Wikipedia talk:Product, process, policy

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The history of this page seems odd. It begins as a page in full... was it copied from somewhere? Whats the deal - I really doubt Radiant made the first edit as his own work all at once. Fresheneesz 21:26, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

  • And yet I did. That should tell you something. (Radiant) 17:36, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
    • This is a statement of longstanding tradition and practice. I'm not familiar with it myself, but some people speak of a "preview button"- this could explain why the initial version of this was in pretty good shape. Friday (talk) 17:39, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

People - the 1st P[edit]

I think there is another P, which is even more important to Wikipedia than product, process and policy - and that is people. We should always strive to remember that our fellow editors are people, and they are all entitled to be treated with courtesy, politeness and respect at all times. And that includes anonymous contributors, newbies, POV pushers, spammers, vandals and sockpuppets. Even where it is necessary to reprimand or apply sanctions to another editor, we should always do this in a polite way. WP:CIVIL says a lot more about this. I think we should extend the 3Ps essay to a 4Ps essay - People, product, process, policy. Views ? Gandalf61 10:38, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

People are important because they produce product. So there's no way they could they be more important than the product. I think people are covered in "process"- the process involves people collaborating to product the encyclopedia. Maybe this says it best, from WP:NOT: "Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, an online community of people interested in building a high-quality encyclopedia in a spirit of mutual respect.". Friday (talk) 15:37, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree. People are important just because they are people, not because they produce some product. The logical conclusion of your argument is that it is alright to be rude and abusive to another editor as long as you can show that Wikipedia is somehow being improved by that abuse, because the good of the "product" outweighs any other considerations. Is that really what you believe ? Gandalf61 17:43, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
No, that's not what I'm saying. Rubbing people the wrong way creates strife and drama, which hurts the project in the form of lost time and alienated editors. I've made this exact point many times to folks who caused all manner of uproar while doing what they insisted was right. I was making a statement about priorities- saying that the encyclopedia is more important than any individual editor does not mean I'm saying individual editors are unimportant. Without editors there'd be no project, so they're very clearly important. Friday (talk) 17:50, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
I just realized where some of the disagreement may come from- in real life yes, people are obviously more important than Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia. Given the choice between saving a drowning baby and making an edit, I would assume nearly all of us give priority to people. However, here on Wikipedia, as opposed to "real life", the project is most important. Friday (talk) 18:01, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
Real life trumps the Wikipedian virtual reality universe at many points that are acknowledged within Wikipedia including law (copyright, trademark, libel, privacy of nonpublic persons, mediawiki foundation's educational charter ruling out noneducational endevors, real life harrassment), social (real life get togethers), realities of life (conflict of interest, time/space condiderations), and the point of it all (WP:IAR can be used when "encyclopedia" doesn't quite cover an important good that we can serve concerning current events). WAS 4.250 00:45, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
  • While it's definitely true that Wikipedia wouldn't be here without the people that write it, it's simply not true that to the encyclopedia, people are more important than product. For instance, if some editor says "change this article so-and-so or else I'll go cry in the corner and leave the project", we don't comply to that argument, because the product is more important. (Radiant) 10:02, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
If some editor says ""change this article so-and-so or else I'll go cry in the corner and leave the project", we could say "I am sorry you feel that way - is there anything we can do to help you feel that you are making a valued contribution ?" or we could say "Goodbye - the product is better off without you anyway". I am arguing for the former approach. This essay seems to promote the latter approach. In particular, it says "do whatever you like as long as it improves the encyclopedia" - which could be taken as a charter for all sorts of intolerant and agressive behaviours. Gandalf61 11:47, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not therapy WAS 4.250 23:36, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I don't think intolerant and aggressive behaviours improve the encyclopedia. At any rate that's not this page's charter, that's WP:IAR which has a perennial lengthy debate on its talk page about this precise subject. (Radiant) 12:35, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

The value of process[edit]

I think this essay overlooks the value of process and too often I see admins trying to circumvent the rules simply by saying 'product not process' when there is a large disagreement.

The purpose of process is to enforce policy in the most effective way possible. I can't remember the term offhand, but there is a term basically (in spirit) stating that as a social community grows bigger, it becomes much, much harder to rely on people using common sense (bandwagon/herd mentality, greater diversity of viewpoints, etc lead to this) and being able to act in a civil and straightforward manner.

In other words, it becomes more convoluted, which is the reason RfA uses a vote system without comments in the normal tradition; it becomes too convuluted and unweildy with that many people, therefore they created the voting PROCESS.

The bigger a dispute gets, the greater the need for process and I really think many people don't understand this. Process is designed to be as objective and fair as feasible (as flawed as a given process may be, lack of process would be chaos) for large groups. It prevents people from using dubious tactics to do something like "no one else's opinions matter because [insert name of person they consider highly reputable/respectable/an expert/etc]" (yes, someone has actually claimed once that everyone was wrong simply because an expert said so before backpedaling) or "I own this article because I have credentials X, Y & Z."

Process allows a more even, fair and distributed say among Wikipedians, instead of allowing a small, vocal few to essentially act as oligarchy style dictators. I should note that this is also the primary weapon a regular editor (noting the "regular editor"s are responsible for most of Wikipedia's content) has against an someone with a higher technical (e.g. admin) and/or social status.

So where does product override process? Because this is essentially relying on personal judgment (applying IAR to make the 'product' better), it should be used conservatively. Mainly, it's for when there is an obvious consensus and/or there really aren't that many people involved and you just want to make good content.

-Nathan J. Yoder 22:15, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

  • I should point out that RFA in fact does not "use a vote system without comments in the normal tradition". The answer to "where does product override process", on Wikipedia, is that product always overrides process (as indicated in policies WP:IAR and WP:BURO). Process may be even, fair, and distributed, but it's also baffling, and bureaucratic, and has a tendency of coming to the wrong conclusion at inopportune moments. >Radiant< 13:12, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't in what sense? RfA is actually frequently cited as an exception to consensus, even by the biggest proponents of consensus. They overwhelming number of comments received during them caused them to move them off the main voting page. Even looking at Arbitration Election--that is really about whoever Jimbo personally likes, so that's neither about consensus nor democracy. They can call it consensus all they want, but in reality it's not.
The point of my statement was to discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of valuing one over the other, not get into an argument over whether or not that's the current policy (i.e. being policy doesn't make it the best approach). I would prefer if you defend your viewpoint instead of speaking about current policies (beyond the small statement made), but I will address your point of it being policy nonetheless.
That said, the two policy pages you linked to said nothing supporting the statement that "product always overrides process." Please quote the statements you are referring to which support them. Valuing process over product on certain occassions doesn't make it a bureaucracy anymore than following process at all does.
Furthermore, citing a highly controversial policy that didn't even come about through consensus is against the spirit of Wikipedia. This is not to mention the fact that IAR is a paradox, which makes it inherently illogical. I could even spell this out in formal logic too. Surely, if anything, Wikipedia MUST operate on logic (I ask just in case...I saw one Wikipedian actually say Wikipedia doesn't operate on logic). IAR is a rule that requires you ignore all rules, which means you must ignore IAR--so which side of the paradox do I fall on?
It's very simple to take advantage of this kind if illogical idea: you say "because of IAR I am ignoring the rules and asserting product overrides process" and then I can say "because of IAR I am ignoring the rule requiring that product override process and am requiring that process override product."
Because of this paradox and the ambiguity that exists even regardless of said paradox, IAR is often used as a tool to bludgeon others, because it does nothing to prevent someone form just saying their personal opinion goes and everyone else's sucks. I could say "well I'm ignoring WP:OWN and am claiming ownership of this article," and people would say "that's absurd, that's not what IAR is for" (even though they are obeying IAR). If people are going to make exceptions to it (which would violate the rule itself and create a list of exceptions super, super massive, dwarfing all existing policies, guidelines, essays and proposals on Wikipedia in size), then they might as well get rid of it and create the policies they actually want. Listing what the rules actually are is much easier and quicker than listing what they're not/
Someone might also say it means be bold or use common sense, but policies/guidelines exist for those, making it at best redundant and confusing/chaotic at worst. "Common sense" (which is what this is often cited as being) is a misnomer anyway, because almost always it's not actually not the most common view (if it were the most common then they wouldn't have much trouble getting consensus in their favor) and is really just a substitute for "my personal opinion."
The view that it has a tendency of coming to the wrong conclusion I've found is confirmation bias that people who often disagree with the majority tend to say. How often does it lead to what is an obvious wrong conclusion, as opposed to something that's rather debatable or obviously right? The mistakes stand out in people's minds much more, leading to the confirmation bias and they'll ignore the numerous benign cases that go along where it worked as intended. I've seen these kinds of complaints of the form "product not process" arrive mostly in *heated* disputes where a vocal minority is trying to defend actions that clearly go against consensus and/or are trying to defend a highly controversial action.
That's he exact kind of situation where process is needed--do you disagree that process is preferable for heated circumstances where many people are claiming they have the one, true objective view? If you do disagree, in cases like that, who ultimately decides who is right (assuming an Official Wikipedia Dictate isn't given by Jimbo or a Wikimedia employee)? Process is the only thing that can decide without giving bias/favortism to either side/people.
Sorry that this is so long, I have a tendency to be overly thorough sometimes. -Nathan J. Yoder 07:17, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
To add, WP:WIARM outlines what IAR is supposed to mean. I still think the rule is silly as created on WP:IAR is silly and that if it meant nothing more than essentially "follow the spirit of the rules," then it should have said that, preventing all this misuse. Even going by what WIARM, choosing to use process instead "over product" (meaning ignoring policies/guidelines) in certain types of situations consistently (e.g. controversial issues) doesn't violate that. Quite the contrary, because WIARM suggests that we should be obeying the spirit (and not technicalities) of the rules--it is actually suggesting to use process (because process is about obeying the spirit of the rules). How would it violate the spirit of the rules to try to apply the rules in a fair manner in large disagreements (i.e. by using process)? That kind of fairness is necessary to building a good encyclopedia, otherwise it ends up being ruled by a "powerful minority" and/or is chaotic. The social nature of building the encyclopedia is part of what it takes to make a good one.
In case there is any semantic confusion (which I realize may be an issue), I'll clarify what I mean by these terms. When I'm referring to "product over process" I mean people ignoring the procedures in a given case in order to enforce their decision regardless of what people are saying/doing. I am not defining "product" in this context to mean "what makes the best encyclopedia"--if you don't agree with this definition, then substitute your own choice term/phrase that fits the above definition. I don't think it would be productive to define it that way anyway, because sometimes following process is what is good for the encyclopedia, making it sometimes translate to "process over process." -Nathan J. Yoder 07:42, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
That's not my assertion. My assertion is "sometimes process is more important than product" and even that I'm not sure if I should use that title since people may be using varying definitions of what they mean by "product over process." Perhaps "process is important." I could write an essay, but I'd prefer input first, especially arguments as to why product always overriding process is a good principle to follow in creating an encyclopedia (as opposed to simply stating whether or not you think it's against policy). -Nathan J. Yoder 08:34, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
  • A philosophical reason would be that the static form of process conflicts with the dynamic process of editing. A psychological reason would be that requiring people to "jump through the hoops" of a process tends to drive people away. And a practical reason would be that from our experience (sorry if this sounds arrogant, it's not meant to be) whenever process becomes overly strict it starts to not deal with borderline cases particularly well, and starts giving results that we don't appreciate. >Radiant< 09:01, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

we need[edit]

less focus on the last 2 and more on the first JeanLatore (talk) 02:44, 2 May 2008 (UTC)


You homesteaded WP:PPP before Wikipedia:Page protection patrol had a chance to. Aldrich Hanssen (talk) 03:05, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

WP:3P violation[edit]

Wikipedia:Categories_for_discussion/Log/2010_August_29#Category:Transport - the only reason people bring up to re-rename categories is process. They should put more focus on the product. TruckCard (talk) 14:16, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

how does this work with WP:CONLIMITED[edit]

As I read this essay, it appears to be in direct conflict with WP:CONLIMITED. The first paragraph reads,

Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. For instance, unless they can convince the broader community that such action is right, participants in a WikiProject cannot decide that some generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope.

I also read this to say that a bunch of editors can't override clear policy--i.e. something middle of the road, not some boderline or lawyering case. Think of a group of editors posting textbook type material to Wikipedia, and agreeing that it should stay on the talk page (because it is super useful!). Then I guess the idea of this essay is that if people started doing these things all over, then Wikipedia would eventually change its policy to reflect that change to a textbook type style? But maybe I misunderstand. 018 (talk) 16:42, 22 October 2010 (UTC) (BTW, I'm not talking about a particular case, just something I was wondering about with an example.)