flight (talk) 01:21, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
No doubt we need to work on keeping policy consistent with consensus--WP:IAR is not an alternative to that as you point out. We just need to keep in mind that no matter how long we work at policies, the work will always be unfinished, just like the encyclopedia. Dhaluza (talk) 21:49, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Policies are things you should always try to follow, and guidelines are things you should follow unless you have a good reason not to may be a good way to put it. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:17, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I think the best view of policies is not to think of them as "rules with exceptions" or as "rules without exceptions", but not to think of them as rules at all. They don't regulate, they define. Thus, it's not about "following" them, but about our actions being informed by them. Does that make sense? For example, the policy NPOV means that Wikipedia is a neutral encyclopedia, and not some other kind. It's not a rule, it's part of a definition. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:39, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, no, it doesn't make sense. Either you are drawing a meaningless semantic distinction (i.e. one that makes no practical difference in how we act), or you are implying some practical difference between "rules" and "definitions", and it is not at all clear what you are suggesting. Dragons flight (talk) 02:02, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Huh. It makes sense to me. I certainly am suggesting that there's a difference between a definition and a rule. A rule is something that people "follow" or "break" or that "has exceptions" - in other words, it carries with it a lot of legalistic baggage. If you think of a definition, none of that baggage is there. You can't "break" a definition. You can consider what sort of actions might be consistent with it in a given situation, and that is a much better paradigm for thinking about one's behavior here.

Practically, you'll do a lot of the same things, but without looking through a legalistic lens, you won't get bogged down by distracting questions about whether a rule is broken or not. Instead, you can talk about how to achieve Neutrality, Verifiability, Civility, etc. It's a more open way of thinking about what we're doing here.

Thinking of "rules" invites lawyering. Thinking of definitions keeps us more on task. People get hung up on thinking about "rules", and it's good to avoid those hang-ups. It works for me, anyway. Your mileage may vary. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:16, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I like Jossi's suggestion. Or "Guidelines are optional; policies are not." SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 03:40, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Are there not two possible layers for policies - those that should be followed, but failures to follow will likely be tolerated as they are generally in good faith (eg, adding unsourced content with {{cn}} due to lack of sourcing as to not yet meet WP:V and WP:NOR), and then policies where failure to follow will result in certain immediate actions (WP:BLP, WP:NPA for a start). Some of these latter type are almost rules that are necessary to prevent legal trouble for WP, and are mandatory, but not all policies fall into this. --MASEM 03:50, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, true. I still think "mandatory" sums it up. It's not as draconian a word as some people are thinking, and it doesn't necessarily mean failure to do them leads to a block. It just means "this is the thing to do." The idea that the basic policies are questioned is just false -- some details within them might be, but the spirit of NPOV, NOR, V, and BLP is absolutely solid. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:18, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
"Mandatory" is not draconian, it's just inaccurate. Wikipedia's rules, even the "core ones" are not commandments, they're agreements on how we want Wikipedia to be (or want it to be edited). They have power because we are willing to enforce them to achieve that end.
None of the rules are mandatory because you can't enforce a rule on Wikipedia in the absence of the principle that underlies it. "Mandatory" could only be accurate if it were permissible to enforce them by the letter without regard to the underlying spirit.
Thus even the policies are a form of guidance, not writ. And biggest distinction between policies and guidelines is pretty much that guidelines are (usually) less based on principles and more on practicalities or conventions. But even then there are plenty of guidelines that cannot be flaunted without getting banned. This is because all of the rules are the way we want Wikipedia to be (or be edited), and that is what we enforce. We enforce our shared view of how we want Wikipedia to be. The rules are representations of those views, not commandments or mandates. They're negotiations. We enforce only the ideas behind the rules, using the rules as written only as guidance to gauge what the community does and doesn't want.
This is unusual, as rules go, but Wikipedia is unusual as well. The rules that we write down are an approximation of the rules that we enforce. They can be changed or ignored spontaneously, when good sense prevails, and that is how it should be. This is why it is not accurate to speak of them as "mandatory", and why the existing language -- "they have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard that all users should follow" is correct.--Father Goose (talk) 05:27, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with GTBacchus that having solid policies invite wikilawyering, but what is the alternative? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 04:24, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the alternative is to write the policies more descriptively than prescriptively, and to work on educating Wikipedians that there is an alternative to thinking in terms of rules. Most of that educating takes the form of leading by example. It's rather a radical break from the way we often think (people expect things to run according to rules, ever since Hammurabi), which does make it difficult, but it's not impossible. Providing the sum of human knowledge to every person on the planet is a radical idea too, but we're working on making it real. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:00, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Do you see any possiblity of achieving policies written more descriptively than prescriptively? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:41, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't know... I hope so. The last time I tried to make a significant edit to a policy page, I got rather burned, and I haven't even read a policy page since then. I think reading those pages is a bad idea, in general. It's not as if we need to read them to know what they mean. I'd be willing to help with some rewrites, though. I wonder, which one might be good to start with? -GTBacchus(talk) 18:21, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
A system based on policy may lead to detailed disputation, but a system based on IAR leads to anarchy and inconsistency. People have a right to know what to expect when they come here. Readers have a right to know what sort of material will be found, and what its status is, and we have a responsibility to tell the, Contributors have a right to know how they should contribute & what will make an acceptable article and we who have been doing this have a responsibility to tell them. Editors have a right to know what is acceptable behavior. Telling someone: write, and see what happens, will lead on one side to unacceptable articles, and on the other to brutal rejections.
Policy in the generalities, and the guidelines are the details. The essays are helpful interpretations. In term of US lawmaking, the policies are the statutes, the guidelines are the precedents in court cases, and the essays the advice from textbook writers. DGG (talk) 07:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
There's little anarchy that has resulted from IAR. IMO, Far more harm has befallen Wikipedia from its bad rules, or bad enforcements, than from its absent or ignored ones. When a rule isn't in place, we still act in the right manner to preserve the encyclopedia. It's when we apply rules thoughtlessly that we run into trouble.--Father Goose (talk) 10:30, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah... the lovely gamut of opinions... I feel almost as to saying, yes Father Goose, you are right, and yes DGG, you are right too. And to the one that asks "how can they be both right? That is a contradiction", I would respond : "and you are right as well". ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:16, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like another submission for Wikipedia:The Zen of Wikipedia.
In other news, note that we're not discussing the status of IAR here. Here, it is a mandatory, non-negotiable policy. Deal with it --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:05, 31 December 2007 (UTC) Ut oh, I wonder if that made someone's brain go "pop" O:-)
IAR is not separate from the other policies. The more I think about this, the more "mandatory" makes sense. As a group, all the policies together are mandatory, You can't ignore IAR, it's mandatory, yet IAR does not provide a 'trump' over its fellow policies - it merely describes situations where policy is extended to cover areas where the letter of the rule seems to trump the spirit of the rule - not truly ignored...I think ignore may be a misnomer, or at least misunderstood. IAR is an extension of the other polices, and is meant to cover unusual situations. Dreadstar 21:59, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
IAR is a meta-policy--a rule of interpretation. there is unfortunately no consensus on how to use it in an argument: I have argued a good deal about different things, but I have never once found it necessary to use it since the different policies have so many incompatibilities that it is always possible to find one to justify any reasonable position on. I regard its use as almost always a sign of lack of skill or of desperation. We need it as a safety valve, but some use it to justify whatever they want to justify, reasonable or not. DGG (talk) 03:18, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Do you disagree that WP:WIARM gives detailed information on how to apply IAR in an argument? The last time I applied it was at: [1].
I believe that there is a requirement to be able to report on your personal reasoning for any action at all, not just for those that happen to occur outside guidance that we have already written. This can sometimes be trivial things: Why did you sign your last post, why did you use that exact wording for your last edit summary, why did you support or oppose that candidate? Up to things that have quite extensive consequences, like blocking whole ranges of ip addresses. (eg one such request for info).
The reason I believe this is because I think the combination of WP:IAR and Consensus applies to all actions. (where you ignore all rules upfront, by being BOLD, and your actions get santiy-checked post-hoc with the consensus process). Our written guidance then is where we maintain up-to-date documentation on the current best-known-outcome of this process, on a day-to-day basis. --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:03, 1 January 2008 (UTC) well, that's the theory, anyway :-)
In essence, what you're saying is that all policies apply to all actions. IAR and Consensus aren't working by themselves; e.g, NPOV is "mandatory and non-negotiable" and so are elements of BLP. If an action is reverted or modified, this is "all policies" in action. You can be bold and ignore all rules up front, but the rules still apply to your actions. It's very difficult to separate them out. Consensus may have put a lot of policy in place, but the underlying principles of every policy are non-negotiable and mandatory. Dreadstar 05:41, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
The underlying principles are negotiable; they were arrived at by consensus, and can change just like any other consensus -- expanded, tweaked, or even abandoned. Circumstances may change, the makeup of Wikipedia might change, or the existing editorship might change its mind.
The word "mandatory" only has meaning in the context of enforcement, and any given enforcement of any policy, if contested by enough editors, is generally overturned. So again, the rules are just guideposts signifying what is hopefully the consensus position on any given issue -- but it's that consensus that has teeth, not the guideposts. When the words fall short of the actual consensus position on an issue -- and they do, not infrequently -- they don't get enforced (or enforcements get overturned).
So, again, policies aren't mandatory, per se. The most apt thing we can say is that they are likely to be enforced when it is sensible to do so. Perhaps we could add language to that effect to WP:POL, if you feel it would be better than the current explanations.--Father Goose (talk) 07:38, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Dreadstar: So what is the underlying principle of all Wikipedia guidance. Is it some mysterious ancient vaguely-oriental-sounding force that moves us all? ;-)
Um, well, no. The underlying principle of all wikipedia guidance is the same thing in each case, and that thing has a very familiar, boring, down to earth name:"Consensus". :-) so previously, you assigned consensus the wrong place in the puzzle, and perhaps it didn't seem to fit?
Note that a key property of consensus is that it is based on negotiation. Now in a negotiation based system, nothing may be mandatory, or the system will fail.
Do you see how the pieces fit together a bit better now? --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:14, 2 January 2008 (UTC) When you see that some part does not fit into the puzzle, you know that you've built the puzzle wrong, and might need to work on it some more. So what we often do is show people how some part doesn't fit (for instance, by declaring a policy that says you may ignore all rules) . Unfortunately, not everyone knows about puzzles, and they get very frustrated and confused instead :-(
The concept of NPOV is non-negotiable only to the extent that trying to negotiate a new policy is likely to be a very long road (who knows though, there could be something even better), but the implementation of NPOV is anything but non-negotiable. Finding an acceptable NPOV is done through negotiation. The only reason elements of BLP are non-negotiable is that libel and slander lawsuits are an existential threat to WP, and so it is a necessary response to an outside force the same as copyrights. So the only mandatory rules are simply internal enforcement of external rules. Our internal rules are based on consensus, which means it's only mandatory if people agree it should be, not simply because a policy page was edited to say so. Dhaluza (talk) 11:44, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Policy pages are created to reflect the consensus and current practices in applying the core principles of the project, principles which all users need to abide by —and if they do not, someone will revert them, let them know of their violation, or report it at a noticeboard: just give it a try...:) — Policy pages do not exist in a vacuum, and those that do get edited and changed as needed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:04, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
If you are suggesting that we enforce the letter rather than the spirit of the policy, then I think you are wrong. We should be judging the results of an action (like an edit), and only taking further action (like a revert) if we can make a cogent argument to support it (not just a snarky edit summary). Generally, our policies and guidelines should provide the collective wisdom of the community to support your cogent argument, and thereby weaken any counter argument. But our policy documents have not suddenly evolved to perfection--unfortunately, they have occasionally devolved. As the encyclopedia expands, we are likely to find further refinement necessary. So it is always important to use common sense in applying policies and guidelines. The construct of characterizing policy as "mandatory" would give those lacking common sense a sense of entitlement to override those not deficient in this area. Dhaluza (talk) 10:51, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

These are the five general principles of Wikipedia, which are firm rules: The Five Pillars. This is very clearly stated in the fifth (red) pillar; "Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles presented here. <added emphasis is mine> While editing decisions are by Consensus, consensus is always "'within the framework of established policy and practice'", it does not trump policy. Even consensus editing decisions on a page can be superceded by "Declarations from Jimmy Wales, the Board, or the Developers, particularly for server load or legal issues (copyright, privacy rights, and libel) have policy status.." So, no, consensus is not the all-encompassing, ruling factor.

So, yes, indeed there are Wikipedia Principles and these principles are firm, IAR Policy does not provide a 'trump' over its fellow policies - it merely describes situations where policy is extended to cover areas where the letter of the rule seems to trump the spirit of the rule. Policy describes what Principle is, thus together they are mandatory. We can't go beyond the spirit of the policies, and since we cannot go past that boundary - what is in that boundary is mandatory.

The Force is strong in my family. Dreadstar 01:11, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

It bears highlighting: "Declarations from Jimmy Wales, the Board, or the Developers, particularly for server load or legal issues (copyright, privacy rights, and libel) have policy status.." (Wikipedia:Consensus#Exceptions).  :This alone seems to put policy into the realm of "mandatory". Dreadstar 01:26, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
No, you have this completely backwards. Policy comes from consensus, not the other way around. The things you cite are existential threats to WP, where compliance is mandatory due to outside forces like laws of man or nature. These are the specific exceptions to the rule of consensus. Everything else is governed by consensus. Dhaluza (talk) 02:42, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Good grief. Look at who was involved in writing the 5 pillars. :-P And thanks for pointing out pillar 5. Fixed. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:03, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Kim, sorry but I had to undo your "fix". See Wikipedia_talk:Five_pillars#Firm_rules. The wording in WP:FIVE: Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the five general principles presented here. has been there since the start of that page, circa May 2005 and represents current practice. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:58, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
No, Dhaluza, I do not have it backwards. Most of what you’ve just described is actually just a side issue to the main point I was making, and is basically irrelevant to the core issue; which is “why policies/principles are mandatory”. I think anyone who reads the references I’ve provided, and carefully follows what I have outlined above will see that I am right.
As for mandatory compliance, it seems to me that you’re taking a very superficial look at the way Policies work. My view and description goes much deeper than that, to the very fundamental forces and concepts that created those policies, brought forth by the creators, foundation members, and the owners of Wikipedia. They set a foundation in place, we are merely players on that foundation.
Policy actually springs forth from the basic underlying principles of Wikipedia, the concept and policy of WP:CON flows from that very same source. WP:CON does not create or bring about that source. One does not even use WP:CON in isolation from the other policies…none of the policies are to be used in isolation. That’s one of the main problems of this entire discussion, isolating various policies, such as IAR, and using it to try and tear down an argument. Policies and the principles they come from need to be considered together, as a whole…and as a whole, they are mandatory.
What you’ve described and have been involved with so far, doesn’t even come close to truly changing the core principles or the base policies that spring from them. None of what we’ve done on NOR or the other policies have truly changed the core underlying principles or even the basic policies – all that has been done or suggested, has been little more than just superficial tweaks helping to explain those core concepts.
But, what the hey, I may be totally wrong...;) Dreadstar 23:04, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't know how to respond Dreadstar, because I am having trouble following your logic. Are you now saying that the exceptions you highlighted, and I responded to, were actually an irrelevant side issue?
Let me try to refocus the point. You used a statement from the Consensus policy saying that the consensus process for developing policy has exceptions. I agree with that--there are existential threats to WP that are not going to be neutralized by discussion, and we just have to deal with them. But then I think you engage in a logical fallacy by using this example of mandatory rules to say all rules mandatory by example. That's a leap I am not willing to take with you.
The distinction I think you are glossing over is that this is a consensus community, and you can't enforce the rules without consensus, whether they are characterized as "mandatory" or not. For example, try nominating an otherwise good article at AfD based on some technical violation of some policy. Or try to get a user banned for writing otherwise good articles that do not fit your interpretation of some policy. You're not likely to get the support needed to achieve the end goal in either case. The community is generally going to judge the results for themselves, and will be very non-receptive to attempts to wikilawyer some technical point. If on the other hand, the articles are really bad, you don't need technical arguments to make that point.
The real challenge comes in the huge grey area in between these two extremes. The only way we have to deal with these issues is through discussion. So in light of this, does characterizing policy as "mandatory" facilitate dispute resolution through discussion, or does it invite self-righteous editors to cut off discussion and unilaterally implement their interpretation? I submit that it is the latter, and this is ultimately more damaging to the project. As was pointed out above by Father Goose, "IMO, Far more harm has befallen Wikipedia from its bad rules, or bad enforcements, than from its absent or ignored ones." We do not need to characterize policy as mandatory, but this does not necessarily make it optional. Dhaluza (talk) 12:12, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, sorry I can't make it clearer for you. To me, it seems to be a simple concept - you cannot go beyond Wikipedia principles and policy, so since the policies and principles all work together, they are indeed mandatory. I can't see how you go beyond IAR, BLP, content guidelines, making a better encyclopedia, etc....there are definite boundaries. Neither WP:CON nor WP:IAR trumps the other polices, all the policies must work together. We can change and tweak within those boundaries and we are given wide latitude within those boundaries - but if you go beyond it says below..boot-city.. I think the problem is that you are still considering policies in isolation from one another - which I think is apparent by the use to which you just put WP:CON. And nobody is talking about technical violations - we've clearly been talking about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law... The "grey areas" are exactly why we need firm rules..the extremes take care of themselves. Dreadstar 01:03, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
In practice, yes. Try violating any of these principles consistently, and let me know how long you can do that before you get booted ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:08, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Exactly...sounds pretty mandatory to me...unless you want to get the boot...;) Dreadstar 23:10, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Jossi: A:Deliberately violate, or B:Merely ignore? --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:57, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Merely ignore: you may get away with it, unless challenged by a fellow editor about lack of compliance. Deliberately violate: you never get away with it. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:24, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
You get booted for producing bad results for the encyclopedia, not simply for technical violations. It's important to maintain that distinction--it's the fundamental difference between our system of consensus, and a wikilawyering bureacracy. Dhaluza (talk) 10:57, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't think anyone here has said or implied that, Dhaluza. Dreadstar 01:03, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
You get booted for producing bad results for the encyclopedia Really Dhaluza? Show me one place in Wikipedia in which you are booted for that reason. See WP:BAN, and WP:BLOCK, in case you have missed it. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:22, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
The question that begs an answer is "what is a bad result" for the encyclopedia. And that question can be answered quite easily as follows: "The principles upon which the encyclopedia stands are reflected in current practices as described in Wikipedia official policies. Follow the spirit of these policies, and as a result, your contributions will produce the expected results. Ignore these and your contributions may not be accepted. Ignore these to the point of disruption, and you may temporarily, or permanently lose the editing privileges extended to you." ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:30, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
We had a chance to compare our views recently, in a situation which I used to demonstrate what I believe to be the optimal approach.
In the initial situation everyone was attempting to use policy to get an edge over the other, and at least 2 people (including at least one subject matter expert) were set to leave wikipedia, ultimately leaving very little to work with. The situation was clearly damaging to our mission on the small scale.
This situation was corrected by negating each policy in turn, including the "non-negotiable" NOR policy. Once policy was out of the way, people were forced to negotiate with each other to achieve consensus, or they would not be able to get anywhere at all.
At this point, relations between participants started to normalize somewhat.
No miracle was involved, just several hours of hard work. :-)
--Kim Bruning (talk) 21:53, 6 January 2008 (UTC) * The situation was slightly more complex than this, but this is a fairly good summary. it took quite some time to research the situation before taking action; * Did you notice the application of the more detailed description of our ignore all rules policy in dealing with a spurious deletion request?; * Also note the complete lack of use of admin tools, even though at least one episode of deliberate vandalism did occur during this situation; * Situation has not been 100% resolved, but only been taken one step closer to resolution. I think other people have picked up the tempo and can solve the situation on their own now.
Sorry for the late reply--I've been busy and missed this first time around. Anyway, what I am talking about is the common sense "no harm, no foul" principle embodied in WP:BURO. The basic principle of "no harm, no foul" is that if a rule infraction does not affect the outcome of the game, then there is no point in enforcing it. WP:IAR takes this one step further by saying that if the rule adversely affects the outcome of the game, we should ignore it as well. Both of these are more than sufficient to show that characterizing policy as "mandatory" is inaccurate. That does not mean policies are optional, because to the extent that they embody the collective wisdom of the community, you will generally get better results by following the rules rather than breaking them. So we are basically saying the same thing, but I disagree agree with the taking it to the absolute extreme. Dhaluza (talk) 01:49, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Innocent Until proven guilty Policy

I hope that Wikipedia can adopt this policy in their guidelines, because there many articles on Wikipedia which are subject to speculation and assertion rather than academic accuracy. I would like to refer here:

Here I argue that we cannot post in the 9/11 article that Al Qaeda is guilty of 9/11 when no judge has ruled this in a court of law. Ignoring for a second the political implications of making such a change to the article at hand, I believe it should be general policy for us not to allow half-truths to be passed off as fact. In this article the guilt of Al Qeada is taken as a fact as if it has been subject to ridicule in court, when it fact it has not. If it was any other article where someone is the main suspect in a crime we state it clearly that they are merely suspects and not guilty of the crime. I think this type of article can degrade the intergrity of many wikipedia articles into the future unless we have a policy to protect us. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Trek mambo (talkcontribs) 01:11, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

No academic publication would ever adopt such a policy, as it would render useless any statement not backed up by legal findings. Since academia does not subordinate its ability to discern truth from falsehood beneath the judiciary, neither should Wikipedia. --Haemo (talk) 02:20, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
In authored academic publications, it is implied that statements are “true in the opinion of the author(s)”, unless explicitly stated otherwise with the use of grand words such as “incontrovertible” or “unequivocal”. In other reputable publications (NPOV publications!), care must be taken to not assume as true anything that not demonstrated or proven. Care must be taken to ensure that such statements are attributable to their source (like WP:ATT), and that accuracy is not to be simply assumed or implied. Wikipedia should always take this position, if it hopes to be considered reputable. I see no reason for Wikipedia to adopt a new policy in its guidelines on this subject, when it is already at the heart of its core policies. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:26, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree that Wikipedia should not itself make such accusations, but attribute them to others. The court of law is then no longer applicable. This procedure is already in the guidelines, it's just not being adhered to regarding 9/11, which I find a shame.  &#151; Xiutwel ♫☺♥♪ (speech has the power to bind the absolute) 23:13, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Wording from WP:NPOV

This is from the lead of WP:NPOV. My highlight:

Wikipedia:Neutral point of view is one of Wikipedia's three core content policies. The other two are Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles. Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three. The principles upon which these policies are based are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus. Their policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and explanation of the principles.

≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 06:12, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

While I agree that the wording exists on the NPOV page, we're not adding that text here, as that would be kind of silly. We could go the other way around and remove the text on all pages at once and demand people get consensus here first to put it back, but that would be equally silly, ne? :-)

As for my reasoning for removing: logic demands that a statement that denies consensus can never have consensus, so I'll I'm removing those lines for now. Can you provide arguments why they should be kept? --Kim Bruning (talk) 06:33, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I think that "consensus" here refers to local consensus. While there may be consensus on one page to present a particular POV, it does not override the overall consensus in favour of NPOV. Perhaps this could be made clearer - "local consensus" for example.
I'd prefer to keep it as it is, as I think that if anything, on at least some pages, editors still view NPOV too weakly, preferring to embrace the sections of WP:NPOVFAQ that ameliorate NPOV and sideline WP:NPOV itself. I'd rather not weaken it further. TSP (talk) 22:50, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it is precisely the "non negotiable" text which weakens wikipedia guidance so much. It's a bit of a long story why. --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:23, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Uh. Any chance you could suggest where someone might start reading to find this long story is? Because to me the wording with that clause is stronger than without it, and I'm not sure what could leading to the long story other than the wording itself. TSP (talk) 00:35, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Do not state that policies are non-negotiable. In simple terms, the statement will be false. There are many ways to negotiate, and there is a history of negotiation. With sufficient explanation and caveats, it will be too complicated. It also implies a belief in a superior wisdom of founders, superior in that it out-weighs any future objection. This quasi-religious behaviour is patronising, non-empowering, unwelcoming and short-sighted. The intent seems to be to highlight the importance of certain policies. A more constructive approach is to be evidence oriented. Why are these policies important? If it is true now, was true previously, it will probably be true in the future, and evidence based decision making will repeatedly find it to be true. Let important policies stand on their own merits. There is no need to enshrine truths in language that is supposed to be immutable (non negotiable), and in the wiki way, it cannot be done. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:54, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with SmokeyJoe here. there are some principles more basic than others, but all of them are subject to change. There is also the question of emphasis: Of those mentioned, NPOV is much more important than V and NOR. In particular, one can have a reputable encyclopedia with some degree of OR permitted, and the meaning of the term is subject to continuous debate here. Dont enshrine the actively disputed by saying it is not subject to change. DGG (talk) 08:01, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

If anyone has a problem with that wording, please discuss at WP:NPOV where it comes from.≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:50, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

I understand why people would feel the need to word WP:NPOV in a way that presents it as non-negotiable, but one of Wikipedia's principles is that our principles are arrived at (or reconsidered) through discussion -- and are therefore very much negotiable. Drop the stick and back slowly away from the horse carcass.--Father Goose (talk) 05:12, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

This is clearly stated in the relevant policies, is a core principle and a Foundation issue, and should be reflected here, where the all the policies are described. If this concept is not correct, then each one of the relevant policies must be changed - and the matter should probably be addressed at the foundation level - but it certainly should not revert-warred out of this policy. Dreadstar 07:38, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

The issue, as I see it, is one of tone, of subtle implications of power and authority. The words “are non-negotiable” are not the same as “are essentially considered to be beyond debate”. While the two have the same immediate practical effects, the differences are significant. The first is absolute, confrontational, dismissive of a newcomers objection. The second, with a non-zero degree of softness, implies that there was some past consideration (not a divine fiat), and that debate is possible, even if change is improbable. I think that the wording “are non-negotiable” should be abandoned in favour of the actual wording “are essentially considered to be beyond debate”, referenced by link to the source. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:55, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not entirely confortable with the “are essentially considered to be beyond debate” phraseology, but this is much more accurate than the “are non-negotiable” door slammer. Everything is negotiable, even proposals to dissolve the entire project. Such a proposal would receive essentially zero support at this stage in the grand experiment of Wikipedia, but in the future, who knows? I agree completely with SJ that tone is important, because it reflects on the community as a whole. Would a community that appears to be "absolute, confrontational, [and] dismissive of a newcomers objection" attract the type of people we need to sustain the project? I don't think so. While this sort of lies to children oversimplification may appear to be an expedient means of prevailing in the present set of minor skirmishes, it ultimately sets the stage for loss of the larger campaign. Dhaluza (talk) 02:07, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't make sense to me to sy that, because the language is in the NPOV page, it has to be here as well. It would make more sense to rephrase it from NPOV, since it isn't really correct. I have reworded the sentence on this page to point out that NPOV is a foundation issue, which I believe is the motivation for the sentence anyway. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:46, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
It's important to note that the Foundation issues page is edited by everyday users, and, being on Meta, is probably less scrutinized than the policy pages here on Wikipedia. It was originally authored by User:UninvitedCompany with no apparent mandate save his own (fairly sound) sense of how Wikipedia functions. So you're building a house of cards by leaning on that particular page as the ultimate authority on Wikipedia's rules.
I do accept what is written on that page as mostly true -- though "essentially considered to be beyond debate" overstates the case. Others have taken fault with that statement as well on the talk page. It is also partly contradicted by the opening note:
TODO: Over time, the opinion of the community does evolve slowly. Some changes have occurred which still need to be integrated in this document.
The contradiction is no particular problem, though. We do have several rules and/or principles that are quite firmly embraced, by both the community and the Foundation; it is just a misstatement to say that they are "beyond debate". Our position on these issues may evolve over time (semi-protection puts the lie to point #2, for instance), and we are always free to discuss and reevaluate them.
So, I am afraid in your quest for bright lines, you have wandered down another dead end. Wikipedia operates by consensus, not by authority. Please come to terms with this. You are of course free to dispute that: debate is an integral part of the consensus process.--Father Goose (talk) 04:38, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

can only be edited to ...

I don't understand the motivation behind 'The policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and presentation of those principles.' Subject to consensus, all pages can be edited in any way whatsoever. Moreover, practically any edit could be justified as attempting to improve the application or presentation of the principles. So I am not sure what edits are being restricted, if any, nor what the basis for that restriction is. Could someone explain it to me? — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:18, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

It means that they can't be edited to change the spirit of the policies, only the letter. You wouldn't be able to edit the NPOV policy to say that NPOV sometimes doesn't apply; and even if you did, it would only make the page void. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:49, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
No edit can change the spirit of a policy. I am interested in hearing a more convincing justification for this sentence, since as I pointed out it seems either vacuously true (that you can oly edit a policy to improve the policy) or vacuously false (in the sense that all pages can be edited in any way subject only to consensus). — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:06, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Edits can definitely attempt to change the spirit. We had a group of editors try a few months ago to add to V that only peer-reviewed material could be used in articles about certain subjects - science, medicine, and history, as I recall. Given that a lot of criticism is found in non-peer-reviewed (but still high quality) sources, that edit would have contradicted the NPOV policy. Therefore, even if it had been allowed to stand, it wouldn't have counted. It would simply have made the page null and void, or that part of it anyway. That's what that sentence refers to -- that the written page must be in keeping with the spirit of the policy, and edits to the page should aid the expression of that spirit. In other words, the policy pages are not open for editing that would undermine the principles behind the policies. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 02:24, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
If consensus changed to require peer reviewed sources, that edit would be fine. It is perfetcly possible that consensus might change significantly in the future, in that way or other ways. So the problem with the edit you describe to WP:V is not the spirit of the policy, it's the lack of consensus for the edit. The problem with the language you re-inserted here is that nothing written here could prevent the addition you describe if there was actually consensus to make the change. The spirit of our policies changes as consensus changes (that is, if there is a difference between them), and the language of the policies lags somewhat behind. The entire system is predicated on the ability to rewrite policy over time. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:13, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
You wrote: "If consensus changed to require peer reviewed sources, that edit would be fine." No, it wouldn't, because it would violate NPOV. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
It's at least conceivable that consensus could find a way to fit NPOV with peer-reviewed sources, as the understanding of NPOV and sourcing changes. You're assuming that the current interpretations are permanent, it seems. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:17, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Just so -- the interpretations can change. This would be bad if it undermined the primacy of NPOV, but okay if it merely modified the specifics of the idea (either the principles or the rule itself). WP:ATT is a good example of both a rule and the underlying principles being modified (or at least tweaked -- but of course not discarded). That initiative didn't succeed, but under different circumstances it might have; the ideas behind it were not necessarily wrong, even though the whole thing represented major changes to core content policies.
If for some reason the consensus for having an encyclopedia-wide neutral point of view ever disappeared, Wikipedia would be doomed, and it wouldn't matter what rules we retained, on paper or otherwise. We'd have to close the site and become Citizendium. But I'm not too worried that'll happen. Consensus is the driving force for all our rules and their enforcement, and we should emphasize that as much as we can.--Father Goose (talk) 05:49, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
The underlying principles weren't modified at all in ATT, FG, and it wasn't any kind of major change to the core content policies. Which principle do you think was tweaked? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 08:20, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Yesterday, I changed the sentence to "Edits to these pages should be made carefully, to ensure they agree with the spirit of the policies as interpreted by the community." I think this matches the motivation given by SlimVirgin above. The previous language seemed to suggest that it would be impermissible to rewrite WP:V into WP:ATT; it said that WP:V could only be edited in certain limited ways. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:37, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

The changes made by Slimvirgin had already been tried before by Jossi, and they had been discussed and ultimately consensus was to reject that change, afacit: see #Wording from WP:NPOV, so I have undone that wording.

Just to re-iterate, I believe the wording in question violates the foundation issues (preamble/notes, #1, #3.) , secondly there are inherent problems with defining a policy as being non-negotiable, (such as for instance making it impossible to refactor items into things like a more general Attribution policy) --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:12, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't see the consensus you speak of. The place to reject that wording is in NPOV and the other policies wherein the statement is made. And just where did that wording originate from? Dreadstar 18:43, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Your points are completely answered by the first two comments in the "see" anchor link provided in the comment above. References are an integral part of a wiki-based discussion, and it is often important to check them, else you may miss very large portions of the discussion. --Kim Bruning (talk) 20:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry to have been unclear; my second 'point' was a rhetorical question, the first was to identify where the consensus was that, 1) strikes the NPOV wording from this article, and 2} strkes the wording from all policies, which would be a defacto consensus that covers #1. Dreadstar 03:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The opposite question is when there was consensus to add the NPOV language (which I, and others I believe, hold is simply incorrect) to this article. I have not advocated removing the language from NPOV yet. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:15, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
This article is an overview of Policy and Guidelines, so I wouldn't think including or summarizing some of the more interesting language that is common to other policies would be a problem. Dreadstar 03:31, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I'll grant you that that language is interesting, but not that's it's correct. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:39, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Are we talking about the same thing? The wording in NPOV about the negotiability of the Principles of Wikipedia?
"The principles upon which they are based are strongly supported; with the NPOV policy regarded as non-negotiable and cannot be disregarded by a consensus of editors on a particular article or policy talk page. Edits to these pages should be made carefully, to ensure they agree with the spirit of the policies as interpreted by the community."?
or the actual core content policy statement in WP:V, WP:NPOV and WP:NOR?:
"The principles upon which these policies are based are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus. Their policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and explanation of the principles."
Dreadstar 04:28, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
If so, then this isn’t the place to dispute those statements, this article should reflect the important aspects of the other policy articles. And those statements are surely important parts.
I’m not so sure that any size group of editors on Wikipedia has the power to change the Wikipedia core principles any more than they have the ability via consensus to change the name of the project from Wikipedia to something else. Dreadstar 04:51, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I generally try to use diplomatic language, but I think somewhat plainer langauge might help;-):
Some fine-as-in-RTFM nomic-playing mentally-deficient-person decided that it might be a fun idea to declare certain policies non-negotiable, thereby making it impossible to ever fix them again in future, if read by naive people who actually would believe such bovine-waste-product to be true.
This fine-as-in-RTFM person never considered that maybe such tactics might propagate throughout the project namespace and mess up other aspects of wikipedia. After all, they were playing nomic, and all they cared about was winning their point.
Now it seems silly to force this page to start pushing this lack-of-sense just because some nomic player won a round elsewhere. Also, we are not advocating removing this language all at once. And we are not demanding that everyone editing other pages should come here to establish a consensus to put it back either. See? We're even being nice to the fine folks who got us into this fine mess.;-)
Those core principles are totally negotiable, especially when they contain language that contradicts the foundation issues. (now good luck negotiating those... though otoh, you can certainly try, at least!). But we need to fix that one step at a time.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 05:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
(←) Re Dreadstar. I do think this talk page is the place to object to language being added to this policy page. It isn't the place to complain about language that is already in other policy pages, but I am not removing the language from other policy pages (yet) (or rephrasing it, which is all that I think would be necessary). As Kim says, it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. I do believe that we (Wikipedia) have the power to change our core principles, and to change the name of our project, given broad enough consensus.
SlimVirgin's explanation of the importance of this language does imply why it might have been added (I don't know who added it, and haven't looked). If a policy already says that it can't be edited, that makes it much easier to brush off "well-meaning" editors who try to change things from the status quo. The problem is that we are supposed to change our policies over time as our understanding changes, and take the time to discuss issues with those well-meaning editors rather than brushing them off. The "no editing" clause is bad because it limits the ability to develop policy through discussion and consensus building, which is a foundation principle. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh, yes, this talk page is certainly the place to object to language being added to this policy page. But what is the very purpose of this policy? To give an overview, a bit of history and provide understanding of all the policies and guidelines. To leave out something that is a key element of the core content policies from this page seems to be an odd way to dispute that language. I think it's interesting that the explanation for the wording being in WP:V, NOR and NPOV to be that some rogue editor 'got his way' against what should be the 'real language and meaning' presented there. And now, we've gone from Policy based on Principle to Principle based on Foundation Issues. It's a strange and wonderful path we examine here, even though so many bovine appear to have littered it while lowing their way along it...;) Is there a listing of the Foundation Issues?
I don't think Jossi, Slim, or I have suggested a "no editing" clause, the issue is whether the principles behind the three core content policies are negotiable by editors. I don't think they are, at least on the level of Wikipedia editor consensus. If we want to change NPOV to say, "only critical comments about subjects will be allowed in the 'pedia henceforth"...does anyone really think a consensus of editors would override that core, key principle? Nor could we rewrite policy to that effect. While certain things can be changed by consensus, that consensus must follow the principles. Heck, I don't want to appear to be bucking the system, I'm just trying to gain a better understanding and present what I'm seeing. I'm not sure if I'm going around and around the same I'll leave it off and see what the others have to say! Dreadstar 16:18, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The specific sentence at issue is "Their policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and explanation of the principles." This has been reinserted on this page several times, despite concerns of quite a few editors higher on this talk page.
I don't believe the overall purpose of this page is to give an overview of other policies. We have other pages (WP:5P, for example) to do that. The purpose of this page is to explain how policies and guidelines are regarded by wikipedia editors, and describe the (informal) process by which pages become policies and guidelines. I do think that the specific section on policies could give a more thorough overview of our policies, so I'll expand it. That will also decrease the strange weight that the section currently gives to NPOV. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I think the disputed language is correct. I may have been referring to Foundation issues as principles, but since they are considered "beyond debate", for me, this seems to have the same meaning as does "non-negotiable", and as things that are not subject to consensus. Unless it means "beyond debate until consensus changes them"...but, consensus sorta has a debate Dreadstar 18:59, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Consensus can change, and our policies have authority only to the extend they reflect consensus. So no policy or principle is beyond debate or permanently enthroned. It is more accurate to say that things reflect current consensus to varying degrees. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:12, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Consensus doesn't exist in a vacuum, ruling all it surveys. I highly doubt consensus will override the principles behind NPOV, BLP or V...just to mention a few. If it does, the 'pedia won't be the same project - an extension of what SlimVirgin pointed out above. She's absolutely right about this. Dreadstar 22:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Can, has, does, did. The guidance on biographies of living persons and guidance on verifiability are not essential to wikipedia, as we have done without for the longest time. BLP is only important because of our google rank. People used to use more discussion, instead of strict verifiability, and this allowed for a slightly different balance of information, that was not much worse than it was today. NPOV has several flaws, that will need to be fixed, sooner or later. --Kim Bruning (talk) 05:43, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Different angle

Let me try to explain what I mean from a slightly different angle. The principle behind NPOV is that Wikipedia presents all significant views fairly and without bias. Can consensus change this principle so that articles can be totally biased, giving only one point of view? Can WP:V be changed by consensus to say that the only direction on verifying a source for content is to give a general disclaimer on the main page saying something along the lines of "go to your local library or buy a newspaper"...essentially, find your own sources for what we're saying here. Can the principle behind WP:BLP be changed by consensus of editors to allow unsourced libelous material? To my view, those principles and the basis for those policies are truly non-negotiable...and mandatory. Dreadstar 19:00, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

This applies to the principle only. BLP at present goes far beyond unsourced libelous material to unsourced contentious material. A change to restrict it to material libelous in the US would not be disruptive and would be negotiable--nor would a proposal to extend it beyond those who are recent dead, as is the case in some countries. a change to NPOV to require the inclusion of even fringe viewpoints similarly would be negotiable. A change to V saying we could use unpublished but available sources would be negotiable. (I do not necessarily mean to advocate any of these--I am just providing examples). None of these affect the core of the principles. DGG (talk) 05:06, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
In essence, that's what I'm saying. While we can change some of the more superficial apects of policy, the core of it must remain true. Perhaps I was unclear in my "library" example, but right now we do have to identify the source - whether it be online or offline, library, web site, newspaper, etc. The situation I'm trying to convey that goes against WP:V is one where we don't provide any sources at all..and just say "go find it yourself, Mr. Reader, we don't have to prove or show anything in order to add this content per policy". Same for the BLP example, tweaking the surface isn't the same as saying "add whatever content you like, regardless of laws or morality". Dreadstar 01:24, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Problem sentence

In the lead, we have "There is disagreement between those who believe rules should be stated explicitly, and those who believe that written rules are inadequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior."

It doesn't really make sense because everyone on WP believes some rules should be stated explicitly (even if it's only IAR), and no one believes that written rules are adequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior.

I went to copy edit it, then realized I didn't understand what it was trying to say. Any ideas? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 01:49, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Some people believe that written policy is be prescriptive, some think it is descriptive. For example, the extent to which deletions must follow the deletion process is up in the air. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:20, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Is that what it's saying? Ok, thank you. It's a strange dichotomy, because of course they are both descriptive and prescriptive. If they were either one or the other, they'd be useless. If prescriptive, but not descriptive, it would mean everyone was ignoring them. If descriptive, but not prescriptive, there'd be no reason for anyone to pay attention.
Anyway, the language -- e.g. "advisory," and "a standard that all users should follow" -- is clearly prescriptive. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:09, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
The ordinary meaning people attribute to "prescriptive" is not "advisory" but "mandatory". — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:18, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, I've never known anyone to understand the word that way. A prescriptive statement is something like "oranges are good, eat oranges." A descriptive statement is "oranges are round." SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 08:15, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Just to add that mandatory statements are, of course, prescriptive, but prescriptive statements need not be mandatory. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 08:17, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

All wikipedia guidance is either descriptive or it is meaningless. This fact is stressed by Ignore all rules, which (as I constantly need to remind people) is policy. "It's not just a good idea, it's the law!".

Even if that were not the case: If something is descriptive you should ignore it *less* than if it is prescriptive. Which of these are you more likely to ignore?

  • "Please do not cut this rope, even if it is in the way"
  • "This rope is holding up an anvil, if you cut the rope, the anvil will fall on your head, and you shall die. It is recommended that you do not cut this rope."

Or compare (hover mouse over sign for interpretation): You must not exceed 50 km/h by law, or you will get a speeding ticket, if a police officer is present It's a good idea to stay under 50km/h, else you might die

Which sign are you more likely to obey? :-P

--Kim Bruning (talk) 16:28, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Oh, there's no doubt, at high-speed on the autobahn, the sign on the left with the Big Bold Red Circle. The "blue informative" one is likely to get lost amongst all the other blue-informatonal "guidance/advisory" signs that tell us about the next rest stop or gasoline station. Dreadstar 18:06, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm, they actually tend to show up pretty clearly on high-speed roads.
Even so, I'll grant that they actually do appear to use the red signs for both meanings on the actual german autobahn. (although my most favoritest speed limit sign EVER does show a blue square. {"Welcome to Germany. Please observe the following speed limits: Within city limits: 50 km/h; outside city limits: 100km/h; autobahn: We advise 130 km/h"})
On my way to wikimania in frankfurt, I saw one such sign with "80" on it, and assumed the system was the same as in .nl, even though all the Germans were braking[*] without any police in sight (big clue!). As it turns out, Germany is not really a country of obedient people; rather, they were all slowing down for some dangerous road works. At that point I empirically confirmed that my ABS worked just fine at 160 km/h ;-). This is also where I learned why the majority of germans DO tend to go 130 on the autobahn much of the time.
In the Netherlands, the blue square is used on freeway off-ramps on rare occaisions when there is a sharp turn ahead. Even when I was rather cheekier than I am today, I still always slowed down for those signs, even though I occasionally "forgot" some of the red ones. ;-) And that's where my argument stems from.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 19:23, 15 January 2008 (UTC) [*] Just across the border to the west, fuel is more expensive, and people generally coast down to the speed limit, rather than apply brakes.
lol..! (oh, no, what have I started??) Too funny, Kim..! Dreadstar 19:33, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Defining consensus

The following was added to this page today" "Wide consensus does not need to be declared as such, in any official capacity. Acceptance and performance of a general practice over time by many people indicates de facto consensus, unless challenged." Why do we need to redefine consensus here? We already have a page which describes our consensus process; that should suffice. Thanks! --Kevin Murray (talk) 02:50, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

This is an excellent summary of how consensus operates. We could expand on it at the consensus policy page, insofar that it isn't covered yet. At any rate I am SO keeping it! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
"I am SO keeping it!" What does that mean? Is this your page? Maybe we should have a discussion. Adding this was bold and now it has been challenged; this is how we currently form consensus at WP. --Kevin Murray (talk) 04:36, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

"Wide consensus does not need to be declared as such, in any official capacity. Acceptance and performance of a general practice over time by many people indicates de facto consensus, unless challenged."

This is almost a dictdef, or a trivial derivation from such. If it is nowhere else on wikipedia, then this is only because everyone thought it too obvious to write down. It explains or at least clarifies where over 90% of our written guidance comes from, in just two sentences. That it was not on the page before is a horrible omission.

Is there any reason not to correct that omission now?

--Kim Bruning (talk) 05:23, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't agree, but for now let's get some other input please. Thanks! --Kevin Murray (talk) 05:57, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that the place for KB's proposed language is WP:CONSENSUS, not here, and only if consensus to add is reached on THAT talk page first. This page is supposed to be a summary. UnitedStatesian (talk) 06:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

I wrote it because from what I've seen, we don't ever have to have some special declaration that "Policy is live when people agree theres a consensus for it". It's "Policy is live when someone writes down the practice that nearly everyone has been already doing," or "Someone wrote a great idea, and everyone began doing it." Do we have a policy consensus-meter that I don't know about? :) My entry here was to make the description of how policy forms accurate. Lawrence Cohen 06:18, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

. . . and again, I think the place to do that is at WP:CONSENSUS, not here, and refer to that page from here, which is already being done. In other words, the change is one that this page does not need. UnitedStatesian (talk) 06:22, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. All pages are descriptive. We don't need to first edit one to change the other, or first change the other to edit the one. All pages should reflect the current consensus. It doesn't matter which gets updated first.
If you do not agree with the wording itself for some reason, please come forward and provide your reasoning. Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, please don't invent new procedures on the spot. --Kim Bruning (talk) 06:27, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, Wikipedia:Consensus is a page about consensus. This is a page that describes how policy forms. I just described how policy forms. Lawrence Cohen 06:53, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
My reasoning why I don't agree with the proposed wording is that the following wording is sufficient: "Wikipedia policy is formed by consensus." UnitedStatesian (talk) 14:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, that wording sounds less accurate to me. It is Consensus that has primacy. Lawrence Cohen's wording explains that in a very clear way. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:26, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The reasons I reverted

I just reverted the good-faith change made by User:CBM. Other than my strong belief that Process is important and so for policy pages a significant edit like this one should have its language pretty much agreed to on the talk page first, I have several specific issues: 1)I don't like the introduction of a hierarchical "most important policies" concept, 2) I don't know what "global consensus" and "local consensus" mean - I have a guess, but I think we need to define such amorphous concepts if we want to start using them (or better yet, not start using them), and most improtantly, 3) the text that was added does not address the fundamental problem with the text that was removed: a confusion between the Neutral Point of view foundation issue (a nine word phrase), and the specific NPOV policy page in English Wikipedia. I hope people agree we can continue making consensus-based changes/refinements/improvements to the NPOV page in English WP, and still have the page be consistent with the foundation issue. Hope this helps as an explanation. UnitedStatesian (talk) 18:21, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Several of the concerns you cited can be resolved by just editing the text to improve it. I'll try to do that, and everyone else is as always able to continue improving it. Editing rather than reverting is the fastest way to find compromise language. My impression is that the only reason that NPOV is specifically mentioned at all here is because the person who added that language feels it is particularly important. I think it's very odd to mention just one polisy, but none of the others.
PS. I have seen this idea more and more often lately - that everything has to be hammered out on the talk page before the policy/guideline/article/etc can be changed at all. That opinion leads to an erosion of the wiki process, another foundation principle, it contradicts WP:BOLD, and it makes it very hard to tell if there is actually agreement for language, because until the main page is changed, many editors don't feel a need to comment. The policy template is part of the problem, as it discourages editors from editing on a wiki. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:29, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Quick note pointing out two things: The "process is important" essay documents the minority dissenting opinion against actual policy. Your statement about requiring talk page discussion first runs counter to Wikipedia:Consensus. I might cover your core points in a further comment, if I have time later. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:31, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Don't bother, I've already learned my lesson - I shouldn't try contributing to this page. UnitedStatesian (talk) 05:41, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Contributing to the page is encouraged. You could have simply edited my text to address your concerns, however, rather than reverting it, which would have addressed your concerns much more directly. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Carl, I'm really sorry to take another opposing view, but did you really think through that comment? Your premise assumes that some change is mandatory for the process to be fair. If US perceived the status quo as the best course, how can he edit your change and maintain the status quo. While your suggestion sounds polite and compromising it is fallacious. --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:20, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Then the status quo has no consensus, and United Statesian will have to find a compromise. --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:47, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
That makes no sense. Just because one editor believes a change is needed has no bearing on the consensus, unless you define consensus as unanimity, which you clearly refute at the Consensus talk page. So what are you talking about? US followed the Consensus flowchart, and Carl continued to follow it by discussing. I only object to Carl criticizing US following the process. --Kevin Murray (talk) 21:54, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
The only reason US supplies for making the revert is that he wished to halt the process in question (as he does not agree with it). Is that correct? --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not going to debate you incessantly on the minutia. You make unsupported comments, and then when confronted, you side step the issue and throw back an irrelevant question. I think that you are playing a lot of games and just trying to wear down your critics. Good day! --Kevin Murray (talk) 22:35, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
As you wish. as you are no longer participating, de-facto we will not take your opinion further into account any further when forming consensus on this page.--Kim Bruning (talk) 22:43, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Where do you get off with that comment? You are really a piece of work. Will you stoop to any level to win you points now? --Kevin Murray (talk) 22:47, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
*sigh* I am stating the full consequences of your actions, so that you will not be able to accuse me of disingenuity at a later date. AKA: CYA :-( --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:05, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Why wait? I think that we are already there. --Kevin Murray (talk) 00:12, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
^^;; --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:22, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I also welcome constructive participation. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 18:17, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, please stay, we can't improve things unless people question them. And perhaps some day we may even actually require talk page discussions before major changes. In my personal view, WP:BOLD is the way to run a sterile debating society, rather than create content (or policy). DGG (talk) 20:01, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
The other way around right? If you don't make a change to a wikipage, a wikipage will not be changed, and no content will be added. Therefore, if you want to add content, and make a change to a wikipage, you must change the wikipage. Therefore WP:BOLD leads to content, and debate on the talk page does not (as, de-facto, debate on a talk page does not make changes). Um, that's very trivial, isn't it? --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:36, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
It's the distinction between BRD and D. It isnt trivial, it would be a complete difference in the way we work--and in fact, on most policy pages, anyone boldly changing the policy is almsot automatically reverted. As a way of getting attention, I can't think of any way more conducive to hostility--it immediately arouse every combattative instinct.Sure, the reasonable among us know how to repress it, but I think a discussion that starts out as a discussion is more likely to succeed in difficult situations.DGG (talk) 01:28, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I actually agree with you to quite a degree, in the sense that initial edits using BRD can indeed cause friction (therefore, a user of BRD needs to be very good at diplomacy)
However, BRD is not a normal editing method. You use it to find people to talk with, and you use it to break open pages that are not being edited by Consensus at that point in time. Once the normal consensus and wiki-editing are happening again, making edits to pages is quite rapid and effortless.
Note that many wikis don't have talk pages at all. If there is no editing going on on the actual wikipage, then you are likely dealing with a pathological case. (A lesser wiki would have died at that point). --Kim Bruning (talk) 01:43, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Problematic sentence

I see this is back:

"There is disagreement between those who believe rules should be stated explicitly, and those who believe that written rules are inadequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior."

The sentence makes no sense. No one believes rules should never be stated explicitly. No one believes that written rules are adequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior.

It is a false dichotomy. A straw man. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 16:34, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Some users,including myself, believe we should focus more on principles and less on specific rules. I believe that sentiment is one of the reasons we write policies and guidelines with "should" language rather than "must" language, because they are intended to be a description of best practices rather than a list of rules. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:36, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


I don't like that new language guidelines "may typically have a weaker consensus but this is not always the case". It's sounds a bit like pushing the envelope. I'd rather just see something like "guidelines have weaker consensus than policy" maybe with an additional phrase like "but they are still agree to by the majority of editors" or whatever... but right now it makes it sounds like there are some guidelines that are *enforced* as if they were equal with policy. I just don't think that it so. If it were they would *be* policy, not just seperate but equal with it. Wjhonson (talk) 22:55, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

WP:POINT, vs WP:TITLE. I rest my case. --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:31, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
guidelines have weaker consensus than policy is incorrect. Both policies and guidelines carry the consensus of the community. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:58, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Agree with Jossi, strength of consensus seems a strange way to separate out Guidelines from Policy. Dreadstar 00:27, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Guidelines and Policy are already two different things. The language is only attempting to clarify — how. Wjhonson (talk) 00:47, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Are you sure? The division is entirely artificial, afaik. --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:29, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
You have two different words to describe the exact same thing? Guidelines have always been optional. We would *like* everyone to follow them, that doesn't mean we are *requiring* everyone to follow them. Even if they have consensus, they are not imposed under sanction. If any admin is imposing sanction for not following "guidelines" then they are failing to understand the nuance.Wjhonson (talk) 03:42, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
While generally a guideline does not need as much as a consensus, there is no limiting factor preventing it from gaining more. The distinction is on the enforceability rather than the consensus. (1 == 2)Until 04:24, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Wjhonsen: I already demonstrated that that is incorrect. For instance: it is quite possible to be banned for violating WP:POINT (Guideline), but I don't think anyone has ever been sanctioned simply for violating the naming conventions (policy) alone. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 05:09, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Are there other guidelines with the same banning potential as violations of WP:POINT? Do all conditions under WP:POINT carry the same potential..or is it when a violation of WP:POINT crosses the line into disruption and vandalism or other more serious violations? Dreadstar 05:19, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, there are several more guidelines with banning or desysopping potential. If you actually care about such things, you might find it alarming that some pages marked "essay" can also lead to such trouble, if maliciously ignored. Conversely, some policies can deliberately be broken in the most disruptive way possible, without sanctions.
I admit that this mess used to be much more pronounced than it is today, but it is still that way, simply due to the way consensus works, I guess.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 05:38, 21 January 2008 (UTC) I have this terrible habit of actually reading what I talk about ;-)

(Outdent) if you were banned for violating WP:POINT, protest it.Wjhonson (talk) 05:45, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

There definitely are pages tagged as "guidelines" that are enforced as if they were policy. I was involved in an arbitration case in which the committee made clear that if someone was found to have violated WP:POINT, sanctions could be imposed. (They ended up not "convicting" anyone, but there was no question in anyone's mind that WP:POINT was considered a sanctionable principle.) So you could "protest" all you want, but I don't you would get very far with the ArbCom, if that is who you protested to. WP:Harassment is another example; it is tagged as a guideline, but I'm pretty sure that people get blocked etc. for violating it. So in those two cases, I do not think there is much of a difference between a policy and a guideline. Or is that these two pages have the wrong tag? 6SJ7 (talk) 05:55, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
  • My impression is not that there is less consensus required for a guideline, just a wider lattitude in the expectation that it be followed (obeyed). I think that guidelines need just as much consensus as a policy. Sadly, I think that in practice the guidelines carry the weight of policy, and that the former is a euphamism for the latter. One of the few reasons for deletion of an article is lack of notability and the notability infrastructure is a series of guidelines. What is more serious than an deleting an article? --Kevin Murray (talk) 06:15, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
I also think guidelines carry essentially the same weight, in terms of enforcement, as policy. Just saying "But it's only a guideline" isn't a good reason to ignore one any more than "because it's a policy" is a reason to follow a policy. I don't think this is sad, however. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:02, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

(Outdent) The tag at the top of WP:POINT states that it's not set in stone and there can be some rare exceptions or something like that. I disagree that "it's only a guideline" is not a good argument. Those people who feel the need to enforce guidelines should offer to discuss on the talk page making it into policy. Otherwise the entire structures only serves to confuse the editors not the help them understand how to negotiate the system. If the internal system is self-contradictory, how are people who operate using logical approaches, to understand clearly how to use it? The reality is, the system is constantly in flux. Policies in general were established as non-negotiable in their generality, but obviously changeable in their specificity. That is, specifically what we *mean* by verification can change and does as we encounter new situations not clearly covered or covered ambiguously. There is one at the pump right now that may be redirected to V talk hopefully. *If* Arbcom imposed sanctions for the *sole* affront of violating a guideline that would be interesting wouldn't it? Typically an issue doesn't get to ArbCom unless many things have been violated, so I wouldn't even see it as likely that they encounter a case with only Guide violations. Wjhonson (talk) 15:24, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Arbcom has banned or heavily sanctioned people for violations of WP:POINT, afaicr. That's why I used that as my example, naturally. Why else mention it?
Also, I have never heard of "policies being established" as such, and never as non-negotiable. --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:26, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Anyway, I'm not so sure that levels of sanctions for violations is a good measure for judging the sameness or difference between Policy and Guideline. It's really the concepts (principles) behind them that are important. The principles behind the policies, and thus the core, central concepts and spirit of the policies - regardless of actual wording of the policies - is what is non-negotiable. That is, after all, what IAR actually means. Dreadstar 20:17, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
So "Ignore All Rules" means "You must not ever ignore the rules"? --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:51, 21 January 2008 (UTC) that would be a nice trick, wouldn't it. I meant that the spirit or principle behind the policy is what's really important. If the letter of the policy (even if put there by consensus) is contrary to the spirit behind should still make sure to do what's right for the project, even if it means ignoring the letter of the policy. That's at the core of IAR, and why these central principles are truly not subject to consensus. Dreadstar 23:07, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Dreadstar’s last edit “this is far more accurate” is not accurate. Some guidelines, such as WP:N, are enforced firmly at AfD, in contrast to some policies, such as WP:IAR or WP:EP, which are far more “advisory” in nature. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:42, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, but "Guidelines are advisory" is a far more accurate way of describing their nature, especially when comparing with Policies. As for this:
"Guidelines typically may have a weaker consensus than policies, although this is not always the case"
Are guidelines truly "typically" weaker in consensus? Where is that from? (perhaps Kim has the stats?). And saying that something is "typical although not always the case" seems a bit redundant. I'd suggest (if true) saying:
"Guidelines are regarded as advisory, and in general have a weaker consensus than policies."
Dreadstar 07:41, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Dreadstar, you’ve not addressed my examples which contradict your position. Do you consider WP:N advisory, and consider WP:EP more than advisory? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 20:36, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
My view is that guidelines should "guide" or "advise" editors on how things should be done, giving descriptive information. Policies should do more than just advise or guide, they should make a stronger, more prescriptive statement on what needs to be done, something that should be followed. Rather along the lines of "mandatory" versus "advisory."
If we're going to shift from a guideline being advisory to something stronger, that's fine by me. Essays can be advisory, Guidelines can be standards that should be followed, and Policies can be considered to be mandatory. Dreadstar 21:38, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm afraid that we will need to work towards some compromise language on that point. I am not comfortable classifying polices as "mandatory", nor guidelines as "advisory". — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:03, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Heh, I know..I know..this has been an ongoing discussion. SmokeyJoe was asking about my position, but my position is also subject to compromise...naturally...:) Dreadstar 22:15, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I think we all are in rough agreement in that: It would be nice if there were a simple difference between policies and guidelines. The confusion seems historically based. The very old policies tend to advisory. New things tend to be more prescriptive. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 20:57, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Isn't that redundant though? Aren't all Policies, guidelines and essays advice? --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:45, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Advice along the lines of: "You’re advised to follow these rules if you’d like to avoid seeing your contributions deleted". "You’re advised to not make personal attacks if you don’t want to get banned". I don’t think newcomers read “advised” with this degree of force. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 20:36, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I also disagree that guidelines should be described as "advisory" if policies are not also described as such. The term suggests that users are free to ignore guidelines, which isn't right. If they were only advisory, "I don't feel like it" would be an acceptable argument for not following them, which it isn't. I removed the sentence for the time being; it isn't really necessary in the lede, and we may be able to compromise on saying nothing rather than on saying they are or are not advisory. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:28, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay, why not "Guidelines serve as advisory guides to Wikipedia, and while ignoring them may lead to problems on Wikipedia, are not policy. They should be approached with common sense and the occasional exception." This is mostly lifted from Template:Guideline. I do think they should be labeled as advisory since that is what they have been since they were created. (1 == 2)Until 15:19, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't find them advisory, though. If you don't have a good reason, you should follow the practices outlined in the guidelines. The situation with policies is exactly the same: if you don't have a good reason, you should follow the practices they outline. I would be happy with a compromise that reminds everyone that both guidelines and policies are advisory, but not with a compromise that implicitly inflates the importance of policies by explicitly lowering the importance of guidelines. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:56, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Even the choices of the words "guideline" and "policy" give a strong indication that one is a guide, and the other is a rule. I think this is an important distinction made in the spirit of WP:CREEP where we minimize our rules, and minimize the enforcement of rules to only what is needed. I have no objection to wording the states policy can be ignored if it is done in conjunction with IAR, but guidelines are really just meant to be guides. I think the whole idea of the guideline class is to include information that while describing best practices, is not a set of rules to must be followed short of IAR. (1 == 2)Until 17:55, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
The reason we spend time building consensus for guidelines is because we expect others to follow them, edit them, or have a good reason for not taking one of those two options. If guidelines were truly optional, on the other hand, nobody would spend the effort to develop them (or we would just call them essays). The historical choice of the terms "policy" and "guideline" is unfortunate, but it's too late to change I think. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:47, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I disagree, I think that an advisory guideline can do a lot of good, and that people still would spend the effort to develop them. The distinction between an essay and a guideline is that there is a consensus by the community that this is a good idea, whereas an essay need only be seen as a good idea by at least one person. I admit the distinction is a little muddy due to the influence of IAR and the fact that everything short of the m:Foundation issues are mutable. (1 == 2)Until 20:06, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Given that we disagree here, I think that finding some sort of compromise language, or compromising to remain silent on this point, is a path forward. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:09, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Guidelines can always be suggested for promotion. It's happened before. It's a slippery slope to believe that guidelines and policy are identical. Next you'll be telling me that Jimbo's thoughts and policy are identical! Ok wait... Wjhonson (talk) 20:44, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Which is easier:
  • make an edit here to demote all guidelines
  • promote all guidelines
  • Ignore all rules anyway. ;-)
--Kim Bruning (talk) 19:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I nominate Kim Bruning for my just created WP:Evil Wikipedian of the Day Award. I know all right-thinking people agree with me. On a more serious note, (*stop laughing*), I think IAR by consensus is applied *very* rarely (unless you are Jimbo). Promote all guidelines would fail and you'd probably get banned for being disruptive and trout-like. Rather we should have some RfC's for promoting *particular* guidelines that seem to enjoy more-than-adequate consensus. The distinction is being blurred *because* high-consensus has been reached on certain guidelines which haven't yet been promoted. The quick fix is promotion of those. Wjhonson (talk) 21:26, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
"I am honoured to recieve this award. I want to thank my manager, my staff, and all the little people out there!"
So, like, isn't what you're proposing to do the most pessimal path thinkable (maximum resistance and minimal gain?). All you're really doing is swapping out some tags. So after months of work, and megabyte after megabyte of wikidrama, you end up changing a couple of hundred bytes(bytes!) on the actual wiki. Does that really seem like a good idea to you? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:35, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Silliness. The most pessimal (is that even a word?) path thinkable would be to start an RfC to out you as an alien shill planted either with or against the consensus of the illuminati. But I digress. So instead I shall start a new section (cf Promotion) in a second to address your most cogent rebuttal. Wjhonson (talk) 00:46, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Do policies and guidelines have to conform to the manual of style?

I had someone on here tell me that the policy and guidelines pages has a much looser style requirement than actual pages. In short, that Wikipedia:Manual of Style does not apply to policy and guideline pages. Is this true? I wouldn't think it would be, but then I couldn't find anything that said policy and guideline pages had any style requirements. Fredsmith2 (talk) 19:46, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

The belief that we can write Wiki-space pages without the need to obey the requirements of the English language sounds awfully pointy to me. Did you have something more specific in mind? Wjhonson (talk) 20:42, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
A couple things. 1) A lot of the policy pages look horrible and tacky, because they're way over-bolded. If the style guide applies to the policy pages, we should get rid of lots and lots of the bolding on the policy pages. In my opinion, the policy pages are some of the weakest pages on Wikipedia, as far as profesionalism in their presentation. If the policy pages were article pages, the bolding would get stripped out very, very fast, but the bolding in the policy pages seems to have persisted for a while, and may even be increasing.
2) Could we get some guideline written down somewhere that WP:STYLE applies to the Wiki-space pages as well? And, that it's somewhat relaxed for talk pages and user pages? In short, a guideline for where it does and where it doesn't apply. Fredsmith2 (talk) 21:54, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
It sounds like a great idea to me. Why don't you start a discussion there and we'll see where it goes. Wjhonson (talk) 22:06, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
For cross-wiki assist, Fred has taken my sage advice and started discussion here. Please come and contribute. Wjhonson (talk) 21:28, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Connecting the dots is not assuming, yes or no?

Although it started a little rough, our discussion [here] has come to a simple matter of considering Connecting the Dots to be assumption or not. To resume, out discussion is regarding a Continuity Issue with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the fact that in the series, Sarah is very much alive in the year 1999 when she should have died back in 1997 from Leukemia.

Now we know that the series takes another timelime after Terminator 2, avoiding the events of Terminator 3. The only problem is that changing the future does not change the past. In T3, John Connor stated that his mother dies from Leukemia after being diagnosed with it 3 years ago. Now for the facts:

-T3 takes place in 1997
-Sarah gets diagnosed with cancer in 1994
-T2 takes place in 1995

I don't know about you guys, but if the Sarah Connor in the series didn't have cancer in 1999, that's not a Continuity Issue, I don't know what it is. Mistake or purposely done, the writers ignored the fact that the main character was suppose to die 2 years before the series began.

Duhman0009 (talk) 03:12, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I would suggest asking this quesiton on the original research talk page instead of here. This page is for general discussion of creating policy and guidelines. Chaz Beckett 13:52, 25 January 2008 (UTC)


I would like to hear some suggestions for Wiki-space articles, currently marked as guidelines, which would be better to discuss as candidates to promote to policy. I will ignore silly responses. Thanks and have a great day!Wjhonson (talk) 00:48, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Don't say I didn't warn you. --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:15, 26 January 2008 (UTC)


Please see Wikipedia:Experiment, Template:Brainstorming and Template:Experimental. I was thinking that some of this content could be moved into Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Proposals, and some of it could become part of the template documentation. On this page, we might briefly mention the optional Brainstorming and Experimental stages, which are intended as predecessors to a formal proposal which will be accepted or rejected after a period of debate. The rationale is that some new ideas might be immediately exposed to withering criticism and have the {{rejected}} slapped on there prematurely. These other templates basically say, "Chill out, we're not about to adopt this as policy, right now it's just a partially-formed idea that we're trying to get in an acceptable shape to where it could be a useful addition to policy. We'll put the {{proposed}} tag up when it appears ready for prime-time." It's kinda like how you wouldn't put an article on WP:FAC before subjecting it to WP:PR first; it would get shot down and you'd be wasting everyone's time. Ron Duvall (talk) 21:57, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm okay with {{brainstorming}}, but {{experimental}} in its current form makes me very uneasy. I've commented further at template talk:experimental.--Father Goose (talk) 05:08, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Foundation policy

Recently in a feisty debate on Wiki-en, someone mentioned that our policies must conform *under* Foundation Policies. I have never heard this, in all the time I've been here. I've always been under the impression that we set our own policies by our own community consensus. Can anyone point to the exact area where this is state or contradicted? Thanks. Wjhonson (talk) 22:16, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Namespaces of policies & guidelines

I notice that a couple of User pages are tagged as being guidelines. I assumed that all "real" policies and guidelines would be in the Wikipedia namespace, but I can't find anything to that effect. Is it appropriate for pages in non-Wikipedia namespaces (User, Talk, Help, Template, etc.) to be tagged as guidelines of policies? Libcub (talk) 23:47, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I looked into it. They appear to either be drafts of guidelines or accidental inclusions into the category. I corrected a few of them, but I don't think there's much danger of people treating "guidelines" in user space as real.--Father Goose (talk) 03:09, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

What has been lost

This line was taken from the edits back in 2002 "Our goal with Wikipedia is to create a free encyclopedia--indeed, the largest encyclopedia in history, both in terms of breadth and in terms of depth. We also want Wikipedia to become a reliable resource." I feel that we have lost this spirit, and we re-incorporate the above line back into policy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thright (talkcontribs) 18:38, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Wikiproject Anti-Trivia

Hello if you hate Trivia sections on Wikipages you should support Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Proposals#Anti-Trivia --IwilledituTalk :)Contributions 23:08, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Location question

My apologies if this may have been asked and answered before...Is it possible to link the article Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines to the main page? I've gotten messages from editors who want to know how to start, but aside from just jumping in, they don't know how. I can't say I'm not personally sympathetic to this, as it took me over a month from my first edit to find guideline articles. The wikilinks when you start an article should be written better, it shows the basics of how to do an article, but now the policies that are behind those basics. Thank you in advance. Leobold1 (talk) 19:40, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

The first "policy" pages I would want a newbie to read are Be bold, the five pillars, and Understanding Ignore all rules. Everything that comes after that -- including what's on this page -- you can learn as you go along.--Father Goose (talk) 04:28, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Anonymity and outing

I'm trying to locate the policy that explicitely states that contributors are promised as much anonymity as possible but I'm having trouble locating it. In which policy does it state that Wikipedia editors are promised anonymity? Where does it state that outing is wrong? WP:Anonymity and WP:Outing are essays, not policies or guidelines. WP:BLOCK states that blocks can be given for disclosing personal information, but doesn't state what is considered personal information as opposed to raising allegations of COI. So, which policy is used by admins when warning or blocking someone for outing another editor? Cla68 (talk) 00:28, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

WP:OUTING, which is a different page from WP:Outing. I added a hatnote to WP:Outing to clear up the confusion.--Father Goose (talk) 04:07, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

a bit of tidying

Especially the section under guideline was becoming a cliff's notes on "consensus on wikipedia", so I shortened it. I've also done some other small things, hopefully none are controversial --Kim Bruning (talk) 20:47, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

On that same vein, I've removed the Experimental category which is not used and tried to clarify the differnce between rejected and historical. I would like to think again about changing the name rejected to failed or not-accepted, or a better name. The term rejected seems to offend contributors but using historical as a euphamism is inaccurate. --Kevin Murray (talk) 22:04, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

  • "No current consensus"? Or "No consensus"? Or "Consensus not achieved?" Would the "Disputed" tag work? Maybe "Not-accepted" works best. Hiding T 10:43, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I think that I like failed consensus. I think that there needs to be some finality, but rejected is hard on the ownership ego. --Kevin Murray (talk) 21:38, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Things keep drifting towards that guidelines should be treated discuss first.

I agree that discussion is important, naturally :-)

However, from a system point of view, the current dynamics are that some people have a tendency to enforce discussion upfront. This very often ends up as a kind of indefinite filibuster that might take several months to resolve. So we want to try to stay away from giving the impression that "discuss first" is mandatory. Discussion in general is always a good idea, of course. --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:26, 16 May 2008 (UTC) systems point of view can at times be a tad counter-intuitive or confusing.

Ok, reedited that short text again. I don't like this one either. Basically it's just recapping the consensus system again (which uses both the project page and the talk page). Can't we just say "Guidelines are maintained through Wikipedia:Consensus"  ? (or is that too short?) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:32, 16 May 2008 (UTC) scratches head

Kim, you broke my heart! That was my favorite sentence of the whole day. Oh well so much for the tender sensitivities of ownership. If editing before discussing was ruled out, we'd all be in jail. Have a great Friday or whatever it is today on the backside of the bottom of the world. Cheers and I'll toast you with my first IPA. --Kevin Murray (talk) 21:42, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
^^;; I didn't mean to break your heart! Maybe we can sort something out. :-) Cheers, Have a good one! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:50, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Rejected changed to Failed

(Some discussion from above is copied here for continuity) The term rejected seems to offend contributors but using historical as a euphamism is inaccurate. --Kevin Murray (talk) 22:04, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

  • "No current consensus"? Or "No consensus"? Or "Consensus not achieved?" Would the "Disputed" tag work? Maybe "Not-accepted" works best. Hiding T 10:43, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I think that I like failed consensus. I think that there needs to be some finality, but rejected is hard on the ownership ego. --Kevin Murray (talk) 21:38, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Sometimes "rejected" does mean rejected. We need some way of summarizing the consensus. DGG (talk) 04:31, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
But then, even rejected ideas can resurface and gain acceptance, given that consensus can change. I've been bold and edited {{rejected}}; if people agree with the changes I've made, we'll need to a few other edits in concert with them, and should probably move {{rejected}} to {{failed}}.--Father Goose (talk) 00:50, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
I support FG and have taken further steps to incorporate the new term into the text at the project page. Suggest gaining consensus then move {{rejected}} to {{failed}}, as FG suggests. --Kevin Murray (talk) 13:51, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Sometimes "rejected" does mean rejected, but usually it doesn't. Usually, it means (1) More forceful editors have declared that this wil never achieve a consensus, or (2) discussion has died down with a consensus for support. In these cases, "failed" is more appropriate. In the rare cases that a consensus has agreed to reject the proposal, this is better noted explicitly on the proposal talk page. The talk page is always a good place for summarising consensus. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:52, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Joe, do you think that we need two tags so that one covers the rare case of "rejection", or could we remain a bit euphamistic in those cases? --Kevin Murray (talk) 21:57, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
We don’t “need” two tags, but I don’t see having a variety of tags as a problem. Nearly every “rejected” I’ve seen should be a softer worded “failed”. Occassionaly, proposals are resoundingly rejected, where you could say that there has been a consensus to reject. In these cases, I would support a “reject” tag, along the lines of the overly strong tradiational one, stating that the community has rejected the proposal. Examples: The talk page of Wikipedia:Full meta links seems to reflect a pretty emphatic “rejection”. Another proposal I am familiar with is User:Jimbo Wales/Credential Verification, which was in my opinion emphatically, though not unanimously, rejected, and which persists with a euphemistic use of the historical tag. I don’t think it hurts for a failed proposal to have a softly worded tag. So, I am not very strong about this either way. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:23, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
"Failed" still covers "rejected", and if we have both, we'll just have fights over when something failed vs. was rejected. No need: failed is failed. Athough for the real dogs, I suppose we could add a picture of epic fail guy to the template.--Father Goose (talk) 06:12, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps some humor wouldn't be all bad. --Kevin Murray (talk) 06:15, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps “failed” vs “rejected” fights would serve as a pressure relief valve for overheated pro-/op-ponentes. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:22, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Having been in a fight over "rejected" status (with Kevin, no less), I can vouch that such fights are ugly as fuck. To minimize wikidrama, the best thing is to let down the proponents as gently as possible; all that's actually important is that a proposal that is actually dead be marked as no-go.--Father Goose (talk) 08:41, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, closure without insult. --Kevin Murray (talk) 08:52, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
OK. There is no need for "rejected". All that matters is that there is not consensus for support, that the proposal has “failed” for whatever reason. The reason should be on the talk page. Also note that not having “rejected” avoids a mechanism to game policy processes, such as has been alleged by having Wikipedia:Supermajority created, rejected, and possibly used to imply that the converse holds consensus. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:26, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Adding guideline enforcement tags

(I hope I'm posting my question in the right place. Please feel free to redirect me to a more appropriate location.) If a Wikiproject decides by consensus amongst a small group of editors within the project that a certain presentation guideline should be followed on all pages claimed to be under the domain of the project, is the project entitled to insert and maintain hidden text placed at the top of every such article linking back to the project's guideline as an "enforcement" measure? Robert K S (talk) 15:02, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

The short answer is: adding that hidden text does not violate the letter of any policy or guideline I can think of. The long answer is, it depends, (esp. if the hidden text could be construed as pointy, and I infer from how you worded your question that it is a real, rather than hypothetical, one. If so, could you share the real example so I and other editors may comment more enlightenedly? UnitedStatesian (talk) 22:13, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
In the case at hand, members of a WikiProject intend to exclude infoboxes from all biographical articles deemed to be under the project's domain. Once they believed they found consensus for this initiative within the WikiProject, they removed existing infoboxes from all such articles and added inline text to the tops of those articles that read, "Please do not add an infobox" and include a link to their WikiProject guideline prohibiting infoboxes. What would WP:OWN say about this sort of across-the-board enforcement? The concern here is that the "rule" was made with the consent of fewer than 10 editors (with the actual text prohibiting infoboxes being approved by only 3) but applies to potentially hundreds of articles edited by thousands of other users. Robert K S (talk) 01:41, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
To answer your question, the project in question is the opera wikiproject and I would suggest that the discussion be had on that project's page as there is a lot more dialogue already on that page in regaurds to this topic. Also, Robert K S has highly distorted the reality of the situation as I have stated on the other talk page. First, hidden texts are not tags and serve a completely different function. Second, there is and has not been any attempt by the opera project to enforce or implement the removal of info boxes. The hidden text merely serves as a cautionary measure pointing out the inherant problems with info boxes that often lead to distortions of truth or inaccuracies in information. The project does not forbid infoboxes (that would be WP:OWN) but merely asks editors to talk about adding an info box on that article's talk page before adding one to the article. If such a discussion decides to add an info box than of course an info box can be placed. Third, to my knowledge the hidden text appears on very few of the opera project's articles. I would venture to say that less than fifty of the 4,500 plus articles (less than 1%) under the opera project's perview include them. For the most part, these hidden texts have only been placed on articles where info boxes have proven to be counterproductive. They have not been placed on mass and there is no policy requiring a hidden text. Fourth, there are similar positions held by other projects. (see Opera Project talk page). Finally, there are more editors that support the project's position than mentioned above. I myself am not included in the numbers above as I did not participate in any prior info box discussion. No project member has complained about the policy to my knowledge so I would assume that most project members are supportive. We are a very active group and, knowing the project members as I do, there would have been complaints if there was disagreement. You are all welcome to join the discussion.Nrswanson (talk) 14:08, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Third party paid entries okay?

A professional writer asks other writers if accepting payment to write Wikipedia entries is "ethical." What is Wikipedia's policy on this? I have not so far found anything. Other writers are coming down on both sides... Eperotao (talk) 15:51, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Also, I see more and more entries that are most likely the product of industry flacks. Much of the information is useful and interesting, but also very one sided. I see this problem getting worse before it gets better,since the sheer volume of it will overwhelm other less interested sources of content. Does Wikipedia have a policy on industrial generated content? Is that the future of Wikipedia?? Eperotao (talk) 16:04, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I've seen a number of instances where such articles are created, but they tend to be either deleted as being irreparably spammy, or subjected to sufficient NPOV power-washing to render it an adequate article. That being said however, creating or editing articles is not only certainly frowned upon, but is almost inevitably fruitless because the editor's efforts are almost always frustrated by the dynamic I mentioned above. – ClockworkSoul 16:11, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, ClockworkSoul. So you think the phenomenon is relatively harmless to Wikipedia as a whole and that editors can keep up with it? I'd be concerned that industry's resources are such that Wiki editors could not keep up with, for example, massive pharma generated content. Also, I'm wondering if Wikipedia has developed a specific policy about this. Eperotao (talk) 16:19, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I've worked with a number of PR people from various places, and some of them have learned how to write decent Wikipedia articles that are informative and meet our standards. Good professionals in that business are not fools, once it's explained that this is a different medium they can write as well or better than most of us can, & they know how to be objective when they need to be. (Many never do learn, of course, and get blocked, & recognized easily if they reappear. ) The best guide to dealing with this is Durova's WP:BFAQ from which I've learned anything good in my approach. What needs to be encouraged I think is for them to simply declare their COI. Then the people in the subject can watch--we can deal with the amount of likely input. It's the undetected ones who do the damage. (Though even here I am aware of some who have never admitted it but do consistently decent work under multiple throw-away accounts.) DGG (talk) 16:54, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I relayed this to the interested writers. Forgot to thank you earlier. Eperotao (talk) 18:36, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

New MOS for TV

The television community currently has an MOS guideline under proposal, and would appreciate all comments at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Television/Style guidelines#MOS proposal in order to have the best possible guide for television related articles.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 12:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)


Do we need a further category called Summary? The failed proposal for WP:ATT has been recently tagged as a Summary of multiple policies. I object to a new category (tag) which does not yet have consensus, but poses as legitimate guidance. I don't see the need for a new category, but would be less concerned if there was a clear procedure for identifying such a category and defining the level of consensus required to achieve "Summary" status. Maybe it is just a harmless euphamism at this point, but why add to the confusion? As it stands now anyone can subjectively summarize several policies on one page, and then parade the new animal as gospel to further confuse our contributors. --Kevin Murray (talk) 14:35, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

lock page?

I don't beleive there is a lot of vandalism here, but this project page is quite important, does anyone else think it should be locked? Androo123 (talk) 05:12, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

It's typically vandalized once or twice a week. A lock might be good since this isn't a page that really needs to be altered all that often.Nrswanson (talk) 15:17, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Errrrrrrr. No. :-P

Because we are a wiki, and would like to keep it that way, all pages are typically left unlocked UNLESS they are subject to heavy vandalism or edit warring RIGHT NOW. Or for the case of templates, if the template is transcluded across a lot of pages, and editing would cause large scale disruption

  • Heavy vandalism last 24h? No
  • Edit Warring last 24h? No
  • is template? No
    • large scale transclusion? No
    • vandalism causes large scale disruption? No

Conclusion: Lock page? No.

So we leave the page unlocked. :-) (Hmm, I wonder if we could create more checklists like that for other things)

--Kim Bruning (talk) 15:35, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Reviving a failed proposal


I saw this:

"A failed proposal (AKA:rejected) is one for which consensus for acceptance has not developed after a reasonable time period. Consensus need not be fully opposed; if consensus is neutral or unclear on the issue and unlikely to improve, the proposal has likewise failed. It is considered bad form to hide this fact, e.g. by removing the tag. Making small changes will not change this fact, nor will repetitive arguments. Generally it is wiser to rewrite a failed proposal from scratch and start in a different direction. "

What happens though if you make major changes, but not start entirely from scratch -- you still leave little bits of the original in -- but the changes are nonetheless major, not "small". Furthermore, has there ever been a case where someone has gone against this and a unclear/neutral consensus developed into a clear for/against one? If so, what is it? mike4ty4 (talk) 20:54, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Don't make proposals. ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:36, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Don't make generalizations. :> 1 != 2 15:42, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Noted and improved , edit conflicted with you. :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:43, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
(ec while extending) Don't make proposals. ;-) The proposal pathway is a lie. It is practically impossible to create new policy by making a proposal. However, anytime we edit out the proposal pathway, some people edit war it back in (and nobody else cares because they know better anyway (What? This makes it impossible for newbies to learn? No kidding! :-P )).
If you want to change the way things are done, work out a better way of doing things with your fellow wikipedians, and just do it. If it works well, write an essay about it. (The {{Essay}} template tends to lie about the importance of essays too.) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:36, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, requests for rollback came about through a proposal. Though I do admit it was more a decision than a policy, the policy formed more organically later...(do we even have a policy for that yet?) 1 != 2 15:45, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
IIRC it was implemented by a dev first, which lead to much wikidrama?
And our policy for all pages is Wikipedia:Consensus and etc. For the project namespace, it is assumed you are writing a kind of mini-wikipedia on best practices. Similar rules apply, although some people are recalcitrant. These rules are not enforced atm, except by natural selection. (if you document best practice, it tends to stick). --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:05, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
So then what is the whole point of the "proposal" thing anyway? mike4ty4 (talk) 03:26, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
People inevitably want to propose new rules. Sometimes new rules are actually needed, though most of the time, the proposals take the form of "here's how I think everybody should be behaving on Wikipedia", which is definitely doomed. The failure rate of the "proposal" process is overstated, but it definitely does have a high rate of morbidity.--Father Goose (talk) 05:57, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
Which proposal would you like to see resurrected, anyhow?--Father Goose (talk) 00:49, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Uh, I didn't exactly have one in mind at the moment. It was more of a curiosity question than anything else. mike4ty4 (talk) 03:26, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
Can somebody point to a definition of "Reasonable time" in this context? WP:BI got {{failed}} rather quickly, whaile some of WP:MOSNUM has dragged on for years.LeadSongDog (talk) 18:43, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Deleting an article by REDIRECTING

An article I wrote that recently was selected for DYK has basically been eliminated by just redirecting it to another article. There has been no discussion on this with me from this editor who recently came across a few articles I wrote on ancient Rome. This happens to be an area he writes in. If an article is to be eliminated, shouldn't it go though certain steps instead of just redirecting the title to go to another article? This article is Conscript Fathers. It is well referenced explaining each of the sections of the ancient history. He did not edit the article to make any improvemments, instead just redirected it (deleting the article). Is this correct? --Doug talk 15:51, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

I know this may sound like a radical approach, but have you tried talking to the person that did the edit? 1 != 2 15:59, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
(ec) So revert the redirect. :-) Then discuss. (WP:BRD) --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:01, 2 July 2008 (UTC) Or like Until(1==2) wisely suggests, discuss anyway :-)
The lengthy background to this conflict can be found at Talk:Conscript Fathers.--Father Goose (talk) 21:03, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Both are excellent suggestions, which I have done. I suggested editing the article for improvements, giving me suggestions so that I could edit accordingly, asking for "third party" opinions and even going through the proper procedure of putting the article up for formal deletion - all of which he has chosen to ignore and just redirects the article anyway after my detailed explanation why the article should exist. He will not respond to my detailed answers as to why the article should exist, but instead has determined himself what a Wikipedia reader should see instead. He says what these readers need to see is information on the Roman Senate. He suggested that Information on the term patres conscripti ought to be included in Roman Senate, which I had included into a "hotnote" that directed the reader to "Conscript Fathers" which material has sense been deleted. He will not go through a formal deletion - however chooses to just redirect the article instead to simplify the Wikipedia procedure for himself. He is quite familiar with how to delete an article as in the past this editor has tried to delete several of my articles. I believe it is more a personal thing, rather than the article itself. My details why the article should exist is at "Conscript Fathers" discussion page. Any other ideas? --Doug talk 21:34, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Ask for a third party opinion at WP:3O, if you haven't already. Include a link to Talk:Conscript Fathers so they can familiarize themselves with both sides' views, which are well-documented there.--Father Goose (talk) 01:20, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, did just that. Now will wait to see what "third party" opinions are offered. --Doug talk 13:44, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Corporate vandalism

Individual vandalism is hard enough to deal with; but this is too complicated, difficult, and persistent for conventional handling. I'm persuaded that corporate vandalism can't be addressed by individual editors -- something quite different is required.

The New York Post is owned by News Corporation. Anonymous editors with IP addresses linked to News Corp have systematically added New York Post real estate sales/rental advertising to the plethora of articles which focus on the neighborhoods in New York City's five boroughs. This is a systematic effort -- with reverted vandalism being quickly replaced with links to similar advertising in more recent issues of the newspaper.

What can be done about intractable NewsCorp vandalism? See Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)#NYC -- real estate advertiser? Is there another, more constructive gambit to be tried? --Tenmei (talk) 20:18, 7 July 2008 (UTC)


I have noticed that essays are being linked too often as if they enjoyed the sanction of policy or a guideline. I thus suggest the following wording:

Essays may become guidelines if they can garner widespread community consensus (see WP:CONSENSUS). In practice, however, this very rarely happens. As a result, the positions, arguments, recommendations or other practices urged or advocated in an essay do not have authority. Essays, therefore, should not be linked as if representing an official policy, guideline or similar.

Comments and criticism welcome. whether this wording is acceptable, some change along these lines would be helpful. Eusebeus (talk) 21:17, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

My issue is with "do not have authority." Some positions in essays DO have authority, becasue those essays accurately describe WP practice, and that is what comes first: even WP policies derive from the practices of WP editors, not the other way around. An essay that describes this (which I hesitate to link to) is WP:PPP. I am also not convinced that essays are being linked to too often; are there particlar cases of overlinking you can't point us to, to make convincing your claim that this would be a helpful change? UnitedStatesian (talk) 01:48, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Surely if particular essays do have some level of authority, then there should be consensus to mark them at least as guidelines, to show this? Otherwise readers will have no idea whether a given essay is simply the ramblings of one deranged editor, or an established gem of wisdom like PPP.--Kotniski (talk) 08:36, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with that. Gary King (talk) 08:38, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
  • Also agree. Surely if something enjoys that level of authority, it should be more than essay? Even the current wording of the essay template states a page containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. You may follow it or not, at your discretion. My proposed wording would simply clarify that essays should not be linked to as if carrying the weight of official policy, which I am increasingly seeing in deletion discussions. This change might also help take certain useful essays (like WP:DTTR, WP:PPP and WP:DENY) and push them toward guideline status. Eusebeus (talk) 13:56, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
The two times I've been forced to confront an "essay" or non-official-guidance, the text was used as a cudgel -- as an unwelcome gambit which was intended to thwart my hopes for any additional exchange-of-views. In each instance, the text was not presented as an aid to communication, but rather as a device to stop my insisting on further explanation. In both situations, I would have preferred something in the text which explained that the purpose of the unofficial, "non-guidance" prose was to help clarify and focus further discussion, not to block it. In lieu of an explicit caveat, I'd want language which diminished the presumption of so-called "weight."
If the unofficial, "non-guidance" essay is to be conventionally used as a weapon to eliminate all reasonable burdens of proof and persuasion, then text is a priori unhelpful. This has been my experience. I would hope that this somewhat tangential comment will be seen as suggesting a broader context for the evaluating the topic at hand. The gravamen of concern should focus on how the essays are actually used -- as helpful tools for clarifying communication or as blunt cudgels for thwarting it. --Tenmei (talk) 21:11, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
These are issues we've been trying to address at template:essay, using wording in the template that emphasizes the non-binding nature of essays. Not that guidelines or policies are entirely binding either, given both ignore all rules and consensus can change (formerly known as "no binding decisions"). Trying to cow others through policy-bashing is wrong, and essay bashing is even wronger.--Father Goose (talk) 05:27, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, this is what essays on Wikipedia are used for: hammers. Usually to hit newcomers with. My favorite is: don't template anyone I know and like better than you er, the regulars-used mostly by admins. --Blechnic (talk) 19:44, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
There are a number of essays that do represent consensus (the standard required of guidelines and policies) but aren't "enforced" the way guidelines or policies are, so it's better that they're labeled as (mere) essays instead of something more enforceable. Usually this is because they are documentary in nature. WP:PPP is one such example -- it documents some of Wikipedia's principles and "best practices". Although its advice is important and everyone should follow it, there's little immediate consequence to not following it -- you can either stubbornly or naively ignore most of it, although you'll be barking up the wrong tree. (The parts of it you can get in trouble for ignoring are formally written up as policy, such as WP:BURO.) But the purpose of pages such as PPP is to educate people about Wikipedia, not to coerce them into behaving a certain way. Policies and guidelines serve a very different role: they communicate that there's a standing agreement among Wikipedians that "this specific thing" should generally be done "this specific way". But that still doesn't mean they are inviolable, given WP:IAR, and even when there's a good reason to enforce them, the reason should be given, instead of engaging in policy-bashing.--Father Goose (talk) 05:27, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
So maybe we need a new category, to distinguish these "consensus essays" from other personal-opinion-type essays. Or just get them marked as guidelines, to keep things simpler.--Kotniski (talk) 10:33, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
Why do we need so many rules? There seems to be a real control-freak mentality developing at WP, where any few people can dream up a rule and claim that since no one obejcted there was consensus. --Kevin Murray (talk) 15:06, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

It does say at the beginning of each essay "This is an essay, a page containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. You may follow it or not, at your discretion." I think that covers it. There is no such thing as a special class of essay that has so much following it is enforceable(though some authors may disagree), if that were the case it would become a guideline or policy.

If people link essays in a dispute fine, the message at the top will make it clear it is not a rule. If they claim it is a rule then talk to the user and explain their mistake. If they are doing it on purpose then existing policy regarding disruption is plenty. We don't need a special rule for this. Chillum 15:09, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

I am uninterested in making up new rules, and I don't doubt that my proposed re-wording was less than felicitous, but my intent, rather along the lines of what Father Goose says above, was to put something of the flavour of (the essay) WP:NOTPOLICY into (the official WP description) of WP:ESSAY. Surely no-one disagrees that flinging essay links around as if they represented policy is a good idea; wanton essaylinkmongering is rarely productive. Eusebeus (talk) 19:57, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

If quoting {{essay}} "This is an essay, a page containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. You may follow it or not, at your discretion." doesn't work, will they listen to language here? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:55, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I slightly tweaked Euseebeus's add: the problem is not the link per se, but the implication that the target of the link represents policy or guideline. I also took the "or similar": I have no idea what that means. UnitedStatesian (talk) 20:32, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

I've added text from the essay page to the essay section here. Verbal chat 08:37, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I think this was added with good intent; but, the implication is that all essays remaining in mainspace have consensus, and that is a dangerous assumption. I don't think that this page needs to restate other policy pages, and the essay page where this came from is only an essay itself which implies it lacks consensus. --Kevin Murray (talk) 14:22, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

About importance

Should it be clarified that policies are not necessarily more important than guidelines? It's a horrible misconception which quite a lot of people, including administrators, hold. My proposed wording is below, with annotations in square brackets:

Neither is more "important" than the other; some guidelines [such as BB] are core standards, and some policies [such as the deletion policy] have a limited scope.

Sceptre (talk) 15:49, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Meh. How "important" something is, or even what the word "important" means is highly subjective. All guidelines and policies have limited scope, since WP:IAR is policy. WP:POLICY just ain't broke with regard to this. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:54, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The audience of P and G is editors, not users

The text should change to reflect this. The vast majority of users are not editors but readers.LeadSongDog (talk) 17:57, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

A fair point. I wouldn't object to changing all instances of "user" to "editor" where policy is concerned.--Father Goose (talk) 23:16, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't go changing all instances of "user" to "editor" throughout policy necessarily. Consider wp:civil - An editor may make a wildly uncivil comment on a talk page. Any wikipedian who has not yet edited that page, is a user, sure, and may very well feel discouraged from editing that page at all. It is appropriate that our policies are to protect the best interests of the project and all users. The semantic distinction between editor and user may be a fine one, in the case of particular policies, such as wp:civil. I think user is fine in most places, or best not to change to editor. Second, how come polices are now instructional? /NewbyG (talk) 01:43, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with NG: I think it is important for the policies to be welcoming, and I think the use of "user" makes them more so. Perhaps a policy by policy discussion is appropriate, but don't we have bigger fish to fry than this semantic difference? UnitedStatesian (talk) 01:47, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Proposing guidelines

It would be nice if this page had a short section on the recommended procedure for proposing a guideline. There seem to be a number of "guidelines" whose entire review process was one editor writing the page and slapping the {{guideline}} template on it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:32, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

No kidding. This has been exceptionally problematic for us shepherds of WP:MOS and its many subpages. WikiProjects and sometimes lone individuals keep coming up with "style guidelines" that do not even agree with the basics of MOS at times, and rarely have more buy-in from, or even awareness than that of, a handful of topically-focused editors, who are often pushing a POV on a personal preference because they could not achieve consensus for it at the actual guideline page covering whatever their issue is about. Similar issues have arisen with regard to WP:NC. By contrast, please see WP:FLAG and the process it went through, including full proposal at WP:VPP, and wide-ranging input from the WP-wide editorship at large. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 00:49, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
The lack of broader notice is slightly remedied by VeblenBot's announcements on the policy village pump about new guidelines. VeblenBot will soon start announcing new MoS pages as well. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:34, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
I've drafted something as a start; would you all please review it? We need to strike a reasonable balance between providing a robust process and not wasting people's time with jumping through hoops. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:05, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Please feel free to make changes directly to that proposal. I assume that it would be placed fairly far down on this page, perhaps above #How are policies enforced?. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:00, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
See the WT:BRD and WT:CONSENSUS talk pages and archives; you'll see a lot of hubbub that generally settles down to the proposition that it doesn't work to tell people "you must do X before you can make edit Y", that all you can do is watch and take action if people make the edit. This is the kind of argument that can chew up a lot of time, but don't let me stop you if you want to talk about it and you think you can get significant improvement in how the wiki works. Also, it's not possible to set up a new process that produces the right result when there's no one right result. There is dynamic tension ... much more dynamic tension than is healthy IMO ... around what it means to be a guideline, and especially a style guideline. There are large numbers of people who get good work done every day working on the assumption that 2 or 3 people are enough to get something added to a guideline, and there are larger numbers of people who insist that you need huge participation in the process to arrive at anything that anyone should be expected to follow. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 12:41, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
Hm, and there's another practical side to this. 3 guys get together and try to resolve edit wars within their wikiproject. They do all the right things: they poll everyone, they reduce tensions, they compare with WP style guidelines and with popular style guides. They know that most people don't take the "style guideline" tag too seriously, including lots of people who review at GAN, so they don't see any big harm in slapping a style guideline tag on the page. Then people descend from the heavens and say Thou Shalt Not. This can produce exactly the wrong result ... these guys are our allies, exactly the kind of WPians we want to be supporting. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 13:00, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Needs more. When MedMOS was added as a guideline, it had to post to MOS, Village Pump, and about 20 other Projects, and build consensus before it could be added. As far as I know, we were the only guideline page to have done that; others are just groups of editors putting forward their views and slapping a guideline page on it, and many of the existing guidelines have never been reviewed by anyone but a small group of editors who congregate there. There needs to be a means by which it is shown that new proposed guideline pages aren't redundant or contradictory with other guideline or policy pages before they can be added, and there needs to be some categorization scheme (often redundancies are already covered elsehwere) and a central Project for dealing with contradictions, as well as broad notification across many relevant pages, including MoS, Village Pump, and many WikiProjects. Yesterday, a contradiction at the relatively unknown Wikipedia:Sister projects page was cited as the reason for changing a long-standing (mid-2006) guideline at the oft-cited WP:LAYOUT page, without consensus.[2] LAYOUT has stood since mid-2006 and is frequently cited and quoted at FAC; there has to be a means whereby these obscure contradictions are identified and one group doesn't edit war to change a long-standing page to the little-known version of another page. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Dank55, I understand your concerns. I'm mostly writing this for the sake of people that aren't heavyweights in the policies and guidelines work. They have no clue what might be considered appropriate. Do they just slap a {{guideline}} tag on their small project's list of suggestions? Will someone yell at them if they do that? How could they avoid that? Our allies already have that problem, because we provide no advice on the matter. (I added a link to {[tl|proposed}} in the docs for Template:Guideline last month, but we're really providing no practical information for a person that's trying to do the right thing.) So they go forward as best they can see -- and an editor promptly reverts them because they didn't follow that editor's pet process (which they were supposed to magically know about). I see this as providing information about one acceptable process, and my feeling about it is basically that it's better than nothing (i.e., what we have now). If it's not followed and we get a good outcome anyway, then I'm a happy camper. Process is subservient to product.
Sandy, I don't think we're going to solve all the problems at this time. I think this moves us one small step in the right direction -- but only one step. Perhaps, though, if people get used to the idea that something more than slapping a guidelines template on a page is considered normal, then there will (over time) be more scrutiny and fewer problems. I hope that the process will be refined over time, and I'd love to see MOSCO and related projects taking off. Perhaps making proposals more visible will help with that.
I've made a few changes today, specifically to address the redundancy-and-contradiction issue. Changes by another editor also addressed those concerns and made RFCpolicy non-optional. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:21, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Since style guidelines have become factionalized to some extent, whatever process is chosen here for new style guidelines should also be applied to current guidelines, otherwise it has the flavor of "this guideline is good because we say so; you have to work for yours". I'd recommend starting by asking privately among people who hang out at GAN and various wikiprojects if they feel that some style guidelines are more important than others. My main concern is the last thing I mentioned; if over time, it becomes hard for any reason to elevate a new page to "style guideline", then all that means is there has to be some other cat that is performing the function that "style guideline" is performing now. BeBestBe added a subcat to the style guidelines called "wikiproject style guidelines" or something, and it already has 82 pages in it. (Subcats of guidelines are in general not guidelines, so it's got the wrong name.) - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 12:42, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
See also the parallel thread at WT:WPMOS. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 14:01, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Dank55, I don't intend for this process to be specific to style guidelines. And in theory I'd be happy to see most policies and guidelines "re-confirmed", but I think that the overhead is too high. We don't need to have 200+ RFCs running; it will just irritate people. Perhaps I'll add a section on disputing a policy or guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:47, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia's adult content

Wikipedia should take off all sexually charged content and articles from the site. I am eleven years old and stumbled across obscene pictures completely unsuitable for anyone under age 18. It's really revolting how a good website like this has to put up pornography. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bonne Nuit Bijou (talkcontribs) 23:20, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry that you were distressed. As a matter of policy, Wikipedia is not censored. There is no feasible system for determining which readers are adults and which are not, and it is not reasonable to bowdlerize information that seems important to many readers to avoid offending other readers. Additionally, every page links to a clear, simple explanation that Wikipedia contains spoilers and information that you find objectionable. It is reasonable to believe that warning. Finally, any open wiki, including Wikipedia, may be vandalized. If you're the first person to see the page after a vandal deliberately destroyed it, then you may find particularly inappropriate material.
If you find this to be too significant a risk, then your best option is to quit reading Wikipedia until you and your parents decide that you are mature enough to not be distressed by encyclopedic information about sex (assuming, of course, that you're actually an eleven year old; like I said, we have no way of proving or disproving your assertion). WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:31, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Bonne Nuit Bijou that too much of our content is unnecessarily repugnant and revolting, and that some policy adjustments are needed. In its current state, I recommend that schools should keep Wikipedia behind their firewalls, as they do all other porn sites. It may be tilting at windmills to hope this will ever change on Wikipedia, but tilt we should, IMO. I wouldn't allow twelve-yos to access Wikipedia, and yet the number of 12-yo editors we have is only growing. We can't control who accesses Wiki (except to the extent that communities demand that their schools place Wiki behind a firewall), but we can try to change our policies so that less revolting content is included. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:45, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
Repugnant and revolting to whom? Do you suppose we should remove the images of Muhammad as well? Those are revolting to about 1.5 billion people, but who cares about them anyway, right? (talk) 12:00, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Ok, Wikipedia may have disclaimers and such but in many communities it is illegal for a minor to view pornography or to provide porographic materials to a minor, which is certainly what wikipedia is doing. Wikipedia really isn't as great as I first thought. Bonne Nuit Bijou (talk) 22:13, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

There should not be any pornographic materials anywhere on Wikipedia. Pornography is not the same thing as "sexually charged content", which is what your original complaint addressed. If there is something specific that you want to have reviewed, you can leave a note on my talk page.
You might also like to read Wikipedia:Options to not see an image. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:33, 27 September 2008 (UTC)


I've added a section about disputed tags and their proper use, since I can't find that anywhere else in policy. Improvements welcome.--Kotniski (talk) 08:36, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I see it's just been reverted, so explanations welcome as to what might be wrong with it.--Kotniski (talk) 13:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't know why it was deleted, beyond the fact that it wasn't discussed in advance. It doesn't exactly seem controversial. However, I've used it to expand a proposal for promoting and demoting guidelines; would you take a look and let me know what you think? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Sure, I've already contributed to that page and I think it's a good idea. It could perhaps also include something about making changes to existing policies and guidelines. Bouts of edit warring seem to break out quite frequently on these pages (and disputed tags appear at the whim of single editors, which is what my addition here was about), so it would be good to lay down a certain amount of guidance about that.--Kotniski (talk) 20:37, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

NG added a similar footnote today, but I don't see this having broad enough support or enough discussion to warrant a change to a policy page. If this is an issue important enough to add to a policy page, then we need to attract broad participation -- pump RFC etc. Sorry! --Kevin Murray (talk) 23:37, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

This should be common sense. A number of editors keep proving that wrong, and get in trouble. So, it is friendly to warn them of advance. Current practice? I would advise against such behaviour, and most experienced editors would. /NewbyG (talk) 00:19, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
If it is common sense, then why do we need to clutter this policy with it? If we need a policy on when and how to use tags then that should be a separate issue -- it has nothing to do with this page. --Kevin Murray (talk) 06:23, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
It should be common sense, but for some it apparently isn't. It certainly isn't a separate issue - this is the policy page about policy pages, and the issue relates to policy pages, so this is the right page for the issue to be dealt with on.--Kotniski (talk) 11:01, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not clear to me what the point of the footnote was. That you should first make sure that any policy you're enforcing isn't disputed? That you should promptly dispute any policy you don't want to comply with? NG, if you're having actual problems somewhere, please provide links to the discussion. Otherwise, I think this was premature and can wait for developments on the larger proposal. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:50, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Unless I read it wrongly, the point was rather that you shouldn't do either of the things you suggest. The reason I inserted the text originally was a number of recent discussions at MOSNUM (and possibly elsewhere, I don't remember) where people simply stuck a "disputed" tag on top of a section they personally disagreed with and planned to raise at talk. It seems to me this tag should only be on an established policy if there is real evidence that consensus may be about to change. Otherwise pretty well every policy section could end up with a disputed tag on it. But it's not a huge problem, so I'm happy to wait to see what happens on the larger proposal.--Kotniski (talk) 20:17, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

The proposal

Hoping that WhatamIdoing will approve, I've copied her proposal (referred to above) to a more convenient location for discussion. It is now at WP:Policy/Procedure. Please comment on this proposal to add to this page a section on how to propose new and amended policy and guidelines.--Kotniski (talk) 10:08, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

I have no objection to the move. It will be nice to have my sandbox available for other uses again. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:42, 17 September 2008 (UTC) (who is female, by the way)
Considering we're still discussing this at MOSCO, is this move premature? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:38, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Quite the reverse, as explained over there.--Kotniski (talk) 16:55, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

WP:CIV re-write September 2008

Bold Revert DISCUSS Further Discussion --NewbyG (talk) 23:04, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

change to policy

"This page documents an official English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should try to follow."

This should be changed to:

"This page documents an official English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors must follow."

We have policies and guidelines. Guidelines we encourage. Policies are things that we must require. These should not be optional. The existing policies are logical. If there is an exception, then the IAR policy could be followed. However, we mustn't say "copyright violations are a policy but we can cheat if we want to because we must 'try' to follow policy but aren't required to do so".

This proposed change is already what every reasonable person follows, i.e. policies are to be followed, guidelines are advice. Chergles (talk) 23:12, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Addendum: This was discussed in 2005 but only 1-2 people commented. It was discussed in April 2008 with many replies but suddenly comments ended. Will examine the April 2008 discussion and report here. Chergles (talk) 23:18, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

I have changed it to "should normally be followed by all editors". This strengthens the language while still being consistent with WP:IAR, and could not reasonably be construed to ever permit a copyright violation, for example. PSWG1920 (talk) 00:36, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
An improvement but can be improved a bit more. "should" and "normally" are two words that weaken policy and take "teeth" out of it. Let's just use one permissive word so it would be "must normally be followed..." The "normally" gives room for judgment and exception. Chergles (talk) 15:38, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
"Must normally" seems like a contradiction. The "teeth" can be and are in the wording of policies themselves. PSWG1920 (talk) 17:03, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Also, there's still no clear difference between a policy and a guideline. See WP:POINT: a guideline which can get you blocked or banned outright, vs for instance Wikipedia:Naming conventions, a policy which (while leading to huge edit wars) never actually gets anyone directly banned (though you might get de-adminned for wheel-warring over it, for instance :-P )

People first saw the tags, and then started imagining there might be a reason for them, it's quite silly, really. User:Radiant has some things to answer for :-P.

You are not required to follow any policy, guideline, or essay; though you are advised to take heed of what they say. Like any wiki-page, they may be outdated and/or their quality may vary. Read them critically, and if you spot errors, correct them.

--Kim Bruning (talk) 02:59, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

In my mind, the difference is or should be that a clear-cut breach of policy will rarely be a real improvement to the encyclopedic quality of an article, whereas that will be somewhat more common with a guideline, and an essay is of undetermined value in that regard. PSWG1920 (talk) 07:45, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
For me the distinction always seems quite unnecessary and gives rise to pointless arguments like this one. What's set in stone is what's laid down by our Founder, the Foundation and the law. Other than that we have rules which are more or less adhered to. Any given "policy" or "guideline" page is likely to contain a mixture of rules that are respected and enforced to different degrees. To divide such pages into these two apparently distinct categories creates a false dichotomy.--Kotniski (talk) 09:38, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

read only pages

According to which wikipedia policies pages can only be viewed and not allowed any one to edit. I have seen many pages on are locked for other editors. Is it as per policy? or it is a mistake that marathi wikipedia "owner" are making? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Layzyak (talkcontribs) 17:16, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

For the policies on English Wikipedia, see WP:PROTECTION. Protection is used quite often in special cases, but the vast majority of pages remain unprotected. I don't know what the situation on mr.wp is or what the policies are there.--Kotniski (talk) 18:14, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Proposal process

The discussion involving Wikipedia:Policy/Procedure is more than a month old, and it was widely announced according to the procedure it suggests. Some improvements were proposed and made; no significant objections have appeared. I have therefore moved the recommended proposal process into the policy page. I doubt that anyone will really object to a recommended process -- editors can still WP:IAR -- but if someone does, then I ask everyone to please take its advice about the evils of policy-page edit warring to heart. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:53, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

GA Delisting Guidelines

I would like to add the GA Delisting Guidelines to the Wikipedia Guidelines, I was suprised to find they are not there already. Would somebody be good enough to explain the best way to go about this? Thanks,--ZincBelief (talk) 00:11, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines#Proposing_guidelines_and_policies, and I'd expect you to have an easy time getting consensus for that. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:06, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Well I bet getting any consensus will be difficult actually. Thanks for the info though.--ZincBelief (talk) 10:29, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Need for a Guideline for Maps

Maps are a very important issue. They constitute important information on Wikipedia. I therefore strongly feel that Maps should have their own special guidelines for wikipedia. I have issues and have noticed that there are many "bogus" maps on wikipedia, that are far from being academic and that really have no place in wikipedia or any encyclopedia. Therefore I feel that we need some general rules regarding guidelines, in order to promote better cartography and quality here. Just one example, I have noticed some user literally making their map on wikipedia, and uploading new versions of it. I find this to be very troubling because even today most of the map is blank and listed with unknown data. We need to eliminate this problem for people to use wikipedia as their own little map making place. As all professional articles and things say, mapping is first private and then public. The public image should be the final image in the phase of cartography. Therefore this must be central to the map making process. If some bogus map gets updating so many times and is far from being the final product of the map, then it certainly has no place on wikipedia in my opinion. This is a case in point - Please lets get on some guidelines for mapping as soon as possible. (LAz17 (talk) 19:45, 9 November 2008 (UTC)).

There's a process outlined in this document for getting approval of a guideline once you've written one, but the initial writing itself is something you pretty much have to do yourself. Why don't you take your idea to Wikipedia:WikiProject Geography and/or Wikipedia:WikiProject Maps and see both what exists and what they think? Perhaps you could collaborate on a proposal to present to the community. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:07, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Recent changes re changes

Ever a lover of self-referential situations, I have made some changes to the policy regarding changes to policy. I have tried to deal with the issue of disputed/underdiscussion tags, and hopefully have succeeded in differentiating two different situations - where someone is proposing a change, and where someone is actually disputing the consensus-ness of the existing version. I would like some more input over this though, particularly since I've been involved in disputes over such tags recently, and I wouldn't want to be accused of offending against the very section I've just edited by "gaming the system".--Kotniski (talk) 18:49, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

(This is my input, which may be only partly relevant.)
Just as, in many aspects of the physical universe (including biological phenomena) and in many fields of human inquiry, there is dynamic tension between order and chaos, and between rigidity and flexibility, so also I envisage the same to exist in the fields of designing policies, guidelines, and style guides. Therefore, I find it to be desirable that there be at least some clarification if not absolute definition regarding what things are fixed and what things are changeable, or to what degrees and in what ways they are such; and, also, some clarification or definition stating what are the minimum requirements (if there are any) for changeable features to be changed.
-- Wavelength (talk) 21:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
I think we would possibly all agree with that, but to try and pin it down to something concrete, do you think the current wording of this page achieves these noble aims to any significant degree, and how specifically could it do it better?--Kotniski (talk) 22:23, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Kotniski—your changes look good. Tony (talk) 12:53, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Enforcement policy

Does anyone mind if I add the enforcement policy cat? 4 reasons: 1. It's never been terribly important which policy cats policy pages are in; many of them are in multiple cats. 2. There's a section here called WP:Policy#How are policies enforced?. 3. I'd like to add WP:CONSENSUS and this page to the pages updated monthly at WP:Update, and enforcement is the only cat that WP:CONSENSUS is in (other than the 2 generic policy cats). 4. There's a possibility of throwing in WP:BLOCK and WP:PROTECTION in the future. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 17:33, 7 January 2009 (UTC)


I boldly added

Policy and guideline pages represent advice to editors, rather than verifiable facts. Any changes to these pages need to reflect a consensus among editors, rather than the advice of non-Wikipedia "reliable sources".

because it has come up repeatedly. This week, we have a newbie editor (with an axe to grind about Physician assistants) insisting that WP:RS cite reliable sources. A couple of months ago, it was an editor with an anti-psychiatry POV insisting that WP:MEDRS "prove", with independent, third-party, reliable sources, the fact that Wikipedia editors advised the use of proper scientific and medical sources for scientific and medical facts (in this case, as opposed to poor quality websites and self-published books). There are no independent, third-party, reliable sources that tell you what your fellow editors advise, and it should be perfectly obvious to every editor that WP:RS does not have to cite RS's for its advice. My goal is to formalize that, so that, in another month or two, when another person makes the same mistake, we have something concrete that we can point at, instead of re-arguing the same point. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:31, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, I too would have thought it too obvious to be worth mentioning, but if it does come up repeatedly in practice, then good to have it documented so we can point people to it.--Kotniski (talk) 06:55, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Massive revision

This single edit, from October, made a massive revision and change of this policy. Where was it discussed? It refers to an unspecified RfC; but I do not see any trace of it here. This page is the only trace of discussion of this I can find; are half a dozen editors sufficient to change our entire policy on such matters? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:35, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

This seems to have violated its own ruling: Major changes should also be publicized to the community in general; announcements similar to the proposal process may be appropriate. I therefore mark the relevant section with {{disputedtag}} as it recommends for such cases. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:45, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

The procedures seem reasonable enough; although I wonder how they are working. The templates don't seem to be on many pages, and that's not because they're being removed; some of the transclusions are on pages long gone {{historic}}. We have had a large number of methods which were supposed to bring on general discussion, and only watchlist notification has worked

I have, in tagging, emended a careless contradiction of the fundamental principle of this page: Policies and guidelines express standards that have community consensus. That's have consensus; not had consensus two years ago. Guidelines which prove no longer to have consensus should be emended to seek a broader consensus, or removed.

This sentence is particularly objectionable: It is unlikely to be appropriate to place a {{disputedtag}} on a long-established page or section, since silence is considered to indicate consensus, whatever procedures may have been followed when the original change was made. This is contrary to the long-established policy WP:CCC, since this implies that the consensus once formed, must hold until a much larger consensus is formed against it; that it can never fail to be consensus until then. I have therefore removed it.

The stability of major policies and guidelines is important to editors involved in the Wikipedia:Featured articles process and other areas of editing. Edit warring is particularly deprecated in this area.

The first sentence is vacuous. Every editor is involved in FA or other areas of editing. (It may be true that FA regulars demand more stasis than actual consensus will support, but so what? Why should we support a minority against consensus? and it would in any case be all the better for evidence.) What, if anything, is the meaning of the second sentence? What is this area? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:04, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

These changes were publicized in advance; while they were a proposal I was continually mentioning them (formally and informally) at village pump and in other discussions where they seemed relevant (and the proposer was also making efforts to publicize them - I don't recall exactly where). It didn't get much response, but what reaction there was was positive, and no-one objected to them either before or after they were made, so we are to assume that the community considered them sensible (of course they can still be modified). Sorry, not sure if that applies to the particular changes you're disputing.
What I was trying to achieve with the sentence about "silence" is that people shouldn't slap "disputed" tags on long-established statements; we don't want disruptive characters going around slapping these tags (which like it or not do have the effect of weakening the associated section) on anything they or a few others disagree with. Anyone can claim (and argue for ages, as we've seen) that something "doesn't have consensus" - and it's quite pointless to have a spiral situation where the same people who are arguing the point then start arguing about what consensus is (and potentially on what the consensus is about the consensus and so on). So the main point of the changes is that difficult judgements on what is consensus are to be made by uninvolved parties. But once consensus is established, it must be assumed by default to remain until appropriate uninvolved parties judge it to be otherwise. The basic idea is that interested parties argue the point on its merits, then disinterested parties will be able to work out what consensus is. --Kotniski (talk) 07:31, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
It depends. A statement which is consensus should be able to demonstrate that consensus easily, because most Wikipedians will agree with it if asked . For example, every time a Ukrainian nationalist asks to move Kiev to the official Kyiv, we get the result seen repeatedly at Talk:Kiev/naming, and so on with other cases. That's why WP:NC (geographic names) endorses the use of commonly used names over official ones.
All too many contested statements (especially in MOS) are things which two or three editors have come up with and want to impose on Wikipedia as a whole, although a comparable number of editors disagree when it is presented. Allowing them to remain by default makes nonsense of our claim that they are consensus: our meaning of consensus is funky, but not so funky that "three people agreed on this two years ago, and the present discussion is 6-6" constitutes consensus.
The assumption, too widely made, that every little rule on a MOS page has been reviewed, and silently approved, by editors who have visited that page for something else is manifestly unsound. Especially for the pages with section redirects, there's no reason to suppose that they've even seen the rule in question while consulting the page for something else (in my case, often something as simple as checking the page history, or going to the talk page; it's easy to type WP for WT, and some talk-page redirects don't exist yet).
What we should do is adapt the idea of WP:NPOV: when editors disagree on something, state that there is a disagreement. Don't leave it as a mystery only to be found on talk pages. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:33, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Hi, I'm popping in per a request by Pmanderson/Septentrionalis, to give an uninvolved opinion here, as I've done a fair bit of guideline/policy updates myself. In my experience, it is often a matter of judgment as to which changes can go in directly, and which require announcement on the talkpage first. Not all changes have to be pre-announced, though if a change is disputed, it should be reverted or tagged immediately and taken to the talkpage. "Silence" as a concept to indicate consensus only works if it's clear that any potentially dissenting editors were aware of the change, and simply chose not to say anything. If the silence, on the other hand, was a case of the dissenting editors being oblivious about the change, then I wouldn't say that that's a good indicator of consensus. As for the October change, the edit summary says that there was an RfC, but it's not clear which RfC. One possible way of handling this would be move the information off to a separate essay page (which is tagged as an essay), and then link to it from here, perhaps WP:SUMMARY-style. That way the information is still available, but doesn't necessarily have the weight of policy behind it, and it's clear that it's "one editor's opinion" rather than something with broad community consensus. --Elonka 18:09, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
This paragraph and several of those surrounding it are a cut-and-paste from Wikipedia:Policy/Procedure, which could become the essay. Much of this, and much of such discussion as there was, deals with the existence of the tags, and a recommendation to use them, both of which seem to me good things which could stay. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
If I understand what you're saying, Sept, then WP:Consensus, WP:Policy and practice have never supported a "disputed" tag as a way of saying "we haven't reached consensus"; try adding a "disputed" tag to some policy page that's read (and disputed) often, such as WP:V, WP:OR or WP:NPOV, and see how fast it gets reverted. It's widely believed that what's on policy pages is policy, whether it's new or not and whether someone disputes it or not, so it's best to get a quick resolution. If we can't reach consensus to change, then the policy remains unchanged, without a "disputed" tag.
Over the course of 2008, there was a small but significant trend to be less patient with BOLDness, in limited cases; our job here is probably to figure out what those limited cases are. As I mentioned on January 4 at WP:PERFECT#Accessibility + HTML standards, Grutness changed BOLD in June so that it didn't apply to other people jumping into Wikiprojects and boldly changing their stuff around, and Geni extended that logic in July to policy pages; I don't have any strong feeling about that, but the logic makes a certain sense; both mature wikiprojects and mature policy pages are likely to benefit from intelligent discussion that leads to change, but unlikely to benefit from random Darwinian mutation, in the way they sometimes did in the early years. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 18:22, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
WP:V may well come closest to the assumption that silence implies consent, and therefore the present text, whatever it may be, is likely to be consensus. But that is not a typical guideline, to which this language would apply; we shouldn't use it as an example for one-size-fits-all text. Consider WP:MOSNUM; how often are most of its sentences looked at by anybody (excluding the ones on the autoformatting war)? and right now they're stable because the page has been protected for six weeks. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:08, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

(undent) You know, Septentrionalis, at the moment I'm wondering whether you're willing to assume I'm not a liar, which I see as a necessary precondition for assuming good faith. This "massive change" was discussed right here. May I introduce you to the archives of this very page? See, for example, here, here, here, here, and here. See also proof that a 30-day policy RFC was listed, more discussions, and comments being solicited at the Village Pump and also at the most closely associated WikiProject.

Dear me, and I phrased my question so carefully. The absence of trace on this page is explained; archive 8 is still being collected, and the date on it was wrong. Thank you. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:29, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

So, yes, I think that we adequately advertised the original proposal (the particular section you dispute has been edited several times since then), and if you personally didn't happen to notice any of these announcements, then that's hardly the fault of anyone of the dozen or so editors that were involved in developing it or commenting on it. I frankly can't think of any other ways to have advertised it without resorting to widespread WP:CANVASSing.

As for its utility: not only was this suggested process written partly out of my own desire to have a list of places that new guidelines could be advertised as a result of the promotion of WP:MEDRS to guideline status, but it seems to have been useful to other people who were looking for the same information (see, for example, this request). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:09, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

I concur that the templates and proceedures are useful; it would be better for Wikipedia if they were more widely used. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:29, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
After looking at WhatamIdoing's helpful links, the only additional discussion I see right off about the parts of this text that concern me is this contribution from Dank55, who observed that telling people that they must edit X before they edit Y usually doesn't work. This echoes my own concerns, and unless there is dissent now, I propose to tone down those passages accordingly. We should recommend discussion before change in policy pages, but I see no consensus for overruling WP:BRD. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:41, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
BRD is an essay; it can't "overrule" policy. Also, it's an essay that relies on the guideline WP:BOLD, which was changed in June and July to exempt wikiproject pages and policy pages from its exhortation to boldness. However, I do agree that "anyone can edit any page" is so ingrained in Wikipedians that we'll have to tweak the October changes. Instead of saying that people aren't allowed to edit policy in certain cases, we could say that other people are free to revert the changes unless consensus for the changes have been established, and if an edit war ensues, the page can be protected in the pre-existing form for a short time while consensus is hammered out. I don't know how else we could interpret this summer's change to BOLD, or the constant practice on the 7 content policy pages of insisting on quick reversions of unproven ideas. I also don't see evidence that the previous rule can work any more; I wasn't aware of the October change, but some kind of change like that is necessary now, because it's much harder these days to rouse people to participate on most policy pages. The previous understanding, more or less, was that if you jumped in and reverted a change to long-standing policy, the burden was on you to show, not just that the previous editor didn't have consensus, but that your reversion did have consensus; automatic reversions could easily land you at WP:3RR. It's impossible to meet that burden if you can't get a lot of knowledgeable people to participate, and that's hard, these days. (Btw, I think this is entirely healthy; a lot more editors care a lot more about article quality and a lot less about policy. But it does make policy discussions difficult.) - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 03:20, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
But the old rule is the right rule. The change to WP:BOLD was a bad idea; if Projects have active members who support the present text, they can revert for discussion per BRD; if they don't, they ought to be revised by anyone who cares; and policy pages especially should reflect only principles which have broad consensus; if they're getting into detail, the excess should be a guideline. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:35, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I meant WP:BOLD; I thank Dan for the distinction. But I think what has happened on most WP-space pages is that each has each acquired its own little in-crowd, who wants to write the law for Wikipedia. Few of these more obscure pages reflect any broader consensus, but their WP:OWNers cite them as Holy Writ, and insist that the present wording cannot be altered unless three or five times their number can be moved (at the same time) to !vote against them. The present text here encourages this sort of behaviour, and the resulting disruption. A few more tweaks here should solve this problem; possibly as little as removing the two purple patches now tagged. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

I removed

Overuse of these tags, particularly {{disputedtag}}, is considered disruptive. They may not be used as badges of shame or expressions of personal dislike, and they should be removed when active discussion ends or when it appears unlikely that any substantial change will be accepted.
The stability of major policies and guidelines is important to editors involved in the Wikipedia:Featured articles process and other areas of editing. Edit warring is particularly deprecated in this area.

and replaced the first sentence with advice not to, although it strikes me as redundant. (Overuse almost has to be disruptive; that's why it's overuse.) If anybody supports this material, please say so, and we can work it out. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:46, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't actually oppose the changes, but FA is mentioned because the FAC people have complained repeatedly about this problem. They point an editor at some part of MOS, the editor conforms the article to a recently edited version of MOS, and then the FAC people say, "Why did you do this? This is idiotic. MOS doesn't say anything like that... Oh, I guess it did, for 27 minutes two days ago, which must have been when you looked at it." WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:48, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Let us think about what to say here. My sympathy for FAC and its enforcement of MOS is limited in any case, and I don't think this page should unconditionally endorse the needs of a minority. But the removed text as written didn't actually say anything, so I hold we are better off for now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:35, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
The proper fix here is for WP:WIAFA to endorse which recommendations of MOS it is willing to enforce, instead of blanket enforcement of all of them, whatever they may happen to be at the moment; but that is too much to hope for. Punctuation-chasing is so much easier than correcting English prose or verifying references that "reviewers" will always volunteer in droves for the former; this is why so many FAs are godawful.
Proposed meaningful text? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:03, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm happy with the wording as it is now. Instability may be a problem for FAC, but it's a problem for many other people too, so I don't see a need to single out a particular group for mention.--Kotniski (talk) 19:13, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Like I said: I don't actually oppose the changes. I'm just providing the background story. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:56, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Vague plan

I have this idea in my head to develop this page (possibly with mergers with other pages) into a kind of "!constitution" where the fundamental principles of Wikipedia !rule-making/decision-making/dispute-resolution are set out clearly and rationally in a way that the editing community can accept and new editors can easily understand. It would probably begin with a statement of IAR, then describe the powers of Jimbo and the foundation, then talk about written policies and guidelines and rules about changing them [like this page does now], then go on to talk about how disagreements between editors are resolved based partly on these policies and partly on accepted practice and local consensus and..... Obviously this would only make sense if there were wide and good-faithed community participation in drawing it up; and that process would no doubt itself spawn proposals to improve the way we do things. I would rename the page to something like WP:Rulebook, serving as a kind of way in to the topic (with plenty of onward links). It would hopefully be a page that everyone would know about and keep an eye on, unlike this current page which tends to be largely ignored. What do people think - worth pursuing, or a waste of time?--Kotniski (talk) 09:02, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Couldn't you get what you're looking for by linking to IAR at the right place in the "narrative" on this page, rather than trying to have this page preempt IAR? Either way could work, but it's more wiki-like to respect current page names and functions. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 14:29, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, could do, but that's a detail; inclusion of IAR on this page isn't really the main point of my idea. The aim is to expand the page to deal with the whole issue of rules and decision-making, rather than just the present focus on policy and guideline pages. Both to give a fuller picture to new editors, and to attract more experienced editors to participate in hammering things out.--Kotniski (talk) 16:17, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
I would be interested in seeing a draft (at least an outline). But my instinctive reaction is that the last thing we need is a !constitution to Wikilawyer with; you may want to call it something else. See French Constitution of 1791 for dreadful precedent. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:23, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Constitution is just a metaphor (rulebook would be my working title). But not all Constitutions have been so disastrous...--Kotniski (talk) 20:06, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
"Constitution" is probably a bad word to describe this proposal. As a general word, it's great: a "constitution" establishes a number of principles and precedents upon which some organization, e.g. a government, can be, well, governed. As a specific word, "constitution" is bad. People, particularly Americans, understand "constitution" to be a legal document, and, at least in my opinion, this would be extremely misleading on Wikipedia. We're not based on laws, and I think that you (Kotniski) understand that, or at least I intuit that from your mentioning IAR as the first principle.
I applaud the central idea: our policies really should have rational bases, and a good primer on policy would be an excellent addition if written well. Since the key here is how it's written, why not start a draft? Unless you're proposing that we also rewrite a lot of rules in the process, this seems like a relatively harmless thing to start working on and solicit feedback—shove it through the essay→policy process. :) {{Nihiltres|talk|log}} 21:44, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Maybe I will, though I'd like to get at least a few interested people to work on it together (some kind of ad hoc WikiProject maybe). ("Constitution" was always a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is why I preceded it by the !, as in !vote. Use of the term might get people to sit up and take an interest, though.)--Kotniski (talk) 23:06, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Seems as good a place as any to bring up an idea I've remembered I had ages ago and forgot about: suggest giving policies version numbers (software style, indicating how big the changes are), and requiring non-trivial changes (spelling, formatting, etc) to be discussed first, and if accepted to lead to an appropriate change in version number. Bring some stability, and making referencing easier. Any takers to run with the idea? Rd232 talk 22:04, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

It's hardly a draft yet, but I've started making a few notes at User:Kotniski/rulebook, if anyone's interested (feel free to edit).--Kotniski (talk) 11:48, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Is there a place to ask about mainspacing an essay in the userspace?

I ask because I've written an essay, here that I think is reasonably well-written and likely represents a viewpoint that has broad currency. No doubt there are people who disagree with it, but that's why it's just an essay and is not (and will never be) a guideline or policy. I'd plan on calling it Wikipedia:Beef up that first revision, perhaps with a shortcut at WP:BEEF.

I'd like to put it out there and link to it from essays with similar points, such as the ones I've put in the "see also" section of my draft. Anyway, take a look at it, and tell me anything that might be helpful. Thanks. Don't fall asleep zzzzzz 05:12, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

(oh, and, by the way, I'm only here because I tried WP:ESSAYS and this is the page it took me to) Don't fall asleep zzzzzz 05:12, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Essays are boldly created. You just click the 'move' tab at the top of your page to move it into the Wikipedia namespace, and slap an essay template on it (which you've already done). WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:51, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Oh, ok, cool. I remember reading somewhere (though just now, I can't remember where) that articles in the Wikipedia namespace should have a certain amount of support behind them. Thank you. Don't fall asleep zzzzzz 04:45, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
For everything except essays, sure. Fair warning: if there's actual opposition, then it will be put up for deletion at MfD, or a consensus will develop on its talk page that it should be moved back to your userspace. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:32, 20 January 2009 (UTC)


There are objections at WP:TfD to the {{demote}} template and the use of the term "demotion" to imply a policy/guideline/essay "hierarchy". To meet these objections, I've reworded the section to avoid the word demotion, and added a new parameter value to {{underdiscussion}} so that {{demote}} is no longer needed. Anyone wishing to retain {{demote}} had better get over to TfD and say so. I don't agree with the view expressed in that discussion, however, that {{disputedtag}} is generally the proper equivalent for {{demote}} - the distinction between underdiscussion and disputedtag seems a valuable one that we should be encouraging people to make, and the distinction is just as valid for proposed demotions (to use the popular terminology) as elsewhere.--Kotniski (talk) 10:52, 29 January 2009 (UTC)


I think the following text, or something similar, from WP:ESSAYS, should be added to the essay section, and then that essay, which is currently referenced from here and therfore given extra weight, can simply be a redirect here:

"Essays that are in the Wikipedia project space (prefixed by "Wikipedia:" or "WP:") should ideally represent a consensus amongst the broad community of Wikipedia editors. Those that reflect the beliefs of a limited number of editors should be edited to present a view more representative of the community. Poor candidates for broadening should be userified — relocated to a subpage of the user that authored them. Such "user essays" are categorized into Category:User essays."

Perhaps "should be userified" can be changed to could, as one small change. Thanks. Verbal chat 15:35, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Changes at WP:Consensus

WP:CONSENSUS is being re-written in a way that I think elevates it inappropriately above all other policies. It now contains language like "It is often sufficient to simply treat the policy pages as a guide, and to simply act within the spirit of wikipedia]] (Ignore all rules)" and "take them with a grain of salt". If you're interested in the relationship between policies, please consider adding your voice. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:33, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

That sounds right to me. Policy is here to guide us, not to dominate us. It is meant to describe our best practices, not dictate them. Chillum 04:19, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
So you think that it's good for people to "often" ignore policies like WP:BLP and WP:V, so long as no experienced/non-POV-pushing editor happened to object to things like slander and wildly inaccurate, unsourced information being added to an article? I rather thought that we had more policies than solely WP:Consensus for a reason, but if consensus is all that really matters, then I suppose that's okay. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:52, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
How is routinly ignoring WP:V adhering to the spirit of wikipedia? Taemyr (talk) 11:57, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Incorrect case

Our list of policies are considered a standard that all editors should follow, whereas our guidelines are more advisory in nature, and our processes are routine methods to serve the above policies and guidelines.

The above sentence should read: Our list of policies IS considered ...

'of policies' is a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun LIST, which is singular.

Jsp314159 (talk) 16:10, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

More distinctive header templates for policy/guidelines/essays?

The problem is that essays have a similar black outlined white box to policies and guidelines, and I only noticed now they have different graphics. So it is easy in reading too quickly to overlook that something is just an essay, and that have some admin stomp all over you later in some editing dispute for your error. Any way to change that template or whatever?? Maybe make policy yellow, guideline pink, essay white?? CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:35, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

Bringing this to actual templates as proposals :-) CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:00, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
[Please see Template talk:Policy#Let's make the box yellow for the discussion.]

Policies and guidelines: not above each other

Can we work towards reducing this misconception? The only difference, really, is the colour of the tick. Basically: policies instruct, guidelines advise. Guidelines shouldn't be ignored or dismissed just because the tick isn't green (you'd never think of ignoring RS because it isn't a policy, for example). Sceptre (talk) 17:32, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

You might start by reminding your admins since it was an admin who several times has given me a hard time for quoting guidelines as if they were as important as policies (mostly cause I didn't notice/understand the difference). They should point out differences in a nice way, not say it in a manner that makes one think one is about to be sanctioned for misrepresenting wikipedia policies! CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:38, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Said admin needs re-education, then. It's one of the widest misconceptions on Wikipedia I know, just below that of a warning by someone you don't like being harassment on the scale of a concerted sexual stalking campaign. (seriously) Sceptre (talk) 17:42, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree that guidelines should not be ignored simply because they're "not policy". However, I object to any characterization of guidelines being "on the same level" as policies; if a policy and a guideline conflict, then the policy should take precedence, and the guideline altered to conform to the policy. Guidelines in large part exist to help users understand the best ways to conform with policies, and to explain the community norms that exist. Guidelines CAN be ignored on occasion (see WP:IAR), but you are correct that they should not be disregarded; any deviation from a guideline should have a darn good justification.--Aervanath (talk) 06:57, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

You're all correct in what you're saying here*, but I think it's like preaching to the choir. I think what we need to be asking is: How do we better educate our editors, new and experienced alike? There is a fundamental, albeit subtle, difference to the comparison of "Policy" and "Guideline"; but not all editors understand that difference. How do we clue them in, without biting?
  • @Carolmooredc: I rather think of it as "our admins" myself.

I don't have an answer, I wish I did. Suggestions? — Ched :  ?  19:50, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

How's this?--Aervanath (talk) 02:47, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Huge improvement, I think. ;) — Ched :  ?  03:06, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Probably an improvement, yes, since it applies in most cases, but I don't know that's it's always true. A guideline might happen to have received much more recent and thorough discussion than a policy page, and might thus better reflect current consensus than the policy page does. If there is a conflict, then OK, we can advise people to follow the policy, but it's not necessarily true that the guideline needs to be changed - it might be the policy which (following further discussion) needs to be updated.--Kotniski (talk) 09:42, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, you are right about that. Possibly the Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines#Changes_to_guideline_and_policy_pages section should be referenced or summarized in the text I added?--Aervanath (talk) 16:32, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


Hi folks. I've noticed that the WP:CENT link doesn't seem to appear until the very bottom of the article page in the "See also" section. I also noticed that someone (who will hopefully comment soon), has been working to expand our communication infrastructure. I'm wondering if perhaps the CENT template should not be displayed in full on the "Policy and guidelines" page, since it is a key element, or at least should be, in developing changes to policy and guidelines. Any input? — Ched :  ?  19:35, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I've transcluded it bright and bold at the top, under the list of policies and next to the table of contents.--Aervanath (talk) 02:35, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I thank you sir (or ma'am if gender assumption is wrong), appreciate the help. I can see I'm going to have to add another name to my list of "very helpful admins/editors" ;) — Ched :  ?  03:07, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
You are quite welcome, and according to the stats that I've seen, you are generally right to assume that Wikipedia editors are male. (I will admit to being male, myself.) And I'm glad you find me helpful; not everyone thinks so, but I try to be. Cheers,--Aervanath (talk) 16:35, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Is policy exempt from policy ?

In the sections about “Primary, secondary and tertiary sources” in the following policy and guideline articles : Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources, I haven’t found any primary, secondary or tertiary sources to support the view that “Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable secondary sources”. The section on “Primary, secondary and tertiary sources” in Wikipedia:No original research has 6 references which only describe what primary, secondary and tertiary sources are but they do not support any argument that “Wikipedia articles SHOULD be based on reliable secondary sources”.

There seems to be an almost complete lack of references to support recommendations in both articles : Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. I haven’t checked every other policy and guideline article, but I suspect this problem is widespread.

In contrast, Wikipedia:Reliable sources states: “This page in a nutshell: Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.” and Wikipedia:No original research states : “This page in a nutshell: - Wikipedia does not publish original thought: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source. - Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by the sources.”

Am I the only person who finds this contradictory or is there a double standard among Wikipedia contributors that Wikipedia guidelines should NOT “be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy” and that Wikipedia policies SHOULD “publish original thought” and that all material in Wikipedia policies must NOT “be attributable to a reliable, published source” and that Wikipedia policy articles SHOULD contain “new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by” any sources ?

Basically my question is this : why are policy and guideline articles exempt from policies and guidelines ?

Armando Navarro (talk) 11:52, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Because policies and guidelines about articles apply to articles. There is no contradiction, and there is no "double standard". Assuming good faith, you are simply confused about articles, discussions about articles, and then the policy/guideline level. So policy and guidelines are not exempt from policies and guidelines that apply to policies or guidelines. Verbal chat 11:58, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
They aren't. But because they are not articles (you should have said policy and guideline pages), most of the policies you refer to don't apply to them.--Kotniski (talk) 11:59, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
What Verbal and Kotniski said. The "sources" for Wikipedia policy and guidelines are the Wikipedia community of editors, so from that point of view you could say that ALL of the pages in the Wikipedia: namespace are original research. However, since the policy on original research and the guideline on reliable sources only apply to articles, this is happily not a problem. Cheers, --Aervanath (talk) 07:32, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

How long to wait

Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Changes to guideline and policy pages says, "The change may be implemented if no objection is made to it..." How long should you wait? I know the basic answer is a reasonable time, but whadda you thimk? TransporterMan (talk) 20:46, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

It depends on the change. If it's a minor uncontroversial change which you think no one will oppose, just go ahead and make the change, and see if someone reverts it; if it gets reverted, then start a discussion on the talk page. If there's some doubt, post to the talk page and wait for a few days. If nobody objects within a week, then go ahead and make the change. This doesn't guarantee you won't get reverted, though; I've seen policy disputes flare up months after a change was made, simply because the editors disputing the change didn't notice. But if you get no objections within a week, no one can accuse you of making a change without discussion.--Aervanath (talk) 07:43, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Would like to see if this can be added to the official page-

Some arguments end up being a quote-fest of who can quote official policy the best, and some editors who think that the only legitimate defence is to their opinion is that you quote a wikipedia policy or guideline and if you cant it doesnt matter what kind of common sense, logic, analogy, or show that this is one of those "ignore the rules" instances they dont want to hear it if it isnt in a policy. I therefore propose the following sentences, or something to its effect be put here for those of us who dont like (nor want to) go around quoting rules due to any philosophical belief that wikipedia isnt about set rules and that strict constructionist views on wikipedia's rules arent legitimate, a liberal interpretation of the rules as a living changing being based on consensus of the community is best with much common sense and the use of individual cases of them being ignored on other articles in similar instances is ok.

  • Quoting rules is never a substitute for discussion, and has no value except to the extent that it is demonstrably an extension of common sense and the consensus involved. Rules should never be used to end discussion or override consensus in a discussion.

What does everyone think?Camelbinky (talk) 00:57, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

We already have Policies need to be approached with common sense; adhere to the spirit rather than the letter of the rules, and be prepared to ignore the rules on the rare occasions when they conflict with the goal of improving the encyclopedia.. That seems enough. And there are policies that can't be overruled by consensus on a talk page, eg our policy on copyright, on BLPs, etc, so a suggestion that this is possible seems a pretty bad idea to me. I think an addition like this would simply end up with more drama, and give those who want to ignore policy. It wouldn't stop people from quoting guidelines and policies and if people can't quote them, what's the point of them? Ah, are you also trying to say (I'm finding it hard to be sure what you want to say) that people should be able to say 'look, this rule (I prefer to talk about guidelines and policies) was ignored in article X, so it's ok to ignore it here?'. Dougweller (talk) 11:16, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
I use rules as a shorthand instead of saying guidelines and policies every time, since its shorter and "rules" is word that describes how some editors think of our policies and guidelines, which is what I am fighting against. I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm sick and tired of people who, even if they are outnumbered in an argument against five or six people who agree on something, that one person can hold up consensus by saying that the "rules" are on his/her side. I'm really sick of those people who blatantly state that the rules are to be strictly applied and I have been in arguments where people have stated they dont want to hear analogies or anything other than the application of policy or guideline. Having a template at the top of the rules hasnt seemed to work. There are people who think the letter of the rules is all that matter and in an argument you can only talk to them about other rules. I'm not saying it should be ok to say "look this policy/guideline was ignored in article X, so it's ok to ignore it here?" Let's take this example, many people say reading maps is OR and go around quoting guidelines and policy, however maps are routinely used in FA class articles on roads/highways, therefore using maps is ok for all road highway articles based on this "common law" application. If this, the very page dealing with policies and guidelines flatly stated that "Quoting policies and guidelines is not a substitution for discussion" it would, hopefully, force the type of editors who apply indiscriminatly the rules into actually DISCUSSING the specific problem in a unique way instead of cookie cutter policies and guidelines being applied to every problem. Common sense is thrown on every policy and guideline, but unfortunately wp:common sense is not either a policy or a guideline and it doesnt help that there is an essay promoting there is no common sense. Especially with newer editors, and even editors who've been around for quite awhile but actually care only about editing and not memorizing or quoting guidelines, the type of editors who quote guidelines bully their opinions in discussions over these less knowledgeable editors almost to the point of biting. If we encouraged actual discussion on everything instead of "the policy says x, then x is what we must do" yes, there would be more discussion that you may consider to be drama, but I think discussion is good and if we went with the consensus every time it would be good, and sometimes guidelines and rules would be ignored, thats not a bad thing. Yes, there are certain policies that MUST for legal purposes be applied always, but how many of those actually exist? Maybe five? And its not like those type of policies are being argued over in talk pages alot and that my suggestion for adding to this page would really encourage people to say "well now that quoting rules cant be used instead of discussion I can now put copyright material in an article!" I'm trying to foster discussion and actual debate instead of what goes on in alot of discussions. You shouldnt have to quote a rule to get people to understand that something is ok to do in wikipedia, there should be the standard of common sense and "common law" (ie- something is already widely accepted on wikipedia, irregardless of not being a policy or guideline, therefore community consensus says its ok). I want discussion and consensus to win the day in a talk page discussion, not "who can research and quote policy and guideline the best". There should be one true place, here, for those of us like me, to copy and paste a specific line from and slap at those other type of editors who say "I dont want to hear about analogies and wont discuss this further unless another guideline is shown that makes an exemption", and that is an almost word for word copy of what I have heard in a discussion.Camelbinky (talk) 16:54, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
"Common sense" is shorthand for "the way I intuitively see it". Given over twenty thousand active editors, there are a lot of ways. Asserting IAR as a reason is shorthand for "I dare you to disagree with what I want to do". But if we actually do agree and it's a recurrent situation, then we can have whatever rules we want to have, to do what we want to do. It is after all reasonable that a greater consensus is required to say "this is what we should do for this and all future occurrences" than "this is what we should do now." Rules are both prescriptive and descriptive: they describe what we do now, and prescribe what we intend to do. Total inconsistence is the characteristic behavior of early childhood, when the permanence of the world is not yet understood. when it shows up here, it indicates the misunderstanding that this is a real project, not a group fantasy game. DGG (talk) 02:30, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Uh-huh...calling me childish? Using that kind of wishy-washy language to hide the insult is childish, please dont do something like that again. Now to talk about what points you actually made regarding this discussion. Your definition of common sense is not correct, common sense is the community standard. Community standard is recognized as legitimate in a US court of law (ie- if the community standard is to come to a complete stop at a particular yield sign, and you dont come to a complete stop regardless of you being from out of town, you can get a ticket irregardless of it being a yeild sign and not a stop sign). Community standard, ie- consensus, trumps the policies and guidelines on wikipedia already. Every policy and guideline explicitly states that common sense is to be used and policies and guidelines may and in some instances must be ignored. Those who state things like your "permanence of the world" and think wikipedia's guidelines and policies are "rules" to be strictly enforced are putting their personal political beliefs (ie- conservative strict constructionist) views onto wikipedia. I can cut and paste from multiple sources stating that these are not rules, they are not to be enforced strictly, that consensus is overriding (except the exceptions listed on wikipedia:consensus, and the idea that policies and guidelines DO NOT proscribe or describe what should be done "on this and all future occasions", and that each case in a discussion is unique. Would you like me to copy and paste confirmation for all of those things as being in actual policies and guidelines or will you admit that you simply want wikipedia to have strict and absolute "rules" that everyone must conform to and discussion should never override those policies, since you used the word rules and said they describe and proscribe what we should do, WIKIPEDIA HAS NO RULES so I dont know what rules you are speaking of. That type of strict constructionist view on wikipedia is destroying everything that wikipedia is. By wanting to put a sentence or two into this article I am simply summing up what appears in many different guidelines and policies and putting it in one location. You can argue with wanting it put in this guideline, but you cant legitimately argue against what it states. But of course I'm sure you dont agree that there is a penumbra to wikipedia guidelines.Camelbinky (talk) 04:24, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I just would like to add the sentence or two to the last paragraph of the opening sentence, where it would mesh just fine- Policies need to be approached with common sense; adhere to the spirit rather than the letter of the rules, and be prepared to ignore the rules on the rare occasions when they conflict with the goal of improving the encyclopedia.
To add- "Policies and guidelines should not be used as a way to end discussion, discourage debate, or allow a small minority to disrupt consensus on an issue." to the end of that paragraph seems reasonable and I still dont see the problem. I'd like to see more comments and intelligent ones actually use common sense on this issue instead ones that are fundamentally opposed to any common sense and see wikipedia as a set of strict rules. I'd like to debate but if you cant use common sense to debate me and your only point is that rules are rules then its not a debate.Camelbinky (talk) 00:32, 8 May 2009 (UTC)