Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment

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To address too many poorly-posed RfCs[edit]

Must the same as I just posted at WP:AN, as well as here years ago (User:WhatamIdoing, are you still unconvinced there is any case to improve the use of RfC?)...

There is an obvious backlog of unclosed RfCs. The process is bloated with half-baked unimportant questions that don't lend themselves easily to comment of close. The ability to open an RfC implies that the RfC will be closed (maybe not, but editors think so).

The root of the problem, the real problem, is that there are too many poorly-posed RfCs. I propose that the solution is to require that to open an RfC must involve a seconder. RFC bot will have to be amended to look for two different signatures. At least two people must agree that there is a good reason to ask the question, and that the question posed is a good question. If you can't find a single person to support your RfC question, either:

(1) you are wrong (unanimously disagreed with), or
(2) WP:3O is more appropriate, and if WP:3O can't produce an experience opinion-giver who agrees that you have a worthy question, most likely you don't, or
(3) you seriously need to work on improving your question.

--SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:29, 24 May 2016 (UTC)

Eh, seems too bureaucratic and CREEP. And I think the tag-team issues this might raise are not worth the candle. Their question was not good enough to get a close, seems like hardly anyone cares about the RfC, which basically takes care of it. And what of the lone editor who has a useful question that would benefit from settlement but now more bureaucracy and networking to find a 'friend'? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:28, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Requiring two people to agree (not an the answer, but on the question) is about the smallest possible change, it is hardly bureaucracy. Requiring a submitted RfC question to go through a formal review step, with necessary consequences (finding reviewers, reviewers give feedback, responding to feedback), now that would be bureaucratic.
A lone editor with a useful question should ask it. An RfC is a pretty bad first venue for asking a simple question. Once it is slightly complicated, two people disagreeing, there is WP:3O.
Never have I seen two people in disagreement unable to agree on the question when asked to try. Indeed, asking two people to state their opponent position is very productive in disputes.
Ultimately, the question is: "It WP:RFC working"? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:21, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
I agree there is a maddening proportion of requests for comment that are too poorly described (or conceived) to yield any useful comment. But this isn't the solution. For one thing, I'm not sure what the harm is that you want to address. When you post a dumb RfC, people don't comment and don't close it. How different is that from the RfC never getting opened because no one will second it?
As a practical matter, it's moot anyway because the person who maintains the Legobot does not respond to most suggestions or even questions about it, and this would be a pretty significant and difficult change.
Maybe a better approach would be a process akin to AfD (Articles for Deletion), where someone is welcome to open a dumb RfC and others have a way to shoot it down before it goes too far. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 02:14, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Understood Bryan. One thing this attempts to solve is the occasional gaming by posing a biased question. Once people have started answering, the question is locked in. However, the real problem is the number of poorly conceived RfCs languishing unclosed. A way to shoot down a stupid question? Maybe. We could just close non-productive RfCs as "non-productive - no consensus", as a way to clear the list to reveal the remainder, however that is not treating the problem at its source. If forcing the solution technically by the bot is hard ... well probably it is better anyway to simply add advice to this page, advise a preliminary step of discussing the RfC question before initiating the RfC.
Require a seconder to address too many poorly-posed RfCs
Advise RfC initiators to discuss the wording of the question before formally initiating the RfC
"Please discuss with at least one other involved party as to whether the proposed RfC question is the right question." --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:28, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Bryan, IMO the main "systems" problem with "a dumb RfC" is that it will get listed at ANRFC and someone probably will try to "close" it, even though the whole thing ought to be ignored (and ANRFC's attention ought to be on things that actually need help). Leaving these RFCs unclosed wouldn't usually be a problem, because they would be ignored. There's nothing on the talk page that labels something as an RFC after the bot removes the expired template. But as soon as some editor (usually an editor with too little experience and/or too little knowledge of the subject area) enshrines his idea of the consensus as The Closing Statement for The RFC™, then we have a problem.
(The main "real" problem with "a dumb RfC" is that the person who started it probably did want some help with an article, and isn't likely to get it. This isn't something that we can address by changing the rules, however.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:55, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
I think we can help this by encouraging a conversation about the problem before the locking in of an RfC question. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:16, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe, in principle, I don't object to requiring a seconder. (I see more problems with anything resembling a requirement to discuss an RFC in advance.) However, you're thinking about disputes, and sometimes settling disputes isn't the point. I used the RFC process to solicit opinions at Wikipedia talk:Independent sources a while ago. I just wanted to know more about what editors think about or care about – no dispute, just an actual request for comments. I got two comments (feel free to add yours), and just getting comments was exactly what I wanted.
I also wonder whether the problem you're trying to address is actually the number of unclosable RFCs, or if it is more specifically the number of unclosable RFCs that someone listed at ANRFC in an effort to have the unclosable get closed anyway. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:55, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Hi WhatamIdoing. The ANRFC certainly prompted me, reminding me of the old idea from four(!) years ago. Feels like last year. Obviously you are not the target of this attempt at improvement, as you always write coherently and intelligently. The problem is ill-conceived, or ill-posed, or generally unfocused questions not really addressing the problem. I suffered through some of that with an outsider boldly raising RfCs at WT:MfD, around poor questions.
At this point, I want to back pedal from "require". I think we would do well to advise some little discussion on what the best question to ask is.
I do know that on the occasions I have thought to peruse RfCs to comment, I have ended up frustrated. It is as if RfC questions are often written at the height of one's emotions. Othertime, the issue is so specific that outsiders (or at least I) require a bit of an introduction to the issue. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:15, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
I agree that many times, the least productive RFCs seem to have been constructed at the height of the poster's emotional response. Many responses that center on the perceived neutrality of the RFC 'question' also seem to be coming from that place, too. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:12, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • What is wrong with a closure along the lines of: "Closed without determination - It seems there is not even agreement as to what the issues underlying this RFC are. I suggest that involved editors start over. Discuss what issues need to be resolved, and rephrase the question."
Not every closure has to resolve the debate... sometimes a closure can help focus the debate, and lay the groundwork for a second RFC where the question is more clearly defined.
It would also help if we were to allow potential closers to ask questions (and make it clear that merely asking a question does not make one an "involved editor"). Blueboar (talk) 11:51, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Another way to sharpen the topic would be to require RFC's to be extensively discussed before being posed and to allow any uninvolved editor to SNOW-close them if they've not been. That's the requirement at all other content DR processes, but is only a suggestion here (if that). It wouldn't guarantee a sharper question, but it would force the participants to have at least sharpened their positions for a bit. I'm not utterly opposed to requiring a second, but it can be easily gamed and, frankly, RFC's are the court of last resort for a lot of disputes which can't be settled through regular discussion or other DR and it may be hard to get seconds on some of those, which will just further encourage disruptive disputes and edit warring. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 19:46, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, but responses have reminded me that smaller gentler steps are better. "to require RFC's to be extensively discussed before being posed" sounds too strong, how about starting with "encourage/advise RFC's to be extensively discussed before being posed", which I thing could do it.
Regarding the gaming concern, at the moment RfCs are opened unilaterally. The idea is to have at least one other person involved. Even if that other person is an ideological friend, a second look at the logic of the question, and discouraging of the question being submitted in a hasty moment of emotion, are good things. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:29, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
I'll add something like that in a moment. Let's see if it helps.
Blueboar, as a practical matter, if your "Closed without determination" idea were boxed up in a template, people might be more likely to use it. There was also some talk a while ago about mentioning WP:CCC in the closing templates' boilerplate text. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:12, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
"It may be helpful to discuss your planned RfC question on the talk page before starting the RfC, to see whether other editors have ideas for making it clearer or more concise." Looks good, thank you. I'd have gone for something stronger, the imperative "Discuss your planned RfC question on the talk page before starting the RfC, to see whether other editors have ideas for making it clearer or more concise". --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:38, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
I thought I'd start small, and see if it helped. Also, I wanted to avoid claims that some RFCs are invalid because you didn't jump through the hoop about discussing the question first. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:14, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't think you need a second. I've closed a discussion before remarking that it was incomprehensible (it had something like a-g options with people voting/ranking them like gcdebaf and then a second version so it became g1d2c2b1a2f2 and just chaos). The key was, after spending the miserable time figuring out the mess of it, I started a new RFC in a sensible way right afterwards because the issue wasn't resolved obviously. From there, a result came out fairly quick. I think that's more of a solution, letting the experienced people help direct the question the right way, rather than adding more requirement at the front-end. It's the same reason admins can't just close a discussion, say, at TFD on a userbox and go away: we're supposed to close it, move it to MFD and then let it go in the right location. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 03:54, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • OK, going with that – Does that mean that these "miserable RfC's" can be closed "early"? I know RfC's are supposed to run 30 days – but if after 'x' days, it's clear that the RfC "question" is too bungled to produce a meaningful outcome, can it be "boldly" closed early (and then "replaced" with a new "clean" RfC, as you suggest)? And, if so, should this be added to that RfC instructions, or remain an informal and unwritten "be bold" proposition?... --IJBall (contribstalk) 05:16, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
      • It is irksome that a miserable RfC is legislated to be open for thirty days, effectively derailing sensible discussion. We can't have RfC initiators withdrawing RfCs when they don't like the initial responses, nor other involved participants, it effectively requires a super-competent closer to fix a miserable RfC.
Ricky, I think we are all now agreeing that a second isn't "needed", instead suggesting that initiators discuss the RfC question before initiating the RfC. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:41, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, we can close RFCs early. And we should, in far more cases than we actually do, especially if they're poorly written. RFCs are not "legislated to be open for thirty days". The actual basis of the system is this: Editors were supposed to remove the RFC tag when they're finished talking about it, but most people forgot. So we send a bot around to clean up the forgotten RFC tags – which, now that everyone knows about the bot, is almost all of them. The bot is too limited to figure out whether the discussion is actually done (or even started!), so it has a simple timer-based system. Editors can and should manipulate the bot's perception of time whenever they want, to extend or shorten the discussion as much as they want. The important thing is the discussion, not the bot.
Also, the initiator is allowed to withdraw the question at any time – 30 seconds after starting, 30 minutes, 30 hours, 30 days, it just doesn't matter when (this is documented in the section on closing). "Withdraw the question" means removing the rfc template, to stop the advertisements. They're not allowed to blank the discussion (because RFCs are normal discussions with an advertising mechanism, so normal talk page rules apply), but they're allowed to turn off the advertisements whenever they want. Other editors are not permitted to remove the template, because that has historically led to too many individuals closing RFCs that they expect to "lose". However, other editors are permitted to persuade the OP to withdraw an RFC through discussion, and this happens fairly often.
I've seen many RFCs withdrawn, and it's largely a successful process. Either the initiator got the information he wanted quickly (which often, but not always, involves learning WP:How to lose), or someone decides to try again with a better-written question later (editors often recommend waiting a week or a month before trying again, although there are no actual requirements), or they move on to another, usually more appropriate, dispute resolution process. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:14, 25 May 2016 (UTC)

Just to comment that if an RfC has been boldly (and possibly inappropriately) opened by a single editor then I see no harm in reverting this to a normal discussion. I have done this on previous occasions. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 08:45, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

I think the guidelines on writing RfC questions could be clearer and more realistic. When I have attempted to follow the guidelines people have told me I should have done something else.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:57, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

Some specifics would be nice. There are people watching this page who try to make the page more clear and practical, but we're not aware of any place where it isn't already. (My own opinion is that there is hardly any guidance at all today, so it would be hard to get it wrong). Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 16:33, 2 July 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Writing requests for comment is where the work on that issue is mostly happening. It's hard. (Also, just because "people tell you" things doesn't mean that they're right. WP:Nobody reads the directions.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:36, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Separate noticeboard for RFCs[edit]

Following the discussion at WP:AN roughly here, should we separate RFCs from WP:ANRFC. From that, I think we can debate what should be included in the noticeboard which goes into the other question of "does everything need a formal close?". I don't think we need an AN noticeboard, just a backlog subpage here around WP:RFC. From there, we can just put the RFC backlog as another backlog at ANRFC. I'm just asking for a support or oppose on the basic question of a listing page here and then from there, we can whittle down what is required to be included on it. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 02:41, 25 May 2016 (UTC)

  • Oppose a separate noticeboard for RfCs. WP:ANRFC says, "The Requests for closure noticeboard is for posting requests to have an uninvolved editor assess, summarize, and formally close a discussion on Wikipedia." RfCs clearly fall under this noticeboard's scope. A separate noticeboard would be harmful: It likely would lead to RfCs going unclosed because it would be less trafficked than WP:ANRFC. It also would be noticeboard proliferation as satirized at Wikipedia:Noticeboard proliferation noticeboard. Cunard (talk) 03:54, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • Given that the same small group of editors closes most of the RFCs you post, I strongly doubt that changing the location would have any effect on the closing rate (or on the quality of closing statements, or on the value of those statements to participants, or anything else, for that matter). WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:01, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
      • WP:ANRFC periodically has new closers because of its high visibility (through its partial transclusion on WP:AN). Moving the RfCs to a less-trafficked noticeboard untranscluded on WP:AN would decrease the likelihood of new closers becoming aware of the RfC closure requests. I do not see a benefit to creating a new noticeboard. Cunard (talk) 04:23, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
        • From the description below, the plan is to have exactly as much visibility as the (also partially transcluded) other things in the backlog, e.g., MFD, CFD, etc. The plan does not seem to involve actually removing them entirely. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:42, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
    • Requested moves also asks for closers and actually requires admins more than RFCs do and RM just has a single mention of the backlog and sometimes has separate sections if it's like urgent news or something. RFCs are beyond inflated with their separate headers. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 06:04, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Is your question (approximately) "Shall we put closure requests for RFCs and closure requests for non-RFCs on separate pages?" WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:02, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • No, it's more "should we make a single page that contains a 'backlog' or a listing page for RFCs in need of a closuree" more akin to Wikipedia:Requested moves#Backlog? From there, we can just put it as a single backlog at ANRFC at Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Requests_for_closure#Backlogs with a short summary when it gets miserable. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 04:10, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
      • Ah. So the current contents of the section WP:ANRFC#Requests for comment would go on a separate page, that page would not be transcluded to ANRFC, and ANRFC would currently get a note under ==Backlogs== that says something like "Cunard added another 26 expired RFCs to the list yesterday, so there were 78 discussions be closed (or not) now"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:28, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
        • It's a solution for now. From there, we can argue about what the scope of the board should be. My view is we should require that a participant from the board list it there, no third-party additions, maybe add something to the bot's notice, I don't care. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 05:55, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
          • I had been thinking about a bot-delivered message yesterday, maybe something on the originator's talk page that says things like "no magic 30-day timer" and "go here to request a formal close if you need help". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:39, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Basically support. If nothing is going to be done to reign in ANRFC, this is probably the best way forward. --IJBall (contribstalk) 05:09, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Support a separate page listing all unclosed RfCs, with a section to list particularly urgent RfCs at WP:ANRFC similar to XfDs have now. This is the best solution until such a time that a better solution has community consensus. Such a better solution would be requiring participants of the original discussion to list the RfC at ANRFC, keeping in mind that any editor could state their view at any time and then list it if they want a closure. ~ RobTalk 15:34, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I prefer we explore the route regarding who adds discussions before we look at this proposal; that seems to me to be a greater priority, and may prove more helpful. Ncmvocalist (talk) 17:36, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • Perhaps that idea could be discussed in a separate section, however. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:39, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
      • OK, but as Ricky81682 and you would be better placed to start that in any case as it would be along the lines of what Ricky81682 said about scope at 5:55, 25 May 2016 (UTC) in response to what you said (I think that is the underlying issue to be addressed, and it seems to me you may have both skipped around it). Ncmvocalist (talk) 16:47, 4 June 2016 (UTC)
        • The question of who can add it to ANRFC belongs more at WT:ANRFC than here, does it now? It's more of a regulation of ANRFC not RFCs in general and those can be parallel discussions. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 18:47, 4 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think a better solution is to rewrite WP:Admin and WP:RFC to make it clear that uninvolved non-admins are perfectly capable of closing these discussions when admin tools are not needed.--v/r - TP 22:58, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
    • I think that's pretty clear now. It's explicitly stated at the RFC page. It's the same rules we have for CFD and TFD. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 18:47, 4 June 2016 (UTC)

Update[edit]

Is this not a moot question? Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#Requests_for_comment no includes the full set of RFCs into a separate board. We can argue the requirements for that at WT:ANRFC although I've prefer it here. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 20:45, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

RFC in the section heading[edit]

There's been some advice for a while about labeling each discussion as an RFC, in the section heading, e.g., ==RFC about the picture ==. The text says that it is a "very good idea".

I'm currently thinking that this is a kind of bad idea, or at least no better than maybe neutral. On the one hand, it might have a limited number of practical purposes (e.g., a DRN person trying to find "the RFC" in the archives when nobody provides links).

However, it also tends to emphasize the false idea that RFCs are some special beast, rather than a normal talk page discussion for which normal talk page guidelines and normal consensus-based editing policies apply – including the policy that Consensus Can Change, and that "but it was an RFC!" is no defense against a change in consensus.

So I'm inclined to remove it, and leave no particular advice on how to title the section headings. What do you all think? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:20, 25 May 2016 (UTC)

I find it very helpful to have "RFC" or "RfC" in the section title, when looking for the RfC.
I like to think that RfCs *are* special beasts. I and others have this idea, and I would prefer to help make RfCs special beasts than to dilute the respect given to RfCs. To that end, I think that yes, all RfCs should be formally closed, and in creating RfCs, editors should be asked to do so with more care and respect.
I would prefer to emphasize that consensus does not depend on an RfC. RfCs can help, but "Wikipedia makes decisions by concensus", and that principle makes no reference to RfCs. RfCs are tools. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:33, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
How often have you looked for an RFC by scanning section headings recently? Most people are clicking on a direct link (e.g., all the people invited to comment via bot) or just scroll down until they see the large {{rfc}} template.
I spend more time than average looking over RFCs, and I can tell you that I haven't used the table of contents to locate an active RFC in well over a year. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:43, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
By searching Talk page archives for "RFC", and scanning the section headings blue linked in the search results, I guess ten times in the last month. It has been an unusually rich month in terms of RfC activities. Over the years, not as frequent, but I definitely do this, at talk page archives and Pump archives. Similarly, for Requested Moves. I Also particularly find it helpful if the section heading contains the date, month and year. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:57, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I oppose removing:

    It is a very good idea to let the section heading begin with "RfC" or "Request for comment", for example "RfC on beak length" or "Request for comments on past or present tense for television series".

    An RfC is a special type of discussion because "it uses a system of centralized noticeboards and random, bot-delivered invitations to advertise discussions to uninvolved editors" and a discussion participant found the issue important enough to create a formal discussion and invite uninvolved editors.

    However, it also tends to emphasize the false idea that RFCs are some special beast, rather than a normal talk page discussion for which normal talk page guidelines and normal consensus-based editing policies apply – including the policy that Consensus Can Change, and that "but it was an RFC!" is no defense against a change in consensus. – The consensus reached in an RfC should remain in effect until and unless consensus has changed through a new discussion at least as broadly advertised as the RfC.

    As RGloucester (talk · contribs) wrote:

    RMs lingering in the backlog without closure are a problem, but at least no one says that RMs do not need closure. RfCs are a community dispute resolution process. If no uninvolved administrator (or other closer) provides a closure, it completely renders the process useless, and becomes merely another forum for involved parties to duke it out without end. RfCs need closure to function, otherwise they do not serve as a dispute resolution venue, merely as a different kind of talk page discussion that will go nowhere.

    And:

    Unclosed RfCs are often a recipe for disaster, and nothing more. Often times, an RfC about a controversial topic will go on, everyone will have said their bit, but it will languish without closure forever. Then, the dispute comes back as there has never been any resolution, which is what a formal closure provides. RfCs should not be left unclosed unless they really are approaching unanimity. Unclosed RfCs are the basis of the continuance of many needless disputes.

    Cunard (talk) 04:37, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • I don't think that the consensus reached in an RFC – even if it reflects the whole community's actual consensus at that time, which is not always the case – is permanent, nor even permanent until such a time as a subsequent RFC is held. Consensus changes when consensus changes. Once consensus has actually changed (e.g., good sources now present different facts), then it really doesn't matter whether the previous one was formed under a section that had an RFC tag at the top or not. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:49, 25 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose – If RfCs are not to be treated as anything other than normal talk page discussions, we might as well eliminate them. This is not how the community uses RfCs. They are used as a dispute resolution process to bring outside input into disputes that would otherwise be left to the involved parties. This outside input comes from two places: firstly, from the participants gathered by the feedback request service, and secondly, from the closer. RfCs do have a useful purpose to serve, that is, to allow for questions or disputes to be settled in a formal manner. Please do not render the RfC process even more ineffectual by stripping them of what makes them useful. RGloucester 04:57, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • Not all RFCs involve disputes. Not all RFCs have any "involved parties". Even if we ignore the non-article uses (which are diverse), we get RFCs that say "Does anyone have any ideas on how to improve this article?" or are the first thing ever posted to the talk page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:43, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Outside people should be able to find the RFC easily and some talk pages get miserable in their section headings and the like. I highly doubt that the header is the problem here. -- Ricky81682 (talk) 06:01, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
    • Aren't most "outside people" clicking on a link, and therefore not needing to see the header at all? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:43, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I oppose the proposal and repeat what Ricky81682 said. That is, there are times where the links can falter and an uninvolved user may look at the talk page contents rather than go back and try the link again. Also, when the bot notice is removed after the RfC expires, there is sometimes no other indication that the discussion was an RfC. I think the clarity is helpful. Ncmvocalist (talk) 13:03, 28 May 2016 (UTC)

RFCs about TFDs[edit]

Is it acceptable practice to start an WP:RFC about an ongoing WP:TFD? Please see this TfD also this RfC, and respond at Template talk:Government misconduct accusations#RfC: Is this template about Government misconduct accusations legit? --Redrose64 (talk) 14:49, 9 June 2016 (UTC)

Five-tilde signatures[edit]

WhatamIdoing, where was the first part of this change discussed? It directly impinges on this revert by Hijiri88 (talk · contribs). --Redrose64 (talk) 19:38, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Why do you think it was discussed? I suspect it was not.
We could discuss now whether we want five tildes, though, if you want. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 03:00, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
Something that has apparently stood unchallenged in a high-traffic page like this for five years should not really require proof of prior discussion to be allowed to stay in. It's not like this is MOS:KOREA, which was single-handedly written by one (not banned) user against the majority of English-language usage, and probably never even noticed by the majority of the community until recently.
Anyway, when given the choice between four tildes and five, I chose five because the RFC question is not meant to be taken as being in "my voice". I worded it in the most neutral manner possible and in accordance with the prior discussion linked to in my comment below. I would actually prefer people not know that the question was entered by me unless they go back and check the previous discussions, so as not to potentially bias the result. I took this as being the reason I was given the option only to date and not sign the question. But of course I might be wrong.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:21, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
And no one has actually said proof of prior discussion is required. I can understand why you might infer from RedRose64's simple question that he believes that, but it would be better to let him actually say so before going into a rebuttal.
An RfC statement is a post on a talk page, so rules for signatures there should apply. Those rules encourage with wording such as "preferred" and "good practice" signing posts, but allow for special cases.
I believe in many cases, an RfC statement works best without attribution. It's supposed to be a neutral statement, and I believe when an RfC follows a dispute, and the person posting the statement is one of the disputants, many commenters will ignore all the words in the stated question except the signature and just read the request as, "Do you agree with my side of the previous debate"? Too many times, I've seen an RfC discussion veer wide of the simple stated request for comment into a continuation of some previous interpersonal battle. And that ruins the RfC. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 06:31, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
RfCs are open invitations to anybody to come and have their say. They're advertised in various places, and people coming across these notices are likely to be completely unaware of past history of the topic, including who has previously been involved. On the other hand, people already involved in the topic will probably have the discussion page on their watchlists, so will have been aware of the discussion being started - and who started it. You can't prevent those people from having preconceived bias by simply omitting your user name, because it's right there in in the watchlist entry.
There's a list of all open RfCs at WP:RFC/A; that listing is built by Legobot (talk · contribs), which produces each entry by looking for transclusions of {{rfc}}, and copying everything from just after that template down to (and including) the next datestamp. As I write this, every RfC listed at WP:RFC/A has a user signature preceding that datestamp - except for one (it's the one beginning "MOS:KOREA currently says", but it's listed twice because the {{rfc}} has both |hist and |lang). So the accepted normal practice appears to be that the user sig is included with the datestamp. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:34, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Giraffedata about the risks of signing. Humans react to social reputation. If your name is recognized, people may react as much or more to "you" than to "your question".
It goes both ways: If you opened an RFC on a tech question, my initial reaction would probably be that, whatever it is, you're right. It doesn't matter what the precise question is: I already know that you know more about tech stuff than I do. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:53, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
The question you meant to ask is, "Why, when that sentence was added a few weeks before, did that editor not choose to include both acceptable methods of signing, exactly like the page had long encouraged in its ===Example use of Rfctag=== subsection? (I'm guessing that the answer is "simplicity".)
Or you could ask, "Since signing with four tildes was banned as early as June 2005 (and before that, there was neither date nor name on RFCs, and people who "accidentally" signed their requests got yelled at and reverted), was there ever a discussion that supported permitting people to include their names in the RFC question?"
However, more usefully to your purpose, IMO the most important use case for adding only a datestamp is when multiple editors have collaborated on writing an RFC question. It'd be silly to have several people spend a long while crafting the "question", and then have it posted as if it were from only one of them. Hijiri's use case is also important: editors are humans, and humans are social beings. The reputation of the person posting the RFC can unfairly influence the results. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:29, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
Given that frequent ANI-watchers may be inclined to think I am a North Korean spy, my not signing the question that supposedly (but not really) is related to North-South Korean relations with my name might have been a good idea... Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:03, 7 July 2016 (UTC)