Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines

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I believe we should codify in these guidelines that WP:DTTR is not sufficient grounds to justify removal of a post on a talk page other than your own. Though DTTR is often treated as a policy or guideline, it isn't one, there's an antithetical one called Wikipedia:Do template the regulars, and user warnings are specifically written to not be personal attacks. Thoughts? pbp 14:03, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

WP:DTTR is just an essay, which can be boiled down to "templates often treat the editor as brand new, and provide helpful links - regular editors (should) already know about all the links and what's expected of them, so treating them otherwise isn't the best idea". Regardless of if someone agrees or disagrees with DTTR, it does not give grounds to remove a post from a talk page other than your own -- There'sNoTime (to explain) 14:15, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose See WP:CREEP. While I agree this is a correct reading of existing rules, observe that 3 of us read the existing rules as already frowning on third party talk page reverts of this sort. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 17:16, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Very old talk pages[edit]

On old talk pages, I find some weird layouts.





What was that? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nixinova (talk • contribs) 20:42, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Guidance against interleaving replies[edit]

Proposed text for introduction in "Editing others' comments" section:

"Generally you should not break up another editor's comment to reply to individual points. Interleaving comments like this confuses the layout of the page and obscures the original editor's intent, as well as potentially leaving text unsigned."

Version 2 of proposal (19:49, 14 August 2017 (UTC)):

"Generally you should not break up another editor's comment to reply to individual points. Mixing comments like this confuses the layout of the page and obscures the original editor's intent, as well as potentially leaving text unsigned. Instead, place your reply entirely below the original comment. You may wish to use the {{Talk quotation}} template to quote a portion of the material in question."

I have encountered a few times situations where to respond to seemingly itemized multiple points an editor interleaves their reply within the post they are replying to, for example as Andrewa did here (I'm inviting them to continue the discussion here out of courtesy). It may be particularly prone to happen when a post has bulleted points which I have seen a couple times and which made a real mess of the talk page. The biggest issue is that it leaves the original post's text broken up and without signatures. If signatures were added after the fact that would, to me, definitely constitute editing another's post and changing what they intended to convey and how they wanted it to look, without improving the clarity of formatting. I think instead the proper convention should be to say something like Regarding X, "Regarding X," whether X is a description or a numbered point in cases where there is one, or Quoted material: with the tq template, and to do this entirely below the post you are replying to. I am proposing that some guidance be added in this regard. —DIYeditor (talk) 00:26, 14 August 2017 (UTC) Edited to correct use of tq template. 19:08, 14 August 2017 (UTC) Updated with Version 2 of proposal. 19:49, 14 August 2017 (UTC) Underlined version 2. 02:06, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

The convention as I have followed it is not to break up existing paragraphs. It is in my experience easily learned and followed, and common elsewhere on the Internet. The indenting makes the authorship plain, and the interleaving makes the logic plain. Respecting others' paragraphs leaves their comments intact.
The proposed addition doesn't really make it clear that this is discouraged, and I'm not convinced it should be.
The convention I have followed is however easily messed up, either accidentally or deliberately, and when this happens it can get very messy.
I'd like a stronger statement on the mixing of colon and asterisk indenting. This is the most common way that the convention gets messed up, in my experience. Andrewa (talk) 01:02, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
No, please do not do that. Consider what might happen if someone wanted to reply to you, and then there was some back-and-forth. That leaves a dreadful mess. Talk pages are not just for the benefit of those currently participating who might know what is going on. In a year, people might want to work out why a particular decision was taken or not taken. Johnuniq (talk) 03:10, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Exactly. But the mixing of asterix and colon indenting is depressingly common, and as you say often leaves a dreadful mess... I'll dig up some examples. Sometimes I suspect it is even deliberate rantstyle (I might not give examples of that as it raises behavioural issues) but other times it is, disappointingly, experienced and respected users, to the point I sometimes suspect I'm just being grumpy to criticise it. But if we could avoid it, it would greatly increase the value of the archives, as you say, as well as making it easier IMO to arrive at and assess consensus in the first place. Andrewa (talk) 06:34, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
This edit is a case in point - I fixed three problems there:
  1. blank lines, contrary to WP:INDENTGAP (and which incidentally I have also fixed in this edit);
  2. signature divorced from post by interspersed comments;
  3. markup symbols inconsistent bwtween a post and its reply which caused the enumerated list to restart at 1 instead of continuing with 3.
Mixing the three styles (asterisk, colon and hash) is not a problem per se, the problem is when people mix them incorrectly. The general principle should be that if you reply to somebody, copy the markup from the start of their post, whatever combination of symbols that might be; and add one symbol (of any type) to the right hand end. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 09:01, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Agree that the protocol proposed in the above post copy the markup from the start of their post, whatever combination of symbols that might be; and add one symbol (of any type) to the right hand end would work extremely well if followed consistently. But we need to deal with bold edits by inexperienced editors as well as considered edits by old hands, and as even the old hands often depart from the relatively simple current rule of Generally colons and asterisks should not be mixed for no obvious reason, there's reason to be very afraid of a new and more complex rule. I think on balance it would be worth a try. Andrewa (talk) 13:16, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
You know, Wikipedia possesses specific tools which allows one to reply to a specific section or paragraph of an other contributor's post. For instance, the template {{Talkquote}} allows one to quote the specific part of the post one wishes to reply to, complete with signature and linked timestamp, within one's own post below which one can then post one's own reply.Tvx1 17:21, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Certainly... at the expense only of brevity. But that can also raise objections, in my experience. Andrewa (talk) 22:39, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Support Although long posts can be troubling in themselves, interrupting their flow to reply to a specific point takes any shortcoming with the fact its a long post and multiplies that by 10. So don't do that please. In the discussion I noticed two related and somewhat side issues to which I reply as follows -
Re A) on messy format.... see WP:SOFIXIT. These guidelines already encourage stand-alone edits that only clean up formatting problems. I usually do not do that with regulars unless I get their permission first. But for newbies, don't hesitate, just do it, and give them a friendly how-to-do-better-formatting note.
Re B) on replying point-by-point.... hopefully my comment here shows how I do this. If the long post does not include numbers or letters so you can reply that way, just give the point you want to reply to a letter or number and say what you wish after the longwinded editor's signature.
In closing, I think the suggestion to not insert comments in the middle is a good one, but I don't care for the word "interweave". My brain stopped cold, I had to think, it was an obstacle. Better to just use simple third grade language, something only a bit more refined than "Don't butt in line". NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 14:06, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps "Mixing comments" rather than "Interleaving comments"? And how about some additional guidance like: "Instead, place your reply entirely below the original comment." and perhaps "You may wish to use the Talk quotation template to quote a portion of the material in question." I agree that keeping it simple would be good but maybe some clear advice on what to do in addition to what not to do would help. —DIYeditor (talk) 19:19, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Positive guidance, rather than negative, is greatly to be preferred. It is both far more likely to be effective and adheres to the spirit of wp:AGF. Andrewa (talk) 19:45, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
I don't think those are side issues at all...
A) I would welcome strengthening the relevant guidelines to make that a bit clearer. In particular, In general... is vague. If the proposed more elaborate guideline (which is growing on me) is adopted, I hope the phrasing will be more to the point than that.
B) Yes, that works in cases like this. Another technique which I have employed is to start a new subsection on a particularly important point that is raised. I've received some criticism in the past for doing this, but generally from those who did not wish to hear what was said (at the risk of violating wp:AGF... sometimes the assumption wears a bit thin). Andrewa (talk) 19:45, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Andrewa, as far as your A) on this this proposal maybe it should simply be "You should not" rather than "Generally". I wasn't sure if consensus would be behind a strong statement but it seems to be heading that direction. —DIYeditor (talk) 23:58, 14 August 2017 (UTC)


I must state that I cannot stand when an editor breaks up my comment to reply to individual parts. Any time that it is done, I either put my comment back the way it was or copy and paste my signature for each part of the broken up comment to make sure that others are not confused by who is commenting. And I ask the editor not to break up my comment like that again. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:33, 31 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Strongly oppose this proposal. (Placing this here, because the mess below is farcical and I decline to waste two hours trying to figure out some other place to put it.) The short version is: We have WP:REFACTOR for a reason. The long version: It's occasionally better to split up a long, muddled post that requires detailed answers to numerous unconnected questions/observations, into a series of separate points, sometimes even separate sections. This doesn't happen frequently, but there's nothing wrong with it when it does. Many of us have been doing it now and again for years, and rarely with any objection. The only trick is to copy-paste the original attribution to each of the now-separate bits so it remains clear who posted the original material. This comes up so infrequently, and more to the point is so unobjectionable when it does come up and is done sanely, that trying to add a rule about it is WP:CREEP. Especially when the "problem" identified is actually rare, random noobs doing it in a boneheaded way, for WP:POINTy reasons, and editwarring over it, not experienced editors in doing it in a sensible way, and letting it drop if they're reverted. This proposal is a throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater approach. The rule proposed is simply wrong anyway, in that it defies accepted practice. The last thing we need is some kind of "'Tis forbidden to make talk pages actually make sense" rule, just to protect the interests of people who are unreasonably proprietary about the exact formatting of their posts. See also WP:NOT#BLOG and WP:OWN policies: you do not own the talk pages here, not even your own user talk page. So, consider this !vote a "Not just no, but hell no." Every time I see someone lose their shit about a refactor that actually made sense, I want to slap them for riding a WP:NOTHERE hobby horse, until they come to their senses, climb down, and get back to doing something constructive and collaborative instead of lubing up and stroking their own ego. (Usually, I make omphaloskepsis references instead thinly-veiled ones to masturbation, about matters like this, but "how dare you touch my precious post" conniption fits really cross the distasteful self-pleasuring-in-public line, and they really need to stop being treated by the community as if they're consistent with a collaborative editing project. They definitely are not.)  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Modifying comments already replied to[edit]

This edit rather surprised me... wouldn't it be better to raise it as a new post, with a heads-up? Andrewa (talk) 01:11, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

It's got a time stamp. Perhaps should have been underlined if it is not clear by the time stamp that it was a change. —DIYeditor (talk) 02:03, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Yes, it complies perfectly with the guideline on modifying your own comments (WP:REDACT) as far as I can see. But it seems to me far more confusing than my edit [1] which inspired this whole section. I think the indenting there makes the signatory of the original post quite transparent, but I concede there are other views on this. But I can't see how this edit can fail to tangle the logic of the discussion. The text to which I was replying is no longer there to see, you need to go into the page history to find it. How can that possibly be helpful? And yet it seemingly conforms to guidelines. Should it? Andrewa (talk) 04:10, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Well, without software to manage talk page comments all we have are manually implemented guidelines. If users are to be able to edit their posts I think strike and insert work well enough, as well as the instruction to add a new timestamp when you've done it. On some forums where users can edit their posts the custom is to do something like "Edit: I did so and so" at the end of the edited post which I think is less clear than our strike/underscore method, but we also include a suggestion to offer an explanation if necessary in brackets. Or are you proposing that users not be able to edit posts once they are replied to? This is always an issue in forums; what it appears someone responded to may actually have been edited. Without strongly discouraging or prohibiting edits I don't see a way around it. My thinking was that it would be useful in that particular situation if the proposal were updated at the top which I believe I've seen done in other surveys. Maybe it would be useful to have clear guidance on that specific circumstance - what if you want to add another option to a survey. To me at the top makes sense as long as it is clearly marked as an edit with a time stamp. It also makes sense to include a "Survey" and "Threaded discussion" section which I wish I'd done to keep the two separate. Then any updates to the survey or !votes on it can be kept in the same area. —DIYeditor (talk) 06:22, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Strike does not have appropriate semantics, see HTML5 documentation: The s element is not appropriate when indicating document edits; to mark a span of text as having been removed from a document, use the del element.; and underscore does not have any associated semantics. For accessibility reasons, we should be using <del>...</del> and <ins>...</ins> respectively, see HTML5 documentation. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 14:38, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Tend to agree on that, but have seen debates about it. The chief objections to this interpretation are a) discussions are not documents, and (more importantly) b) <del> indicates material that has been removed or is too be removed, it does not indicate, e.g., changing ones mind, retracting an ill-thought sentiment, etc. – that is, it is intended as publication revision markup, only. I honestly don't put much stock in such semantic hair-splits, despite being a huge fan of semantic markup generally. The specs are vague (and contradict each other from version to version), there are damned near no semantic markup tags – there should be 100+ of them, but instead we have a handful that hardly anyone really cares about – and of the ones we do have, a bunch are arguably redundant and definitely disputed and disused (virtually no one agrees on WTF the exact distinctions are supposed to be between <code>, <samp>, and <kbd> in actual practice in various contexts, and consequently the last two are mostly ignored).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:21, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
There is no issue at all in modifying comments already replied to, unless it would invalidate something in a later comment. Even then, it's not problematic unless the change isn't annotated in some clear way. There are many ways to do that, e.g. with <del>...</del> (or <s>...</s>) and <ins>...</ins> markup, or by adding a [bracketed editorial change], or adding a note at the end of the post about changes and when/why they were made, or adding a reply to a post that indicates you changed the original comment (or proposal or whatever it was) in response to the objection that someone raised, or ... insert several other variations here. WP:ENC is not served in any way, at all, by trying to legislate exactly which of these methods people must use or whether they're permitted to use any at all. WP:NOT#FORUM and doesn't need any forum rules or forum moderators dictating posting style to people.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Version 2[edit]


"Generally you should not break up another editor's comment to reply to individual points. Mixing comments like this confuses the layout of the page and obscures the original editor's intent, as well as potentially leaving text unsigned. Instead, place your reply entirely below the original comment. You may wish to use the {{Talk quotation}} template to quote a portion of the material in question."

1) Replaces "interleaving" with "mixing" per NewsAndEventsGuy's concern. 2) Adds a brief description of what to do in addition to what not to do. 3) A question from Andrewa is whether this should start with "Generally you should not" or stronger wording like "You should not". I thought the stronger wording may not cover every possible situation which is why I started with "Generally". 4) I felt that only a brief mention of the quote template that is most often used would be best and we should avoid putting a detailed style guide for replying in the "Editing others' comments section", but conceivably we could start a new section about quoting/replying. It could for example cover numbering or lettering points (if that's not obvious) and {{Talkquote}} (a different template from {{Talk quotation}}). That is more than I wanted to get into originally and even if that were added I think a statement in the "Editing others' comments section" against splitting another editor's post would still be appropriate. —DIYeditor (talk) 03:09, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

It's rearranging deckchairs. The more we look at the guideline the worse it gets, see #Modifying comments already replied to. Total rewrite required, incorporating the "add one of anything to the right" suggestion for more sophisticated users, and a far simpler protocol for beginners, example-based. And I still think that a brief interspersed comment is helpful on occasions, but I will of course go with the consensus on this. Andrewa (talk) 04:19, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
There may be some issues with this page as far as providing enough detail but I think the main places to address that are Help:Using talk pages and Wikipedia:Indentation (and any other topic specific locations). Providing examples and detailed style guides here would totally change the nature of the page. It is supposed to be dos and don'ts more than detailed instructions. We can make sure the reader is pointed in the right direction for more information. —DIYeditor (talk) 06:00, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
This proposal is a very welcome clarification. But I'm concerned that it is sufficiently severe in its impact as to require wider discussion. As it stands it seeks to ban or at least discourage what is a very common and IMO clear and helpful convention, one that is long in use far beyond Wikipedia. But this is a convention that I acknowledge is poorly documented on Wikipedia and often ignored here, leading to some very messy talk pages. Andrewa (talk) 17:30, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose this just as much as the original, for the same reasons. Andrewa's "seeks to ban or at least discourage what is a very common and IMO clear and helpful convention, one that is long in use far beyond Wikipedia" is spot on. The fact that some talk pages are messes is a) a problem of us not having good software for doing talk pages (and meta:Flow is hardly an improvement, causing more problems than it resolves), b) easily fixed by refactoring – the very tool which is occasionally abused to make a mess is the same tool that enables us to clean it up (and to do many other useful things). PS: If you've ever been around someone who religiously uses {{Talk quotation}} and similar templates, you realize very quickly how annoying it is, and how much space and editorial reading time it wastes. We definitely should not be encouraging increased use of it; it's for quoting when it seems really, really necessary to do so to avoid confusion. Which is, incidentally, the rational for refactoring in various ways like the one under discussion here. Leave options option, don't mandate them, don't ban them.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Anchors (Version 3?)[edit]

@Andrewa, DIYeditor, NewsAndEventsGuy, Tvx1, Redrose64, and Johnuniq: In replying to or commenting on points in preceding comments, I have occasionally inserted anchors in those comments and linked to them. This way there is no need to quote in full the point I am responding to. More than that, when the discussion is already long and complex, with many replies-to-replies-to-replies-..., a reader can find the point being replied to without a potentially long and distracting search: for example, aXXXX this reference to Andrewa's comment about the "dreadful mess" that can result from mixing asterisk and colon listing. And unlike interleaving, anchors do not affect the display at all, but are visible only in edit mode.

I guess I'm making a proposal for a better (imho) way of replying to specific comments without interleaving or necessarily quoting, so I'm adding "Version 3" to my section header. I'm not ready to turn this into a guideline proposal, so I invite you all to please have a go at it (thus the question mark).

Please {{Ping}} me to discuss. --Thnidu (talk) 18:23, 27 August 2017 (UTC)

Thnidu, I have never used anchors in that way but can't see any reason not to. I instead use a diff to refer to the comment to which I am replying, but generally quote the relevant text in italics as well.
There are many acceptable ways of structuring a discussion.
I have been involved in Internet discussions since before public ISPs were available in Australia (we used permanent dialups to form APANA that's redlink and shouldn't be, see I see it still exists, and before that there was FidoNet which also still exists of course), and was frankly astounded that the interleaving that provoked this discussion caused anyone any stress or confusion at all. My belief was (and is) that this convention is still the most common and easily followed method of structuring a complex discussion on the Internet generally. Many if not most email clients provide it automatically.
But some do have problems with it obviously. So the questions are (1) is there a better way and (2) can and should our guidelines be improved (one way or the other depending on the answer to (1)).
I have had experience before with people objecting to this convention, but previously it has always been in the context of the low-level disruption I call ranting... for example, some users will punctuate a long post with p HTML tags or with no paragraph breaks at all. Either tactic prevents interleaving, and in my opinion should be discouraged for exactly that reason. Andrewa (talk) 22:48, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
You would not be astounded that many editors find interleaving to be disruptive if you had observed discussions where they were common, and where it was necessary to refute the interleaved comments. If people cannot make their point in a digestible manner they should not comment. A comment has to be made in a way that replies to the comment could reasonably occur. Further, discussions are not just for the benefit of the current participants; future editors may need to review old discussions to see why certain conclusions were reached. Johnuniq (talk) 23:06, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
Strongly agree with most of this.
The attempt to personalise this discussion (read the link, and discuss the contribution not the contributor please) is just plain ridiculous, as you would know had you bothered to do any check of my edit history. Enough of that please.
And I'm afraid I remain astounded. Refutation of the interleaved comments is exactly what the convention makes easy and transparent, and easy for others to follow later. Of course there comes a point where indentation is excessive, but for the first two or three indents it works very well. If it goes beyond that, probably best to start a new subsection, IMO... or outdent sometimes works well, sometimes not.
But for the rest, good points all, and I think they support the proper use of interleaved comments in Wikipedia, for the same reasons as it is standard practice elsewhere. Andrewa (talk) 23:29, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa and Johnuniq: How do you even find relevant comments in a long and heavily interleaved discussion? Especially if they're not “addressed” with {{ping}} (or one of its numerous aliases), or with simple linked mention as in {{u|Susannah Q. User}}.
In a long discussion, it is hard work to follow the threads at the best of times, and from time to time users even use this to advantage. But is there any doubt what I'm replying to here? Does it make the above post look unsigned, or this one? I don't think so. But then I'm an old hand at this, since long before Wikipedia.
So I propose to add a brief description of this anchoring method, explicitly stating that this is not a guideline but an available alternative to interleaving. If there are no strong objections I will do so. Please {{Ping}} me to discuss. --Thnidu (talk) 18:30, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
I have no objection at all, provided it is not claimed that this is a preferred method. But I still have doubts that interleaving should be in any way discouraged. See this two-part reply as an example of a case in which I think it works well. How would you make the logic clearer? Is it necessary to do so?
But we do I think need to update the guidelines to give some help to new hands who have not seen it done previously. In particular, it's not standard practice on mobile devices AFAIK. There may even be an argument to discourage it for the benefit of mobile users, I'm not one so I would not know.
On conventional web browsers it works well IMO, if properly done. Here we're now five levels deep (perhaps we should recommend a limit to the depth of indenting), so pushing the limits, but it still works well on my browser.
Thnidu, pinging as requested. But I'm surprised that is necessary... do you use watchlist and contributions? Andrewa (talk) 22:15, 30 August 2017 (UTC)

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ Sorry, Andrewa. Yes, I do use them. The trouble is that on some pages that have many unrelated discussions going simultaneously, like the Teahouse, I get too many notifications about edits on topics I'm not interested in. This page is not such, but the habit stuck with me. Also, as I believe I mentioned above, navigating such a long discussion as this on a smartphone creates other difficulties. --Thnidu (talk) 23:02, 30 August 2017 (UTC)

Making the articles available to mobile users is definitely a good thing. I am yet to be convinced that mobile editing of articles or discussions is a good thing overall. It has obvious advantages but there seem to be some drawbacks to it. Andrewa (talk) 02:47, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: Edits like this are precisely the problem we are trying to avoid. Without knowledge of that specific edit diff, can anybody tell from the above thread that the paragraph beginning "In a long discussion, it is hard work to follow the threads at the best of times" was not written by Thnidu (talk Â· contribs)? It's misattribution, plain and simple. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 08:25, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
QED. EEng 14:08, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
This is the heart of the matter, and apologies if I offended anyone by this post, but I did so as an example, and it's proving to be a good one.
Yes, I think that the indentation makes it quite obvious that the paragraph in question was written by me and not by Thnidu. I can't see how anyone can miss it, in fact. But obviously you have difficulty following the thread, so we need to do something. If there's consensus that interleaving is to be discouraged, then of course I'll abide by that decision. But I think it's the wrong way to go.
Strongly disagree that it is misattribution. That is over the top. There is no intent to mislead, and the convention I'm using is clear and unambiguous. The problem is just that some people apparently have difficulty in following it. Andrewa (talk) 14:18, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
(Thnidu here.) Between the 2 paragraphs of one of my comments, andrewa inserted a paragraph including the question
But is there any doubt what I'm replying to here? Does it make the above post look unsigned, or this one? I don't think so. But then I'm an old hand at this, since long before Wikipedia.
Redrose64 responded
Without knowledge of that specific edit diff, can anybody tell from the above thread that the paragraph beginning "In a long discussion, it is hard work to follow the threads at the best of times" was not written by Thnidu (talk Â· contribs)?
To which I will add: Yes, as a matter of fact, it does leave the preceding paragraph (not "post", since your [​andrewa​] paragraph interrupted my post) not just "look" unsigned but be unsigned, since your interposition separated that paragraph from my signature. And your paragraph there is also unsigned, since the reader must scroll five paragraphs down to find your signature. You could have avoided the latter problem by typing four tildes after your interruption, but the "un-signing" of my first paragraph would be much harder to fix, if at all doable. And we certainly couldn't rely on new users, who often neglect to sign their own posts, to handle such complications.
As you say, you're an old hand at this, and that's part of the reason for our differences here. In such conversations finding the correct attributions is not a simple task at all. To make an analogy, being an experienced driver does not qualify one to teach driving, and one reason is that there are so many actions that by now are reflexive and unconscious to the "old hand" that they need to learn that the novice needs to consciously learn the stimuli (e.g., car a short distance in front suddenly hits the brakes) and responses (brake immediately but not hard at first, while checking side view, mirror and corner-of-eye direct, to see if it's safe to swerve that way; if not, check other side while braking harder). --Thnidu (talk) 16:24, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
You say that Yes, as a matter of fact, it does leave the preceding paragraph (not "post", since your... paragraph interrupted my post) not just "look" unsigned but be unsigned, since your interposition separated that paragraph from my signature. And your paragraph there is also unsigned, since the reader must scroll five paragraphs down to find your signature.
That is true if but only if we ignore the indenting and interleaving convention, correct?
Or conversely, if we do not ignore the convention, that statement is quite simply false, is it not? The signatures are intact provided the convention is understood to apply here.
Agree with many of the points made in that post. But some of them are splitting hairs and ignoring the issue. We have had this convention for many years. You (and others) want to change it. That's the issue. And there may be a case.
But it seems to me that it would be much easier to discuss this and seek consensus on this if we followed the convention for now. I am refraining from doing so, reluctantly but at your implicit request. It seems to me for example that this series of edits let to an impenetrable mess and the points you make there could have been far better presented, and more easily answered, by using the indenting convention with interleaving.
I have problems with this recent edit (not by you) too, but perhaps that's enough for now. Andrewa (talk) 00:14, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
How many experienced editors have disagreed with the views you have expressed on this page, and how many have agreed (put me down in the former group)? Your "recent edit" link shows Redrose64 reverting a change to their comment—why would you "have problems" with basic common sense? That is indeed enough for now, and actually it is enough forever at Wikipedia. Please do not refactor other people's comments to suit your style, and definitely do not break-up other people's comments with interleaving that the community has rejected. Johnuniq (talk) 03:41, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: You have problems with my recent edit to my slightly-less recent post when all I did was restore my intended version to how it had been as I had left it in my immediately-previous edit to this page? Get out of here.
There is an indenting convention, but occasionally people will use one symbol (colon or otherwise) too many (or one too few), perhaps as a simple typo. Sometimes, in a post having three (or more) indented paragraphs they will indent one of the intermediate paragraphs to one level deeper than the rest, again perhaps it's a typo, or perhaps it's to emphasise it. Maybe they want to indicate that it has been copied from elsewhere: not everybody uses (or is aware of) tags like <blockquote>...</blockquote> or templates like {{tq}}. It might be an example of proposed wording for some guideline or other, there are at lease three such instances on this page alone. So the extra indent level of one paragraph will not necessarily indicate that the particular paragraph was added by somebody other than the person who added the ones above and below. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 10:15, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
Agree that when the convention is not followed it causes problems. Disagree that this is a problem with the convention. Andrewa (talk) 15:21, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
In fact this edit above may be a classical example. It appears by the content to be replying to me, but by the indentation it appears to be replying to the post immediately above it. Probably it is simply indented one level too many. But best not to fix it now that I've replied to it.
That's not necessarily the fault of the convention. But perhaps the convention can be made clearer (either by simplifying it or documenting it more clearly or both) so that such mistakes can be reduced. Andrewa (talk) 02:44, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: You're darned right it was a reply to you. It should have been obvious from my use of the phrase "You have problems with my recent edit" which was a straight person-reversal of your phrase "I have problems with this recent edit", and since that was an edit that I had made, I am clearly the person involved. Don't claim that you didn't know that.
Now, it is clear to several people here that you are getting tedious: therefore, it is time for you to WP:DROPTHESTICK. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 09:07, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Not quite sure what you're getting at in the first paragraph. Yes, I understood it as a reply to me, and my post did refer to your edit, explicitly, I can't see where I claimed not to know that. It's just the indenting that is wrong, and I wondered whether that might even be deliberate, to prove a point. Was it? (Redundant signature added to allow interleaving.) Andrewa (talk) 19:55, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
As to the second paragraph, see #Where to 2. Andrewa (talk) 19:55, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: I'm fed up with trying to explain things to you. You seem quite unable to link a reply back to its question. Or are you being deliberately difficult, pretending not to understand in the hope that I will switch to using interleaved replies? It ain't gonna work, feller. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 22:15, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm certainly not trying to be disruptive, and if you think I am then the place to raise it is on my user talk page, not here.
And I'm finding it a bit frustrating too. You seem to see a problem with this edit. But what exactly is the problem?
Yes, I did add a redundant signature as an experiment, to see whether you or anyone else would like to try interleaving. Was there any harm in that? And, with this redundant signature in place, would there have been any harm in interleaving? I'm not really surprised you didn't, but I think it would have done you no harm to try it.
But I'm not being deliberately difficult, pretending not to understand. I'm assuming good faith on your part and think you should do the same for me.
And I still do not understand what you're getting at in the first paragraph, and you seem to have made no attempt to explain. You said You're darned right it was a reply to you. It should have been obvious from my use of the phrase "You have problems with my recent edit" which was a straight person-reversal of your phrase "I have problems with this recent edit", and since that was an edit that I had made, I am clearly the person involved. Don't claim that you didn't know that. In reverse order, I did know that, and made no claim not to. Yes, it was clearly an edit you had made, and it was your reply to me, and I said that too, and so your indenting was incorrect. Wasn't it? We all make mistakes. Let's get back to the issues. Andrewa (talk) 01:53, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Four subsections, four sub-subsections, and 70K have been invested in this. Care to go for 70K more? EEng 02:13, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
[not being very precise about indent level, per WP:DGAF] The only reason Andrewa's examples of interleaving above were confusing/objectionable is because he didn't copy-paste the original attribution from the end of the comment (now the last of the "commentlets") so that each "commentlet" identified the author. Various off-WP threaded messaging systems auto-ID who the poster of what is; they typically do this at the top instead of the bottom, but that's an irrelevant difference. That's not to say that someone being a total ass couldn't, possibly, do disruptive interleaving, e.g. by breaking every sentence up into two-word fragment and venting about each one in turn. But that would be disruptive bullshit which we'd revert and if they did it habitually, they'd be ANI'd and be made to stop or get blocked. So, not a real problem. Don't engage in "terriblizing", i.e. don't optimize for the "possible" but for the probable and the usual and the reasonable, because there is no limit in the imagination to how terrible and world-ending the theoretically possible can be. If we all just terriblized, the project would have failed the first month. WP:AGF is a policy for a reason, and "assuming clue" (don't we have an essay on that?) is also good advice almost all of the time. Those without clue get one quickly, or they get ejected (WP:CIR).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  13:25, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
Plenty of us use the anchor method. There is no rule against it, there is no need for a rule to use it.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Current guidelines[edit]

From above: Please do not refactor other people's comments to suit your style, and definitely do not break-up other people's comments with interleaving that the community has rejected. [2]

I have no intention of doing any of that, I still think that a brief interspersed comment is helpful on occasions, but I will of course go with the consensus on this. [3] But there are several suppositions there that I want to question.

The main one is that as far as I can see the guidelines do not currently ban interleaving, so I think it's over the top to claim the the community has rejected it. But agree that the editors involved in this discussion, apart from myself, are strongly of the opinion that it should be banned completely. I suggest therefore that an RfC should be raised with a specific proposal to do so. I think this discussion has probably gone as far as it can.

I will probably oppose this RfC, depending exactly what it says and what arguments are advanced. But if it succeeds then as said above I'll abide by it of course. I may find it difficult to walk the line between allowing others to ignore this new consensus and being pointy in enforcing a ruling I don't agree with! But cross that bridge when we come to it. Hopefully we can reach a strong consensus, that will help a lot. Andrewa (talk) 20:19, 1 September 2017 (UTC)

How about if you stop wasting everyone's time and drop this? EEng 20:23, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
Agree this has gone about as far as it can. Disagree it was a waste of time, and there are still a few things to tidy up, see below. Andrewa (talk) 17:07, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
I was wrong about it having gone about as far as it can, you have now significantly changed or clarified your position below as to the changes you would like to current guidelines, and perhaps we can also make progress with the question of what they currently say, see #Where to 2 below. Andrewa (talk) 19:28, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
This recent "my way or the highway" change to the wording in the actual guideline should be reverted if it hasn't been already.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Where to now[edit]

There's obviously no desire above to test consensus on this at an RfC. There's a clear majority wanting to ban interleaving completely, but this is not the same thing as a consensus. It's not a head count, despite a recent edit summary suggesting one.

The argument seems to be that they just don't like it. Claims that this well-established convention misrepresents the original post and/or violates existing guidelines are unsubstantiated, IMO.

But obviously, these editors can boldly change the guideline and under the 3RR I can't singlehandedly stop them... and so I won't even revert once. I may support others who do, and cross that bridge when we come to it.

It would be good to clarify the guideline, but obviously I don't think that we should change it to ban interleaving. Rather it should be explicitly permitted, and some restrictions considered to control its abuse, and the abuse of indenting in general, particularly to accommodate mobile users. That's just my view of course.

I will try to avoid interleaving comments in posts made by editors who object to the practice, as I have above (with one exception deliberately used as an example). Perhaps we should set up some sort of register, either opt-in or opt-out, so that editors like me who like the practice can use it without offending those who don't.

Apart from that we may be finished here. If so we can let the discussion archive in due course. Thanks to all who have contributed. Andrewa (talk) 17:07, 2 September 2017 (UTC)

Do not avoid interleaving comments in posts made by editors who object to the practice. Just do not do it, period. If you want, create an infoboxuserbox that only you will use: "This user doesn't mind if you interlard you comments inside his posts." EEng 17:13, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
I was wrong, it seems there may be a lot left to say.
Just do not do it, period. I'm afraid that's a ridiculously sweeping request IMO. For example, if someone interleaves their comments with mine, I think I should feel free to follow their lead, and even that it would be a bit rude not to. Isn't that fair enough? I really think you are overstating both the problem and the solution.
The userbox (you said infobox but I think that's what you mean) is a good idea, although many of us already feel we have too many userboxes and there may be better ways of achieving the same goal.
And yes, if I'm the only one who ever uses it, then you'll have made a point.
An "opt-out" userbox (or something that better achieves the same) that says something along the lines of This user does not use the indenting convention to intersperse their comments between paragraphs of other users' talk page posts, and requests others not to do so too would also be a good idea IMO. Andrewa (talk) 02:11, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
No one should have to opt out to keep others from intruding on the integrity of their posts. If you and some other editor are in a discussion and agree to interleave your comments for some special reason, knock yourself out; I obviously didn't mean to restrict the right of consenting adults to indulge in whatever perverse personal behavior together they want, as long as children aren't exposed to it and you don't frighten the horses. EEng 02:40, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I obviously didn't mean to restrict the right of consenting adults to indulge in whatever perverse personal behavior together they want... That's a welcome clarification of what you actually meant by Just do not do it, period.
And this is progress. As on all talk pages, we are working towards consensus. So can I ask, do we have consensus that a blanket ban on interleaved discussions between consenting adults would be, as I said above, ridiculous? I accept that's not what you meant to say, but it seemed to be to me what you said, and what you and others have suggested above. So it's a very significant step IMO.
No one should have to opt out to keep others from intruding on the integrity of their posts. Agree. But I do not believe that the indenting and interleaving convention is quite that bad. Like your Just do not do it, period that is over the top. At worst, it makes the discussion hard to follow to those who are (for whatever reason) not comfortable using the convention.
And they should be considered, and I've said I'll avoid using the convention to reply to these people, and I am doing so. But give us a break. Wouldn't it be good to give some warning that you're one of these people? Andrewa (talk) 03:54, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, I have to feed the cat, change the water in the fish tank, and brush up on my differential equations before the dominatrix gets here. I hope you work something out. EEng 04:14, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Please could people observe WP:INDENTGAP, at least. This is an accessibility issue. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 09:07, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Very good point, and I have been guilty of forgetting that from time to time. It would be good to incorporate more on accessibility into the talk page guideline IMO, MOS:Accessibility is not often cited and I'm guessing not often read. Andrewa (talk) 11:06, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't see how INDENTGAP applies; I don't notice anyone trying to leave blank lines. —DIYeditor (talk) 20:19, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I took it simply as a pre-emptive heads-up... and a useful one. I hope I haven't blundered in that way here, but I have in the past, partly at least for reasons given in #Accessibility below. Andrewa (talk) 20:30, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
@DIYeditor: See this post; blank lines between every paragraph. @Andrewa: No use hoping: the evidence clearly shows that it was you who blundered. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:54, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
@Redrose64: Ah, thanks. I actually didn't understand the accessibility reasoning or details of INDENTGAP; I had not read it carefully. —DIYeditor (talk) 22:05, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
That was indeed a mistake on my part, and refactoring to remove it was entirely in order. And I have made that mistake before, for reasons set out in #Accessibility. I do make mistakes. I try to learn from them. My definition of an expert is someone who has already made most of their mistakes. That's part of the reason Wikipedia encourages mistakes. Andrewa (talk) 02:07, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
There's definitely no consensus on this, because people can't even agree throughout this sprawling mess what they're talking about, and the proposal (in various conflicting versions) defies over a decade and a half of actual practice, which is to refactor when it seems necessary (and to revert a refactor when one seems boneheaded or WP:POINTy). Talk pages are not magically exempt from normal WP:EDITING and WP:CONSENSUS policies. "There seems like a vague local consensus for some kind of change, but we dunno what it is" = no consensus, no change, revert to the status quo ante, i.e. before any changes were made in furtherance of what's been proposed here.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)


I've just realised that there's a trap with indenting... at the first level (no indenting), you do need to leave white space. Just going to a new line doesn't make a new paragraph.

To do that, you need to leave a blank line. Andrewa (talk) 20:19, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

On the other hand, once you indent, you must not leave white space, as it confuses accessibility aids.
And it's not necessary. Just going to a new line does give a new paragraph once you are at first indent.
Perhaps this should be more explicitly stated, somewhere? Or is it already and I've missed it? Andrewa (talk) 20:19, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
No, once you're at the first : level, just going to a new line starting with : does not give a new paragraph. The right way to break paragraph once you're in the : regime is
:Blah blah 1st paragraph
:Blah blah 2nd paragraph
EEng 22:21, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I see... what I described above seems to work on my browser, but perhaps not on others. I think this is important... is it documented anywhere in guidelines etc? Andrewa (talk) 23:18, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
No, if you try it with and without the intervening extra line with : alone, you'll see a definite difference. EEng 06:32, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
I take it from that that as far as you know this is not documented anywhere.
I've set up a little experiment in the community sandbox. I see five paragraphs, with no significant difference between the spacing of paragraphs three, four and five. What do you see? Andrewa (talk) 00:09, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
@EEng: You may be thinking of how vertical spacing used to work. However, MediaWiki:Common.css was changed in December 2016 (diff) so indented and unidented paragraphs on talk pages have the same vertical spacing. The issue of correct indenting is part of MOS:INDENTGAP where the colon on an otherwise blank line is necessary so the result is a single definition list for screen readers. Johnuniq (talk) 04:07, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Crikey, you're right! And I was just getting the hang of remembering to include the otherwise-blank-line-with-only-colon-on-it, and here they go and make it unnecessary. My apologies to all for sowing confusion. EEng 04:21, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Accessibility is presently a lost cause on our talk pages, because we're grossly abusing description list markup to do things it is not supposed to be used for, namely visible layout indentation, which is a CSS matter. It's even worse that abusing tables for layout. This needs to be fixed technically, as I cover at #Proper use of the colon, below.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Where to 2[edit]

You're like a dog with a bone â€“ except it's not a bone, it's a stick. Drop the stick.
–EEng 19:46, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

As I have said above, the goal of talk pages is to work towards consensus. There is some progress above on this.

In particular, one editor has changed or clarified their position, as I see it from wanting a complete ban on interleaving to being happy for consenting parties to use it. They still want the default to be not to use it, and perhaps that can work, I'd need to see a definite proposal and I'm a bit sceptical and wary of instruction creep. But happy to work on it.

The other bone of contention is the assertion above that guidelines already ban interleaving. I think that's also over the top, but hope we can similarly resolve that one too. Andrewa (talk) 19:37, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

You're like a dog with a bone, except it's not a bone, it's a stick. (Note that the post concerned was added after my comment above but above it... probably not a good idea, but again don't change it now I've replied.) Nothing will be decided here IMO, it's a big enough issue to require an RfC to change it, and there's no response to my suggestion above that one might be raised.

So feel free to just drop out if you feel it's a waste of time, and allow the discussion to be archived... as I also suggested once above. But IMO, there is progress. Painful progress, but this was never going to be easy. Andrewa (talk) 20:08, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

Sorry, I didn't see that you were continuing with this. I did take the discussion as consensus against interleaving so I added guidance about it to the page. I don't personally see how an RfC is necessary. It doesn't seem likely that anyone is going to support the "convention" of editing others' comments to break them up for replies. No one else has expressed support for that and several have opposed (sometimes strongly). Feel free of course to start an RfC if you think that there is some support out there for this. —DIYeditor (talk) 20:27, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Aha, I missed this edit. A bit bold perhaps but a perfectly acceptable action IMO. It has certainly been discussed here, and your edit avoids the excesses that others have (in my view at least) implied.
The next step then is to see how this affects discussions... will people even notice it, will it help or hinder discussions. And I may add something to my sig encouraging interleaving in replying to my own posts. Andrewa (talk) 20:41, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
So feel free to just drop out if you feel it's a waste of time â€“ Some of us have this page on our watchlists in case a productive discussion arises, and we'd prefer not to have our attention repeatedly diverted by this discursive trip to nowhere. EEng 22:25, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
I think that's another example of incorrect indenting. It replies to this post, so a single colon would have been correct. Or am I missing something? Andrewa (talk) 02:18, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
In all seriousness, you're an admin? EEng 02:21, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes. And a lapsed member of Australian Mensa, and a drummer, and lots of other things.
I guess the reason you ask is that you find by behaviour here below par. And it's true that admins are held to a higher standard of behaviour, even when not using any of our sysop powers. But the rules are the same. We're just expected to follow them a bit more strictly and knowledgeably.
And one of the rules is comment on content, not on the contributor. This is not the place to discuss behavior. TIA Andrewa (talk) 22:50, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Please tell me the bit about Mensa is intentional self-parody. EEng 04:35, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
It is quite accurate. And you are on really thin ice. Please cease the personal comments here. If you have complaints about my behaviour, make them in the appropriate place and fashion. If you think I'm stupid, tough. Get over it. Andrewa (talk) 06:54, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
I wouldn't dream of doubting you belong to Mensa. It's the offhand name drop I'm struggling to understand. EEng 12:42, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
OK, it was a reply to this personal attack which didn't seem worth raising on your user talk page. But strictly we should take it up there, and can if you wish to discuss it further. Andrewa (talk) 01:47, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Would it be a personal attack to say that if you think the post you just linked is a personal attack, there's something wrong with you? What in the world are you talking about? I think it would be best if you stopped trying to police others' behavior, because you seem incapable of interpreting normal human interactions. This came back onto my watchlist because I answered a ping, but I'm unwatching again; I hope when I return you'll have found some useful way to occupy yourself. EEng 04:14, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Agreed with EEng in this section, though we disagree in some other ones. This entire mess is all about a handful of prideful editors trying to police other editors, and it needs to be shut down.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

This is a bad, BAD idea[edit]

Many users find this practice highly offensive, and it makes discussions very confusing to follow. We should not be encouraging it in any way. Drive a stake through this. EEng 22:37, 30 August 2017 (UTC)

If it's true that Many users find this practice highly offensive, then I'd have to agree it should be banned. End of story.
But I must ask why is it so offensive? And why is it confusing? Was anyone confused or offended by my two-part post above? Why and how?
Walls of text are one of the key techniques of rantstyle. The ability to reply concisely and clearly to a long post is vital in order to get ranting discussions back on track, and work towards consensus.
If people find this offensive, I think perhaps they're in the wrong place. In a sense even your signed contributions don't belong to you here at Wikipedia. All text is available for reuse and refactoring. There are restrictions, of course, and we should not for example misrepresent others, or deny them their chance of a fair hearing, and the guidelines seek to ensure this. But interleaving, properly done, does neither of those things.
To the contrary, it allows arguments to be easily, clearly and concisely answered. And this is not always welcome! Andrewa (talk) 00:45, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
All text is available for reuse and refactoring â€“ Reuse, yes. "Refactoring" that in any way even slightly tampers with the context, import, or connotation of an editor's post, no, and that includes interlarding your own comments in a way that neuters the original thrust. Quote a bit of what someone said, and respond to it â€“ as I did in this very post. More than one person may want to respond to the same post, and if they all try to interleave it becomes a complete mess. EEng 00:56, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
Agree with all of the first two sentences except the unstated implication that interleaving properly done even slightly tampers with the context, import, or connotation of an editor's post or that it neuters the original thrust.
And if a second editor inserted a comment here, it would not affect the flow or logic of my post in the slightest. Andrewa (talk) 02:26, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
It does neither. Did my example above do either? It doesn't seem to have to me. Do you have examples that have? Andrewa (talk) 02:26, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
I'll tell you why I hate it. It derives from an email/usenet practice, where correspondents inserted their comments directly into the comments of the person they responded to. In that context, it works fine, for two reasons.
First, in the email/usenet context, each response was a separate document, an email message itself. It wasn't a single document being iteratively edited, with the end result being an intermingled mass of commentary by multiple editors, where finding each editor's comments and viewpoints is much more difficult.
Second, in email/usenet, one almost always trimmed away the parts not being responded to. It was a matter both of courtesy and to keep the note from becoming ungainlily long. In contrast, on Wikipedia talk pages, we obviously don't want other editors' comments trimmed by the act of responding; again, because it's a single document, not a series of individual documents.
What worked very well for email and usenet works very badly in an interatively edited document like a Wikipedia talk page. It causes attributions to be masked or difficult to figure out.
You say "it allows arguments to be easily, clearly and concisely answered", but I don't think that's the case. Easily and concisely, sure; but clarity is a casualty of the practice. I love it in email (top-posting is the bane of modern email communication) but hate it for talk pages. TJRC (talk) 00:59, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
It seems to be a matter of taste to me. I have no problem following properly inserted comments; I find it easy to follow the logic (or lack of same) in arguments presented in this way. Again, have you any examples where clarity has suffered? Do you think that the example I gave above, or the original one that started this whole string, are unclear?
I'd like to respond to the detailed points you make, some of which I agree with, but others are I think at least questionable. But without doing what you hate I think it would be unworkable, so I'll just leave it at that. Andrewa (talk) 02:26, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
andrewa, in reply to your first ¶ above (I refuse to interleave), my comment in the previous section about the "old hand" applies here as well. As a extremely experienced editor, you are unable, without effort, to comprehend how what is so easy for you can be difficult to a newcomer. --Thnidu (talk) 16:37, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
That's certainly not what I meant to say. I am unable to understand how you and other old hands have such trouble with it.
I admit I haven't checked what I said, and I don't find your references terribly helpful in doing so. Interested in other views on this. But I suspect you are, perhaps unintentionally, misquoting me.
There is a learning curve for newcomers, but the convention is easily learned and so useful in many situations that it should not be generally discouraged.
There should be guidelines discouraging its excessive use. But the proposed ban on using it even one level deep seems ridiculous to me. Andrewa (talk) 00:31, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
I think "generally" is a good compromise wording. It acknowledges that there may be circumstances where it is acceptable, although good examples elude me aside from by mutual explicit consent. Even then to me it is a bad idea. It's messy and confusing. —DIYeditor (talk) 20:33, 3 September 2017 (UTC)
Agree it's a good wording. Still disagree with the principle. I could be wrong. So let's see how it works in practice. Andrewa (talk) 23:24, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

WP:MOS is a good guideline where "generally" is excellent advice for two reasons. First, there are lots of exceptions in language, and one set of rules is unlikely to cover all cases. Second, the consequences of conflicting with MOS are small—the point of disagreement would often not be noticed by most readers. However, comments at a busy noticeboard (or an article talk page where conflict applies) are different. First, experience in such places shows that interleaving is a ghastly procedure—it makes it hard for those who need to follow the discussion (perhaps in a year) to see who-said-what and why a decision was made. Second, while there are a few ILIKEIT votes on this page, there are at least as many strong objections. Talk pages are where collaboration is tested, and procedures that annoy a significant portion of the participants are an immediate fail. The people here might understand that generally means "almost never", but those who like interleaving will use generally as a green light. If challenged they will reply that WP:TPG permits the procedure and their convenience required interleaving. Using generally will end up encouraging interleaving, and that would need a major RfC. Johnuniq (talk) 04:26, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

I've just gotten involved here and I'm not entirely sure what is meant by "interleaving" at this point, but your concern that we should assume bad faith and therefore misuse a guideline to make statements in conflict with fundamental principles (the right to edit and no ownership of text) is concerning.  There are only two rules needed, (1) we are here to build an encyclopedia and (2) don't change the meaning.  I think the second is where you've missed the departure, because it is typical when inserting text in someone else's comment to begin the insert with [insert begins here].  The big problem when inserting text in someone else's comment is when they are newbies (which in this context includes senior admins) who think they own the text.  So yes, it is important that TPG make correct neutral statements that protect good edits from ownership conflict.  Unscintillating (talk) 11:41, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Might be best to find out what we're talking about before commenting. EEng 13:51, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
That is a refusal to discuss.  Unscintillating (talk) 15:57, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
No, it's a disinclination to humor the comments of someone who starts by declaring he doesn't know what he's talking about, then goes on to talk about it at length. EEng 17:02, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
According to my search, your first edit to WT:TPG was on 27 August 2017.  Is that correct?  I suggest that you and others review Archive 10 and Archive 11.  Also Archive 8 has relevant material.  Unscintillating (talk) 18:27, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
No, it's not correct, and no one's going to plow through three archive pages you vaguely wave your hand at, looking for something unspecified. EEng 19:46, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
@Unscintillating: It would help if you indicated what specific sections you are referring to as the archives are long. Luckily "interleaving" returns Archive 10 and 11 in a search so I understood that you meant they explicitly used the term. What section in Archive 8 are you referring to? Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines/Archive 10#Reverting interruptions seemed to conclude that consensus was against interleaving and that the exceptions should not even be mentioned to avoid giving approval for the practice. Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines/Archive 11#Posting within another editor's post doesn't have clear consensus. Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines/Archive 11#Non talk page reviews and posting style did not seem to reach consensus about whether WP:TPG should cover project pages like WP:FAC where interleaving is common and mention those practices/exceptions. I am happy to leave this with the "generally" wording and even to make mention of specific exceptions (although they aren't exactly for talk pages). —DIYeditor (talk) 20:18, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
Johnuniq makes some good points in their {(longish) single paragraph above but there's also some questionable stuff mixed in. First, experience in such places shows that interleaving is a ghastly procedure—it makes it hard for those who need to follow the discussion (perhaps in a year) to see who-said-what and why a decision was made - similar sweeping statements have been made, including of course in this section head. But we have had no examples of this experience, just strong statements that it's ghastly, a bad, BAD idea, and so on. If this experience is so persuasive, surely it shouldn't be hard to find specific examples? Andrewa (talk) 20:56, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Here is an example I posted in Archive 8:

[T]he two priorities are, we are building an encyclopedia, and "don't change the meaning".  User B, or for that matter other editors, can do more by identifying where the inserts begin and end, such as with:

:Point 1 by user:A
::[insert begins here]
::Reply 1 by user:B, sig
::[insert ends here]
:Point 2 by user:A
::[insert begins here]
::Reply 2 by user:B, sig
::[insert ends here]
:Point 3 by user:A, sig
Unscintillating (talk) 03:09, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Posted by Unscintillating (talk) 22:13, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Exactly. But some users think that this leaves points 1 and 2 by user A unsigned; The bot has no trouble finding the sig however. On the other extreme, I find the first sig by user B redundant (but harmless), and again so does the bot AFAIK. Andrewa (talk) 22:23, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: surely it shouldn't be hard to find specific examples I already gave an example - in my post of 08:25, 31 August 2017 (UTC). Clearly, WP:IDHT applies here. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 20:27, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, in this post you referred to an example I had deliberately provided, and which is the subject of ongoing discussion, and I'm keen to discuss it some more. It's proving to be a very good example. Andrewa (talk) 20:52, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
I have taken the behavioural allegation to the user's talk page. [4] Andrewa (talk) 21:09, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Re: "this leaves points 1 and 2 by user A unsigned" – Yes; the obvious solution is to copy the end sig to the other post-parts by editor A. I've been doing it this way – when an interleaving refactor seems desperately needed – and it just doesn't cause problems. It's usually done to solve one, most often addressing a whole bunch of disjointed questions which deserve an answer but which are unrelated. Another similar but different approach is to refactor to number them and address each in turn by number. Virtually no one ever flips out when you do this. If they do, they have a collaboration and communication problem.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
It's not offensive to a large number of editors at all, only to a vocal handful. I've been doing it for years – when it seems genuinely necessary – and it's only produced disputes four times that I can recall: 1) a troll who later got blocked; 2) a self-declared "enemy" of mine for a while (we're on okay terms now) who was pretty much reverting everything I did everywhere and being uncivil to me at every turn; 3) someone trying to derail an RfC by shitting all over it with huge text-wall commentary inserted not just into the comments section but into the RfC itself; and 4) a non-neutrally phrased and evidence-deficient RfC that was improved, after some compromise (the fix was, of course and as I've said elsewhere herein, copying the original attribution to make it unmistakable who posted what, though this was not strictly necessary – RfCs do not actually have to have any attribution at all, and sometimes do not on purpose).

It also does not make discussions hard to follow at all, unless it's done in a intentionally or incompetently disruptive way by a bonehead. It's most often done by sensible, experienced editors and (the important part) is specifically undertaken to make a confusing discussion easier to follow.
 — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)


Thanks for the links to the archives. My immediate reaction is that it's all been said before, that some users object strongly to comments being edited in this way and proposed to ban everyone from doing it even by mutual consent, while others find it useful, and the proposed blanket ban was not supported.

Interested in other views of course.

How can we improve on these previous discussions? I suggested above and suggest again that a way of users flagging whether they object to the practice, either opt-in or opt-out or maybe even both, would be a good thing. Some actual examples of good and bad interleaving would also help, as would a clearer idea of exactly what we mean by interleaving. And, dare I say it, some clear guidelines on its use, covering both both how to use it and when it is permissible.

The devil will be in the detail of when it is permissible. Andrewa (talk) 22:16, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

This is true of almost all user-interaction matters, and we do not have a huge rulebook micromanaging these things, for very good reasons. Our rules about them are very few, and we only have rules when it's a matter that rises to very serious levels, like personal attacks, revert warring, harassment, outing, etc.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Interleave defined[edit]

The word "interleave" does not appear in the WT:TPG archives until Archive 10 in September 2013.  WT:Talk page guidelines/Archive 11#Non talk page reviews and posting style shows that interspersed and interleaved are synonyms, and that the article Posting style discusses interleaving.  Unscintillating (talk) 21:54, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

This edit has been described as precisely the problem we are trying to avoid. [5] The edit summary of that last diff is also worth repeating I think: can anybody tell from the above thread that the paragraph beginning "In a long discussion, it is hard work to follow the threads at the best of times" was not written by Thnidu?. So there's clearly a problem to address.
I have no problem telling that the paragraph... was not written by Thnidu, less problem in fact than I have in understanding that edit summary! But with a little work even that edit summary is clearly decipherable. So perhaps with some better explanation of how interleaving works, other editors would have less trouble with it. That's not the whole solution, but I think it should be part of it.
I did always intend that edit to be an example, and have apologised to any I offended by it. I think it has proved to be a good example. It has helped me to better see what others are upset about. I think we need more concrete examples, both good and bad. Andrewa (talk) 00:49, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
I have never seen a good example of interleaved comments. Good examples probably exist because Wikipedia is big place and it is conceivable that an article talk page with low traffic might have someone post several questions in one comment, and a reply giving an interspersed answer for every question. If the discussion stops there, it may be ok. However, even in that ideal case there is no easy way for a third-party to see that the second comment did not alter some meaning of the original. Such checking would require careful examination of the details of the second comment. By contrast, if the second comment had been entirely underneath the original, it would be obvious that the original was untouched. The second comment could have the form: "Q1 Here is the answer. Q2 This is another answer. Q3 Etcetera." Often the second person would take half-a-dozen edits to get their comments fixed, and that complicates the integrity issue if others edit the section in the same period.
The real problem of interleaved comments concerns a page which is not low traffic. Consider a situation where person A posts five questions and person B interleaves five answers. At the same time, editor C tries to refute one of B's answers, while other editors (including A) want to add to the interleaved subthreads. The result is a total disaster, particularly in a contentious area where POV pushers and clueless editors are involved. Johnuniq (talk) 04:32, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Johnuniq, please have a look here for a version of that scenario. How would you improve on that setting out of an already rather complex discussion? Show us! I hope I'm open to new ideas. But this one still seems counterproductive to me.
And everyone else, do you think I've correctly interpreted the convention? Open to other ideas on it. Andrewa (talk) 07:24, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
An artificial example could prove anything. I have never seen a good example of interleaved comments used in a discussion. Wikipedia resembles a massively multiplayer online role-playing game but everything is supposed to assist the development of the encyclopedia. Having fun on a guideline talk page is not useful, and sandboxes with meaningless examples are not helpful. The guideline should not encourage techniques which are known to irritate a significant number of editors. Per IAR, people can do anything that is genuinely useful for a particular situation, but the fact that no one has produced examples showing useful interleaved comments should be enough for anyone to see that the recent turmoil on this talk page is a gigantic waste of time. Johnuniq (talk) 07:44, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
It's your artificial example.
I agree with all the platitudes above. And agree that we should avoid techniques which are known to irritate a significant number of editors as far as possible. I suspect that avoiding interleaving will irritate editors too. We will see.
The problem with finding real examples is that they will mostly be from complex, problematical discussions. How are we to assess how they could have been helped by avoiding interleaving? I'll try to find some.
But we don't have examples of a total disaster produced by interleaving either, although it seems assumed by some that they exist. Surely they should be more easily found if so? Andrewa (talk) 07:58, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Here is a total disaster due to interleaving. I thought you were an advocate of interleaving and would be able to produce examples of their use from your reasonably recent contributions.
Regarding the merits of breaking-up other people's comments, if I present an argument above my signature, I intend the whole comment to stand as-is. If someone breaks-up my comment they are damaging my case, making it much harder for others to follow. If they copy my signature to the fragments of my comment, they violate WP:SIGFORGE by making it appear that I presented the fragment as a comment, when in fact it is taken out of context. Do not do that. Johnuniq (talk) 09:52, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Conversely, if others are not allowed to intersperse comments, it encourages wall of text arguments, does it not?
Interleaving is rare in my experience. But in replying to excessively long posts and ones that mix in valid points among others, it is sometimes very useful. These do tend to be discussions which are already problematic for other reasons, so I'm trying to find ones that aren't a mess for these other reasons. And it's difficult to find them, I admit that. Andrewa (talk) 20:32, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
SIGFORGE absolutely does not forbid copy-pasting a sig to keep it attached to the material it pertains to. It's about sneakily changing your own sig in a vain attempt to impersonate another user. Just think on this for at least half a second, Johnuniq. If your misinterpretation were actually correct, it would be a wiki-crime to archive anything off a talk page into an archive page without first removing the sigs from it. It would also be impermissible to fix attribution in any other way, e.g. with {{Unsigned}}. And if someone wrote a post, then accientally put their sig above it so that it was attached to the end of the post of whomever they were replying to, it would be verboten to refactor it into the proper position. It would also be impermissible to quote excerpts from posts (e.g. as we do in with "what Jimbo said" at various policy pages) and preserve the sigs exactly as written. Yet all of these things are perfectly permissible; we do them all the time. Please see WP:LAWYER, WP:GAMING, WP:NOT#BUREAUCRACY, and WP:POLICY: WP's rules are all to be interpreted in the spirit in which they're intended, and in a way that serves the collaborative nature of the project rather than making the community subservient to rules, and in a away that reflects actual practices not a a reinterpretation that attempts to force practice to change, and never in a "to the exact letter of the law" manner, especially not in a way that exploits supposed loopholes to get a WP:WIN result in furtherance of some petty personal interest, like your "don't you dare touch muh posts in any way" grandstanding. Reminds me of the "Lighten up, Francis" scene in Stripes.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:42, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
There seems to be something that prevents you from responding to the point of my comments. If someone breaks-up my comment they are damaging my case, making it much harder for others to follow. If they copy my signature to the fragments of my comment, they make it appear that I presented the fragment as a comment, when in fact it is taken out of context. Johnuniq (talk) 03:34, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
It's just been addressed again and again and you will not hear it. If someone literally fragments your argument to wreck your meaning or logic flow, this is disruptive bullshit, and WP:DE is something we have had the means to deal with already for a decade and half. Non-disruptive interleaving happens all the time, when someone posts completely unrelated stuff (sometime piles of it, more often just two things) back to back in a single block, and each needs to be addressed separately because they have no connection to each other but are important (or because one is a proposal that needs discussion as such in a separate section with a heading, or whatever).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:28, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
As a screen reader user, sometimes I'm OK with interleaving, but in the example above it got ridiculous ... I couldn't tell that Thnidu hadn't written the comment. Graham87 14:36, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for that... just the sort of input we need. How could the interleaving have been achieved in order to make it clear? Andrewa (talk) 20:32, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
I have no idea, to be honest. Graham87 04:59, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
I have to think that if WP's been humming along for 16+ years without addressing this "burning issue", then there is no smoke and there is no fire. This is a great example of what WP:CREEP was written to address.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

A concrete example[edit]

From above: Here is a total disaster due to interleaving. [6]

Very interesting, and I think I begin to understand.

This section and an adjacent section are appalling!

I'm trying to find exactly where interleaving was used, I can't see it on first reading, so a diff would be great. I'm sure I'll find it eventually, and will post it here when I do, but if you have a diff handy, Johnuniq, it might save me and perhaps others a lot of time looking.

But watch this space, there's lots going on in that example, and thanks for it. Andrewa (talk) 21:21, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

LOL, that's the whole point. Say you want to find out why a decision was made around that time. Someone gives you the above link and says that the decision came from that discussion. Now it's your job to figure out. Johnuniq (talk) 22:10, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
There's no doubt as I said above that this is an appalling example of a discussion off the rails. The question I'm asking is, was interleaving really to blame for that?
Or even before that, we could ask was it used at all? I'm assuming that you found a place where it was, and that you could save a lot of time by indicating more precisely where that is. Andrewa (talk) 22:26, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
That discussion was archived to Talk:Shakespeare authorship question/Archive 20#Wadsworth Reference Should Be Deleted For Everything But The History Section. Johnuniq, is there any reason we need to look at the past revision, rather than the archive page? Andrewa (talk) 22:51, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
I can provide links but I cannot do your thinking for you. The history of the archive you just found is this. That shows five edits by MiszaBot. Not very helpful if someone wants to find out who said what as well when and why. The real history is here.
The guideline currently does not encourage interleaving. It is not up to me to find examples of bad interleaving to prove the guideline should not be changed. Anyone wanting to encourage interleaving needs to demonstrate that it is useful. Arguments that twenty years ago people used interleaving in a completely setting are irrelevant. Johnuniq (talk) 23:06, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Johnuniq is on record in Archive 8 that what is now being called interleaving is not in basic form an issue needing comment, but that adding sub-section signatures is entirely concerning.  I think he elocutes the words of the concern better here.  Unscintillating (talk) 01:37, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the link to the talk page history. I was already moving in that direction, see here, but knowing that the interleaving you found takes place within this 100 edits is very helpful. Can you narrow it down any more than that?
It helps your case to provide an example, and you have done so, a total disaster due to interleaving you said. But if it turns out that you were mistaken in thinking that there was interleaving there, it will have done great damage to your case IMO. If it turns out that there was interleaving but it's not clear whether it was the cause of the disaster, it will be less damaging. It is agreed I think that the case was a disaster.
The history of the archive is of course useless, but the archive has some advantages over an old version of the page for searching.
I'm not necessarily encouraging interleaving. But I do want it permitted in cases where it is helpful. Andrewa (talk) 02:43, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
The relevant part of archive 8 mentioned above is here.
Re narrowing down, a clue is that I am not indefinitely blocked, but that condition applies to the editor below me on the history link I gave. I included my posts in the history because they show ("please put new posts at the bottom of each section") my response at the time. The editor whose name I did not mention is shown on the history page as making five consecutive posts (the five diffs after my two at the top). Try clicking them. Of course it is hard to see what has happened, and that is the whole point of why interleaving is undesirable. That, and the fact that the original comment is broken up and made unreadable.
Re wanting interleaving permitted when it is helpful: anything is permitted when it is helpful per pillar WP:5P5 which refers to policy WP:IAR. What is not helpful is putting wording in a guideline that would encourage interleaving by people who are not good at judging when one of the extremely rare occasions arises where it would be helpful. If WP:TPG said that interleaving was sometimes ok, the person responsible for the total disaster mentioned above would have used this guideline to justify their style of commenting. Johnuniq (talk) 04:54, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
It's an undecipherable mess with tragic consequences, a multibarnstarred editor indeffed (and not the first, unfortunately). And I can understand how, having been involved in it, you'd like to keep the format of talk pages as simple as possible.
The five edits in question seem to be [7] [8] [9] [10] and [11]. Agree that all are problematic, and that this form of interleaving is confusing and should not be permitted. But to argue for a ban on all interleaving from that seems rather a stretch. Andrewa (talk) 03:31, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Regarding this and this, I definitely think we need to include something about this in the guideline. Interleaving is problematic for reasons noted by others above. And "do not" is stronger wording that I support in this case. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:45, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
Well, I'd certainly support the Do not wording we had [12] if someone proposes it. But remember to ping me since I'm not watching this page anymore. EEng 00:16, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
@EEng: Perhaps: "On pages in the Talk: namespaces, do not... However on some project pages such as WP:FAC where it is accepted practice..." I tend to agree that interleaving is just plain bad but it may be tough justify a "do not" statement without widespread consensus. @Flyer22 Reborn: I am happy with "Generally" and perhaps giving the specific FAC exception. I would otherwise consider starting an RfC (possibly on a fresh subpage here to keep things clean) and advertise it around but I am not the one to do it since as a novice editor I don't have the standing or experience to make claims about what proper talk page practices should be. —DIYeditor (talk) 04:22, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
I still suspect that a ban on interleaving (which is what this is) will cause more problems than it solves. But I'm a lone voice, so I guess we'll need to try it and see. I'll abide by whatever guideline is current... as I've always said... and I'll try not to be pointy in pulling up others who violate it. Andrewa (talk) 07:17, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, guys. I just want something on the page stating that it's problematic. By the way, DIYeditor, regarding the pings, pings only work with a new signature. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:43, 8 September 2017 (UTC)
In this example it wasn't the interleaving that was problematic. It was the way the interleaving was done, which is agreed I think to have been unhelpful, combined with other even more problematic edits. Andrewa (talk) 03:58, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
That is incorrect. Please stop dragging this going-nowhere discussion out. The interleaving, even if it had been done "correctly", was very problematic for the reasons I have already outlined. In brief, the original comment was destroyed because readers could no longer see it, and replies to the interleaved replies could not be added without further obfuscation. There is no example of good interleaving other than those at "23:27, 7 September 2017" below concerning exceptions that are not relevant in general discussions. Johnuniq (talk) 07:12, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
If a particular editor is doing something daft, that's a micro-problem to resolve with that editor. It's no grounds for a new rule, or we'd have hundreds of thousands of rules on thousands of policy and guideline pages, instead of 200-and-change pages (which is already too many; quite a few are junk WP:PROJPAGE essays that someone slapped a {{Guideline}} tag on, and which needs to be removed). People do unhelpful, idiosyncratic things all the time and we just fix them without losing our minds about it.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
Hyperbole is totally unhelpful here. There's no "total disaster" at the page in question; all there is is a need to copy-paste the original sig and date to the separated portions of the original post so it's clear who's posting what, and then to indent the replies. Even without them, it's actually trivially easy to tell who posted what, so: WP:DGAF. This kind of bone-headed "I don't know how to reply right" thing comes up rarely, and only with noobs, so it's a non-issue. It certainly doesn't rise to "we have to have a new guideline" level.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Establishing better expectations in WP:TPG to protect proper inserts[edit]

My premise remains that the biggest problem in interleaving comes not in the unusual occasions where it is appropriate, but when editors violate WP:TPO to restore their non-existent "ownership rights" and disrupt discussions as a result of not having their expectations sufficiently set in WP:TPG.  Unscintillating (talk) 01:37, 6 September 2017 (UTC)

Separating portions of a comment from its original context and signature is the real violation of TPO it seems to me, in that it potentially changes the meaning. You believe an editor would be in the wrong to restore their comment to its original form? Now I did just remove three levels of indentation in your post in a new subsection which does not change its meaning. But if I partitioned it out that would - who is to say two distinct sentences or paragraphs weren't meant to provide context for each other? What guidance would you suggest for TPG on this matter? —DIYeditor (talk) 02:34, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
My belief remains that the biggest problem is that people do not understand and follow the indenting convention. And this is not just a problem when interleaving might otherwise be helpful. It creates awful messes even without any attempt at interleaving.
I haven't yet found the interleaving referred to in #A concrete example above, but the links so far provided do lead to some awful ancient trainwrecks. See this diff and don't waste too much time trying to work out what is going on, it's a mess. But note that in the edit being restored, two colons are being used to set out an inline quotation.
If this is normal on that talk page at that time, then those accustomed to it are going to hate interleaving, and find it confusing and even misrepresenting the flow of discussion. The two conventions are not even remotely compatible. So it's starting to make sense to me.
But I say two conventions with some reservations. It seems to me possible that those involved in this particular discussion were making the rules up as they went along. Andrewa (talk) 03:55, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
@Andrewa: Another tangential problem I see with the indenting convention is when, as you did correctly above per the Wikipedia:Indentation essay, a reply is indented only one more level than what is being responded to even if there is an intervening reply from another editor. To avoid confusion in this circumstance I do indent only one more than what I am replying to regardless of who else has responded, but I put a {{Replyto}} template at the start of my reply, because it definitely looks as if multiple comments are combined into one unless you make careful note of signatures (which naturally comes after reading a good portion of text). If I didn't want to ping a user for some reason I might just do "@User:" manually. —DIYeditor (talk) 04:22, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't find that remotely confusing, and think that it's reasonable to expect editors to learn some basic conventions of which this is one. The help page at WP:THREAD has only one very simple example, but links to the essay at Wikipedia:Indentation which has four examples of increasing complexity, and their example #2 describes this situation precisely. That essay has over 1000 incoming links, so it's fairly widely read and quoted and in the absence of anything better should be regarded as the standard IMO.
So there is no ambiguity. But there is obviously confusion.
The conventions need to be made clearer and/or more readily available.
And possibly also modified to allow for mobile computing and page readers, neither of which were considered when I started editing. There has been little change since then, and even what change there has been has not been effectively communicated to some of the participants in this discussion. Andrewa (talk) 01:25, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
And it seems that even those involved in this discussion can't follow the most basic example, so there is much room for improvement. And before when I have pointed out that indenting here was in error, the only response was a personal attack.
I say again, it seems reasonable to me to ask that people learn a few basic conventions. Andrewa (talk) 01:58, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
It doesn't matter if you know one knows the convention or not, I find it hard to believe that you do not initially parse multiple comments at the same indentation level as coming from one person. You're saying the first thing you do when you look at a new indentation level is scan for signatures before you look at the beginning of the sentences to get an idea of what each paragraph is about? Really hard to believe. Especially since 95% or more of the time comments at the same indentation level are from the same person. That flies in the face of the premise that indentation without a preceding signature in the case of interleaving should make it obvious that the indented portion is from someone else - what exactly is the cue if not indentation? And you don't see the problem when that cue is lacking? Believe me, I agree with the logic behind replies to a comment being only one more indentation level over but it trips me up every time there are responses from different people and I can't imagine what process you are using to read comments where it doesn't happen to you. —DIYeditor (talk) 02:09, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Interesting... No. I have no such problems. But I'm not saying the first thing you do when you look at a new indentation level is scan for signatures before you look at the beginning of the sentences to get an idea of what each paragraph is about at all. As I read through a post, if I come to a sig, I know it's the end of the post, and until I do I assume there is more. It seems to work most of the time! It only fails when correct indenting is not followed... such as in the appalling trainwreck claimed as due to interleaving but in which I'm increasingly doubting that there was any interleaving at all. Maybe I'll still find it. Another pair of eyes would be welcome, see #A concrete example.
I find it equally hard to believe that, reading a post, you would not notice that there was a sig at the end of it, but would continue reading on the assumption that the text following the sig was by the same person just because it's at the same indentation level. Is that what you're saying? It makes no sense at all to me. What am I missing? Andrewa (talk) 02:36, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Speed reading. I don't think most people read word by word, sentence by sentence, left to right, top to bottom. Not initially or exclusively. Having to look for signatures at the same indentation level disrupts the normal process of skimming and scanning. Especially since almost all the time the same indentation level is the same post. I would say we are getting pretty far off topic except that the only defense of interleaving I've seen is that indention is an expected cue - almost always for a different author. —DIYeditor (talk) 03:09, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Aha... my initial reaction is, that is your problem... you are using a completely inappropriate technique and it's no wonder you have problems! Speed reading is great in its place but making sense of a complex and/or controversial talk page discussion is definitely not one of them.
But if a significant number of editors do this then yes, I guess we will need to accommodate them, unless we can talk some sense into them. Andrewa (talk) 07:01, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
It now appears that the interleaving in question was five edits [13] [14] [15] [16] and [17] by a now indeffed user, which are indeed interleaving but do not follow the normal conventions, and I agree that they are problematical... using outdent in an interleaved comment is a bit bizarre, and I have never seen it done before that I can remember. Andrewa (talk) 07:28, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
Repeat: If a particular editor is doing something daft, that's a micro-problem to resolve with that editor. It's no grounds for a new rule, or we'd have hundreds of thousands of rules on thousands of policy and guideline pages, instead of 200-and-change pages. [...] People do unhelpful, idiosyncratic things all the time and we just fix them without losing our minds about it.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Comment I hate to add to the confusion here, but I'm going to. I understand completely when a discussion is on content, but a discussion on wording of a passage following a GOCE copy-edit is slightly different. I often leave detailed comments after I complete a copy-edit on the talk page of the requester. I always number them and try to include the precise location in the article of the sentence in question, including a link to the section. I often copy a sentence, group of sentences, or short paragraph for easy reference. We then go back and forth, working on that sentence, group of sentences, or paragraph, sometimes proposing slight changes in wording or sentence construction. Each version, and the accompanying remarks, really need to be one after the other to see the differences between them. When we resolve it, we go on to the next item. The discussion is almost always only between myself and the editor who requested the copy-edit. We usually use the colon for progressive indentation, but sometimes I suggest alternatives using either the bullet or (a), (b), and (c). I have copy-edited hundreds of articles, and I haven't had any problem with this method. Whenever someone replies to all my concerns at the bottom of the page, I have to go back to the top to see what the original comment or passage was, then back to the bottom to add a new comment or version. It would take a lot of time and space to repeatedly "quote" previous versions in order to add them to the bottom of the page. It makes things more difficult. I really think that if you implement this, it should be a recommendation, not a requirement.  â€“ Corinne (talk) 17:16, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

Sure, and doing what is best is the whole point of WP:IAR and the fact that this page (WP:TPG) is a guideline and not a bright-line policy. If there are situations where interleaving is useful, of course people should do that. However, interleaving is not useful in most discussions, particularly those on a noticeboard or on a contentious topic where multiple people may want to offer an opiniion. Another example of desirable interleaving is at feature-article discussions such as this long example. Johnuniq (talk) 23:27, 7 September 2017 (UTC)
I know exactly what the concern is of those who are saying that interleaving comments often creates confusion, if not total confusion. One editor replies to a comment right after the comment, even if it's in the middle of a long discussion, and others reply at the end of the discussion. I think it is particularly necessary that comments not be interleaved â€“ that is, that new comments be placed at the bottom, after the last comment â€“ in places like ANI, Rfc's, and in contentious talk page discussions. Perhaps an example of a well-organized discussion should be given in a link at the top of these pages with a suggestion that editors take a look at it, and a note strongly recommending that new comments be added at the end, and not in the middle, of a discussion be placed at the top of the page (or even at the top of a section, as a reminder). Examples of how to refer to an earlier comment could also be given, something like:
[[User:AnApple|AnApple]], you wrote above that Quoted comment here. I strongly disagree because...
I agree with [[User:AnOrange|AnOrange]] when s/he says Quoted comment. New comment here...
One more thing that could be done is when someone interleaves a comment is for someone to remind that person politely that it would lessen confusion if s/he moved his/her comment to the bottom of the discussion. (I have to admit that I haven't read the entire discussion, above, and have no suggestion regarding what to do about careless use of the colon. I just know that, for many people, graphic layout is not their strong point, and no matter how many suggestions, examples, or requirements you make, they are not going to get indentation right.)  â€“ Corinne (talk) 15:57, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
Except that when people interleave a comment for a good, clarifying reason, and don't muck up the attribution, then moving their comment to the end will have an opposite, "increase confusion", effect. WP and its talk pages do not exist for people to "police" each other about posting style or how it is "permissible" to engage in conversations or help other people.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

List of editors who would like to be notified when this discussion is closed and archived so they can add the page back to their watchlists, having removed it for the time being so as not to be annoyed over and over by this pointless waste of time[edit]

  • EEng 23:33, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
  • I'll second that. This should be closed immediately, as no consensus and a total waste of time and editorial attention.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Proper use of the colon[edit]

Improper use of the colon.

I said above I was beginning to understand. Here's part of that.

In one of the edits I stumbled upon while investigating the claim that #A concrete example had been a total disaster... (which it was) ...caused by interleaving (which it was not), two colons are used to cite the text of a policy. This rang a warning bell.

This to me is misuse of the colon. If we allow it, then the interleaving convention I have followed does become ambiguous and confusing. One or the other does need to be banned.

But there are far better ways to cite someone else's text. Andrewa (talk) 04:20, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

For an example of how the two are incompatible, see this edit which makes it appear that TomSoybean affirms that Ryde really reeks of rotting rhubarb, and RichardTheLyingHeart denies this. In fact it's the other way around. IMO this confusion is because IvanTheTerrified has used nonstandard indenting. Andrewa (talk) 04:45, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Made-up examples are useless. When editors actually get engaged in long discussions in a variety of topics (real topics, not make-work commentary in Wikipedia namespace), they find a variety of opinions about colons. A majority understand that the indent level indicates which of the above comments is being addressed. However, many are unhappy with the visual cliff that results if several people respond to one post. A minority of good editors will not be budged and they believe that it is better to use indents to show where the next comment starts (no cliff). They are wrong, but collaboration is required even with people who misunderstand the point of indenting. The bottom line is that what the guideline says is totally irrelevant because the dissenters will not notice WP:TPG and would not agree with it even if it were drawn to their attention. Is there an example of a real discussion about a consequential topic where misuse of colons was a big deal? An example which would be helped by further beating this talk page? Johnuniq (talk) 07:23, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
This is the solution I have found: When I want to respond to someone at the same indent level that someone else has, I interpose a line that consists of the appropriate number of colons followed by &nbsp;. That makes a visual separation between the two responses. See the source of this comment to see what I mean.
I used to use <br> but I got concerned that it might be messing up screen-readers; the explanations of what happens with those are a little hard to follow completely. By the way, is there any way to get literal <br> inside <code> tags? I couldn't figure it out. --Trovatore (talk) 08:24, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
@Trovatore: Not sure what you mean by "a literal <br> inside <code> tags"; do you mean a line break in a code block when that block is visually rendered, a line break in the source that doesn't show up when the block is rendered, or the string "<br>" appearing in the code example, or something else? Best taken to my user talk, since it's off-topic, but I've worked out pretty much every code formatting thing to be worked out by this point (I edit a lot of template documentation). It should be <br />, or you'll be breaking people's syntax highlighters in source mode (never mind the fact that HTML5 does technically appear to permit <br>, without the /; gotta work with the tools we have). On topic: I've used the same :&nbsp; trick, but find just adding a <br /> to the end of the previous comment before starting mine is more expedient. I'm unaware of any problems this could cause, and from a WP:ACCESSIBILITY perspective, it should be much better, because it's not creating a bogus, empty <dd> list item in the <dl> structure. (Which is all markup that MediaWiki shouldn't be generating for this stuff anyway; see outdented comment on this below.)  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Most of this subthread is unintentionally absurd, since our use of wikimarkup : "indentation" for the purposes of threaded discussions is a gross misuse of the underlying <dd>...</dd> HTML markup, which is for (and only for) the definition or explanation of a term or other entry previously given with <dt>...</dt> (; in wikimarkup). The solution to this is technical and should have been proposed and implemented years ago: convert any : indent into a CSS-indented <div>...</div> when it is not immediately preceded by a ; (or explicit <dt>...</dt>). Our talk pages should not be using <dl>...</dl> structures at all, other than for creation of actual description lists we intentionally want to be formatted as such.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:29, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Good point, and I hope you will make it in the appropriate forums. But meantime, what should we do here? Andrewa (talk) 23:27, 11 September 2017 (UTC)
Opened at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#Fixing abuse of list markup (talk page accessibility, etc.). I don't think there's anything to do here about this sort of thing at all; this is a software fix, not a rules matter.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:14, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Looks good. Part of the idea of a wiki is you should not need any knowledge of the underlying HTML to edit it, whether by WYSIWYG editor or by wikitext.
But I still think that the example given is or should be contrary to guidelines, and it would be helpful if it were to be avoided. Not sure whether you regarded that assertion as unintentionally absurd. Andrewa (talk) 11:54, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
No, just the futility of arguing about the invalid markup problem here, when it can't be fixed here.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:37, 25 September 2017 (UTC)


I think it's RfC time. SMcCandlish clearly strongly opposes any caution against interleaving, but it's clear that most other editors that weighed in support caution against interleaving. I don't see this matter as WP:CREEP. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:30, 12 September 2017 (UTC)

Sounds good. —DIYeditor (talk) 03:09, 12 September 2017 (UTC)
I think things were fine before this mess of a thread was opened. Let's let this lie. EEng 04:29, 12 September 2017 (UTC)
Sure, but perhaps someone can present a choice or choices for discussion in this section, so you have a well looked at/amended proposal, before an RfC. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:19, 12 September 2017 (UTC)
Exactly. An RfC is probably overdue. One of the advantages of putting one together is that it encourages the proponents to be specific in what they are proposing and why. Andrewa (talk) 17:22, 12 September 2017 (UTC)
I'll leave starting the RfC up to one of you or someone else involved in the discussion (unless no one ends up starting it). I'll do the heavy advertising. I'm sure that many Wikipedians have something to state on this topic, and, in this case, it's best to see what the community in general thinks. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 17:43, 12 September 2017 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 17:45, 12 September 2017 (UTC)
I am un-involved in the above discussion, so it won't be me (I think it unfortunate, that no brief guidance on the do's and don't of editing someone else's comment - otherwise, called "interleaving" - came out of it, though). Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:48, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
But "interleaving" and "editing someone else's comment" are not at all synonymous; the former is an uncommon though sometimes legit subset of the latter (which also has various other subsets some of which are sometimes helpful, and some of which are not; e.g. fixing broken links or mangled HTML in a comment is routine maintenance, while "typo policing" others' commentary will get you reverted and yelled at.).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:59, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Interleaveing is editing someone else's comment, it is rearranging what they wrote by inserting breaks in their editorial flow and inserting additional text. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:12, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, a subset of, not an equation to, editing someone else's comment, exactly as I said. Glad we agree.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:40, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Part of the issue here is that people are talking about different things, including (among others) a) what they do or want to do or are used to, b) what disruptive people do or might do, or c) useful refactoring that may involve "interleaving", without any thought to how these things relate. The result is that most respondents seem to want a "someone pissed me off once, so we should have a new rule regardless of the fallout it causes" result or even an "I can imagine someone doing something disruptive so we should have a new rule regardless of the fallout it causes" result. Fortunately, WP is not voting-based.

The WP:RFC process – which consumes a lot of editorial productivity cycles – is not invoked to WP:WIN. "I'm not getting an answer I want, so I'm gonna RfC it" is just WP:FORUMSHOPPING. We've already talked this "issue" to death, without any clarity emerging. Given that the above mess proves that people are already talking completely past each other about unrelated things, there is some obvious work to do to even identify something to have an RfC about and whether doing so makes sense:

  1. Demonstrate there's a real problem to solve, and exactly what that problem is and how frequent it is.
  2. Show that existing rules and procedures do not already address it.
  3. Formulate a proposed rule to address it, which has no negative effects on actually accepted practice, and which will actually be efficacious.
This is a dependency chain (no. 3 happens only after no. 2 which happens only after no. 1).
 — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:50, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Starting an RfC is not about winning. It's about this matter affecting Wikipedia as a whole, with numerous editors citing interleaving as a problem, and editors not being able to settle this matter without all of the debate and unnecessary drama that has ensued thus far. If one or more person is holding up the addition of sound guidance, it is something to take to an RfC. It is a hell of a lot better than debating and debating, and fighting, with nothing being resolved. Even if the RfC resolves nothing, which I don't think will be the case, it will have shown that the community as a whole is divided on the issue and that we likely should not add anything to the guideline on the matter or take a more conservative approach to wording the issue in the guideline. Starting an RfC is not WP:FORUMSHOPPING in any sense of the word; it's WP:Dispute resolution. One can call an RfC dependency, but we are dependent on it for valid reasons. And except for those who fear "losing," an RfC for a matter like this is nothing to shun or be afraid of. So I still support a widely-publicized RfC on this issue and will follow through with starting one if no one else takes up the mantle. We can work out RfC wording proposals here first; whatever gets the ball rolling toward resolution. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:27, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
See points 1, 2, and 3 above. Asserting there's a real problem "affecting Wikipedia as a whole" is something neither you nor anyone else has actually demonstrated. A tiny number of people just keep going on about it, often in mutually contradictory terms. It's a bunch of emotional hand-waving about a "problem" that from all appearances is simply imaginary, and if it might actually happen in a disruptive way would already be addressable as disruptive like any other form of disruptive editing. There is no dispute to resolve, there's just a train-wreck of a sprawling thread of people miscommunicating subjective feelings without evidence of anything, and mostly not even agreeing amongst each other what they're actually talking about. That's not an RfC topic. It's a waste of time to drop, in favor of something more productive.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  04:53, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
That you are against an RfC in such lengthy of postings, just demonstrates that an RfC is a good idea per WP:DR. Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:55, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Agreed, Alanscottwalker.
SMcCandlish, I saw your points, and I clearly disagree. You talk about "a tiny number of people," when it is a tiny number of people crafting our policies and guidelines every day. Interleaving is far more of an issue than dictating that someone should not use "and/or" via MOS:ANDOR. And per the issues with that, I'm glad that I started an RfC on it. There was no bickering. Just editors assessing the issue and weighing in. That is the way that RfCs usually work. Of course, there will be the occasional heated discussion. Okay, more than occasional. But that's the nature of Wikipedia. Disputes, including heated disputes, happen all the time on this site. When such disputes are leading to nothing, as is the case now, we turn to things like an RfC. And the RfC usually does resolve the issue, even if partly or temporarily in some cases. A number of editors have demonstrated a problem with interleaving, and no one (nope, not even you) has demonstrated a significant benefit to interleaving. Any benefit to interleaving is outweighed by the problems. A well-publicized RfC will pull in a lot of editors. This may also be a "tiny few" compared to Wikipedia as a whole, but most Wikipedia editors, especially the newbies, are not concerned with watching our guideline and policy pages and/or (oops, there's that use of "and/or" again) being a part of a WikiProject (at least not for a number of years here anyway). This is not a WP:DROPTHESTICK issue. It's an issue that needs attention from those outside of the disputes on this talk page and resolution, and seeking that is productive. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 16:12, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

Visually illustrating the difference between useful and disruptive interleaving[edit]

"Interleaving" or "comment splitting" is harmless and sometimes quite useful, as long as the attribution is copy-pasted to avoid any confusion about who said what, and the motivation is topical clarity and separation, not being an ass. It's unfortunate that the discussion above has been dominated by ideas about disruptive comment-splitting and interleaving, which is rare, and is not a discrete issue of any kind (it's simply WP:DE and can be addressed at ANI, etc., like any other form of DE).

An example that illustrates one of various indications why someone might want to split and interleave (with attribution preserved), and additional stuff they might do in the process:

  • I agree. – SnorkelWeasel, 12:34, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    Can you be more specific? BTW, what's the story behind that username? – TheQuestionizer, 12:39, 30 February 2112 (UTC)


  • I agree. – SnorkelWeasel, 12:34, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    Can you be more specific? – TheQuestionizer, 12:39, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    Per WP:NOT#WEBHOST and WP:ENC, the user in question shouldn't be using their userspace for posting hundreds of pictures of their cats with cutesy captions, even if a handful of them might be encyclopedically useful. Those can be uploaded to Commons and used in actual articles (without anecdotal captions). – SnorkelWeasel, 12:54, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    BTW, what's the story behind that username? – TheQuestionizer, 12:39, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    "Snorkel" and "weasel" seem like the funniest words ever to me, and their combination conjures a hilarious visual. Let's use user talk for any further discussion of this. :-) – SnorkelWeasel, 12:54, 30 February 2112 (UTC)

or even:

  • I agree. – SnorkelWeasel, 12:34, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    Can you be more specific? – TheQuestionizer, 12:39, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
    Per WP:NOT#WEBHOST and WP:ENC, the user in question shouldn't be using their userspace for posting hundreds of pictures of their cats with cutesy captions, even if a handful of them might be encyclopedically useful. Those can be uploaded to Commons and used in actual articles (without anecdotal captions). – SnorkelWeasel, 12:54, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
BTW, what's the story behind that username? – TheQuestionizer, 12:39, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
"Snorkel" and "weasel" seem like the funniest words ever to me, and their combination conjures a hilarious visual. Let's use user talk for any further discussion of this. :-) – SnorkelWeasel, 12:54, 30 February 2112 (UTC)

 — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:35, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

How is the above "interleaving" - it doesn't break up anyone else's post unless I'm missing something. What I've just done is what is in question. —DIYeditor (talk) 01:56, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
You're missing something — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:19, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Thank you when you first just said[18] only "you're missing something" I was still feeling stupid and couldn't see it. —DIYeditor (talk) 02:37, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
(namely that "Can you be more specific? BTW, what's the story behind that username?" was originally a single post, which the replier split, to interleave a comment on the first half separately).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:19, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
I understand now that you think it's ok to split up someone's post sentence by sentence (or in this case piece by piece?) as long as the signature is copied. —DIYeditor (talk) 02:37, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
It might be or it might not be, depending on context and intent, and effect on original poster's intent. In short, it is something we have never had a rule about, do not need a rule about, and for which a rule-thumping approach will never work because it requires common sense and human judgement. (In your latest and borderline POINTy example, I'd probably revert the splitting in a less meta context than this, because "(namely that ...)" doesn't make any sense as a stand-alone post, and your apparent goal in the split is to dwell on feelings [real or illustratively inserted] that I was being sarcastic, while the obvious intent of the parenthetical was to make clear that I wasn't. I.e., you're trying to change the nature and interpretation of my content, not to aid discussion clarity by splitting juxtaposed but confusingly unrelated material into separate packages for distinct discussion. People doing potentially disruptive split-and-interleave on WP is rare, since it's a WP:Use common sense matter and anyone would be apt to revert it when it's not actually helpful.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:17, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

I do the kind of helpful interleaving illustrated above quite frequently, and of the four cases I can think of where someone blew up on me about refactoring, only two of them involved this sort of thing, so my success rate with it is around 99% over a decade and more.

I do think that on WP in particular, people have a case to make that doing it without copy-pasting the attribution (even in absence of something like a collapse-boxing or a re-sectioning) is apt to be confusing and should be avoided (i.e. by copy-pasting the attribution). Not because it's impossible to figure out who said what, but because it takes work to do so, and because the only-one-sig-at-bottom-despite-interleaving style simply isn't the "tradition" here, it's not usual, it's not part of "the way we do stuff". The occasional refactoring of posts and their responses to them – or even entire threads – to make them more useful is actually well-accepted, though as with everything there are a few naysayers. Most of them are not thinking through the implications of some kind of generalized "interleaving ban". E.g., it would invalidate hatting off-topic sections, and splitting threads into sections (either subtopically or with convenience breaks), and refactoring lengthy back-'n'-forth from !voting sections to extended discussion sections in RfC, etc., etc.

Let's look at a disruptive example. If someone habitually takes posts like this:

  • I oppose this proposal, on the basis of WP:NOT#FORUM and WP:ENC. – SnorkelWeasel, 11:14, 30 February 2112 (UTC)

and does something like this to them:

  • I
Yeah, you, you, and more you. You've been harping on this for months.
this proposal,
It's not a "proposal", it's an RfC question.
on the basis of WP:NOT#FORUM
Look who's talking; all you do here is argue on talk pages.
and WP:ENC. – SnorkelWeasel, 11:14, 30 February 2112 (UTC)
Try actually reading that policy and applying it to yourself. Only 10% of your edits are to mainspace. – AckJass 09:22, 31 February 2112 (UTC)

then User:AckJass is headed for a block if they don't stop. Even aside from the fictional user's tone, this is disruptive because it makes it harder for other people to parse or follow at all, and its clear intent is to render the original commenter's post into fragmented gibberish, to deny that editor a voice. This is radically different from constructively splitting apart unrelated comments in the same post, which need to be separately addressed, into separate but self-complete pieces (sometimes they're even split into new sections if they're important). The abusive kind of split-and-interleave stuff is very rare.

It doesn't make any sense for us to enact crazy "control freak" provisions in TPG to prevent such things (with the fallout of outlawing constructive refactoring) since doing disruptive monkeying around on talk pages is already addressable by extant policy and procedure, and there thus is no actual problem to solve. It's a classic example of WP:CREEP. Cf. WP:If it ain't broke, don't fix it, one of our shortest but most sensible essays.
 — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:35, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

So is what I just did above to your post disruptive or confusing or just fine? —DIYeditor (talk) 01:56, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
That was potentally confusing, because you didn't copy-paste my original attribution (now fixed).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:19, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
So who is two decide if two sentences should or should not have been split from each other because of needed context? Since apparently at some point it would justify a block... Could an editor restore his refactored post to its original form if s/he felt it was needed to preserve meaning? —DIYeditor (talk) 02:44, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Of course. WP:BRD, and just the nature of what refactoring is: You make a structural change to the discussion you believe is helpful, and hope that other editors agree that it is and run with it; if they didn't agree, they'd be free to revert it, whether a party to the discussion or not. There's no magical "once one refactor has happened, the page is now stuck that way forever" principle. Why are we even arguing about this? It just doesn't arise as an issue with any frequency, and it's going to default to doing what the original poster wants, per it being their material to being with, and per the status quo ante principle of what to do with content when a dispute arises.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:25, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to come across as being argumentative. I was genuinely trying to work out with you how this can be a constructive element of discussion. I think I have come closer to agreeing with you as a matter of fact. I don't have the experience to have seen this many times. —DIYeditor (talk) 05:29, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Understood. Argumentative is okay anyway. >;-) "Why are we even arguing about this?" was a commentary on the entire thread.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:45, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Block based on which policy or behavioral guideline? (I'm new I don't know) —DIYeditor (talk) 02:44, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
WP:Disruptive editing. Like a lot of WP principles, it's not a list of exactly 129 "do nots", but a general principle about effects on collaboration and productivity. A lack of years of WP experience may explain why you opened this thread to begin with, in that why WP has worked fine for a decade and a half without micro-management rules about posting and editor interaction might not be apparent without being deeper steeped in WP's workings, especially if you're used to environments that do have lots of such netiquette micro-management.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:45, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

A proposal[edit]

Despite the caution above about micro-management, I think there's a protocol suggested above that has merit, and might be the basis of an RfC, or even a bold change to the guideline without one if we can get clarity and consensus here. Watch this space. Andrewa (talk) 00:09, 18 September 2017 (UTC)

Well, editors did seem to be okay with the addition that was added, except that (as the diff link shows) a dispute arose over whether to use "Do not" or "Generally." Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:13, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Except that multiple editors here object to it. Please do not play WP:ICANTHEARYOU. I know that you know that it doesn't go over well in policy editing disputes.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  09:05, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Where? I've only seen you objecting. All over the guideline talk page. I've only seen you vehemently against an RfC, no doubt because you fear that most editors will object to people breaking up others' comments. By contrast, I have barely responded on this issue. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:46, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Let's not be silly; Andrewa has been objecting the entire time, and this thread was already enormous by the time I arrived. In this very section (a little below) AngusWOOF provides an example of useful interleaving, and others have as well, including in the eventually-launched RfC, albeit their turnout was low and the RfC is a WP:SNOW. I've actually asked WP:ANRFC to close it as such. I know when a cause is lost. :-)  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:44, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

Specifically, in #Visually illustrating the difference between useful and disruptive interleaving SMcCandlish suggests that interleaving may be useful on occasions, but that on these it's necessary to duplicate the sig on the interleaved comments after every inserted section, and also the sig with timestamp of the original poster before every inserted section. This would remove the confusion some have experienced as to who said what, but (as was pointed pointed out previously) it introduces another possible objection in that it means that a user's sig is being posted by someone else, which might be seen as impersonation, or at least as opening the way for it.

Is that perhaps worth a try? Andrewa (talk) 12:24, 18 September 2017 (UTC)

It's already regularly in use, and in practice virtually no one ever objects. The "impersonation" thing is a non-argument, or it would be impermissible to use {{unsigned}} and for bots to fix unsigned posts, or for people to move discussions from one page to another, etc., etc. Whoever you're paraphrasing is probably the only person in WP history to suggest something as weird as the notion that correctly identifying and attributing posts – a routine part of WP talk and noticeboard maintenance – is "impersonation". Given that the page history shows who posted what, it's not actually possible to impersonate anyone by such means. "Impersonation" on WP means using an ID that's nearly indistinguishable from someone else's and posting your own material in a way that others will think was posted by the one you're masquerading as. That's already against multiple policies, and it gets shut down immediately.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  20:51, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, it's necessary to duplicate the sig on the interleaved comments after every inserted section, but this usually does not happen. I've seen it time and time again. And when it happens to me, I'm always the one who has fix my and others' comments by signing each piece. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:46, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
As one of the repeat offenders I have now changed my practice. I don't know whether I have ever interleaved in your posts, but I have done so to many other editors over the years, normally without duplicating my signature or anyone else's (I have occasionally duplicated my own when it seemed to increase clarity). It seemed a good thing to do at the time. I still find it amazing that anyone found this post confusing, and it proved to be a very good test and example, in that I at least learned a lot from it and most especially from the response it evoked. Andrewa (talk) 06:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

An example of useful interleaving would be perhaps a peer review or something where items could be presented from a bullet list, but this should be preceded with whether the reviewer would want their comments broken up or present a duplicate of it as action items. AngusWOOF (bark • sniff) 23:04, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

Already expressly permitted by TPO[edit]

WP:TPO already expressly permits several forms of refactoring which may (sometimes necessarily) involve interleaving, including at the line items named "Removing prohibited material", "Removing harmful posts", "Off-topic posts", "Sectioning", "Removing duplicate sections", "Hiding or resizing images", "Hiding old code samples", and "Removing or striking through ... comments of editors ... blocked as socks", among others (sometimes also including "Fixing format errors" and "Fixing layout errors", depending on the nature of the correction[s] involved).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  09:03, 18 September 2017 (UTC)

I don't believe that any of those examples involve interleaving comments in response to the comment being modified. That's the kind of interleaving that should be discouraged. The guideline should make this clear. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:49, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
A diff of a specific edit of the sort that should be discouraged would help IMO. Andrewa (talk) 11:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Again, I think diffs of examples would be good. Andrewa (talk) 11:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
People eventually provided a couple in the RfC below, but all they show is either a) noobs who are treating the talk page like their e-mail program and will be disabused of that behavior probably on their very first day or, or b) jackasses being obnoxious, which is just disruptive editing we already have the means to deal with.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:47, 25 September 2017 (UTC)


I was going to boldly add a paragraph to the page, but because of the warning at the top—

You are editing a page that documents an English Wikipedia guideline. While you may be bold in making minor changes to this page, consider discussing any substantive changes first on the page's talk page.

— I'm posting it here first for discussion:

References on talk pages
If your comment includes references that will create footnotes, use Template:Reflist-talk[1] at the end of your comment section. This will force your references to appear in a box at the end of the section, rather than at the foot of the page as they would in an article. Like this:


  1. ^ Also useable as {{talkref}} or other names; see list here

Comments, please! {{Ping}} me.--Thnidu (talk) 18:57, 27 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Honestly, this page is complicated enough as it is. Refs on talk pages are fairly rare (usually they're there by accident â€“ copied in with some other text, and of no importance at all) and it's not the end of the world if they get rendered at the end of the page. Some other more experienced editor might come along and add {talkref}, or not, and either way it's not a big deal. I'd skip it, and let it be something people learn by example. EEng 19:09, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
  • @Thnidu: I agree with the proposal. I see this about once a month and while not necessary, I'd like to see the practice formalized. Chris Troutman (talk) 21:26, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
  • EEng (Ye gods, I just wasted at least half an hour in your "museums". Fun but dangerous!) Um... As I was saying... Yes, I still think it's a good idea. It can save a lot of scrolling (→ time → spoons), and make it a lot easier to compare the references with the text. I'mma put it in. --Thnidu (talk) 21:53, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
    I'm not saying it's not useful to have it where it applies. I'm saying that I wonder if it's worth adding to the crushing weight of detail on this page, which is one of the first we recommend newbies absorb. Anyone can come behind an initial post and add {reftalk} when they recognize that it would help so I'm saying let a more experienced comes-along-later editor do it -- no harm done by the delay -- instead of adding one more thing a newbie thinks he has to try to remember. EEng 22:02, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
    EEng is correct. It would be nice if every editor could be given a pill that allowed them to manage talk pages, but that's not going to happen, and they certainly will not read this guideline before dumping refs in their comments. Learn-by-example is best for {{reflist-talk}} and the guideline should focus on basics which are much more important. Too much detail makes it impossible to see essentials. Johnuniq (talk) 22:59, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
    You know, I think there's a place for an essay WP:LEARNBYEXAMPLE on erring on the side of relying on learn-by-example instead of stuffing every detail into long intro pages no one can possibly read. The Help: space is a trainwreck because its builders (who, I gather, simply dropped dead of exhaustion one day) couldn't decide whether to make it a set of for-dummies quick-start pages, or a full regurgitation of every consideration and feature, drawn out with numbing examples for each and every point. Favorite examples: WP:How_to_make_dashes, Help:Footnotes, and (my all-time favorite) WP:Picture tutorial. That word tutorial in there was someone's idea of a joke. (Wikipedia:Extended_image_syntax is even more indigestible, but at least it doesn't advertise itself as a tutorial or help page.) EEng 23:23, 27 August 2017 (UTC) P.S. Sorry, I momentarily blocked on the absolutely, positively, worst help page every: Help:Table.
    @EEng: I just saw that you'd deleted my paragraph from the page. I wish you had at least mentioned that action in this discussion. --Thnidu (talk) 18:55, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
I would have if there was anything that needed saying beyond what's in my edit summary. You're expected to keep pages you care about on your watchlist. EEng 20:04, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
  • I wonder if there might be a technical solution to this. It is an annoyance, especially when trying to manually archive, collapse or remove something, and you can't find where those refs at the bottom belong. On a crowded talk page in need of archiving, it can be quite difficult to find which section to stick the template in after the fact, so it would be nice if it could be either automatically generated in the first place or added by bot soon after. Beyond the scope of this talk page, I guess, but I thought I'd see if anyone thinks it's feasible before finding a place to request it. RivertorchFIREWATER 05:19, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
    I see no hope of some automated solution. But I really feel this is a search for a solution which, when found, will then be in search of a problem. Sure, it's cleaner if each talk thread ends with its own refs, but if they refs end up at the bottom of the page, so what? They're still there, and when a thread is archived the refs move properly with the thread itself to the archive page, appearing at the bottom there. Sometimes the refs are in the thread accidentally anyway e.g. got copied in as part of some text under discussion, and no one cares where they appear or indeed realizes they're even there. If it really matters that the refs be in the thread proper, someone will have the sense to add {talkref}. Otherwise, no big deal. EEng 05:29, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
    @Rivertorch: It's very easy to work out which sections to add the {{reflist-talk}} to. Assuming that you are starting with all the refs displayed automatically at the bottom of the page:
    1. Have a look at the first of those refs; it will have one or more backlinks close to the start of the line (if there is one backlink, it will be a caret "^"; if there are two or more, they will be lowercase letters).
    2. Click the first of those backlinks, this will take you to some point further up the page, almost certainly in one section or another.
    3. Edit that section, add {{reflist-talk}} to the bottom, and save.
    4. Return to the bottom of the page, check to see if there are any remaining automatically-displayed refs; if there are, return to step 1.
    and you're done. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 11:25, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, that's quick and simple! Another approach would be to just not worry about on exactly what part of the page the refs display. EEng 12:02, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, Redrose64. That's more or less what I already do, and it almost always works, but a while back I encountered a talk page where all bets seemed to be off. I don't remember exactly what I eventually found the problem was (hatted sections? an improperly closed tag, maybe?), but it just stuck in my mind and when I saw this thread it occurred to me that it might be feasible to address the problem through automated means. @EEng, I appreciate that you consider it no big deal. I certainly don't think it's a big problem, but I also think it's often worthwhile to at least consider addressing minor issues that make the interface more confusing than it needs to be, especially for new users. I'm no perfectionist, but I also dislike the "good enough" approach when something might be easily improved. Face-smile.svg RivertorchFIREWATER 18:11, 28 August 2017 (UTC)
I agree about considering, and that's what we're doing now, but to me the answer is that it's not an improvement to add these instructions to this page. A big problem in editor retention is the learning curve, and by adding this we've made that curve a little steeper in order to get a slight cosmetic adjustment to 1 in 1000 talk pages â€“ maybe (i.e. if this new instruction is remembered and heeded by newbies). And in many cases someone else will make the slight adjustment anyway. EEng 18:27, 28 August 2017 (UTC)

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ (At ten levels of indentation the text is virtually unreadable on a smartphone.)
@Chris troutman, Johnuniq, Redrose64, Rivertorch, and EEng:
Clearly I left out a crucial point in my proposal: Using {{Reflist-talk}} on one's own comment requires making sure that all previous comments with references have it as well. And that does complicate it, so it would be important to note that this is an option that you can use, but you don't have to.--Thnidu (talk) 19:28, 30 August 2017 (UTC)

Great â€“ yet more complication to an instruction that solves a tiny use case in the first place. Until five years ago {reflist-talk} didn't even exist, and we got along fine. It was invented for a the very few times where, for some special reason, it really clarified things to emit the refs accumulated to a certain point (usually how-to pages, MOS pages, etc., on which the mechanics of refs are being themselves explained). You mean well, but this whole thing is a bad use of novice editors' very limited ability to absorb our already complicated rules and guidelines. I suggest we remove it completely. EEng 20:04, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
Honest question: would you say this guideline should be primarily for newbs? RivertorchFIREWATER 23:27, 30 August 2017 (UTC)
First and foremost it's a reference for OK and not-OK behavior, for when arguments flair up. To the extent possible, it should present that in a way calculated to allow newbies to absorb it readily. That's a hard balance to strike, and way down on the list is technically complicated oh-and-in-this-rare-case-also-do-this minutiae. I'll say it again â€“ leave this for learn-by-example. EEng 00:12, 31 August 2017 (UTC)
The practice of putting citations in a talk page comment doesn't happen all that often on a single talk page, so I understand EEng's argument. I often insert this template and I feel that including it in the guideline moves my practice of adding the template beyond being my personal preference in not having citations ride the bottom of the page, but makes it a general norm which is why I support the inclusion. Chris Troutman (talk) 12:36, 1 September 2017 (UTC)
I have never seen an argument about whether reflist-talk should be included in a talk page section—it's part of referencing and does not need a "this is a good idea" guideline. The text is out of place here because WP:TPG is a behavioral guideline (don't use a talk page to express personal opinions on a subject or editor). If a reflist how-to belongs anywhere, it is at Help:Using talk pages, which is WP:TP. Further, adding how-to information anywhere will not help the problem of editors pasting refs into talk pages because the editors (often newbies) will not see it. They will only learn how to fix the issue when they see someone else add the correct reflist. Johnuniq (talk) 23:54, 1 September 2017 (UTC)

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ Great point about behavioral guideline vs. tutorial/help page. Talking about {reflist-talk} here makes it sound like you could get dragged to ANI for not doing it. I think the added text [19] needs to be removed as failing to have gained consensus. EEng 00:33, 2 September 2017 (UTC)

Well, I've removed it here -- and look carefully [20] -- there was already text on the page about {reflist-talk}! EEng 17:26, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Agreed with the proposal. This is simple, but people don't do it, and its lack often causes confusing messes. I disagree with the idea that refs on talk pages are rare and usually accidental; in the areas I edit, the opposite is true.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:33, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
    Changed my mind after looking over the page again, and I now agree with the "let people learn by example" idea.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:36, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Deleting bot notices[edit]

After chasing one link to another to find an answer, the question can only be asked here:

Q. Can bot notices (such as the InternetArchiveBot) be deleted from Talk pages? If they cannot be deleted ... can they be collapsed to use less page space?
Q. If there is a guideline somewhere about deleting bot notices from talk pages ... where is it because I didn't see it in WP:GTD, WP:NOTIFS, and WP:BOTPOL.

Thank you. Pyxis Solitary talk 00:00, 6 September 2017 (UTC)

Is there an example of a talk page which is suffering due to bot notices? I'm not sure what the problem is. I do not know of any bot notices which are unhelpful, so they should be visible for easy review. The problem with deleting them is that other editors will see that someone has removed text, and they may feel obligated to check that the removal was desirable. It's much less hassle for everyone if there are no deletions unless necessary, such as with spam. That has the benefit of not lighting up watchlists with unnecessary edits. Johnuniq (talk) 04:00, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
Talk pages don't "suffer". But they can become cluttered. What I understand by your answer is that when IABot edits have been checked, the notice needs to remain on the Talk page. If that's the case, fine.
Now ... say there are two or three IABot notices, one after the other: can they be folded within a collapse box? Pyxis Solitary talk 06:29, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
No authoritative answer is possible I'm afraid because as you say, there is no guideline. My answer would be that if someone is monitoring a particular topic and making substantive edits to the articles concerned, they might feel that some bot notices were intrusive and collapse or even delete them. However, editors who merely notice such bot posts should leave them alone mainly because an edit on a talk page can cause a dozen editors to feel they check what happened. That particularly applies for contentious topics where people might feel they need to inspect the talk history and check the diff of the removal to see that no other change occurred, and whether they agree with the removal. In short, I leave IABot notices but I do whatever it says about closing its request. Keeping the notice might also be a helpful record for anyone in the future who wonders why a certain edit occurred. Johnuniq (talk) 07:34, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
We need a guideline. I may have voiced the question but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking about it. Pyxis Solitary talk 03:14, 11 September 2017 (UTC)
My solution is to archive them after they start to pile up. We do have talk page archives for a reason, and that reason is now-useless talk page items that people don't need to see unless they have a reason to dig up "old business" on the talk page. :-) Outright deleting them as if spam or personal attacks isn't helpful for anyone.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:39, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
I'd thought about archiving them but didn't want to flip any norm on its head. Thank you for making the suggestion. Pyxis Solitary talk 03:14, 11 September 2017 (UTC)

This page mentioned at ANI[edit]

This page has been mentioned in the title of a section at ANI.  FYI, Unscintillating (talk) 23:51, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#EEng's editing at WT:TPG - links help as they would've above when mentioning sections of talk page archives. Since you are already looking at the page(s) in question it's easy and polite. FYI. —DIYeditor (talk) 00:51, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
This is a talk page, not a page on which to name names of editors involved in discussion at ANI.  Editors can easily enough find the discussion with the information I gave if they choose, without the information being found in a page search.  Unscintillating (talk) 02:10, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
Much like above when you vaguely mentioned talk page archives, it is possible to find the information, but it is easier if you are specific. Why should someone have to spend the time looking without even knowing what it's about when they could easily be linked there? I don't know about you but I prefer clicking once to typing, manually searching, scrolling, etc. I think vague references waste people's time. —DIYeditor (talk)
  • The puzzle is why it is a priority to you to report here and include in a Wikipedia page search the names of editors in a discussion at ANI.  Unscintillating (talk) 03:04, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Note that due to quiet edits, see the edit history for the entire sequence of edits.  Unscintillating (talk) 03:04, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
Huh??? And you really, really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to stop trying to control what and how others post [21][22]. EEng 05:00, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Personally I'm thrilled for people to know that Unscintillating's opened a thread about me. I fear no scrutiny. EEng 02:26, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm going to be as blunt as I can here. Unscintillating, you are wrong, drop the stick. Should you continue, it will not end well for you. --Tarage (talk) 08:37, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
Agreed. Also agreed with the original objection that posting ANI-related stuff on a page like this is not cool; it smacks of grudge-matching and canvassing.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  08:41, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

Conduct here in general[edit]

Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that this talk page, which is the talk page on the behavioural guideline concerning talk pages, is such a good example of poor behaviour on a talk page?

(And yes, I'm painfully aware that I stand accused of being one of the culprits.)

The goal of all talk pages is to arrive at consensus decisions. But to do that we need to listen. That is, really listen and try to understand not just the motivations but also the merits of what others are saying.

Have a look at the essay at wp:bullying. The string at #Guidance against interleaving replies provides I think examples of several of the bullying behaviours described, and some others not even mentioned there. Is it any wonder that consensus is not achieved under those conditions? Andrewa (talk) 18:51, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Take a look at the essay at WP:STICK. The string at #Guidance against interleaving replies provides I think examples of several of the sticky behaviors described, and some others not even mentioned there. This very thread is worth considering in that light as well. Is it any wonder that consensus is not achieved under those conditions? EEng 20:56, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, there were several allegations of that behaviour. Do you think these allegations were helpful? Andrewa (talk) 21:51, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Based on what you're doing right now, I'd say they had no effect at all. EEng 22:02, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
They did not get the response from me that they sought, agreed. But the question I'd like to ask is, if I had dropped the stick as requested, would that have improved Wikipedia? How? Andrewa (talk) 22:28, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
By ending the colossal waste of time that has been this discussion. EEng 22:41, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Disagree. Firstly, there have been some useful points made since the first request that I drop out. Secondly, I don't think the discussion would have ended just because I dropped out. I could be wrong about that, it's a matter of judgement.
Agree that there has been some time-wasting conduct, that's the whole point of this section!
How can we do better? Andrewa (talk) 23:10, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
What have you achieved apart from wasting the time and energy of several editors? The traditional response to myself and EEng would be that we should just suck it up and take this page of our watchlists if we don't want to participate in the never-ending banter. However, WP:TPG is important and some of us feel that it would be undesirable to be driven away to allow pointless navel-gazing with who-knows-what outcomes. Start an RfC or stop beating the horse. In answer to your question, we could do better by respecting WP:NOTFORUM. Johnuniq (talk) 00:35, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ Obviously in your eyes I have achieved little. The discussion is of course ongoing, and its outcomes still to be decided. But two points must be made. Firstly, you are obviously involved, and one of the reasons that you don't like what I say is simply that you don't agree with some of it. Secondly, even if you do have valid criticisms of my behaviour (and I'm not perfect but I am seriously trying hard) this is not the place to discuss that, for many reasons... policy and commonsense being the most important of these. The first port of call is my own user talk page.

Agree that this is an extremely important page, and that is why I (and others) are prepared to volunteer so much of our time here. Andrewa (talk) 23:49, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

Accessibility 2[edit]

Non-actionable discussion. Johnuniq (talk) 00:37, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

SMcCandlish observed in #Accessibility above Accessibility is presently a lost cause on our talk pages... (diff) which I think is a far more important issue than anything in the string of which it is a substring, and deserves a top-level section.

I have already confessed to being confused by the provisions for accessibility on talk pages, violating them unintentionally on occasions, and I turned out not to be the only one confused.

(I've added the "2" to the section heading to avoid duplicate section headings... I don't think that is covered in any guideline, have I missed it? But it can be very confusing and should be.) Andrewa (talk) 19:27, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

And now we have "strings?" EEng 20:52, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Section and subsection if you prefer. Sorry if you found the terminology confusing. Andrewa (talk) 21:49, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
It's cute when philosophers make up new terminology so they can abuse it. EEng 22:09, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I think that the last two comments by EEng#s, and my replies (that's including this one), should probably be hatted... any volunteers? And any other comments? Is there really a problem with the terminology? Andrewa (talk) 22:26, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I guess you didn't see Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/IncidentArchive964#EEng.27s_editing_at_WT:TPG. Are you never going to get a clue? EEng 22:38, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I did see that... surprised that it got as far as it did, as I didn't see the required previous discussion on your user talk page (but perhaps I missed it), and it was a rather waffly request anyway. Taken to your user talk page. Andrewa (talk) 23:02, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
I say again, someone please hat this, unless you think there really is a problem with my terminology that requires clarification. Andrewa (talk) 23:02, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

RfC: Should the guideline discourage interleaving? #1[edit]

Collapsed first RfC attempt

Recently, there has been substantial discussion at Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines#Guidance against interleaving replies about whether or not interleaving should be discouraged. The discussion has also concerned defining interleaving and benefits to interleaving. Editors have defined interleaving as breaking up another editor's text to reply to individual points; some editors have argued that this is problematic because it confuses who said what and obscures the original editor's intent. There has also been the argument that breaking up an editor's post like this is not an issue if the editors' posts are signed for each point. Further, editors have discussed if "Do not" or "Generally do not" wording should be used if the guideline is to discourage interleaving. See Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines#Interleave defined and Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines#Visually illustrating the difference between useful and disruptive interleaving, and other sub-threads of the discussion for more details.

So the questions are: Should the guideline discourage interleaving? If so, how strict should the discouragement be? Below are some options based on points of the discussion:

Voting and wording options

1. No. Do not discourage interleaving.

2. Yes. Discourage interleaving. Use the following wording: "Do not break up another editor's text by interleaving your own replies to individual points; this confuses who said what and obscures the original editor's intent. In your own posts you may wish to use the {{Talk quotation}} or {{Talkquote}} templates to quote others' posts."

3. Yes. Discourage interleaving. Use the following wording: "Generally you should not break up another editor's text by interleaving your own replies to individual points; this confuses who said what and obscures the original editor's intent. In your own posts you may wish to use the {{Talk quotation}} or {{Talkquote}} templates to quote others' posts."

4. Use some other wording.

I will alert the talk pages of various WikiProjects, policies and guidelines, and Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) for wide input. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:02, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

  • Mu Close this RFC as malformed and restart in binary format (and my answer will be Discourage). This FRC shares with its own question the major problem: chaotic divergence of discussion into endless disagreement when many things are discussed at the same time by many people. However trivial the ussues are. (Wikipedia is a laughing stock often criticized for this). Staszek Lem (talk) 02:40, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Staszek Lem, what binary format do you suggest? I asked about how to format the RfC above. When formatting it, I took in all of the points noted. I didn't see any other way to format the RfC than to give the backstory and present the options that were debated. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:56, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Probably that the RfC may get clearer results if it were of the form "should WP:TPG discourage interleaving" which would lead to yes or no opinions. Johnuniq (talk) 02:59, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Hmmm, the current format leads to the same options as well. With the new format, how would you suggest providing backstory? By this, I mean providing information so that editors know what has been at dispute and why? Or do you think that the RfC shouldn't provide any context at all? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:05, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • I had promised myself to ignore this page for a few days but I have to enthusiastically endorse the lucid remarks by Staszek Lem. Thanks! Johnuniq (talk) 02:59, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Note: This is what the RfC looked like before the collapse. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

RfC: Should the guideline discourage interleaving? #2[edit]

There has been substantial discussion at Wikipedia talk:Talk page guidelines#Guidance against interleaving replies about whether or not interleaving should be discouraged. Please refer to that discussion and its subsections for in-depth details. Editors have defined interleaving as breaking up another editor's text to reply to individual points. One argument is that this is problematic because it confuses who said what and obscures the original editor's intent. The other argument is that interleaving can be beneficial and that there is a difference between useful and disruptive interleaving.

Thoughts? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:18, 19 September 2017 (UTC)


  • Yes (the guideline should discourage interleaving) - My reason is pragmatic, and based on my personal experiences as a wiki editor: in every instance that I have ever seen anyone interleaf their replies, it has muddled the discussion, made it confusing to follow, and made it extremely difficult for someone who is joining the discussion at a later date to catch up/follow along. Fyddlestix (talk) 03:59, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes - This is problematic because it confuses who said what. After years of editing, I've recently spent significant time trying to comprehend such a series, eventually reaching that understanding only by reviewing diffs in the page history. It's ridiculous to require readers to do that in order to make sense of a dialogue. I've yet to see a case where interleaving was the only way to preserve/restore context. We have the {{tq}} template, a common way to refer back to part of a previous comment, or we can simply say, "Re the x question,..." or something similar. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 04:38, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes I though it was just common sense not to break up someone's comment, but apparently that needs to be explicitly stated. Stickee (talk) 04:39, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes I have never seen a good example of interleaved comments used in a discussion, except for specialist cases such as WP:FAC. My comments are intended to be considered as written. If someone breaks them up they destroy my argument, and if they copy my signature underneath each fragment, they make it appear that I presented the fragment as a comment. Some editors object to interleaving, so editors who like it should desist in the interests of collaboration. Regardless of the outcome of this RfC, WP:IAR would allow interleaving in rare cases where participants agree it is useful. Johnuniq (talk) 05:06, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes: The guideline should discourage interleaving. Interleaving has proven to be a Really Bad Idea going back to the days of FidoNET and USENET. It encourages picking apart minor details and discourages presenting a logical argument. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:28, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • No. The guideline should discourage excessive and confusing interleaving, but not interleaving in general. There should be a guideline as to exactly how to do it, along the lines of the proposal already being developed above. Andrewa (talk) 06:40, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes An edit like this illustrates this problem precisely. Several people have confirmed that in the subthread Anchors (Version 3?), without prior knowledge of that specific edit diff they cannot tell that the paragraph beginning "In a long discussion, it is hard work to follow the threads at the best of times" was not written by Thnidu (talk Â· contribs). It's misattribution, plain and simple. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 07:29, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • It doesn't matter in the end. While the community engages in rule-making over obscure cases, the Wikimedia Foundation keeps working on the Flow extension (now renamed mw:Structured Discussions), which they want to use to eventually replace talk pages, and where interleaving will be impossible. What we need is to open a debate on assistance tools on top of wikitext, to help keeping the structure of discussions, that makes it simple to create threaded comments which are easy to follow for newcomers and veterans. Interleaving wouldn't be necessary if a tool made it easy to quote parts of the comment you're replying to, for example. Diego (talk) 08:36, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • if a tool made it easy to quote parts of the comment you're replying to - I have quoted a part of the comment I'm replying to. It took me about ten seconds, which I would call easy enough. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 08:50, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Sure, but you're not a newcomer anymore; and you knew how to use the {{tq}} template to highlight the part that you were quoting. The point is that talk pages should remain accessible to new and casual editors (i.e. those who come to comment from time to time), without requiring that common features be memorized, by providing a GUI for them. If you require specialized knowledge to perform simple tasks, you're giving arguments to the WMF to replace the current software with their preferred toy. Diego (talk) 09:02, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • I see, thanks for the clarification. I submit that any such assistance tools would also involve a learning curve. In any case, there is nothing wrong with addressing the environment that we have today, when there is so little effort required to do so. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 09:12, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Oh, I agree that interleaving is not a good idea; you can always copy the original comment and interleave the replies on the copy, without destroying the structure of the original post. What I was pointing at is that we shouldn't take the environment that we have today for granted, since the WMF seems to have an unclear path to change it somewhere in the future.
BTW, the learning curve for using a toolbar to access available functions will typically be lower than learning to use templates, because of the recognition vs recall distinction. Diego (talk) 09:24, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • No, not "interleaving" in general. See #Already expressly permitted by TPO above for why. Discourage excessive and confusing interleaving (if saying so is thought necessary – we do already have a policy against disruptive editing, and no lack of ability to enforce it). See #Visually illustrating the difference between useful and disruptive interleaving, above, for examples. This proposal is very ill-considered, and would effectively ban WP:REFACTORing. It's a solution in search of a problem, and a WP:ICANTHEARYOU exercise, given all the above discussion of why a generalized anti-"interleaving" provision is a terrible idea. Disruptive interleaving is a rare and mostly noob behavior, rapidly corrected by community norms, and already addressable under extant rules in the odd case that someone persists in it. Constructive interleaving (e.g. to split unrelated questions into separate subthreads, and to collapse-box off-topic material (or remove abusive material) is a necessary and long-accepted talk-page maintenance process, and is not confusing or otherwise problematic as long as attribution is preserved, and it's not done in an incompetent manner. This proposal seems motivated by possessive WP:OWN sentiment, along "how dare you touch my posts!?!" lines.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  10:01, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, far more often than not, interleaving only makes discussions more unintelligible. And I strongly disagree that the edits described at #Visually illustrating the difference between useful and disruptive interleaving are in any way "useful". older ≠ wiser 10:38, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes Better to just use bullets or paragraph letters in your own comment and start by saying something like
  • (A) Re About interrupting the flow... I think blah blah
  • (B) Re About too long didn't read... I think blah blah
  • (C) Re About too many RFCs on the same point... I think blah blah
and in this way, 50 gazillion other people can argue with me via proper threading (aka indentation) without having to pile on at a point where the original post was interrupted.
NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 11:55, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, as a mild suggestion only We don't need more rules for the wiki-lawyers to use, but a bit of guidance as a mild suggestion would be nice. North8000 (talk) 12:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, as a mild suggestion only as per North8000 as a compromise, although I would prefer to support SMcCandlish's No. This a cultural problem. For those who come from a newsgroup background interleaving is the usual way to comment on comments (Posting style#Interleaved style). For those come from a background of office emailer and the like it is uncommon to interleave comments. Personally I prefer the news group style (when I first worked with MSDOS and Lotus Notes I hated it, having been familiar with UNIX workstations with integrated news and email clients). I think it is tedious to have to quote people and leads to disjointed conversations as follow-ups may be way down a page. If interleaved threading was to be the norm conversations could be more succinct and probably briefer. However I do appreciate that the Wikipedia talk pages are largely inhabited by quiche eaters people, who probably have never seen a newsgroup (and interleaving) but are familiar with email, Facebook et al and prefer what they are familiar with a non-interleaved style. -- PBS (talk) 13:40, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    @PBS: Even in newsgroups, the new comments are interleaved over a copy of the original post, not altering the initial post itself. Until WP:Flow becomes a reality, discussions at Wikipedia take place over a single page shared by all editors; if you interleave replies, you are destroying the initial shape of the original post. The conventions of a different discussion software can't be applied here unchanged. Diego (talk) 13:48, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Not in practice, because what happens in a newsgroup is dependant on the time a message remains in a newsgroup. After a pre-set time the older comment disappears and all one is left with is the reply. In very active news groups (with therefore a short time to live for comments) the original comment my not make it across the relays to the news server one reads. I understand that talk pages are not a similar construct to a newsgroup but, for example, you expect this comment to come lower down the page than yours because that is how we do it on Wikipedia. New editors more familiar with the Lotus Email style tend to post new comments in new sections at the top of a talk page. It is not the technology that limits how we commonly use talk pages it is self-imposed rules. -- PBS (talk) 14:00, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    No kidding! Even the idea that newsgroup and mailing list people are all used to bottom posting isn't true; that's matter of newsreader and emailer software, much of which is configurable. I'd been in top-posting mode most of my online-life (which dates back to before the Web existed) when I arrived here, and I hated WP's bottom-posting style. I still think it's terribly inefficient but we're stuck with it.

    One thing we could change fairly painlessly that would be tremendous utility improvement is top-posting new threads, even if we bottom-post inside them). It's frustrating and frankly stupid that we have to page down and down and down to find current discussions, even if an argument can be made that we should wade through a particular discussion before commenting on it.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  01:56, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

    @PBS: In my opinion, the "newsgroup norm" line of reasoning is an example of how we create Wikipedia:Systemic bias. If we're really trying to make a global inclusive encyclopedia, we should operate without any assumptions about people's prior digital experiences. Shoot, just last week some new editors might have been corresponding by snail mail. Then there's the old farts (like myself), who after posting 20 lines of unbroken text return two weeks later somewehat forgetful of exactly what we said, and we want to see our 20 lines of unbroken text. Otherwise my type of old farts end up adrift. No doubt some of my fellow older editors have more pliable brains than I, but the calcification is an exponential process, it seems. Pardon the digression.... another common experience among the antique NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 15:34, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes with common-sense exceptions, specifically when we're talking a list of "action items" as one would find at GAN/FAC, which is generally going to end up as a back-and-forth discussion between two or three editors.. If an editor has replied back to you with a list of bullet points, interleaving your actions to resolve those makes a lot of sense; though out of courtesy to new editors to that discussion, one should indicate they are interleaving with so-and-so's list. Interleaving in any other case is generally inappropriate. --MASEM (t) 14:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes. Guidance should be to generally avoid and perhaps seek agreement (or for comparatively rare, pre-arranged, structured processes). Smcandlish examples are not interleaving as described (breaking-up and inserting text - inside another's comment) they are hiding, removing, sectioning discussions, minor spelling, etc. But even if they were, (and I can only think of one that's close and it is removal and replace with a template WP:Personal attack, which is usually quite brief), because they are so particularly specified, it implies that others not described are not allowed by guidelines. The general principle is still, generally don't edit other's comments (period), or by breaking them, and then inserting your own text, as such can be confusing and/or annoying, or worse (misrepresentation) to others, unless specialized considerations are agreed. Also, what I think the few 'no's' are missing is that we Wikipedians leave comments and then walk away for weeks/months/years, with the expectation that if we ever come back, it will be the same as when we left it - and shocked if it were to be changed. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:34, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Except that "don't edit other's comments (period)" is not a rule here; we permit it for a variety of a reasons, most of them technical. The list refactor I did here just today in the course of addressing an edit-protected request is a perfect example. It is not different in any salient way from an interleave refactor, in which a bunch of unrelated stuff was mashed together and badly needed to be split up into separate posts or even separate sections to be addressed; it's blind coincidence that they were all simple matters that did not need extensive item-by-item discussion. If they had been the only approach difference would have been copy-pasting the original attribution to the separated-out points so it was clear who posted them. While the need to do such as split-up refactor to interleave questions/resolutions/discussion on a point-by-point basis is rare, we absolutely should not forbid it. If you see the history of my own talk page, you'll seem me do this pretty often (I usually use "refactor" or "split" somewhere in the edit summary), and as far as I can recall not one single person has ever objected to it. Outside my own talk page, as I noted elsewhere, objections have only been raised a handful of times, and either were either quickly resolved, or were just ranty noise by someone being a WP:JERK. No new rule needed.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:17, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes. We are all accustomed on talk pages to seeing a signature at the end of a block of text, which demarks the end of an editor's comment, and identifies the editor making that comment. Any interleaving destroys that simple relationship between comment and identity and leaves us searching through the edit history to ascertain who said what. It would start to become unusable if A's comment were allowed to be split by a series of interjections by B, whose comments may in turn be fragmented by C or even by A replying to B. No, that way lies madness. Let's make it crystal clear that interleaving on talk pages should not happen. If you consider other pages, such as FAC, each commentator has a block with their name in the "heading", so the author of the first level comments is already clear  â€“ even then, it is not acceptable if interleaved replies to those comments are themselves subsequently interleaved, and I have never seen that done on any FAC or similar page. --RexxS (talk) 17:04, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes. Exactly per RexxS. (and let's hope this talk page will soon stop being the most featured entry in my watch list every time I refresh it). Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 18:15, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes It is confusing. Expecially when sometimes people mess up on indenting. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:30, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes ......but in no way should new or old editors be chastised about this.--Moxy (talk) 20:31, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • @Moxy: To clarify: If this passed, would a gentle reference to the guideline be chastising? If so, I don't see how the guideline would be worth the space. For the most part, people learn about guidelines by seeing them linked, not by spending hours upon hours browsing guidelines. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 06:49, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  • yes under the general principle of not messing with other people's edits. Jytdog (talk) 20:58, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes I do not want anyone chopping up my comments for the reasons already expressed above. JRSpriggs (talk) 21:47, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes Other people's comments should generally not be interfered with without very good reason. LK (talk) 23:11, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes It is editing and changing someone else's post to break it up. Pasting their signature to every segment, proposed as a solution to the orphaned text, leaves each segment even more obscured from its original arrangement and makes it appear as if the user in question actually made that many different posts. This could only be unraveled by looking at the page history. It is not appropriate for subsequent editors to determine what the context is for individual portions of someone else's posts or to wholesale re-arrange the post for convenience. {{talk quotation}} and {{talkquote}} are adequate to serve this purpose and already used as a matter of convention. On Usenet and other circumstances where it is common to interleave responses to quotes of portions of the original it is equivalent to using {{talkquote}} to break it up, not breaking up the original post. WP:FAC is not really a "talk page" more like a project page but any guidance here on TPG could mention that there are some places where interleaving bullet points is accepted such as FAC, or the guideline could be explicitly applied to the Talk: namespace. —DIYeditor (talk) 00:01, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes - whenever my comments are interleaved I get the distinct impression it was done to alter the meaning of my comment. Recently EEng interleaved my comment with an image without signing it, making it appear as if I had stated these things. Interleaving should be extremely discouraged or even completely banned. Bright☀ 09:28, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, the guideline should discourage it, per all of the above. SarahSV (talk) 21:36, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes. I haven't seen it often but it is annoying. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:44, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, but - the guideline should discourage interleaving, but should recommend best practices for when it might be necessary (such as providing a note or diff to the original comment, or wrapping the interleaved comment with some kind of notice) or alternative best practices for replying to lengthy comments that perhaps should be sectioned. For example, a bulleted list referring to selected parts with brief quotations, or something. Also this should be carefully worded so as not to suggest that interleaving is forbidden, which will lead to unnecessary drama. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 21:17, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  • No, we should not have an outright ban. There are some times when it's appropriate, such as interjecting with a single sentence or a working link in the middle of a very long wall of text. I expect an outright ban to result in unnecessary disputes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:58, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    It definitely will.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:27, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    There are no outright bans at Wikipedia, even in policy. Therefore that can't be what is being proposed here. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 02:43, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    @User:Mandruss I think you comment is disingenuous, as it is not a retort to WhatamIdoing comment "I expect an outright ban to result in unnecessary disputes" as an outright ban will cause people to dispute an action under the grounds that is is not "unnecessary" but following policy/guidance. If that is not true why support a change in wording as quickly and as vehemently as you did? -- PBS (talk) 10:23, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    I !voted as soon as I arrived at this RfC, which happened to be second. Was I supposed to wait? My !vote was not vehement by any sense of that word. I'm sorry you feel something I said was disingenuous. And I can't make sense of the rest of your comment, sorry. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 10:31, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    Perhaps more to the point: We all know full well that when someone says "ban" in the context of a WP rule (short of a WP:OFFICE legal requirement) that it means "strongly discourage"; no one here is under the impression it means "make a rule that is uniquely exempt from WP:IAR and WP:COMMONSENSE", so pretense that someone is making such an argument is a straw man. Some might think that qualifies as disingenuous (and that pretending that you need this explained does too, LOL).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  21:15, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes but expressly allowing for unenumerated exceptions. I've done it a few times when alternatives seemed even more awkward. No one complained. RivertorchFIREWATER 03:36, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes - Almost any complex situation can be handled with a brief restatements of the points being responded to. Beyond My Ken (talk) 22:00, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes (except, "Almost any complex situation can be handled with a brief restatements of the points being responded to." can lead to complaints the response is "too staccato", something I've been tapped with after using several clipped-out quotes & bullet points, to clarify what I was responding to...) TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 01:43, 25 September 2017 (UTC)


Couldn't the replying editor make judicious use of {{tq}} and paragraphs to highlight the specific points they are a replying to. For example:

Because A causes B, C. But D, therefore E and F. <editor 1 signature>
Because A causes B, C. No, this is completely wrong
But D, therefore E and F. I agree <editor 2 signature>

Of course, in a realistic discussion the quotes and responses would be longer. Sizeofint (talk) 04:09, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

I don't think anyone is suggesting breaking into a paragraph such as the post of editor 1 above, and agree that should be strongly discouraged if necessary (but it seems commonsense to me).
The usenet/fidonet convention referred to above (and still an integral part of many email clients and recognised by at least one of our own bots) is to intersperse between paragraphs, using one more level of indentation, and signing only the last of the added paragraphs. But it seems this is confusing to some, so it's been suggested that each paragraph needs a signature.
But I would have no objection to others replying inline to my first and second paragraphs above provided the convention is followed, in fact before this discussion I just assumed it was good and normal practice. Andrewa (talk) 06:53, 19 September 2017 (UTC)


Several editors above have referred to their negative experiences of interleaving. It would be good to have actual examples. The only ones provided in the previous discussion were five very similar instances of which this is typical, and I agree it's a terrible edit, but it doesn't even remotely follow the convention as I understand it. Andrewa (talk) 07:19, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

Here's one, although not the one I was referring to. The other was even more confusing due to creative use of indenting, but it's harder to locate.
In this example, who wrote the comments preceding each of JFG's comments? Was it one editor or multiple? How much of your life did you spend answering those questions? How long would it have taken you if you were a less experienced editor? Is this the only way JFG could have responded to the multiple points separately? No.
Bottom line: (1) Editors are conditioned to expect all text between consecutive signatures to be from the editor in the second signature, and that convention keeps things clean and simple. Readers' mental energy should be spent understanding the words, which is usually difficult enough by itself, not trying to reconstruct who said what. (2) Making copies of the other editor's signature would be an improper modification of their comments, since it would misrepresent their actions. ―Mandruss â˜Ž 07:35, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Why should the con interleaving side have to provide more than one example of bad interleaving when the pro interleaving side have failed to produce a single example of good interleaving? Is there an example of good interleaving in general discussion (not WP:FAC)? Actually, one example would not be enough because, per WP:IAR, this guideline does not need to allow interleaving if it is only rarely useful. Johnuniq (talk) 07:40, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
"How much of your life did you spend answering those questions?" is itself a key question here. I'd bet good money that the grand total of all time all editors have spent answering such a question on rare mangled threads like these examples is grossly exceeded by the amount of editorial productivity already squandered on discussion about it on this page just in the last few weeks. The closest thing to a new rule we need here would be ... actually, I'll just open it as an alternative proposal, below.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  10:26, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
IMO this is already covered by WP:TALKO when it says "Never edit or move someone's comment to change its meaning". As someone has pointed out, splitting a comment by another editor can be easily seen as a way of changing its meaning, since the editor posted everything together.
I think the guideline could contain advice in the opposite sense: if sometimes editors want their post to be interleaved by replies from others (e.g. in the question/answer scenario), they should make it splicit in the structure of the post, by laying it out in different subsections, either with bullet points or section headers. Many editors may not have thought of this possibility, and I believe it covers the case for which interleaving is useful. Diego (talk) 10:37, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
That's classic confusion of content and presentation, of function and form. I agree that TALKO already obviates most hand-wringing concerns about "interleaving", and demonstrates that we don't really need a new rule to address disruptive refactoring.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  11:15, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
When the original poster didn't think to do this, you shouldn't be interleaving comments in the middle of the post, anyway.
That's classic confusion of content and presentation - Human speech is not a formal languaje or program, the rules of design don't apply to it; meaning is inferred both from form and content. Diego (talk) 12:09, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Understanding the difference between them is not a rule of design, it's a basic reasoning tool. Korzybski wrote a lot about this, and it's worth reviewing (or see any overall work on general semantics).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  12:46, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Why should the con interleaving side have to provide more than one example of bad interleaving when the pro interleaving side have failed to produce a single example of good interleaving? [23] They don't. Nobody does. The goal of us all here is to work towards consensus. Consensus isn't actually a Wikipedia invention, it was arguably invented by the Platonic Socrates and it has been used by others since. But it would help if we had examples, both ways. That's all. I've provided an example of what I think is good interleaving but it has turned out to be controversial. Andrewa (talk) 13:21, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
I think interleaving can be done well, but if you want an example of it being done badly, see this recent discussion. Bondegezou (talk) 11:31, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
Agree that's a terrible mess. Andrewa (talk) 16:56, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ @Diego Moya: In this firehose of a thread, I missed your "if sometimes editors want their post to be interleaved by replies from others ..." ruminations, and agree. Some of us already do indicate if we actively want something to be interleaved upon reply, either by just saying something like you suggest, or by pre-splitting and signing material into micro-threads. I just did the latter the other day, in a template parameter overhaul discussion. Rather than post a "solid" bullet list of parameter line-items, I made each a separate post (though not a separate page-save) so each could be commented on (or ignored) as people saw the need. Editors are always free to do this. What many people commenting here want, though, is for it to be some kind of wiki-crime to touch in any way someone's horribly confounded post and make it parseable, and this is frankly an insanely bad idea. It's totally against our community norms, even if the need to do this is infrequent, and of course can always be BRDed. When it's done because it's needed it is rarely BRDed. The entire nature of this proposal is to decide that talk pages do not exist for collaboration or getting work done any more, but are records of individual creations of art and genius that are inviolable, short of them transgressing a policy like WP:NPA or WP:COPYVIO. This approach will itself violate multiple policies, including WP:OWN, WP:EDITING, WP:NOT#WEBHOST, and the WP:5PILLARS meta-policy (pillar 3), and arguably also WP's own CC licensing terms. It also turns the intent of WP:TPG on its ear, and effectively invalidates WP:REFACTOR (while a how-to, not a guideline per se, it's a central part of how WP has operated the entire time).  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  03:02, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Here is an example of am absurdly disruptive case. This user has unusual levels of difficulty with organizing his thoughts and this is exactly why I think we need to discourage the practice. Of course it's not just the splitting of the post that's problematic, it's that subsequent formatting in a complex (or disjointed) situation turns it into an undecipherable mess, but I think that is part of the fundamental issue. Splitting up a post necessarily creates a break in the usual indentation-signature cues for what post starts where. And it doesn't take much to turn it into a pile of spaghetti. —DIYeditor (talk) 04:07, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
"This user has unusual levels of difficulty with organizing his thoughts" is a WP:COMPETENCE problem that can already be addressed; it's the opposite of a need for a new rule with likely wide-ranging negative consequences. For a user with competence problems, a new rule will not help, since they won't read, understand or obey it. This is a scenario of "We need a new rule because someone's not following the rules." Or "I got attacked on the street last Tuesday night. I wish there were a statute against night-time Tuesday assaults."  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  12:45, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Alternative proposal[edit]

Offer useful advice that actually reflects practice, instead of trying to force a new practice. Use wording familiar to everyone; reserve "interleaving", the meaning of which has been arguing about here for weeks, for a single line that directly addresses the particular (rare) behavior considered disruptive.

In summary (and presented as a detailed bullet list for easy examination – this could be markedly compressed, since WP:TALKO, etc., already address some of this):

  • Split apart or otherwise refactor a previous comment only for good reason, when doing so is an aid to understanding and resolving the discussion.
  • Properly attribute posts when doing so (e.g., copy-paste the original signature and date if a long comment is split into two shorter ones).
  • Some examples of good reasons (if we need to include examples):
    • Separating unrelated questions or proposals into separate discussions.
    • {{Collapse}}-boxing material that is off-topic.
    • Redacting a personal attack found in the middle of a post, and leaving behind a note about the redaction.
    • Converting a confusing series of questions or points into a list, to aid editors' ability to follow and respond.
  • If someone objects to their comment being refactored, do not editwar to maintain your change to it. (We probably don't need to say this; it's already inherent in TPG and BRD.)
  • Avoid splitting or reformatting a post in a way that makes it difficult to read or understand, or that subverts the intent of the poster. (This is really already covered by TALKO)
  • Some examples of poor reasons and approaches (if we need to include examples):
    • Interleaving point-by-point responses to various details (instead, you can sparingly use {{talkquote}} in your own reply).
    • Especially, attempting thereby to mock or to deny a voice to another editor (this is disruptive).
    • Attempting to derail a proposal by fragmenting it (also disruptive; you can make your own proposal).
    • Trying to replicate the threaded reply style of your favorite e-mail program or webboard (WP has its own discussion-formatting norms).

I think that should cover it. It also happens to accurately describe long-standing practice.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  11:15, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

"Split apart or otherwise refactor a previous comment only for good reason, when doing so is an aid to understanding and resolving the discussion" is a problem. everybody who does this, no matter how disruptive, believes that they had a good reason and that doing it was an aid to understanding and resolving the discussion. I suggest "Nevar split apart or otherwise refactor a previous comment in order to insert your own comment" instead. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:55, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
Regarding your alleged examples of good reasons:
Re: "{{Collapse}}-boxing material that is off-topic", that isn't interleaving, it is refactoring, and is already allowed per WP:TPOC
Re: "Redacting a personal attack found in the middle of a post, and leaving behind a note about the redaction", The only note you should leave behind in the middle of another editor's comment is "[redacted]". This is already allowed per WP:TPOC. There should be no interleaved comments about why you redacted it. If you feel a need to explain, post a note under the comment where you inserted the "[redacted]".
Re: "Separating unrelated questions or proposals into separate discussions", No. It is not for you to decide that another editor has combined unrelated questions or proposals and "fix" the comment. Instead, post your separated list below the original comment, using "Re:", as I have done here.
Re: "Converting a confusing series of questions or points into a list, to aid editors' ability to follow and respond", No. It is not for you to decide that another editor has posted a confusing series of questions or points. Make the list in your own comment, posted below the comment you are responding to. --Guy Macon (talk) 16:19, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
The collapseboxing I illustrated absolutely is interleaving, and yes it is permitted, and that's the entire, obvious point about why the RfC above is misguided.
Please cite the policy or guideline that prescribes that only and exactly "[redacted]" must be used. (Hint: this guideline itself disagrees.) Then go look at what people actually do when they redact.
It is indeed for any editor to make such a decision, per WP:REFACTOR and standard practice for 16 years. (And it's also any other editor;s prerogative to revert or question such a refactor; WP:BRD is a norm here for a reason.)
Ditto. I have no idea where you're getting this command-from-on-high shtick from, but it's pretty silly.
 — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:33, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
I like the general idea behind this proposal.
Unlike Guy, I think there are times when we need to split up long collections of unrelated things. I don't think that every rushed/inexperienced/drunk/thoughtless comment needs to be carefully preserved. A ban on interleaving would also make worklists much harder to manage. Consider a long list of pages or users that need to be processed that someone posts at ANI or WP:CCI. We'd be declaring it a violation of this guideline to mark off the ones that you checked or to leave an inline note that identifies the result, even if the most efficient result is to mark the items you've processed as  Done or User blocked. In a list with more than a couple of items in it, "I cleaned up Example" is not nearly as efficient as marking the actual list item. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:28, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, the fallout of the self-selecting "you cain't touch muh posts" trainwreck above is going to be wide and far-reaching, with all sorts of pointless negative side-effects and fighting we can't even predict yet, unless whatever emerges from this is extremely carefully and narrowly written to only address the rare but actually disruptive practices people have legit concerns about. This is quite simply the collectively most boneheaded WP:SNOW I have ever seen in 12 years on WP; it's a groupthink/mobrule WP:SPITE case of people doing a reflexive kneejerk vote from emotion without thinking this through. As I've warned several times. But whatever. I'm just going to let this ride off the rails, and will laugh ruefully from a safe distance while it explodes and lights wildfires all over the wiki-countryside.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:39, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
That is pure evidence-free FUD. Everyone on this page knows that the fifth pillar means that anything which is useful is fine. That means good interleaving is good. However, I still have not seen anyone post a non-artificial example of good interleaving, other than for specialist cases such as WP:FAC. Johnuniq (talk) 03:15, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Hardly FUD. Read this actual discussion. It's full of outright denialism that good interleaving could possibly exist. The good example I posted in a section for it (and a contrasting bad example), before the RfC, is a fictionalized example of what I do regularly. It seemed much more politic to me than providing an actual diff that singles out someone else's post as a confused mess, just to use them as an example. (The fact that people have been doing this on this page as a form of public mockery actually raises some WP:CIVIL concerns.)  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  12:46, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
I think interleaving is pretty common at GA reviews, too. I don't think that "specialist cases" really describes it.
And while we might like to hope that "everyone on this page knows" that IAR is still a policy, it has gotten harder to do that in reality. (Really: People cite MEDRS to revert additions that include citations to top-quality peer-reviewed research in highly reputable journals, and that guideline doesn't actually ban such sources. That kind of edit is not about what's best for the article; it's about Following The Rules.) And even if someone still thinks it's easy to do what's right for the project even if it contravenes some unimportant general rule, I think we can all agree that "everyone on this page" is a tiny fraction of "everyone", and that quite a lot of the people not on this page don't know which rules can and should be set aside under which circumstances. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:04, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: Of course GA reviews are special cases. The reason we don't interleave in the general case is that it beaks the relationship between a block of text and its attribution to a signed editor. In GA reviews (and similar), there is one reviewer whose list of comments are already incontrovertibly ascribed to them. Interleaving a list such as that does not break up the already obvious attribution of each point to the reviewer. However, you won't find GA reviews where the replies to the reviewer are themselves interrupted through interleaving by a third editor because that would cause the same sort of confusion that this guidance seeks to eliminate.
In brief, where the attribution of the original text is crystal clear, and the block of text is composed of a list of individual points, interleaving makes sense. Otherwise it should be strongly discouraged as rude, disruptive, and most importantly, thoughtless. --RexxS (talk) 12:13, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
[Addendum]: And while I'm here, a six-person pilot study can be published in a "top-quality peer-reviewed" journal like the Lancet, but it doesn't mean you can use it in Wikipedia to claim that a new miracle cure for cancer has been found. We have MEDRS for a Well Thought-out Reason™, not just to Follow Rules. --RexxS (talk) 12:20, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
Agreed on MEDRS, but the idea that all interleaving is "rude, disruptive, and most importantly, thoughtless" is just plain counterfactual. Those of us who do it (and, duhhh, preserve attribution while doing it) are doing it very carefully, to improve the conversation and help the original poster get the answers they want, and for clearly-thought-out reasons. Your characterization only applies to people being stupid or assholes. We all know the difference, and stupid assholery is already addressable by current remedial processes, ergo a new rule about this is CREEPY and ill-considered.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  21:28, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure how you preserve attribution without forging another editor's signature, but leave that aside for now. The real fact is that for every one person who might interleave (while preserving attribution) carefully, thoughtfully and for the best reasons, there are 999 stupid, careless, thoughtless arseholes who wouldn't know an attribution if it was rolled up and inserted into their jacksy. I think I'm prepared to inconvenience the former to save the rest of the encyclopedia from the latter. --RexxS (talk) 21:43, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
On the "forging" stuff, this was already addressed (search this page for "impersonate" and "SIGFORGE" for details). Copy-pasting the real sig so it remains attached to the material to which it pertains isn't forging a sig. Your 1:999 ratio hyperbole is silly. Andrewa and I have been asking again and again and again for proof, and all we've been offered is a tiny handful of cases that are either a) noobs used to emailer and webboard mode, who get disabused of randomly interleaving comments very, very quickly, and b) rare "gonna tear your post apart because I'm an asshole" disrupters, who can already be dealt with per WP:DE per long-extant process. This RfC is a solution in search of a problem, being supported primarily by people blindly in favor of a "hammer" rule, who don't understand the ramification; by people who want to see a very narrow and "light recommendation" version to reasonably address actual disruption (which I hope the closer understands is the real consensus that will emerge); and by "don't you dare touch my posts!" control freaks who know damned well what the costs of this will be and don't care as long as their ability to ego-stroke is protected.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  02:28, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
Where are some examples of good interleaving? I do not want someone to break up my comments and post my signature under a fragment as if I had posted that fragment. Anyone interested in collaboration would understand that 27 yes responses versus 3 no means that interleaving should be avoided. Johnuniq (talk) 03:45, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
Given the SNOW above, I'm not going to spend several hours digging up examples no one's going to look at. If you want some, search my own talk page for "refactor" and "split" in my own edit summaries and you'll seem many cases of it. Do the same at WT:MOS and other MOS subpages and you'll find more, though much further apart (usually months). It's not something anyone does every day. But it shouldn't be banned by people who get red in the face over the idea that their stunning and perfect talk page works of art do not belong to them but to the community like every single other thing on this site. As for the your smug assessment of the RfC above, actually read it. There is no monolithic, unqualified "yes", but a lot of very different opinions – many of them moderate, cautious, qualified, and urging both "only a suggestion" language and a limited scope of quasi-restraint, but in favor of saying "something" about it. It's not at all a sign of consensus for coming down hard on "interleaving" (which means multiple different things to different people). I trust the closer to see that and to close accordingly. When this inevitably comes back around for clarification after people wikilawyer other editors half to death over this stuff in a tedious WP:OWN manner – be that in a month or 6 or 18 – then I'll be happy to drop an enormous pile of diffs that prove my case, if it's not already self-evident. I'm not going to burn the rest of my night doing it now. I've already outlined enough cases, and illustrated an example one in great detail (the split out off-topic commentary, reply to it, and collapse-box it example), and pointed to where people can diff dig on their own if they're having such cognitive dissonance that – despite all this discussion, examples, and explanation of exactly when this sort of thing is useful – they willfully refuse to actually picture it in their heads without seeing it with their own eyes. It's not my job to deal with reality-denial that thick.  — SMcCandlish ☺ ☏ ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ᴥⱷʌ≼  05:28, 25 September 2017 (UTC)