Wikipedia talk:User pages/UI spoofing

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User blocked for "you have messages" practical joke banner

A related discussion is ongoing at WP:VPR#Practical jokes in "new message" boxes.

All of us have encountered the practical joke false "you have messages" banners that a few users have on their pages. Within the past several days there has been discussion on the Village Pump about whether to have a policy or guideline forbidding these. (The discussion actually started with a box that linked to a non-wiki site but has expanded to include all such banners such as those that link to practical joke.) Opinion is divided on the merits of allowing such banners, with the majority opinion but no clear consensus (my summation) leaning toward the view that the banners are annoying and don't add anything encyclopedic so should be either discouraged or a few people would say outright forbidden. The counter-argument can basically be summed up as free expression in userspace. Personally, I'm not sure I'd ban these things by force but I sure wouldn't be upset if I never saw another one.

The userpage of User:Certified.Gangsta has long hosted such a banner and the user has declined to remove it even when asked to do so. A few hours ago, administrator David Levy removed the banner and, after the removal was reverted, stated that he would block Certified.Gangsta if it was restored. Another administrator has opined that there is no basis for objecting to the banner. Certified.Gangsta did restore the banner and David.Levy blocked for one hour. C.G asked me to unblock (I had posted urging that the situation be resolved quietly) and in lieu of acting unilaterally I said I would take the matter to this board. (Update: C.G. has promised not to restore the banner for 24 hours to allow discussion and David Levy has unblocked, but a consensus approach to this situation still needs to be reached.)

Comments are invited with the suggestion that the matter be kept in perspective, as some of us still have unfond memories of the Santa Claus Wheel War on Christmas Eve. There are links to the relevant discussions and the blocking admin's view at User talk:Certified.Gangsta. Newyorkbrad 03:21, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I absolutely hate those fake banners, but I think blocking for them is an overreaction. I do not think that there is an effective way to ban them however, since any applicable definition could be applied very broadly in unintended ways. Prodego talk 03:28, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I suggest you participate in the discussion at WP:VPP—I believe the current proposal is quite specific in defining what is not allowed. —Doug Bell talk 05:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
[edit conflict] Personally, I feel the block was more pointed than reinstating the banner. Unless an actual policy/guideline/precadent can be presented to justify David's block, I think he owes CG an apology. EVula // talk // // 03:29, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
[EC] Normally, I'd say leave it be, but looking at CG's recent contribs, they have been quite disruptive over this including a couple of revert wars. We should not tolerate such behaviour. – Chacor 03:30, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
CG's edits aside, is a practical joke a blockable offense? Especially one that is only viewable on the user's userpage (this would be a different story if he were to place it in an article or elsewhere). Personally, I think not. While I think the banner is silly, I think lots of things around here are silly; that doesn't mean I have the right to block people just because they disagree with me. EVula // talk // // 03:35, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
No, the banner itself isn't blockable for. Revert-warring to restore it instead of discussion, though, arguably is. – Chacor 03:40, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
If someone started removing something from my user space without citing a crystal-clear policy behind it? Pffft, screw them, I'm reverting. EVula // talk // // 04:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I agree with all above. I've fallen for a few, I find them alterantely clever or irritating, depending on the context of my falling for it, and where it leads. I think that blocking them comes off more as stuffy and stiff, than a necessity. They can only be placed on user pages and user talks and last. There's no reason to take all the fun out of Wikipedia. i'd say that if they lead to a potentially offensive article, or off-site, then there might be grounds for asking for a more appropriate link and then Admin intervention, but short of that, who really cares? ThuranX 03:41, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The users whose time is wasted (instead of being spent improving the encyclopedia) care. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I suppose I'll just repeat the comments I made here a mere two weeks ago:

If there's anything the various incidents over the course of the last year have taught us, it's that selective attempts at enforcing userpage rules simply don't work as intended, and usually result in little beyond getting many people quite upset. This goes double for attempts that dispense with the usual discussion and move straight to the ham-fisted removal.

There is very, very little that an established, good-faith contributor could place on their userpage which would truly need to be removed right now. Everything else doesn't warrant immediate, undiscussed removal; and most likely doesn't really need to be removed at all, unless we're going to make a habit of actually patrolling userpages for "inappropriate" content. A [joke banner] isn't particularly important, in the grand scheme of things; it's rather unlikely to be worth provoking the sort of big, nasty, utterly pointless fight that is certain to result when you try to remove it by force.

Kirill Lokshin 03:43, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Blocking may be an overreaction, but allowing him to reinstate the banner is not acceptable either. He's been asked numerous times to remove it and every time responds by reactively lashing out at people in the worst possible faith. The banner is disruptive, his behaviour is disruptive, and both the banner and behaviour need to cease existing. --tjstrf talk 03:45, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Please use this link to directly access the main discussion at the Village Pump. I won't repeat here what I've already argued there. Bishonen | talk 03:46, 14 February 2007 (UTC).
Seriously? I could only imagine it being even remotely blockable if the joke led to some nasty style image or some other such nonsense, otherwise blocking'd would be extremely inappropriate. Those practical joke new message things are lame but once you know what it is they are easy to avoid. (Netscott) 03:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

In response to various comments above:
This "practical joke" is an attempt to confuse and mislead fellow editors in a manner that interferes with their efforts to improve the encyclopedia. Why should such deliberate disruption be tolerated?
I didn't block the user to make a point or because he/she disagreed with me. I blocked him/her for deliberately disrupting Wikipedia (in violation of this guideline) after being warned not to at the risk of being temporarily blocked. I selected a duration of only one hour and unblocked immediately upon the user's promise to cease the disruption (which I was attempting to offer but kept hitting edit conflicts).
I'll ask those of you who believe that I overreacted to kindly suggest an alternative means of halting the disruption (keeping in mind that I'd already asked repeatedly). —David Levy 03:51, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Easy, stop viewing it as disruption. (Netscott) 03:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
But it is disruption. A horse has four legs, even if someone says it has five. These things are disruptive, even if someone says they're happy fun time. Picaroon 03:58, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Should I also stop viewing phony administrative warnings and block messages as disruption? How about hoax articles? Should we stop enforcing any policy or guideline that upsets disruptive users? —David Levy 04:07, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
David Levy forgive me for pointing out the obvious but you violated the principle of "conflict of interest" over the fact that you were engaged in an edit war with this individual and then you blocked him. Very wrong. (Netscott) 03:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
An edit war?! I was enforcing a guideline by reverting deliberately disruptive edits! Should sysops also refrain from blocking the penis vandals with whom they're "edit warring"?

I'd also like to point out that I personally removed these banners from more than 90 pages, and this was the only user to respond by restoring it (so far, anyway). —David Levy 03:53, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Wait, you've been editing that many people's userpages for no constructive purpose, but only to remove content? You make no mention of ASKING them to volunteer to delete it. That does not seem ethical to me. Frankly, I think you may be lucky no one's sought to bring your actions here, especially given the active discussion at the Pump. just my thoughts on the matter. ThuranX 04:01, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I was following this guideline, which stated that "fake MediaWiki UI elements may be removed without warning and should not be replaced once removed" (until someone who believes that it's fine and dandy to deliberately confuse and mislead fellow editors excised that text). —David Levy 04:07, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
GUIDELINE, David, not POLICY. Until it's policy, I suggest you keep your itchy little fingers off of other editors' pages. And to block over a guideline is quite an exaggerated response. I would also point out that if only one editor objected, may I suggest your unilateral, heavy-handed actions as an administrator may have intimidated the others into not reinserting the banner? Don't abuse the trust the community has placed in you by allowing you to act as an admin here. Jeffpw 07:51, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
If you're of the belief that users are entitled to ignore guidelines designed to prevent disruption because they feel like it, you're mistaken. —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Here's my view on these joke things going back to March 2006, but sheesh... blocking someone over it... particularly when the blocking party is engaged in an edit war about it? Very very wrong. (Netscott) 04:04, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
You have a strange definition of "edit war." —David Levy 04:07, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Oh do I really, let's see here: rv1, rv2, rv3... hmmm looks an awful lot like an edit war. From what you are saying the specific section of the guideline you've cited does not have consensus and yet you are operating as though it does. Again, wrong. (Netscott) 04:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. I could pull up a similar list of reversions of penis vandalism. Would that also constitute an "edit war"?
2. Clear consensus has been demonstrated for this section of the guideline. The fact that a few users believe that it's okay for people to forge software messages for the purpose of deliberately confusing and misleading fellow editors doesn't change that. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
David, you're going strawman on us here. There's no comparison between harmless "new message" joke alerts and say someone putting up a fictious MediaWiki message for nefarious purposes. I can understand and agree with your concerns in this regard but the "new message" joke alert is an apple and something nefarious is an orange. (Netscott) 05:01, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I didn't claim that there aren't different levels of severity. My point is that these pranks are harmful, and I removed them as prescribed by a guideline (and blocked a user after he/she repeatedly and deliberately violated said guideline). This was not an edit war, despite the fact that the user didn't add a goatse image to Jimbo's article. —David Levy 05:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Hang on David; that clause was added yesterday, with very little discussion beforehand (3 and a half hours after it was suggested, to be exact). Editing 90 user pages without requesting their permission first, not to mention blocking someone for violating "policy" that was discussed for less than 1/6th of one day is an incredible overreaction, in my humble opinion. Am I missing some prior discussion or consensus on this? I don't think I disagree with it, largely because of the threat of phishing brought up by someone in that discussion, but it would be much smarter to let consensus be clear and the dust settle a little bit first, no? —bbatsell ¿? 04:13, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Bbatsell. This seems questionable at best, distinctly unethical at worst, and probably genuinely in the middle. david, you should know that policy and guidelines are different in enforcability; that immediately jumping into action on a newly discussed, and still debated policy often causes issues, and that where a possible conflict, IE - edit warring, exists, AVOID any appearance of impropriety. that's about it. I think this could've been handled better, and that this is akin to the same sort of draconian UserPage and Usertalk bureaucracy that irritates much of the rank-and-file of Wikipedia, like being told to go wear a uniform and edit, isntead of have that 'I speak Klingon!' userbox. Come on. Very few people last here without taking this project seriously, but that doesn't mean we can't have some of ourselves on our userpages. As long as it doesn't redirect to a porn site, Adult content here on wikipedia (And by that I mean stuff that a parent wouldn't want a 13 to know about), or to any other sort of unethical stuff (like spamming and so on), does it truly hurt the project? I don't think so. ThuranX 04:25, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The debate had more-or-less concluded at that point. It only resumed because of this incident, and consensus remains clear. But again, I wasn't edit-warring. I was reverting deliberate disruption.David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. The consensus is clear, and insertion of "deliberate misinformation" has always been regarded as vandalism. I see no reason why this should apply strictly to articles. Certainly, common sense should be applied (and harmless kidding permitted), but this is far from harmless.
2. I didn't block the user for restoring the banner. I blocked him/her for deliberately causing disruption after being warned not to. I then unblocked as soon as he/she promised to cease said disruption. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
  • If these ANI sections are any indication David Levy, there's 0 consensus regarding the "new message" alerts (and I would go so far as to say there more support for allowing them). (Netscott) 04:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I see more opposition to my "overreaction" than opposition to the underlying principle. Of course, I strongly disagree with this assessment of my actions. I was following a guideline as it existed at that time (regardless of what ends up happening now). —David Levy 05:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Addtional "new message" opinions

I personally think:

  • Maintaining fake "you have new messages" boxes is not, in itself, a blockable offense.
  • Refusal to remove the banner when asked, especially if the banner is misleading or in some other way detrimental to the functioning of the encyclopedia, is disruption.
  • Disruption is a blockable offense.

Feedback anyone? Yuser31415 04:05, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Please clarify: asked by whom? --210physicq (c) 04:07, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Anyone. I do think, however, that admins blocking users they are engaged in a content dispute with is not the best way of dealing with the situation. Yuser31415 04:12, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Again, this was not a content dispute. This was vandalism reversion. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I am beginning to doubt you have any clue what vandalism is, David. —freak(talk) 05:33, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)
I'll take the above criticism seriously when you retract your flagrantly false claims about me. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Me, the blocking admin, User:Centrx, probably some others. This isn't the first time he's gotten into a big fight over it. --tjstrf talk 04:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I think spoofing any function of the wiki is disruptive by it's very nature. Much in the same way we don't let people create accounts titled "my talk" or "log out" per username policy we should NOT let this continue. That being said, it realy is a minor issue and I untill some kind of consensus is formed, I don't think a block is warrented. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 04:10, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Spoofing any function of the wiki is disruptive? Oh dear. We will have to ask one of our most respected editors to cut it out then. [1] Geez, and this was always one of my favourite talk pages. Risker 04:26, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely, or being warned against climbing the ole' Reichstag buidling. (Netscott) 04:29, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm talking about functions of the metawiki software... I wasn't realy talking about templates. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 04:41, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Clear consensus was established at WP:VPR and a specific rule against this behavior was added to Wikipedia:User page (not by me). —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I think it's harmless. Being led to the practical joke article is not disruptive. What does it "disrupt" exactly? I think being the manners police is what gives some people a dim view of admins. (I don't mean to point the finger at anyone here, just saying.) IronDuke 04:13, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
It's obnoxious, misleading and deceptive, and is basically being a dick for no reason whatsoever except so that you can gloat "haha I tricked you!". --tjstrf talk 04:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
It forces people to question the validity of software messages and take time out from editing the encyclopedia to deal with something created specifically for the purpose of confusing and misleading them. As noted at WP:VPR, this can consume a non-trivial amount of time for users with dial-up connections. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
If half the people who visit the page click on the banner once and 1000 people visit the page while the banner is up, then 500 peoples suffered a 10-15 second disruption. Thats nearly 2 hours of editor-time lost to a stupid banner. No, it's not realy major, but it is disruptive in a very minor but real way. What if I replaced my userpage with a copy of the "you have been blocked from editing" message? Would we even be having this conversation or would I be begging for forgiveness with an {{unblock}} tag? ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 04:22, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The "User talk:J.smith" tag at the top of the page would give it away. Titoxd(?!?) 04:24, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I have to say as well, they're harmless. Are they linked on top of an article? Sure, remove and block if it keeps happening. On top of a user page? Not even close. Again, if we're going to delete everything that can be remotely construed as a distraction to the encyclopedia, let's delete namespaces 2-101. I do not think that a block was warranted in this case. Let's save the block bit for things that really matter. Titoxd(?!?) 04:24, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Titoxd, thank you for your calm voice of reason. (Netscott) 04:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
How is it harmless to intentionally confuse and mislead people, thereby impeding their efforts to improve the encyclopedia? That's called deliberate disruption. —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
"...Thereby impeding their efforts to improve the encyclopedia" -> Prove it. That's what you haven't done. Titoxd(?!?) 05:17, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. If someone has to stop what they're doing to respond to a phony software message, how are they able to improve the encyclopedia during that time?
2. I didn't invent the consensus or add the rule to the guideline page. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Time is NOT a fungible resource on wikipedia. What if someone sees it and gets the joke, enjoys wikipedia more and spends more time editing? What if the person who placed it there is able to spend more time on wikipedia because he's not forced to act like a mindless content-generating automaton? If CG or any of the other 90-whatever users you've done this to leaves the site because of this, thus no longer devoting _any_ time to improving the encyclopedia, how has that helped anything? --Random832(tc) 13:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. You're debating the appropriateness of the rule. That's fine, but at the time, there was clear consensus that this behavior is harmful and a guideline explicitly prohibiting it; I didn't take it upon myself to outlaw a practice that I unilaterally deemed bad.
2. One could make the same argument about any type of editing. There are users who are offended when their article vandalism ("all in good fun") is reverted, and they probably would spent more time on Wikipedia (performing valid edits too) if this were tolerated.
3. It really bugs me when people divide this situation into two choices: allow users to do anything that they want on their user pages or ban user pages completely. There's a heck of a lot in between, and disallowing the insertion of phony software messages deliberately designed to deceive people is not remotely similar to forcing someone to be a "mindless content-generating automaton." User pages exist for the purpose of assisting in the construction of the encyclopedia, but the community is willing to tolerate just about any content that causes no harm (which includes most silly jokes). —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
And this isn't? Holy shit. —freak(talk) 05:25, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)
Correct. I would never deliberately disrupt Wikipedia. Disagreeing with you (as several others did) is not an example of such an act. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Would you agree, then, that a shoe tends to fit differently on the other foot? —freak(talk) 06:28, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)
I've never disputed the fact that two users acting in good faith can honestly perceive a situation differently. In Phil's case, I've never denied that he was acting in good faith. —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Add me to the chorus of voices saying that viewing these things as blockable disruption is ridiculous. Look, what if I were to post a funny joke on my user page, and of the people who read it, 20% chuckled for a few seconds. That was a few seconds they could have been editing! If 10,000 people chuckle, we are losing hours of productivity. Please. Get a grip, get some perspective, get off the power trips. —Bunchofgrapes (talk) 04:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Are users deceived into reading those jokes and loading another page? Is there a guideline against such jokes? —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
  • How has this turned into some sort of panic situation? As annoying as the banners are, they're certainly not blockable. - CHAIRBOY () 04:35, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Annoying banners may not be blockable, but disruption surely is. PeaceNT 04:46, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Since when is deliberate disruption not a block-worthy offense? —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    An excellent point; since nobody has blocked you for what many have considered a disruptive block, I'd say... since right now. Seriously, unilateral enforcement of a dubiously-amended policy can just as easily be seen as disruption. EVula // talk // // 04:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Wow, EVula, I couldn't have put that better myself. (Netscott) 05:05, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Do you honestly believe that my intention was to create disruption? Do you believe that the banner in question serves a purpose other than to confuse and mislead users? —David Levy 05:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Your intentions I can only guess at, but are ultimately irrelevant. As for your second question; yes, it serves to amuse the editor who had it only on his userpage and nowhere in the encyclopedia (a fact that I think bears emphasis). EVula // talk // // 05:21, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Right there with EVula. You cannot necessarily be intending to be disruptive (at least in your mind) and yet still be in the grand scheme of things. I'd also agree with EVula the "new message" joke servers as a, "aw darn it! he/she got me!" followed by a smile or a big laugh and a friendly message left on the jokester's page saying so with a winky smile ;-) ... it's only lame after the first few times of being "gotten". (Netscott) 05:25, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Amen. I found the banner funny twice, and then I wised up and stopped clicking orange banners on other people's user pages without hovering my mouse for a second to check. The idea that the intent behind the banner is to "confuse and mislead users" strikes me as quite a failure to assume good faith. I find it much easier to suppose that people with these banners are sharing a joke than to believe they're being somehow malicious. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Malicious? No. I'm sure that it's merely intended to be funny. That doesn't change the fact that this is accomplished by deliberately confusing and misleading users. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I don't see it as "deliberately confusing and misleading users". I mean, you could see it that way, but you certainly don't have to. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:04, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Is the intent not to trick the user into believing that he/she has new messages on his/her talk page? —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    You're missing my point, which is that you don't have to think of it that way. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that there are ways to be right that generate less friction than the way you're currently being "right". -GTBacchus(talk) 15:59, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I honestly don't know of any way to think of these messages other than as deliberate attempts to trick users into believing that they have new messages on their talk pages. I realize that this is regarded by the perpetrators as a joke, but that doesn't make it okay. I've seen users become offended when their jokes were removed from articles. ("Where's your sense of humor?!") The fact that article vandalism is worse doesn't mean that this is perfectly fine. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Sure, they're deliberate attempts to make you think you've got a talk page message, but depending on your priorities, you don't necessarily focus on that. I just see the banner, check whether it's for real, and then click or not accordingly. There's a million accurate ways to see anything; you seem to be choosing a way that apparently not only bothers you, but generates more friction than you expected. You're welcome to do that, of course, but you also wouldn't be wrong to see it another way. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:04, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I respect your opinion, but I honestly don't understand your point. I'm sorry. —David Levy 17:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Eh, perhaps I wasn't being particularly clear. We Discordians sometimes just come across as insane, especially when we start breaking the law of excluded middle in mixed company. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
    I've edited on dial-up. Have you? I have an escape key that works fairly well, and the majority of Wikipedia is text, which takes very little time to load. Holy shit, you know what's taking a while to load? This page. On cable Internet. Even if it's dial-up, the time taken is trivial. Response to your highly inappropriate block, however, has taken many times more than your prank message time loss estimation.--Chris Griswold () 07:36, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    1. Yes, I have edited on dial-up.
    2. I never claimed that these messages were earth-shattering. I merely attempted to enforce clear (at the time) consensus that they're harmful.
    3. Had I realized that my actions were to be met with this level of controversy, I obviously wouldn't have proceeded in that manner (given the fact that my intent was to prevent disruption. Without doubt, I'm guilty of failing to anticipate the resultant response. —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    But it impedes the efforts of users who are editing the encyclopedia. That this "amuses" some people is not valid justification. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Query: if someone is editing the encyclopedia (specifically), why are they on a user's page? EVula // talk // // 06:12, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    That can happen in perfectly reasonable ways. Let's say I need to talk to someone about an edit, so I click on their signature, which just contains a link to their user page, so I have to pass through that (or do something more awkward) to get to their talk page. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:17, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Oh, I realize; if it seems like my response was silly, that's because there's only so much I can do with such a puzzling attitude. Unless someone is on dialup and loading a page is a major concern for them, simply clicking on Practical joke is hardly the end-of-the-world event that David is making it out to be. Hell, the argument could be made that this whole shitstorm has impeded the efforts of everyone involved much more so than any stupid userpage-based practical joke. EVula // talk // // 06:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Some users are on dial-up connections. I don't believe that this is an "end-of-the-world event," but that doesn't mean that it isn't harmful and disruptive. —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I think that there are worse things out there to worry about, and this is a huge deal over nothing. If you don't like the joke, don't fall for it again, simple as that. Isn't that what popups are for? riana_dzasta 04:38, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    It's not even necessary to have popups. Just hover over this link, and the vast majority of browsers will show you the destination page in the status bar on the bottom. And worse than that; most modern browsers will also show you a tooltip showing the destination page, as that's the default intended behavior in MediaWiki. Titoxd(?!?) 04:43, 14 February 2007 (UTC)'s the prank victims' fault for not being diligent enough to thwart the deliberate attempts to confuse and mislead them? —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Who said anything about "fault"? The idea that one can hover one's mouse for a second before clicking on a banner isn't an indictment, it's just a suggestion, and not a bad one, either. I haven't fallen for one of those joke banners after the first two times or so, and it's not like I'm taking any extra time because of it. Unless you're just blindly clicking every time you see orange, I don't get what the disruption is. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:26, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Why should it be the responsibility of users to take measures to counter the deliberate attempts to confuse and mislead them? —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I don't believe I said that. I would certainly avoid ideas like "should" and "responsibility" in this context. All I'm saying is that I'm not disrupted by it, and I'm not sure why others are, once they've seen it once or twice. There's no talk there of moral responsibility or anything like that, just a practical observation. I also look both ways before crossing a street, even when I have right-of-way. I think taking an extra precaution is better than being "in the right", and dead. YMMV.

    You have two choices: try to stop all practical jokes of a certain variety, or accept that they happen, and pay a little more attention to what you click on. If you choose the first option, I think that's Quixotic and silly. Apparently you want to characterize the second option as somehow related to "blame" and "responsibility" and all these heavy moral concepts, but it's not at all necessary to think that way. You could just look before you click, and you'll find that you're no longer disrupted by joke banners. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:04, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

    I don't disagree that this is a good idea. I'm saying that it shouldn't be necessary (or should be necessary as little as possible). The two solutions are not mutually exclusive, just as looking both ways before crossing the street and following traffic laws aren't. —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Yeah, maybe it "shouldn't" be necessary, whatever that means, but I live in this world, where you can't ban mostly harmless practical jokes, and if you try to, you generate a lot more disruption in the form of drama than the jokes ever could cause. Practically speaking, it's far easier to ignore them than it is to ban them. If that bothers you, then human nature bothers you. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:59, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    1. I disagree that this joke is "mostly harmless."
    2. We disallow all sorts of things (including jokes) on Wikipedia. It would be much easier to let people post whatever they want in articles, but users have no such right. They also aren't entitled to post whatever they want on their user pages. If something interferes with our ability to construct the encyclopedia, it's prohibited. I'm not bothered by human nature; I'm bothered by the belief that we're powerless to mitigate its impact. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Any user who's paying attention will be tricked no more than once or twice by this joke. I consider that "mostly harmless", but I guess I can see how you might disagree. It's certainly not leaving bruises, or taking food out of anyone's mouth. As for your second point, I would suggest that choosing your battles is important, and that this just isn't worth the trouble. I'm not saying we're "powerless to mitigate its impact," and I hope you don't imagine I'm saying that. I'm saying it has a small impact, and we've all got bigger fish to fry. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:04, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    I obviously had no idea that the matter would escalate to this level (and I've apologized for that), but all of this controversy stemmed from a single user's refusal to abide by a guideline (because he believes that only policies carry any weight). Almost all of the dozens of users simply went about their business. Certainly, you wouldn't argue that the loss of this banner is a big deal, would you? —David Levy 17:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    No, I don't think it's a great loss either way, at which point the path of least resistance seems like a good idea. In this case, that would be not worrying about the banners, and getting back to working on the encyclopedia. I realize that you didn't expect the level of controversy you found, and I certainly don't blame you for doing what seemed right and uncontroversial. We can't always predict how people will react. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:44, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Thank you. I'm glad that some users realize that I was acting in good faith (even if I was 100% wrong). —David Levy 19:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    If we don't like deliberate disruption, we should simply ignore it? —David Levy 04:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    To simply ignore deliberate disruptions isn't a good way to deal with them, to prevent them is better. PeaceNT 05:11, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    ...which is why I repeatedly asked the user to cease his/her deliberate disruption. —David Levy 05:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) So, isn't it an exaggeration to call them "victims", as if something wrong had actually been done? I didn't want to pursue this further, but give me a break. The blocking tool is not a toy; after you press "Block this user" in Special:Blockip, there's no going back. You cannot remove the block from the log; the only ones who can do so, developers, explicitly refuse to do so.
    Besides, the warning in the blocking policy is quite clear: "Disagreements over content or policy are not disruption, but rather part of the normal functioning of Wikipedia and should be handled through dispute resolution procedures. Blocks for disruption should only (emphasis mine) be placed when a user is in some way making it difficult for others to contribute to Wikipedia."
    The measuring stick for disruption isn't "I don't like it" or "It annoys me". True disruption is impossible to mistake or confuse, and the fact that many highly-respected users have already said that you're doing Much Ado About Nothing should at least ring a bell that perhaps what you did was a disproportionate and draconian punishment for an offense that others don't even think happened. It's your prerogative to demonstrate that the disruption that you allege occurred actually happened, and you simply have done it quite unsatisfactorily. Titoxd(?!?) 05:16, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Deliberately tricking people into stopping to read their nonexistent new messages (which can result in a non-trivial delay for users with slow connections) makes it difficult for them to contribute to Wikipedia. There was overwhelming consensus for this (and a corresponding guideline). The fact that this very incident spawned previously unexpressed opposition doesn't change that. (I'm not clairvoyant.) If anything approaching this level of disagreement had existed at the time, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. —David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    Um, is the fake new message banner shown on ?action=edit on the main namespace? Or is it shown in the user space, where people go to get an idea about who they are interacting with? If a user is browsing the non-encyclopedic User namespace, then he or she is simply not editing at the time. This isn't a divisive userbox, it's a joke, for Pete's sake, and having a few users (because it was a few users, it wasn't an overwhelming consensus, as you assert) agree that jokes are not acceptable does not mean it is so. Titoxd(?!?) 06:18, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
    1. If someone is participating in an article discussion and clicks on a participant's username or talk page link (keeping in mind that there are also placed on talk pages) to ask him/her a question or make a comment pertaining to the article, this doesn't temporarily stop him/her from improving the encyclopedia?
    2. I'm not ignoring the new opposition, but I had no means of divining that it would suddenly arise. —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

ANI really isn't the place to discuss whether these should be allowed. We've got parallel discussions going on here. --Random832(tc) 04:41, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

There's a review of admin actions going on, so AN/I does have "jurisdiction", for lack of a better word. Titoxd(?!?) 04:43, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Yuser31415 said "Refusal to remove the banner when asked, especially if the banner is misleading or in some other way detrimental to the functioning of the encyclopedia, is disruption." - It's David Levy's contention that such banners are _inherently_ misleading and detrimental. Do you agree with that? Also, David Levy, you said "Again, this was not a content dispute. This was vandalism reversion.". I'd like to note that it is a _hallmark_ of an edit war (edit wars are disruptive, and using administrative powers in furtherance of one is inexcusable) for one party to claim that the other party's version is vandalism. --Random832(tc) 14:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. While such banners are inherently misleading and detrimental, I realize that most of the users who have inserted them have done so merely to perpetrate a silly joke. Nonetheless, they are misleading and detrimental, and it's quite disruptive to repeatedly reinsert such a message after a guideline explaining this had been brought to one's attention.
2. You could apply that "wrong version" argument to the reversion of penis vandalism if you like. I was reverting the disruptive edits of a user who's stated that he believes that he's under no obligation to follow guidelines. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Clearly Levy stepped way out of line on this. Calling others edits as vandalism when he's in the middle of a edit war (aka userspace harassment capaign) is disruptive. If anyone's being disruptive, it's David Levy himself. IT's unacceptable. The banner definitely is NOT misleading or detrimental. It really depends on the individual's opinion. The funny thing is Levy doesn't even think it was an edit war or content dispute, and just because he follows his own rule doesn't give him the right to harass other user's userspace or block them to circumvent 3RR. These admin conducts should not, should NEVER, be tolerated.--Certified.Gangsta 14:51, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Again, I did not invent the rule. There was clear consensus in its favor. Enforcing a guideline is not "harassment," even when a user dislikes the guideline and believes that he's entitled to disregard it (and remove warning messages from his talk page) because it isn't a policy. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Arbitrary "new message" break (2nd)

[edit conflict]My two cents: I don't think blocking was appropriate yet in this case. However, I do think that prohibiting spoofing the UI is a valid, narrow prohibition that does not intrude upon people's ability to express themselves on the user pages. The banner itself is clearly not a blockable offense. I think that refusal to remove such spoofing and continued replacement of the banner is, at some point blockable. Given that the changes in the guideline are brand new, and still under discussion, I think blocking in this case was inappropriate. However, that doesn't mean that once a clear community consensus has been determined that a user should be allowed to go against it. This would be the same if the user had other content on their page, such as a resumé or promotion of a personal commercial site, that was removed. They would not be allowed to continue replacing the content and would be subject to being blocked. —Doug Bell talk 05:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

[five edit conflicts and seven cigarettes later]This is an mind-numbingly stupid discussion. Everybody remembers my old userpage, and nobody gave a fuck about it until I ran for arbcom. Of course, it was summer, I was busting my ass for this site, editing around the clock, and most people (myself included) felt like I was doing something useful, so nobody cared. These days I find it more interesting to stare at the ceiling or out the window. Editing this site has clearly lost all of its recreational value for me. I don't think I'm alone in my sentiment. And it gets worse, every time some a critical mass of limp-dicked busybodies assembles to write their life-saving new rules, not because there is any real problem to be addressed, oh no, but because they have a biological need something for something easier to enforce. You're already in their crosshairs, they've just been fabricating a good enough reason to fire. To anybody reading this, if you feel like I'm describing you, please unplug your computer, box it up and take it back to Wal-Mart. You'll thank yourself for it and I will too. —freak(talk) 05:25, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, someone could write a thousand words and not make that point clearer. Administering Wikipedia has become an end rather then the means for many. RxS 05:39, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Thank you everyone for taking the time to give out these feedbacks. Clearly, David Levy stepped way out of line in this dispute and it really comes down to a matter of userspace harassment. It is worth noting that David Levy intentionally blocked me after making the 3rd revert on my userpage, which is obviously an abuse of administrative priviledges (circumvent 3RR). Moreover, blocking me for a dispute he is involved in is also a definitely no-no for administrators. What is even more discouraging is the misleading notes on my block and subsequent unblock. David Levy is following his own rules and unilaterally edited the guideline without clear community consensus. Then unilaterally blocked me when discussion is still going on in village pump. If David Levy refuses to acknowledge his mistake, I believe desysopping (maybe a bit too melodramatic) is always a possibility if the community request him to do so. On another note, an admin had just protected my userpage, could somebody please unprotect it??--Certified.Gangsta 05:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. There was overwhelming consensus.
2. I didn't author the guideline addition.
3. I reverted your deliberately disruptive, guideline-violating edits. This was not a content dispute.David Levy 05:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I've unprotected it. Bishonen | talk 05:53, 14 February 2007 (UTC).

First I'm going to again agree with EVula in a comment he made earlier... User:Certified.Gangsta deserves an apology and second he should be able to show the "new message" joke banner until such time as a clear and unmistakeable consensus against that is established. (Netscott) 05:58, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I should apologize for blocking an editor after he/she repeatedly and deliberately violated a guideline that he/she knew existed to prevent disruption, was warned to stop (at the risk of being blocked), and removed said warning?
I certainly have no intention of pressing the issue until the new dispute is resolved, but you seem to be retroactively applying said dispute to actions from before it existed. There was clear and unmistakable consensus at the time, and comments made after the fact can't change that. I'm not dismissing anyone's viewpoints, but I wasn't able to consider them before they were expressed. —David Levy 06:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
David Levy, face it, you jumped the gun and hopped on the block button with excess haste in this circumstance and were too heavy handed. Not only that, you did so counter to this specific clause of WP:BLOCK. In your reversions you claimed exemptions but on this talk on Bishonen's talk page she clearly demonstrated that you were in the wrong. As far as your warnings in this case that can be considered tantamount to user space harassment considering the history behind your actions and reasoning behind it. (Netscott) 06:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Obviously, I disagree. I regret (and sincerely apologize for) having acted in a manner met with some users' disapproval, but I truly believe that I followed the standard procedure for dealing with disruptive guideline violations.
You're entitled to your opinion that I was hasty and overreacted, but I certainly had no intention of blocking a user with whom I was engaged in a legitimate content dispute. Right or wrong, I honestly perceived this as clear-cut, deliberate disruption on Certified.Gangsta's part. —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Do away with anything that impersonates a real function of Wikipedia software. This is a waste that robs editors of useful time. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 05:38, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I've long used newmessages.js to change the appearance of those fake "new messages" tags. But the proper technical solution would be to just change the appearance of the real "new messages" message in a way that can't be immitated via wiki markup, for example by moving it to a different location on the html page. Quarl (talk) 2007-02-14 05:39Z

Quarl, while that is a sensible idea it probably isn't entirely workable considering that with CSS code you can pretty much do whatever. (Netscott) 05:46, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Well then we should propose the abolition of userpages since it is a waste of time to introduce yourself to the community.--Certified.Gangsta 05:41, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, the new addition to the guideline was added just over a day ago, and here I see that David Levy has been reverting attempts to change or even soften this policy. Then we see Levy applying this recently made up guideline (less than 24 hours after it was added, need I mention it's clearly not yet finalized), and then getting in a revert war over this (again, just recently made up) guideline, on a user page which bears little, if any, possible threat to the project. It's worth pointing out that he stopped at the electric fence of three reverts inside 24 hours, but also worth noting that these edits are not in any way, shape, or form, vandalism -- vandalism is a giant penis in an article, vandalism is floating an invisible link to goatse over your entire userpage, vandalism is not anything which is not obviously intended to do active harm to the project. Is this discussion worth having? Yes, very much so. If this sort of thing gets really solid community consensus and can be appropriately applied without drawing too much blood, then by all means, go for it. But this is one case where I'm crying foul: the use of a block to win a dispute and intimidate a user who bore no immediate threat to the project into submission is, to me, a graver problem than these stupid little joke boxes. Can't we all find something far more important to deal with? – Luna Santin (talk) 06:57, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Indeed. Blocking for the joke boxes was not a good idea. The joke boxes are useless, but harmless. While Certified.Gangsta's edits are generally problematic, the problem does not come from his userspace edits, but from his nonsensical reverts on China-related pages. Kusma (討論) 07:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Double indeed, Luna Santin's got a spot on analysis of the unfolding of these events and this makes it even clearer of the inappropriateness of his actions. (Netscott) 07:05, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
At the time, there was clear consensus that these pranks are harmful. I don't understand why people are faulting me for failing to consider opinions expressed after the fact. —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. Regardless of sentiment that arose after the fact, Certified.Gangsta was clearly violating a guideline that existed to prevent disruption. How does that not constitute vandalism (or something tantamount to vandalism)? I don't believe that Certified.Gangsta intended to upset people by displaying the banner, but I don't see how he/she could have viewed its reinsertion (in violation of a guideline) as anything other than disruptive.
2. I reverted a unilateral alteration to an addition made per clear consensus at WP:VPR, which I perceived as an introduction of ambiguity. (The intent was to prohibit such messages, not merely to discourage them.)
3. If there's a rule that guidelines should not be applied until after a certain duration has elapsed, I clearly erred in this instance and humbly apologize to Certified.Gangsta and to the community for doing so. I had no knowledge of such a rule, however, so I will not apologize for any intentional wrongdoing (because I committed none). —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I realize our moral values differ significantly, David, but I'm trying to be objective and philosophical about this. To me it seems quite impossible to vandalize his own user page as you've paradoxically put it, just as it would be impossible for one to rape oneself (even if given a clear and unambiguous invitation to do so). —freak(talk) 08:52, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that it's impossible to commit vandalism on one's own user page? —David Levy 19:02, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes. —freak(talk) 23:35, Feb. 14, 2007 (UTC)
So...if someone goes to his/her user page and posts another editor's and name, address and telephone number along with claims that the other editor is a murderer and a pedophile, that isn't vandalism? —David Levy 23:43, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
David Levy, you might want to peruse a definition of the word. What you are talking about is attacks/harassment/defamation. (Netscott) 23:48, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
"Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia." —David Levy 23:51, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
And to be clear, the example that I cited transcends "harassment or personal attacks." As you said, it's downright defamatory. —David Levy 23:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

[EC]I'm not experienced with this, so I am asking: At what point do admins risk desysoping? Thanks, Chris Griswold () 07:44, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for all the thoughts and feedbacks. Is it possible that punitive actions (such as desysopping at the request of the community) could be carry out against David Levy due to so many instances of violations/abuse of power? Cheers--Certified.Gangsta 07:42, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
While I disagree with David Levy's actions, I feel calling for desysopping is going too far in this case, especially since he did believe he was enforcing policy. Heimstern Läufer 07:49, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
That's actually the main problem. He is refusing to acknowledge that he made a mistake. In any case, I think he should at least tries to re-confirm the community's confidence in him as an admin, especially after so many instances of violation all in several hours.--Certified.Gangsta 07:51, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I do acknowledge that I made a mistake. I obviously had a very different idea of how to go about enforcing this guideline than other users had. I do apologize for this misestimation. I will not apologize for any deliberate wrongdoing, as I honestly believed (and still believe, despite taking contrary viewpoints very seriously) that I was doing the right thing. —David Levy 08:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Um what? How about a big no. He made a decision about enforcing a new policy. He shouldn't have. No one was harmed and we have no prior examples of him misusing the tools. This has to be one of the silliest reasons I have ever heard of to desysop someone. This entire incident belongs on WP:LAME. JoshuaZ 07:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I've added it. If I may add my two cents: If a banner that simply links to practical joke takes away from contributing to the encyclopedia, then we should eliminate userpages altogether. Grandmasterka 08:18, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Why? Very few types of user page content deliberately confuse and mislead people. —David Levy 08:21, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
It may not be horribly civil of me, but if this is going on WP:LAME, I think David Levy needs to be named WP:LAME Queen, complete with tiara. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 08:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, that was rather uncivil. —David Levy 09:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Dude, but it was so true. I don't think I would have even bothered posting it if you could consider other peoples' opinions and actually take a moment to step back and laugh at yourself. Yes, no matter how much we think we're correct, I think it's a very admirable character trait to be able to laugh at oneself. If you can't do that, how stuffy and boring can you get? Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 09:06, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

First and foremost, it's not a policy, it's a guideline (quoting above). Yes, someone was harmed. Me. The block log follows me forever and David is not going to admit he was wrong despite strong consensus. Lol but I do agree the whole incident should definitely be included in WP:Lame in the future. A recent example was User:CrzRussian's recall, unfortunately, I don't think David is eligible to be recalled. Nevertheless, I do think admins should be held at a higher standard. (daaamn why can't every admin be like bish) A brief scan from the above discussion clearly points out the abuse of power David committed.--Certified.Gangsta 08:36, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Did you read my above replies? I take the community's opinions very seriously, and I acknowledge that I made a mistake in believing that my actions would be uncontroversial. For this, I've sincerely apologized to the community. I've also apologized to you if I was mistaken in believing that guidelines are to be enforced immediately (for which I had no knowledge to the contrary). I merely refuse to lie by stating that I set out to commit wrongdoing. —David Levy 09:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Okay David, your arguments doesn't make sense. Bish and Brad already told you NOT to act unilaterally by blocking me. You refused to listen to their better judgments. Now you're acting as if no one tried to stop your one-sided judgment. Anyway, I think it's time for you and other joke-banner hater to actually do something constructive on the project instead of going around messing/harassing other people's userspace. I will also appreciate if you post a note on my block log noting the previous 1 hr block was unjustified, mistaken, or stuff like that.--Certified.Gangsta 08:36, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. Huh?! I read no comments regarding the block until after it was applied.
2. Out of curiosity, could you please explain how these banners are "constructive"?
3. I would gladly add a notation that the block was not met with community consensus, but I'm not sure that this is possible without blocking you again (which I obviously have no intention of doing). —David Levy 09:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
No, Bishonen, a highly-respected admin, posted on my page [[2]] telling me that there are ongoing discussion, which means you made a poor choice by blocking me. I never said banners are constructive. My point is rather than removing banners from my userpage and get into useless arguments because of it, we're actually wasting more time than clicking into the practical joke article. As for the notice on my block log saying the block is one-sided, a 1-second block with thorough explanation will do.--Certified.Gangsta 09:09, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. You claimed that "Bish and Brad already told [me] NOT to act unilaterally by blocking [you]." I've seen no such pre-emptive message.
2. I do agree that this discussion has used up a ridiculous amount of time, and I've apologized for triggering it. I only hope that something constructive comes of this.
3. I shall perform the requested one-second block. —David Levy 09:25, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I stumbled on this huge fight after I notice the practical joke banner was removed from Gangsta's user page. I've been the victim of the joke banner for about two whole times, before it got kind of old. However, no matter how annoying users might get over it, it's hardly a blockable offense for refusal to remove the banner. It's not on an article page intentionally disrupting Wikipedia. It's on a private user page to get a few laughs. I don't understand how clicking the joke banner is disruptive to Wikipedia for wasting time that could otherwise be spent editing. If that was the case, then why are there user pages in the first place?!? Doesn't it waste precious minutes (maybe even 10-15 minutes!?!) reading a user page and learning about a user, since that's "wasting" time that could also otherwise be spent editing Wikipedia? Clicking that link and hitting backspace must take up like 10 whole seconds of your life. This huge discussion over the stupid little joke banner is a bigger disruption to Wikipedia (but people like arguing) than a joke banner.
Furthermore, the joke banner links to the practical joke...not to some shock site. If the link was inappropriate, then by all rights, remove it. However, learning about practical jokes isn't that offensive to most people. The only damage the joke banner can potentially cause is a wounded pride, as with all practical jokes. I'm guessing that main issue with the joke banner is that it emulates a Wikipedia notice function (or whatever it's called), thus eroding the trust in the new message banner. However, most humans learn by the third time to not click on the joke banner when the practical joke URL pops up at the bottom of the browser (at least for Firefox) when the mouse hovers over the link. Emulating Wiki functions only becomes a problem when users leave indef block notices on user pages as a joke or something.
I believe David Levy made a minor mistake in getting to involved after Gandsta refused to remove the banner. However, it hardly calls for desysopping, since Levy probably learned his (I'm assuming David is a dude) lesson after the volume of outcry. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 08:46, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
So you're saying it's ok, because it will only confuse new editors? Really? Proto:: 09:25, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
It's a practical joke. Come on. Seriously...a practical joke. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 09:42, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

We seem to have hit the bandwagon tipping point. Here's where it stands, as I see it: David agrees he oops'ed by radically enforcing the new guideline, and shouldn't have. Only a couple people seem to think Desys'ing is even worth spelling out the full word here. Most want David to apologize and move on. Most want the joke banner to stay available. I think that suggests consensus is probably: up with joke banners, down with desysopping David, and david, say sorry, go buy a nice Marble Frosted donut for yerself and get back to Doing the things that got you admin status to begin with, like editing articles into good articles, and supporting the project's community. The rest of you, break's over, back to work, that salt doesn't mine itself! <me runs and hides.>ThuranX 15:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. I've already apologized.
2. What leads you to believe that "most want the joke banner to stay available"? —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Doug Bell has the right attitude here. This block itself was perhaps premature (though Gangsta's behavior since then has been antagonistic), and the issue is one of disruption rather than vandalism. Having noticed the joke banner, ask someone to remove it. If they refuse/have left the project, edit it for them as against the userpage guidelines (just because there's no consensus for adding specific language about spoofing the UI doesn't mean there is consensus that spoofing the UI is not disruptive). If they revert and get pissy about it, engage in dialogue. If they continue to not see your way, then and only then should additional actions be considered. -- nae'blis 21:06, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

It's a bit difficult to engage in dialogue when the user in question is removing such posts from his/her talk page. —David Levy 21:10, 14 February 2007 (UTC)


I fail to see what the discussion is about. See WP:USER#What_can_I_not_have_on_my_user_page.3F. This specifically mentions:

Games, roleplaying sessions, and other things pertaining to "entertainment" rather than "writing an encyclopedia,"

This is even more the case if some users find something annoying. I've already removed a false message box and would have moved to blocking if the user had not been co-operative (which he was).

Tyrenius 08:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. The onus of figuring out whether a banner is valid or not should not be on the reader, and it does not help the encyclopedia in any way. Ral315 (talk) 09:01, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
That rule was taken out of context.

Wouldn't that mean a page dedicated to a game or something non-notable as a way or avoiding the notability requirement for pages?!? Jumping cheese Cont@ct 09:05, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm really not going to argue this any further. If you've got time to spend on this instead of building an encyclopedia, I really think you should question why you're here in the first place. Wikilawyering over violation of communication aids indicates a distinct distortion of priorities. Tyrenius 09:18, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Wow...are you suggesting I leave Wikipedia?!? That's hardly something to tell users if you are in fact trying to make Wikipedia a better place. And yes, I do have time to spend on this because I believe I'm voicing my opinion on a potential Wikipedia policy. Please don't blow-off my comments without even a discussion. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 09:37, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Concur with cheese. Discussion is one of the things that makes wikipedia so great.--Certified.Gangsta 09:39, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Accusations of wikilawyering and editor non-production seem a theme of Tyrenius today. He has done that to me on two occasions this morning. My personal opinion is that it's frustration at not having a legitimate argument to rebut your lucid comments. The guidelines about user space are clear, and the (I admit, annoying) joke message bar is not currently prohibited. Wikipedia is not yet a totalitarian state. When it becomes one I will be evacuating to other internet safe-havens. Jeffpw 10:14, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Rather melodramatic. You have put the argument with admirable succintness. These boxes are "annoying". Doing something in innocence does not merit censure. Repetition once its undesirability has been communicated is a different matter. People who do things when they know they are annoying other users are likely to be sanctioned. Tyrenius 10:44, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The thing of it is, Tyrenius, is that the response on David's part was so disproportionate to the transgression. With so many truly hateful userpages out there, pages which advocate nuking countries the user dislikes, pages which seem to approve of ethnic cleansing, and pages which ridicule nationalities and religions, patrolling pages and blocking users over a joke bar is the Wiki equivalent of jailing somebody for littering or jaywalking...even worse, actually, since those infractions are clearly proscribed by law, and the joke message bar is not. Now I do have better things to do than debate this issue, and I have made all the points I need to make, so I am leaving it here. The issue itself does not affect me (I don't have it on my page); the principle does. Jeffpw 10:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I am pleased that we are in agreement that there was a transgression. The extent of the sanction is a separate argument, which I have not so far examined, but of course if an individual persists in littering, they are likely to end up in jail, when other remedies fail. I believe the attention to minor offences in New York was a successful venture in leading to a reduction of more significant ones also. Let us hope that if we can establish the principle of cleaning up user pages over the small-scale abuses, the principle can then be applied more easily to the large-scale ones. I am in full agreement with you that there is at times gross misuse of talk pages. Unfortunately, I have found that admin attempts to address this tend to rebound on them. I am sure that most of the hoax message users are "good" people (to use Jimbo's term) and would also be appalled at some of the user pages in existence. What they do not realise is that the opposition to the admin action in this admittedly relatively trivial case undermines admin confidence to tackle even seriously controversial abuses. I hope, once this is understood, it will be seen that David Levy has set a valuable precedent and, even if it was considered that he was heavy-handed in enforcement (I don't know, as I haven't studied it properly) his actions will lead onto a greater good. The bottom line is that the hoax messages are annoying and this is a form of disruptive behaviour. Once when I was in the middle of an intense series of messages with multiple users, I inadvertently made several hits on hoax ones, and it was the last thing I needed. I was relying on these messages to orientate through a tricky situation. It is the busiest users who are likely to find them the most disruptive, and that can't be right. Users want admins to help them out when there are vandals ruining things, multiple reverts against them and other forms of harassment. It cuts both ways. Sometimes admins do things they don't like and sometimes (provided of course they are not clearly admin abuse) these things should be accepted. There is an argument that hoax messages aren't a big deal so they can be left alone. I suggest if they are not a big deal (and they are known to annoy some people) that users should not make a fuss when they are removed. As it happens, there has been a massive discussion, intensely arguing for them, as if it's a huge deal. There have even been calls for David Levy to be de-sysopped. The end result of this is to demoralise admins. Then when it comes to addressing users with much stronger violation on their user pages and no doubt even stronger opposition to having it removed, an admin is likely to think, "hey, there was all this trouble over hoax messages. What kind of trouble am I going to get if I try to tackle all this heavier stuff?" And they won't. So you have to make up your mind how effective you want admins to be, and if you're prepared to endorse them when they act with the right intent, rather than give them humungous grief.
Tyrenius 11:50, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Yet again, I'm seeing the "not as bad as x" defense. That the display of this banner is not as bad as adding goatse images to Jimbo's article doesn't mean that it isn't harmful or that it's to be tolerated.
Please try to see this from my perspective. At the time, the guideline addition had received near-unanimous support. It was on this basis that I removed these banners from numerous pages (citing the applicable guideline section in my edit summaries). One user responded by restoring banners via summary-free edits labeled "minor" [3]/[4]. I responded by once again removing the banners (citing the guideline), and the user once again restored the banners without summaries (with one of the two edits labeled "minor") [5]/[6]. I responded by rolling back these deliberate guideline violations and posting a block warning on the user's talk page [7]. The user responded by once again restoring the banners (this time citing the very discussion in which clear consensus had been established) and removing my warning from his talk page (with the edit summary "remove threat and unjustified accusation") [8].
Is it your honest belief that this sort of behavior on Certified.Gangsta's part is non-disruptive and should be tolerated?
Certified.Gangsta has claimed above that it was okay for him to violate the rule because "it's not a policy, it's a guideline." He hasn't cited any valid justification for ignoring the rule (and acknowledged that his use of the banners was not constructive). He simply believes that guidelines are essentially meaningless and may be disregarded by anyone who doesn't feel like following them for any reason. Is that really the message that we should be sending? —David Levy 11:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Oooo...very well argued. My main beef with the whole situation is that users jumped the gun regarding the policy and started warning and blocking other users for a policy still under debate. I guess the moral is to make sure a rule is in fact a rule before acting on it. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 12:18, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

But the guideline wasn't "under debate" at the time. It already existed. On the guideline page. There was discussion and near-unanimous support. I don't understand why people fault me for failing to consider opposition that didn't exist yet. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'm glad that we can all discuss this a bit more calmly, now. First, let me say I don't think David should be desyopped over this. I haven't a doubt that he is a hard-working admin who was acting in good faith to make Wikipedia a better place for all of us. I should also state that I once had the joke message bar on my page, decided it was childish, and removed it myself...after which I received a chorus of thank yous from other members of the community. I didn't realize how many found it irritating. That said, I think the opposition that david experienced today is precisely because of it's triviality. I don't think that he (or any other admin) would experience this sort of backlash were he to delete from a userpage or block a user for displaying racist, anti-semitic, or nationalistic propaganda on their page. To me, it seems much more the Wikipedian way to proceed as we now seem to be doing: discussing here, and on the village pump, until a consensus is formed. Once that occurs, no matter what the outcome, admins can certainly count on my support (or at least lack of opposition) if they enforce the rules. Jeffpw 12:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
But there was discussion, and a rule against these messages was added to a guideline page (before I even became involved in said discussion). I didn't take it upon myself to eradicate something that I unilaterally deemed harmful. I was enforcing an existent guideline in dealing with a user who believes that he's under absolutely no obligation to follow guidelines (because they aren't policies). —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm disappointed to learn that although David previously apologized for his poor judgments, apparently, he will not learn from this mistake. A lot of users are missing the minor deatils here. David intentionally blocked me after reverting my userpage for the 3rd time so he can avoid 3RR and then only unblocked me when I promised not to revert for 24hrs (as a cooling off period). Is this acceptable conduct we expect from an admin? Not to mention blocking me for 24hrs when he is personally involved in an edit war (or should i say harassment campaign?) with me. A thorough read through this whole page will give you a sense that he is essentially abusing his power to intimidate users without sysop priviledges. Not to mention he was in numerous edit war when the policy discussion was still going on. It's a definitely no-no for admins and persoanlly I interpret this as harassment.--Certified.Gangsta 13:11, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I wasn't even counting my reversions. Yes, I unblocked you when you promised to cease the guideline-violating disruption for which I blocked you. (You added the 24-hour stipulation afterward.) This is standard procedure, as blocks are not punitive in nature. Despite your false belief that guidelines are entirely optional and may be disregarded by anyone on a whim (because they aren't policies), asking a user to follow one is not a "harassment campaign," nor is the reversion of deliberately disruptive edits (often labeled "minor" without a summary) a content dispute. I don't know what "numerous edit wars" you believe existed. —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Easy solution

Okay, it seems most people here believe the joke behind those fake message boxes has fallen flat several years ago, and it also seems most people here believe blocking users for such is excessive. Of course we have an easy other alternative: page protection. If some user insists upon revert warring to reinsert such a joke message box, protect the page until they get the clue that the box is undesirable. I'd estimate that shouldn't take too long. How's that? >Radiant< 13:39, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Inflammatory. Interfering. Humiliating for users who are invested in their small piece of defiance. Patronizing. Extending admin authority to deciding which jokes are funny and which are flat. Provocative. Pushing a "you'll-do-as-you're-told-because-I-say-so" mentality in the user's face. Intrusive. Unnecessary. Widening the gulf between admins and "ordinary" users. Liable to lead to wheel wars. Overweening. Arrogant. Bishzilla don't like it. Otherwise ok. Bishonen | talk 18:02, 14 February 2007 (UTC).
Is "undesirable"? Why stop with the "new message" joke messages? I'm sure that for a number of people there a number of various "undesirable" things that could be removed from user pages with subsequent page protection (or users themselves for that matter). I can only guess that this is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion considering how wrong this concept is relative to Wikipedia:Protection policy. (Netscott) 18:27, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Yeah...I hope Radiant's suggestion was a joke. =) Jumping cheese Cont@ct 01:00, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Even easier solution

This whole debate is out of order. Well, not really, but I just love saying that. Has anyone even thought about the problem _behind_ all this? Why is there mediawiki UI in the content box, and, not, if nothing else, above the title? It shouldn't be _possible_ to spoof this, and I think making it possible was a bad move. --Random832(tc) 14:24, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

This is due to the inherent flexibility of the media wiki software. IANAD but it might be possible to make a kludge that prevented you from doing this. That would strike me as highly unecessary and would likely get in the way of more legitimate formating. JoshuaZ 15:40, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
What would get in the way of more legitimate formatting? I'm not suggesting blocking people from using the style, I'm suggesting moving the real notice outside of the #content div entirely, so that no-one can put a fake notice where the real notice would then be. Having non-content inside #content is the kludge. --Random832(tc) 19:52, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Random is probably right, and I'd support making a change that made this less likely to be disruptive in the future. Putting it right under the site notice would probably work (and it could be smaller, for gods' sakes...). -- nae'blis 21:02, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
You can put anything anywhere using CSS. BeCritical 21:30, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Easiest solution

Let people have their lame "new message" joke boxes and stop making an issue of it. Forgive me if I am wrong but I don't see a consensus against them here and if anything I see more support for their existence. (Netscott) 14:45, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

There isn't any better solution than this. :)--Certified.Gangsta 14:53, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. No, I don't see that as a solution. We're supposed to be building an encyclopedia, and such messages clearly interfere with that goal. So far, the best argument in favor of their continued presence is that they only do a little bit of harm (compared to a bunch of other stuff that's worse). Again, the messages are created for the explicit purpose of deceiving people and wasting their time. Yes, this is intended as a joke, but so what? So are all sorts of edits that we don't permit. This is not Uncyclopedia.
2.Do you deny the fact that near-unanimous support for the guideline addition existed at the time of the incident in question?
3. Where do you see "more support for their existence"? —David Levy 16:34, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Here's some more support for their existance. Its a bloody userpage, Mr. Levy needs to relax. Kyaa the Catlord 16:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
The assertion is that there's more support for their existence than there is opposition to it. I see no such evidence. —David Levy 17:01, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
I like this solution. If one does a cost/benefit analysis, it becomes pretty clear that these joke banners (moderate cost to get rid of, small benefit reaped) are not in the same league as vandalism (moderate-large cost to fight, huge benefit reaped). The time wasted as each person in turn learns to check before they click is negligible compared with the time spent on this tempest in a teapot. Not only that, but checking before you click is a valuable lesson, that can save you from far worse practical jokes elsewhere on the 'net. It's kept me from at least one last measure link. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:13, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. I don't perceive this as such a difficult rule to enforce. We already prohibit user page content that many people wish/attempt to include (fair-use images). We do that purely to avoid raising legal issues that more than likely would never cause a major problem, but it's the right thing to do. Phony software messages, conversely, cause clear and obvious harm to the project. The fact that this harm is relatively minor (compared to other types of disruptive edits) doesn't mean that it should be condoned.
2. Perhaps we should permit the deliberate inclusion of a small amount of slightly inaccurate information in articles. This isn't in the same league as a large amount of highly inaccurate information, and it's a waste of time to verify every little fact. After users are fooled once or twice, this will have the positive effect of training them to never assume that any information on the Internet is true.
Yes, the above is a major leap. Please don't think for a moment that I'm seriously equating the two scenarios. It's merely an analogy. :-) —David Levy 17:47, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. You're right; it probably wouldn't be very difficult to enforce. It's just the current 3 ring circus that's a shame. What you call "clear and obvious harm" must not be very clear and obvious, or there wouldn't be all the disagreement we're seeing on this page. I, for example, am a reasonably bright guy, and I don't find it clear or obvious; I think it's a stretch to call it "harm to the project" at all. It certainly doesn't subject us to any legal risk, as improper use of fair use images could, however unlikely.
2. What's the point in making an analogy unless you think it has some validity? It seems that you're attempting to show my previous point to be unsound, by comparing to a situation that I see as very different. Our goal is to make a free and accurate encyclopedia. Introducing inaccuracies is clearly contrary to that goal. A bit of behind the scenes joking around is not. Has it occured to you that, for people who enjoy the joke, morale is improved, and that they may contribute more as a consequence? How about people who get fed up and less inclined to contribute because someone comes along and takes a bit of fun off of their talk page, where we have traditionally allowed a lot of latitude? Simply taking something away that was previously allowed will always upset some people - why alienate them? -GTBacchus(talk) 01:56, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
1. I agree that this unpleasantness is unfortunate, and I'm very sorry to have inadvertently sparked it. Part of the problem is that my statements tend to come across with greater severity than I intend. I never meant to imply that this issue would lead to the project's downfall, but it clearly causes disruption. I cited the fair-use image situation as an example of forcing users to remove content that seems entirely innocuous (and "harmless") to them.
2. As I said, the analogy was a deliberate leap on my part. Yes, misinformation in the encyclopedia proper is far worse than misinformation on user pages, but the same basic principle (that we shouldn't tolerate minor disruption simply because it isn't nearly as bad as major disruption) applies.
Has it occurred to you that these pranks (which indisputably upset users) discourage people from taking Wikipedia seriously and contributing to the project?
Regarding latitude, it's always been stated that user and talk pages exist for the purpose of improving the encyclopedia. Certainly, the community interprets this very broadly (and allows just about any content that doesn't result in harm), as this surely improves morale and indirectly contributes to the encyclopedia's improvement. No one seeks to take away the fun and games (or even the silly jokes, specifically), but I don't see what's so unreasonable about drawing the line at imitated MediaWiki UI.
As for taking things away and alienating users, I don't mean to undercut my own argument, but I'd be shocked if they're weren't more user pages containing fair-use images right now than have ever contained phony software messages. —David Levy 02:24, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess I'm not claiming that drawing the line at imitated UI is "so unreasonable". I'm just not bothered by the banners, and it seems to me that there's no compelling reason to get rid of them. There's also no compelling reason to keep them. I agree that some people are upset by them, and that some people are upset by their removal. Some people are upset by rules (WP:IAR), and some are upset by an absence of rules (WP:PI). You can't please everyone, it seems.
I don't think we have any way of measuring the lost morale due to bad practical jokes versus the lost morale due to taking the jokes away. They certainly don't make me take Wikipedia less seriously, but I don't claim to be representative of all Wikipedians. -GTBacchus(talk) 03:02, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree that it's impossible to please everyone, but there are so many other types of fun and games (including silly jokes) that no one seeks to ban. When one very specific type is known to be regarded as disruptive by a large segment of the community, what's the big deal about cutting it out? —David Levy 03:18, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't think cutting out this particular type of joke should be a big deal, and I don't think keeping it should be a big deal, either. (I admit, I sometimes find it funny, depending on my mood.) Once we run into static, I don't think it's worth pursuing the ban. I think it would be much better to just ask people nicely to remove offending banners. People are much more agreeable if they're made to feel that they could be really cool and do you a helpful favor than if they feel they're losing a battle of wills. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:54, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I like this solution, because I simply don't see the harm that these little messages cause. Worst case, people will be confused for a minute, and that's it. Sure, someone will probably be prevented from improving the encyclopedia for a minute, but then again, this thread prevented me from improving the encyclopedia for about 20 minutes now. :) --Conti| 17:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Banning the "new message" jokes is being seriously considered over on the village pump. (Netscott) 18:22, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Current state of the straw poll looks like no consensus, I might add. --Random832(tc) 19:52, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Unfortunately, I lack psychic abilities. —David Levy 20:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
Add another shrimp on the barbie, Mr. Levy. I think it should be left alone the way it is. Stiff upper lip and all that. ju66l3r 19:42, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Arbitrary Section Break 1

"Do you deny the fact that near-unanimous support for the guideline addition existed at the time of the incident in question?" That this opposition (nearly equal, numerically, to the support for it) is happening now means that any pre-existing consensus for the addition was an illusion arising from insufficient discussion. "Phony software messages, conversely, cause clear and obvious harm to the project." It's far from 'clear and obvious', as evidenced, again, by this ensuing debate when you acted on that view; and it's telling that you've done little to advance that view other than repeated assertion, maybe if it's so obvious to you, you could explain it to the rest of us. And why not make it so that the software messages _can't_ be spoofed by content? Whose idea was it to put it in the content box in the first place? --Random832(tc) 19:48, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. Consensus can change. Unfortunately, it appears that my actions (deemed excessive by some) sparked previously nonexistent opposition. Perhaps there was insufficient discussion, but it certainly didn't appear that way at the time. (An actual guideline modification was made.) I've acknowledged that I misread the community's will and sincerely apologized for my error. It's clear that my actions were far from uncontroversial, but I honestly didn't realize this at the time.
2. I (and others) have repeatedly explained the harm that these messages cause. Most of the users opposing a rule against them seem to be arguing that this simply isn't a big deal.
3. I wholeheartedly support any efforts to render such trickery technically impossible (if this is feasible). In the meantime, I don't see what's wrong with having a rule against it. —David Levy 20:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Levy, you're obvious lying when you repeatedly claimed there was no opposition on the policy when you blocked me. [[9]] and the discussion on village pump was already heated when you blocked me, supporters include Bishonen and JoshuaZ. Even I posted on the page before I was block. Now you're saying there was absolute consensus? Hell no. I didn't say I shouldn't follow the rule just because its a guideline, my contention is that your initial block warning was invalid given that discussion was still ongoing and content dispute still occuring on the WP:Userpage page. Sadly, you decided to unilaterally block me without consensus.--Certified.Gangsta 20:12, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

1. I never claimed that there was "no opposition." I seriously doubt that there's a single Wikipedia policy or guideline to which that applies.
2. I addressed Garion96's edit (which did not remove the rule) above.
3. Consensus != unanimity. The discussion was far from "heated" at that point.
4. "First and foremost, it's not a policy, it's a guideline (quoting above)." That's what you wrote.
5. Most blocks are performed unilaterally. Yes, mine was not met with community consensus, but I honestly believed that it would be. I've repeatedly apologized for this error on my part. —David Levy 20:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

"I (and others) have repeatedly explained the harm that these messages cause. Most of the users opposing a rule against them seem to be arguing that this simply isn't a big deal." Um... you have consistently used polemical terms rather than a simple factual description of the alleged "harm" as "causes the user to load a page and have to click the back button", preferring instead to say that it is "malicious", "harms the encyclopedia", and makes baby Jimbo cry (ok, maybe I made that last one up). Even if you think your point of view on this is right, are you really saying that it's not at one of the far extremes of the spectrum? --Random832(tc) 21:28, 14 February 2007 (UTC) P.S. adding to the confusion is that the VPR thread on this issue started as specifically referring to the _clearly_ harmful practice of fake banners with external links, and some of the discussion here (specifically, references to "extreme abuse" and talking about a "security hazard") seems, to me, to still be based on that assumption.

1. I explicitly stated above that these messages are not malicious. I have no doubt that almost everyone who uses them is kidding around. Unfortunately, this kidding has negative consequences that should not be ignored.
2. I (and others) have described specific harm. The banners' purpose is to trick users into believing that they have new messages. This creates disruption by forcing people to stop what they're doing (which might be improving the encyclopedia). It also reduces the genuine messages' effectiveness. It also confuses some bots, thereby causing them to cease functioning properly. (Someone actually suggested that the bots be reprogrammed to accommodate the pranks!) While Wikipedia faces far worse threats, I don't see how any of these problems are justified by the fact that some people are amused by these jokes. The community generally tolerates frivolity to the point at which actual harm is caused. Arguments that relatively little harm is caused do not seem compelling to me.
3. The security threats are a legitimate concern, and I think that the users in question are arguing that it makes more sense to simply prohibit imitations of the MediaWiki UI (all of which are harmful to some extent) than to waste time determining which ones are the worst.
There does, however, appear to be confusion regarding the proposed rule's scope; some opponents' comments seem indicative of the impression that it would outlaw all jokes on user pages. —David Levy 22:00, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
"forcing people to stop what they're doing" for no more than a minute or so even on dialup, whereupon they discover the link was in fact not to their talk page and click the back button. And I think the bots should be reprogrammed anyway - bots should not be relying on the form of the html output of the mediawiki software to a greater extent than absolutely necessary. Do you really think it's such an unreasonable view to take that a bot can afford to actually _check_ to see if it has new messages before stopping what it's doing to bother its owner to check? This was a bad design on the part of both the MediaWiki developers and the various bot framework developers.
And, if arguments about the relative amount of harm don't make sense - why not? every action that is not a completely uncontroversial addition to an article can be argued to have _some_ amount of harm. The existence of this page distracts people, as some have stated. The _amount_ is key, and you have consistently exaggerated that amount with language that I can't think of a word to describe other than "doomsaying".
The security threats can be addressed by only prohibiting them when they contain an external link - or maybe even by exercising judgement as to whether the external link is ACTUALLY a virus/phishing/whatever. If users don't hover over a link to see what it is, ANY link is a security threat by that logic. The policy should be to ban such boxes that contain ACTUALLY harmful links, rather than banning the box itself because "it is a format that is tempting for users to click on the link without thinking, and the link (like any link) might be a security threat, even though this particular link isn't". --Random832(tc) 22:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
1. I'm not a MediaWiki developer or bot programmer, so I can't comment on the current setup's logic. It's been said that such reprogramming would not be trivial, but I don't know how accurate this claim is. I do know that the problem currently exists, and I see no valid justification for deliberate disruption (however minor) with no encyclopedic value.
2. I believe that the relative amount of harm is moot because I see no positive offset. I recognize the benefits of allowing people to have some fun on their user pages (and even to include some silly jokes), but this does not require messages that deliberately deceive people and undermine their trust in legitimate software notices.
3. My argument is not analogous to banning hemp along with cannabis because it's easier than attempting to distinguish between the two; I'm saying that there's no need to separate the very harmful UI pranks from the less harmful UI pranks (because all of them are harmful). You obviously disagree with my assessment, but my internal logic is sound. —David Levy 22:36, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
If people want to have fun and jokes, they are welcome to, but not at other people's expense, when these hoaxes are inflicted on other people, who don't want them and don't find them very funny. That is abusive. I found it extremely irritating when I was in the middle of intense messaging to suddenly find I was hitting on these things, masquerading as official notifications which I thought I could rely on. Tyrenius 22:48, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Proposed policy

Rather than perpetually referring to a latent but yet-non-existent policy about this, I have created a page about it: Wikipedia:Avoid imitating MediaWiki user interface elements. Feel free to improve it. This incident belongs on this WP:ANI subpage, but I thought that it might be helpful to have a definitive place where we can channel discussion about the proposed policy. Also... heh. User:Gracenotes/GUI - I wouldn't want to see a user page like that, would you? GracenotesT § 20:41, 14 February 2007 (UTC)


I started what I thought would be a simple thread on ANI, less than 24 hours ago, because an administrator and another user were disagreeing on whether the banner was permissible, and my urging that there be no block without consulting came a few minutes too late, and I didn't want to address the user's unblock request without seeking some consensus. (My personal opinion was that the banner was annoying, but that blocking at that point was not appropriate.) I strongly urged in my introduction that the matter be kept in perspective. Everyone in this discussion has contributed in good faith, but I think it's fair to say that there are a lot more serious matters that have received a lot less attention than this issue has, both here and on VP. There's a lesson to be learned in that, though I'm not sure exactly what it is. Newyorkbrad 23:54, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Some different thoughts

I haven't read this discussion closely (should I?), and while I strongly support the changes to the guideline (or a new policy), it should have only been implemented had consensus existed for it beforehand (no idea about that, this is the first I hear of it). It would have been much better to protect the page than to block, for multiple reasons. But, and this leads me to the in fairness to David Levy bit of this note, I did find it rather striking that out of nearly 100 pages, CG was the only one to revert someone acting in their capacity as an admin. Bellow, —freak(talk) writes:

I realize our moral values differ significantly, David, but I'm trying to be objective and philosophical about this. To me it seems quite impossible [sic.] to vandalize his own user page as you've paradoxically put it, just as it would be impossible for one to rape oneself. [Italics are my emphasis]

In fact, CG, in a sense, did vandalize his own user page in the past, and repeatedly restored the vandalism which was removed by two admins (Twice by Miborovsky: [10] [11]; three times by myself: [12] [13] [14]) and did not stop until I protected the page. For my part, I hope to see him refrain from reverting admins on his userspace (opting for discussion instead), and I also wish for him to take down that annoying practical joke (again, not just him; I'm happy to see em all go) with the understanding it is possible that for every user who enjoys it, two others get annoyed. El_C 00:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

It would be a good idea if he removed the section These chickz are too hot: Girlz shouldn't wear anythin', which I'm sure is offensive to a lot of people and nothing to do with building an encyclopedia. CG's actions on his user page have proved somewhat disruptive all round. Tyrenius 00:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Yeah Gangsta's user page isn't very PC, but I guess he wants to make a statement or something. However, I'm getting kind of worried about increasing censorship of user pages. Wikipedia is not censored, so it might seem a bit hypocritical to censor user pages only because they contain offensive content. Personally, I didn't find the Gangsta's user page to be offensive, only silly. If Gangsta want to sound immature or whatever, it's his choice (unless the page is really all the uncensored pics on Wikipedia in some gallery). Jumping cheese Cont@ct 01:11, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Obviously, it was really offensive prior to it being protected (the first time, by myself). El_C 01:17, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
The offensive content was eventually removed after a edit war, followed by some agreement you guys made (I only looked at the edit summaries). In the present state, I do not consider Gangsta's user page to be offensive (maybe womanizing, though). Jumping cheese Cont@ct 01:30, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Oh...and how is bashing Gandsta helping us here?!? Somewhat like Ad hominem. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 01:33, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I take exception to that mischaracterzation. It is fair to say it ended out of the page by agreement; but it also fair to say that this agreement was reached once the user realized the page would not be unprotected unless this happned. El_C 01:42, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
"Bashing" Gandsta is prejudiced language. I am suggesting that some of his actions may not be in the best interests of the project. It seems incredible that all this time and energy has been expended with the aiming of retaining an item of irritation for many users, basically because he was the only user to have a hoax message box who was not prepared to co-operate in the interests of removing that irritant. It seems this is not the first time. It is permissible to discuss a user's tendencies with the view to asking that user to reassess. Tyrenius 02:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
If someone tries to remove something from my userpage, I'm likely going to revert them. Has anyone else had the banner removed and quietly agreed to it? This does seem like a lot of ad hominem attacks against Certified.Gangsta... What about the GOP userbox on his userpage? Are you going to remove that, and then block him when he reverts you? This is a freaking userpage banner, which links to "practical joke". If you are naïve enough to fall for the trick, you hit the back button on your browser, and life moves on. Grandmasterka 02:21, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I understand several dozen people. Naïve? When people place false block notices on user talk pages, I seem to recall it being treated as disruptive behaviour. That's a joke too, isn't it? Tyrenius 02:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
A false block notice is much more threatening and harmful than a joke banner. Users aren't gonna be chased away by a joke banner, but they will if they believe the false block is real. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 02:51, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This point has been discussed already elsewhere, by HighInBC, as in "it's only a little bit harmful, so it's OK – like we don't mind if you only do a little bit of vandalism..." Tyrenius 03:03, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
It's make more sense if you did a little bit of false block notices. Joke banners and false block are entirely different things. One is placed on the user page by the user for a laugh (or for people to get annoyed), whereas the other is maliciously placed on other user's pages to cause panic or something. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 07:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict, reply to Tyrenius) So it wasn't "bashing"...that's all right. Gangsta has a history of being stubborn, but he does bring up a good point about not messing with the joke banner. Had he not have resisted, then banning joke banners might have passed into policy. Consequently, there would not have been this entire discussion regarding the policy: a dangerous precedent for other policies to pass into affect without much discussion. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 02:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I think it would have been highly desirable not to have had this discussion, because what was being removed does not help to create an encyclopedia, and all this time and energy could have been put to much better use. Serious matters regarding policy will always get discussed, even if no one raised an eyebrow over here. Tyrenius 03:06, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
But this way there's no strong precedent, since the first enforcement action resulted in an immediate objection rather than "we've always removed those, no-one's ever complained before" - and, I disagree that it's _ever_ desirable not to discuss and reach consensus. And, as for "what was being removed does not help to create an encyclopedia"? That's your opinion. It's all too easy to forget the human side of things. People are using words like "draconian" to describe this - and while I don't think it really reaches that level, if "draconian" measures against individual expression become the norm, people won't want to contribute anymore. --Random832(tc) 04:10, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Why is everyone trying to censor my userpage? Is that what I get for having the guts to stand up against injustice? If I didn't speak out, we will NOT know that there is such a strong divide in the community on this issue, maybe Levy's unilateral removal will automatically be a de facto policy. The existence of userpage is to represent myself, make wikipedia more human. Like it or not, we have a great variety of people from diffent backgrounds all over the world striving for a common goal to improve the project. Tyrenius claimed my userpage is not in the best interest of the project. Okay, we're talking about a freaking userpage. Not articles. How can that be potentially destructive? If fellow wikipedians are curious enough to visit my userpage, that means they are interested in knowing the person's background. Personal expression is what userpages are for. As for El_C's claim that I previously vandalized my userpage. It's partially untrue. Well, there has also been varying opinions on it. For example, admin User:Nlu claimed that no matter how racist a content is, as long as you don't endorse it, it's okay to be on the page. And of course, if we wanted to censor userpage this way (I'm sorry to bring this up once again), admin User:Jiang could also be a potential problem. anyway, I feel my previous page protection has little to do with the discussion we're having now.--Certified.Gangsta 09:46, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

1. For the most part, I don't particularly care what text you put on your user page, provided that it doesn't violate any specific rules (WP:NPA, et cetera). People are free to read it or ignore it, and everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "offensive" content. I do, however, object to content designed to trick users into doing something that they don't want to do. While intended as a silly joke, this is disruptive. And of course, these banners confuse some bots (thereby causing them to cease functioning properly).
2. Why have you continually claimed that my removal of the banner was "unilateral"? Again, there was consensus for this at the time. I did not author the guideline addition.
3. Is it really an "injustice" to give up a prank that evidently upsets roughly half of the community to the extent that they wish to see it prohibited? As so many people (most of whom have no major objections to anything else on your user page) consider it disruptive, why don't you voluntarily remove it as a gesture of good will? —David Levy 16:28, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Non-consensus removal of joke banners

Despite the extremely evident lack of consensus regarding removing "new message" joke banners people are doing so. If I am not mistaken Wikipedia works based upon consensus. Since that is the case then it would be normal to expect that this would not be done until such time as a consensus was established to do so. If this is true would someone gently request user Dragons flight (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · page moves · block user · block log) to cease his removals? I've tried and failed. Thanks. (Netscott) 19:01, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Yep. I removed 15 or so of them. Anyone who puts them back is free to keep them, as one person did. As my edit summary explained, I consider (and many people agree) "spoofing the user interface is unfriendly". Many of the accounts using these are from people who have not editted recently, and so in many cases requesting that they be taken down seemed unlikely to get a reply. My edit was intended to make a strong statement that I regard this as a bad idea. How people respond to that is entirely their option. However, I would ask that the person whose page it is be given the chance to respond, rather than having third parties simply put them back. Dragons flight 19:10, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Cease your non-consensus actions and kindly follow my recommendation to request users remove them themselves rather than do so unilaterally. It is true that anyone can edit virtual any page here because no one owns any page here but we can also respect users by kindly requesting they alter their user pages themselves. (Netscott) 19:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. But then I see you are signing with a template...isn't that against consensus and against the direct instructions of the devs? Guettarda 19:19, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Nice ad hominem there Guettarda, here's my response. (Netscott) 19:30, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I would also appreciate if this is discussed beforehand. I do not want to see a Great Userbox War revisited! --Asteriontalk 19:06, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
PS: I am not criticising User:Dragons flight's actions here, I just think this may be used by some other editors as an excuse to start a disruptive trend as it happened in early 2006 with the userbox issue. --Asteriontalk 19:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I kindly asked him to currently cease those actions. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 19:08, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Endorse removal. They are an annoying distraction and are, as DF said, unfriendly to other editors. Put them on a sub-page if you like, or link your sig to your talk page. But it's anti-social to put them on pages linked to by your sig. Guettarda 19:09, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Respectfully Guettarda, this is not about endorsing or not... (I invite you to join the wikilinked discussions above for that). This is about performing non-consensus actions. (Netscott) 19:11, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
So...where are your "respectful" criticisms of the people who are agreeing with you? Since when are people only allowed to agree with postings to ANI? I think DF is doing the right thing, and acting within policy. If you don't want feedback on the issue, don't post here. Guettarda 19:16, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Because this is about a specific action that based upon rather extensive talk elsewhere does not have consensus. Those two areas would be the proper venue to discuss "endorsing" or "not". (Netscott) 19:21, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. They are non-encyclopedic. - Kittybrewster 19:22, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I can't help but think that the disruption being caused by the anti-fakebanner brigade outweighs the minimal disruption the fake banners themselves cause. -- Steel 19:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Steel, I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly. (Netscott) 19:22, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
And indeed the amount of time being wasted because it wastes my time. Oh the exquisite irony.....ALR 19:23, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
History repeats itself, I suppose. --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:24, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I see far more disruption in screaming "bloody murder" on other users' behalf when someone edits pages (this being a wiki and all) to remove controversial content. —David Levy 19:27, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This was a request for intervention on the actions of an editor against current community consensus that is currently being discussed elsewhere. Wikilinked above multple times, I will reitterate where comments on the boxes should go
-- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 19:24, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly endorse Dragons flight's actions. While consensus requiring the banners' removal has not been reached, one needn't formally establish consensus before editing a page, and he is not countering efforts by the users to restore these banners if they disagree with their removal. There's no need to protest normal page editing on behalf of these individuals (many of whom might not even mind). —David Levy 19:27, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
This is an invitation to war David Levy over users removing them and others establishing them. Let a consensus be established and then proceed. (Netscott) 19:34, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Again, one needn't establish consensus before editing a page. If the user protests the banner's removal and restores it, leave the page alone for now. Otherwise, what's the problem? —David Levy 19:56, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
There's no need for a war here. If the user is active, ask them to consider removing the banner. If they don't, move on. If the user is inactive, then by all means remove the banner (it is a wiki after all), but with a note on the talk page explaining why. If the user returns and replaces the banner, let them be and move on. These things are immature and annoying, worth removing, but not worth waring over.--Docg 19:30, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
That is sensible Doc glasgow, particularly the inactive members bit and the leaving a note on their talk page as a courtesy. (Netscott) 19:32, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. They are irritating, but nowhere near irritating enough to be worth all this brouhaha. JuJube 19:33, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
How do you define inactive? No edits for a month? for a year?I think this would be much easier to let the discussion continue, and then, take an appropriate course of action after it is completed and the details are worked out. It seems like juping the gun a bit to me. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 19:35, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
We don't define everything. We don't need rules for everything. Just don't edit war, with any user who replaces his silly banner, and no harm will happen.--Docg 19:45, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Can we at least come to an agreement about not making actions without consensus? (Netscott) 19:39, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

No, not if "actions" includes editing pages. —David Levy 19:56, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

User:Dragons flight has already had resistance about his removals with a user describing it as easily being miscontrued as "vandalism". (Netscott) 19:43, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Dragon's Flight, if you feel you must make a strong statement about the banners, please make it in the form of a request on user talkpages. To remove the banner yourself is not so much "strong" as it is "really rude". It's also disappointing to see you removing them again where Netscott has reverted you. If your removal may be construed as bold (with some difficulty, since this is the userspace), doing it again once you've been reverted is reckless. Please don't edit war. Please revert yourself in those cases. Bishonen | talk 19:44, 15 February 2007 (UTC).
1. isn't "rude" to deliberately trick people into believing that they have new messages, but it is "rude" to edit pages on a wiki without explicit permission?
2. Why is Netscott reverting? If a user disagrees with the banner's removal, he/she can restore it him/herself. —David Levy 19:56, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Requesting removal from editors who have not contributed in months, would be an exercise in futility. Anyone who is editting is presumably aware of what I did, and is free to respond in any way they wish. I would point out that only one person reverted/asked me about it despite the fact that most of the removals were 2 days ago. My position, is that the users should be allowed to respond themselves, if they wish. I won't revert to put the silly banners back (all of which were of the "You have new messages"-kind, not the obvious spoof kind that you use Bishonen), but now that my position is clear, I won't revert further if people here feel they should be put back. Dragons flight 19:59, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Netscott should NOT be reverting. Dragonsflight should ask active users to consider. This only becomes a war if we make it one, and he who edit wars over it is putting himself clearly in the wrong. Stop it everyone.--Docg 19:48, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I reverted his removals once and specified that there was no consensus for the removal in my edit summaries and concurrently requested that he refrain from his non-consensus acts to which he refused... and he reverted me... so here we are. (Netscott) 20:00, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
But why did you revert? Why not leave that to the users (some of whom may be persuaded by the arguments against these pranks)? —David Levy 20:04, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
To be perfectly honest with you David Levy, I was under the impression that it was well established that there was not a consensus to remove these banners and that folks would abide by that. I reverted due to this. I wouldn't say that User:Dragons flight's actions were done in bad faith but I do see them as disruption. (Netscott) 20:07, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Likewise, I'm sure that you were acting in good faith, but I see no logic in responding on these users' behalf. There is no consensus to require that these banners be removed, but there also is no consensus to allow them. What's the harm in leaving it to the individual users to decide whether or not to revert their removal? —David Levy 20:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
It is uncivil David pure and simple and going user after user and removing the banners to make a point is disruption. Until there is an established consensus on this then the correct course of action is to make a request of the users themselves to remove the joke banners. If no response is forthcoming after a day or two then remove it (if there is really so much of a need to do so). (Netscott) 20:36, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I disagree that Dragons flight's actions were uncivil or performed to make a point, but I agree that the above course of action is reasonable. —David Levy 20:48, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

If it bugs you, ask the person to remove it. If I had someone remove something from my userpage (in this case, just because they didn't like it), they'd get a big "fuck you" in my edit summary when I reverted it. EVula // talk // // 19:49, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Well, if you did that, I'd probably block you for incivility. Yes, it is better to ask people first, but ultimately this is a wiki, and providing I don't edit war, I'm entitled to make rational changes to any page. If you don't like them, you can revert me.--Docg 19:54, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
That argument is realy full of holes. There are many edits that may be made "rationally" but against consensus. Wikipedia is built on consensus. Taking actions on personal beleifs in a situation where consensus is attempting to be reached is usurping the process. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 19:59, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
There is ongoing discussion regarding the possibility of requiring the banners' removal, not allowing it. We don't need special permission to edit pages on a wiki. —David Levy 20:04, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
So, theoretically, if i had a problem with barnstars and I felt that they werent nice because some users get them and other users dont get them and they create a division, I should then therefore go around and remove everybodys barnstars. I have a rational reason why I am doing it. How would this be percieved or accepted? -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 20:08, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
If more than half of the community felt that barnstars were disruptive and you had no intention of reverting if the users restored their barnstars, yes, that would be fine. —David Levy 20:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

←I agree with that. The question is, how to determine half of the communtiy determines it is disruptive? As of now, accpording to the straw poll is still going on. If today, i decided i had a problem with barnstars and the communoty had not weighed in on it. Me deleting as many barnstars as i could as quick as i oculd before the aboveformentioned 50% had not been reached it would be me intentionally usurping the process. In this situation, a little bit of time to allow the straw poll to finish and a little more discussion would probably be a very wise idea in my opinion. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 20:18, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
to clairfy, i have no strong feelings either way. I have popups, i know the fake ones and generally, what users have fake ones. It does not affect me. In a week, or whenever the sstraw poll closes, and there is a consensus of what to do, i have no problem with them being removed. The thing is, there is no clear cut consensus as of now. It would be the same as if i removed all barnstars because i did not like them and did not give the community time to weigh in on the issue. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 20:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

1. In the above context, "more than half" shouldn't be taken literally. It's clear that a substantial segment of the community opposes these banners' existence.
2. Again, the ongoing discussion is to determine whether or not to prohibit such pranks, not whether or not to permit their removal. One needn't obtain special permission before editing a wiki page in good faith. Given the present lack of consensus, back-and-forth battles with the users on whose pages the banners appear would be inappropriate, but I see no logical reason to revert these changes on behalf of the aforementioned users (many of whom may actually approve of the banners' removal). —David Levy 20:28, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
First off, thank you for taking the time to discuss this with me! I always appreciate a wikipedian who can remain cool calm and collected and be civilized in a debate. Second off, i partially agree and partially disagree. (It is apparent we have different stances on this topic which i am willing to accept). I would be much more comfterable with his actions at the end of the strawpoll when it is clear that consenus is to prohibit such pranks. Prohibitng such pranks opens the door for the removal of such pranks in a much more civilized manner. I agree he was being bold, i respect that, I also respect that fact that he seems to have ceased after this controversy began. Overall, i personally think in the end they will all eventually be removed as being just a bad idea but until then, i think the community should be given time to weigh in. After all, whats the rush? -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 20:32, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Agree. Being bold and removing the joke banners before a clear consensus is made is probably not a good idea. Users will not be as pissed when the joke banner is removed if there is rule banning joke banners, but will be if they perceive the removal to be simply based on personal dislike. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 20:41, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps so, but if the likelihood of users being "pissed" is a valid reason to not do something, why are we even debating whether to allow these pranks? —David Levy 20:48, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Likewise, I appreciate your polite consideration of my viewpoint and acknowledgement that two rational individuals acting in good faith can disagree. I respect your opinion, and I sincerely thank you for respecting mine. :-) —David Levy 20:48, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

The editors advocating hoax banners do so on the basis that it's fun and just a minor prank played on other unsuspecting editors, who should have a sense of humour about it, when each time they click it, they find there is no message. Therefore, the hoaxers will in turn no doubt have an equal sense of humour, if each time they unsuspectingly log on, they find their hoax banner has vanished, because of a minor prank played by another editor on them, out of an equal sense of fun. Tyrenius 20:44, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

The difference between the two is the people with the box arent removing content, just creating a "practical joke". The people removing the boxes are opening the door for edit wars. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 20:46, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Update: Netscott is in the process of undoing the banner removals that I performed when the guideline addition was in place, despite the fact that most of the users accepted this without complaint (and may even have been persuaded by the arguments against them). —David Levy 20:57, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I personally feel there should be a "cease fire". If they are up, leave htem up unless the userpages editor eants them back. But, i think for now, no more should be removed. That is my 2 cents!. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 21:01, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
That's normal David Levy, your original actions didn't have consensus and we're uncivil. (Netscott) 21:05, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
1. There was consensus for the banners' removal at the time.
2. Again, the cited debate is to determine whether or not to prohibit the pranks, not whether or not to permit their removal. One needn't establish consensus before editing a wiki page. I made no such claim of incivility on your part (and I don't appreciate your "normal David Levy" remark), but if the users wish to restore the banners (and many of them might not), why not allow them to do this on their own? —David Levy 21:13, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Others have said that this is ridiculous to be warring about. You're encouraging people to remove these things which is totally uncivil. Let us all agree to neither remove or replace them until a consensus about them is established. Does that not seem like an equitable position? (Netscott) 21:16, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
As I have stated previousley, I Agree with that solution as a temporary cease fire. just dont do anything until it gets resolved. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 21:18, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes. I thought that we'd already arrived at such an agreement. —David Levy 21:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Hooray! Everybody deserves cool cucumbers for working through this for now. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 21:21, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't think so... I haven't seen User:Dragons flight agreeing to cease directly removing them with no talk, etc. (Netscott) 21:28, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

←At least you and david do! I dont think dragons flight is around. last I checked he had not contribed in a while? Would you agree with this? -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 21:30, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

yet more observations

I confess I haven't read all of the above. (I'm at work right now; I probably shouldn't have read or be replying to any of it.)

Practical jokes are fine. But where do you draw the line between practical jokes and harassment or disruption? It can be a fine line to draw, of course, but one aspect of the line is: it starts being disruption when the jokester can't tell that the joke is over.

A joke that was cute and clever, once, is not automatically cute and clever if repeated arbitrary numbers of times, or if left in place forever.

If, after demonstrating cute cleverness, a jokester refuses to take the joke down, if the jokester instead stands on ceremony and insists on some "right" to leave the joke in place forever, the community has a right to object. In doing so, we are not suppressing creativity or saying that practical jokes are banned: we are, rather, objecting to what is well and truly a violation of WP:POINT.

With all of that said, though, we need to remember that not every offense is a blockable offense. As others have noted, we don't want to turn this into another userbox war; we don't want the "cure" to be more disruptive than the disease. Since people are touchy about having things deleted from their userpages, and touchy about being blocked for actions on their userpages, what if those objecting to the joke templates simply put a big red explanatory "THIS IS A LAME JOKE" banner next to the lame joke message banner? (Now, it's true, people are touchy abut having that sort of thing added to their userpage, but the dynamics end up playing out quite differently if they try to delete the "LAME JOKE" banner, and the objecters simply re-add it.) --Steve Summit (talk) 21:01, 15 February 2007 (UTC)


These hoax messages are vandalism defined as:

Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia.

Obviously these do compromise the integrity of Wikipedia, by misusing an official message image, and thereby lessening the ability of users to rely on such messages. It is done deliberately, as it's obviously not an accident that the hoax box looks exactly the same as the official one. It compromises the integrity of the system in a small way, so is a small form of vandalism, but vandalism nevertheless, which justifies sanctions for refusal to remove after reasonable requests to do so, or reinstatement after notification not to, just as any small form of vandalism, if repeated, will lead to sanctions. Tyrenius 21:52, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry Tyrenius but you're trying to stretch this definition to suit your point of view about that. This is akin to what you were trying to do when citing the "entertainment" portion of WP:UP which specifically mentioned roleplaying games details as being inappropriate. (Netscott) 21:54, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
You're completely misrepresentng it. It says: "Games, roleplaying sessions, and other things pertaining to "entertainment" rather than "writing an encyclopedia,""[my underline]. These hoax boxes are purely for entertainment, and can therefore legitimately be removed. Tyrenius 22:26, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
It is unambiguous what it is referring to and yes you're misinterpreting it. If we were to go by your interpretation then the Chess boards that admin User:Sceptre, admin User:Fred_Chess, User:Winged-stone, and User:Krakatoa, etc. are showing would also have to be removed. (Netscott) 22:46, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Here is my original response to Tyrenius higher up in the page:
That rule was taken out of context.
Wouldn't that mean a page dedicated to a game or something non-notable as a way or avoiding the notability requirement for pages?!?
End original response. Jumping cheese Cont@ct 01:33, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Presumably no one has objected to the chess games, nor is anyone tricked into playing a chess game when they don't want to. Tyrenius 02:46, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Which has precisely zilch to do with whether something falls afoul of the "entertainment purposes" rule. --Random832(tc) 04:20, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
If you object to chess games, then it is up to you to do something about it. The community seems to have granted tolerance to them, and they have not generated the opposition that hoax messages have. Tyrenius 04:36, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Those boxes in no way affect the integriy of wikipedia. Integrity is defined as "an unreduced or unbroken completeness or totality". These do not affect that in any way. The other defintion is "moral soundness". In this case, they may be funny but in my humble opnion should be the least of the moral worries of wikipedia. -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 21:58, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
That is exactly what hoaxes do: reduce and break completeness and introduce an element of uncertainty. There was one hoax box. There are now 100. Do we allow every user to have one, so that every time a message notification appears it has to be checked before clicking on it? That is broken. Tyrenius 22:31, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
And if we don't allow every user to have one, then we shouldn't allow any user to have one. Tyrenius 22:33, 15 February 2007 (UTC)


There's an obvious solution here. 1. We obviously want to work within a) the consensus of the community - or at least not against it b) policy. 2. We need some agreed process to ensure that happens and that IAR is not invoked. 3. Assuming that the community agrees to the principle, we should proceed to agree a means/process to further this. 4. A suggested process could be (subject to further community agreement): that 5) A user may ask another to remove the joke item, giving adequate reasons according to the policy. 6) The request should be endorsed by another user. 7) If the initial user refuses, or fails to remove the joke within seven days (or a specified time agreed by the community after we've considered other options), then 8) a formal request for removal may be placed on the appropriate requests page, indicating the applicable policies and right of appeal 9) the request must then be endorsed by three users (with a minimum of 300 edits to avoid socks). 10) A special template is placed on the user's page, alerting him to the request. 11) the community opines for 7 days (or a period otherwise specified). 12) an authorised person (we could call them 'joke removal clerks' and elect them for 3 month periods - again with a suffrage requirement for voters and some appropriate process)...then determines consensus. 12) After 7 days (to allow any appeals to be filed on the 'Request for Joke reviews' page) the user is required to remove the joke. 13) If, after 4 days he has refused to do so, {{joke}} {{joke4}} may be placed on his userpage. If he still declines a 'request for admin joke enforcement' may be filed, and after if, notwithstanding the aforementioned process the user still declines, then after consensus has be ascertained and due process followed, and certified as such by the administrative-clerk-in-charge (whom failing the deputy may, after due notice has been given, deputise for) so do whatever the hell needs done.--Docg 22:37, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I hereby award User:Doc glasgow this kudzu award for spectacular new Wikipedia process -Steve Summit (talk) 22:53, 15 February 2007 (UTC)


I believe that the above suggestion is intended as a parody of Wikipedia processes and this discussion and is NOT A SERIOUS CONTRIBUTION to this encyclopedia. Accordingly, and pursuant to Paragraph Five (5) of the Joke Item Removal Policy, I construe the foregoing contribution as a Joke Item and it is hereby requested that the said Joke Item be removed from this page within seven (7) days of this request. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that if such removal is not timely effected, then I shall pursue a Joke Deletion Request to obtain the deletion and removal of said item, utilizing the appropriate procedures including, but not limited to, those set forth in Paragraphs Eight (8) through Thirteen (13) of said Joke Item Removal Policy. Proceed accordingly. Newyorkbrad 22:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Right there behind you in that citation Newyorkbrad, right there behind you. (Netscott) 22:49, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
However, according to the aforementioned procedure and pursuant to my right as a defendant exercising the principle of principled objection to any administrative action, however envisaged which may, or may not, be carried out according to due process, I demand, protest and assert, without prejudice let or hindrance my prior right to the last word.--Docg 22:56, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Application denied, with costs. Newyorkbrad 22:58, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Before anyone does anything...

...please be aware that I received an e-mail reply from Jimbo indicating that he favors a rule against imitating the MediaWiki UI for the purpose of tricking people, and he presently is discussing this matter with the ArbCom. —David Levy 22:50, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Is invoking the name of Wiki's founder supposed to sway people's thinking? At the risk of sounding heretical, he's just another editor to me. And I haven't read his arguments. If he wants his opinion counted, he should weigh in on this thread. Jeffpw 06:14, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo has the authority to enact a new policy. Given the strong possibility that he will, I posted the above as advice that it's to everyone's advantage to avoid escalating a conflict that may soon be moot. —David Levy 06:25, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
You have to say his name three times before he will appear. Proto  12:29, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, these things are annoying. I support their removal. But, I mean, let's keep it in perspective.--Docg 23:07, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Wait, wait... do you mind if I remove your joke message? Hmm... on second though.. it annoys me... so I'm just going to do it regardless.... not. (Netscott) 23:09, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
It is a wiki, you can do as you please.--Docg 23:11, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
No, it's making me smile... big time!! Thank you for that. ;-) (seriously) LOL (Netscott) 23:11, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo clearly indicated in the e-mail (and I agree) that the rule should be limited to deliberate trickery (not anything that merely duplicates the basic style of a MediaWiki UI element). No one (that I know of) seeks to outlaw all jokes. —David Levy 23:15, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Let us hope that user Jimbo Wales (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · page moves · rights · RfA) and/or the ArbCom has the insight to qualify that any prohibitions be limited to malicious examples. (Netscott) 23:23, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Motive (ie malice) is always difficult to ascertain, better to come down on what is disruptive, liable to confuse, or likely to offend.--Docg 23:41, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I'm sure that most of the individuals who have placed the "new messages" banners on their user/talk pages have done so without any malicious intent. The problem is the disruption that they cause. —David Levy 23:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Doc, I see your point and in that sense let us hope that the "liable to confuse" spirit is given the latitude needed to allow for the harmless "new messages" practical joke. (Netscott) 23:59, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Interfering with the user experience is not "harmless". I have no idea how many of these I clicked on (or almost clicked on) over the years but they are a perpetual nuisance and encourage immaturity. I have no problem with people using an orange box to craft their own messages, but making the appearance identical to the user interface is disruptive. Dragons flight 04:06, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
It would be super if there was a way to amend MediaWiki so it just couldn't be done. Or at least, the current way of doing it couldn't be done. Proto  12:29, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Okay, David Levy bringing in Jimbo and the ArbCom as a means to circumvent other people's opinions on this matter has made me lose whatever little shred of respect I had for him as an editor and an admin. Running to a "higher up" is not the best way to go about dispute resolution, and I would think an admin, of all people, would know that. People agree with you, David Levy, yet a large number of people also don't agree with you. Quite frankly, I don't think you had the right to go to Jimbo about this. Totally lost respect. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 03:16, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

In addition to expressing my strong disagreement with your attitude, I'll let you know that I'm not the one who brought this matter to Jimbo's attention. Another editor did, and Jimbo posted this reply. I subsequently contacted him to comment on the situation and request clarification of the aforementioned statement.
That's just FYI. I'm stunned by your belief that it was inappropriate to inform Jimbo of the issue. —David Levy 03:38, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, be stunned. Dispute resolution works. We don't need Daddy having to rule one way or the other for us; we are quite capable to work it out on our own. In any case, I can add HighInBC to the list of editors I've lost respect for, for this. It's how I feel. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 03:40, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
It seems that you object to Wikipedia's very structure. —David Levy 03:47, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Since when did Cindy Brady-esque tattling become Wikipedia's "very structure"? I think I'm advocating Wikipedia's "very structure" just a bit more clearly than you and HighInBC have done. At this point, I think we have not met consensus on such issue, which means we should revise and tweak what you put into the rules against the message bars, or leave it alone and move on. Since you're obviously very clearly not going to move on from this (ostensibly until you get "your way"), we will be on this for a while. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 03:51, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Your remarks are uncalled for. Jimbo's intervention will hopefully save a lot more wasted energy. Anyone has the right to draw his, or anyone else's, attention to anything they choose. He has the right not to intervene, if he chooses. Tyrenius 04:01, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't think my remarks are "uncalled for." I'm simply bringing it to light and questioning what the motives of bringing it up to Jimbo really were. I have tried to assume good faith on this, but I have drawn a blank as to how circumventing the process and hoping someone more "higher up" will decide what is already going through the rounds of consensus can be a "good faith" action. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 04:04, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo is a respected community leader whose guidance is widely appreciated. —David Levy 04:22, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo has the authority to enact policies. If you oppose this, you object to Wikipedia's very structure. —David Levy 04:22, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I think that's flawed logic. I am opposing the manner in which this occurred. I am not opposing Jimbo's authority, but the fact that someone felt the need to go to him in the hopes that he would authoritatively decide the decision for us, overruling attempts at consensus, is what I'm not down with, and I think you know that. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 04:24, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Consultation with Jimbo is not circumventing the process. He is an integral part of the process, albeit most of the time he doesn't directly participate. MediaWiki is involved here, and he has expressed an interest in intervening for that reason. That doesn't seem problematic to me. Tyrenius 04:28, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess at this time I personally didn't think he needed to participate. As always, people's opinions will differ. Mike H. I did "That's hot" first! 04:32, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Crafting intial guidelines about "new message" joke banners

Per the fairly clear consensus about certain aspects of the joke "new message" banner discussions I have intiated a proposal to begin crafting a guideline about them. I invite those interested in participating to join the discussion. Thanks. (Netscott) 18:12, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

New Wikipedia:User page addition

After much discussion and back and forth I have added a section and subsection to WP:UP arrived at by a number of the parties involved in this. I invite those who have been following these developments to review this new section. As well as the talk that developed it. (Netscott) 23:48, 17 February 2007 (UTC)