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An administrator "assuming good faith" with an editor with whom they have disagreed.

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Question: There has been generational change. Is it a functional improvement, or are we losing our way?

I saw a note at WT:MED (of all places) this morning, which was advertising an RFC at RSN about The Epoch Times, which writes about lots of things, with more than the average level of attention against alleged human rights abuses by China. The RFC is asking whether the source should be officially declared "not reliable" by the English Wikipedia.

Now, you probably know that I have followed the RFC help pages for years. It happens that I think attracting even more attention to an already high-traffic noticeboard is IMO not a good use for an RFC, but like most things around RFCs, it's not technically prohibited.

But what disturbs me is the idea of evaluating any periodical as being "generally reliable" or "generally not reliable", without considering any context at all. It's just "Here's a magazine: Is that 'generally reliable' or 'generally not reliable'?" with nothing like "The stories about the local events are useful, but don't use their health column at all – oh, and by the way, you can't actually use this bit that says 'Politician Paul won, and Candidate Carol got 35% of the vote' to support a claim in the article that 'Politician Paul got 65% of the vote', because it doesn't actually say that any vote that didn't go to Carol went to Paul".

We've had requests from almost the beginning of WP:RS to make a complete list of all reliable sources, and we're refused to do so, because reliability depends upon context. But it seems in the last couple of years, a group of editors has decided to make a list of "unreliable sources", and now they are busily holding RFCs to demonstrate a consensus that this or that publication is "generally not reliable" and therefore deserves to be on their ever-growing blacklist (now more than 200 entries). I'm sure it has the usual disclaimers about it not really, truly being an absolute ban on using the sources, just like I'm sure that inexperienced (>99.5%) editors, people who are most comfortable with black-and-white thinking, people who don't really know what they're doing, etc. are applying that list exactly like an absolute ban.

If this were merely a catalog of RSN's archives for the convenience of the RSN regulars (which is how I think it might have started), then it wouldn't be such a big deal. And for really difficult cases, like the DM ban a few years ago, I can understand the utility of an RFC. But now we seem to have new-ish editors (at a quick glance, most the editors who start these RFCs have been around for about two or three years) who seem to be actively seeking out sources to ban. There was another RFC at RSN on the subject of whether to have so many blacklisting RFCs, and it's clear from the comments that some of them think that being able to tell querents that a source is definitely, absolutely, unquestionably "generally unreliable" or "deprecated" is a good thing. That RFC (still unclosed and on the list at WP:ANRFC) was prompted by them starting RFCs to ban sources that were either unused or not actually causing disputes.

Overall, I'm worried about a shift from "use your judgment" to "follow the rules". Blacklisting whole periodicals is a really serious move away from using your judgment and considering all the fact and circumstances, and the system is really not set up to consider problems like Red Herring (magazine), whose reliability has changed (declined) over time, especially in the context of notability or even The Epoch Times, which might be useful in certain articles even though I would avoid it in others. I find that I'm giving the speech about You Are a Grown-Up Editor Now, and It's Time For You to Start Acting Like It more often now.

So I'm grumpy about this shift to increasing bureaucratization. But I'm looking for other opinions. There are a lot more potential sources now than there were when the World Wide Web was new. We are more aware of the problems of misinformation than we were when Wikipedia was new. Could systematically classifying the "general reliability" of hundreds of sources (so far) actually be a positive thing? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:45, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

Other people will post longer and more thoughtful replies, I am sure, but I would be a Strong Support on any initiative to delete every Wikipedia blacklist on sight. Blacklists are POV weaponry. They serve no other purpose.  ♦ Lingzhi2 (talk) 23:06, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
This seems to be a stage all editors pass thru. First it's the somewhat dangerous assumption that, "If it is in a printed book, it must be true". Next the assumption is, "If we can determine which sources are reliable & which are unreliable, we can write accurate articles". (Or score them on a scale of 1 to 10, or accurate/inaccurate about specific topics.) And at some point an editor realizes, "Wow, I have to figure out on my own which statements are likely accurate, which may be not, which are not yet point to an accurate statement. I think I can do this. But now how do I present this so not to conflict with WP:NPOV?"
The only intelligent suggestion I can make is that we should keep a list like the one at WP:RS/P simply to minimize bickering over the obvious (e.g., "No, the New York Times is not a propaganda rag for the leftist wing of the Democratic Party. Consensus says so. See the List"). And yes, any such list will be abused by the tendentious & inexperienced, but deleting it may lead to even worse problems. (See the infamous case where an Admin tired of the bickering that WP:AfD caused & deleted it.) -- llywrch (talk) 19:47, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
llywrch, I haven't heard this story before! Please tell! WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:35, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
Well, little fella, back in the days when Wikipedia was the Wild West, & WP:AfD was called WP:Votes for Deletion, there was Yet Another Dispute over just how dysfunctional that process was. This led to a complaint on the now-morbund WikiEN-L mailing list. Apparently it was a very persuasive complaint, for Ed Poor replied "I'm tempted to just Be Bold and just go ahead and delete vfd. Just see if I don't!!". And did. ISTR Tim Starling posting an angry email demanding to know who deleted WP:VFD, but I can't find that email. (The WikiEN-L archives are not in the best shape.) The result of this deletion was that the servers went to their knees due to thousands of page histories being updated then reverted, & the Wikipedia website was in read-only mode for several minutes. (Further details can be found either in the archived WikiEN-L thread linked above, or a TL;DR version can be found at the Signpost article about the episode.)
And no, this was not the act that led to Ed Poor's eventual loss of Admin rights. That would be another story in the saga of the downfall of a once widely-respected Wikipedian. -- llywrch (talk) 15:58, 11 October 2019 (UTC)
I can't really imagine that "just" deleting thousands of pages would bring Wikipedia to a halt now. Was this event the source of the restriction on being able to delete very large pages, or was that a different thing? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:48, 12 October 2019 (UTC)
That wasn't for another couple of years yet, in January 2008. I thought I remembered it being in response to someone deleting and selectively restoring WP:AN or WP:ANI - that was the only way to remove individual revisions back then - but both of their last deletions were in May 2006. Maybe some similar page? —Cryptic 01:09, 12 October 2019 (UTC)
That was the sandbox. Graham87 04:14, 12 October 2019 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing:, one thing to remember is that Wikipedia in 2005 didn't have the enormous server farm to support it that exists now. From this LiveJournal post, it appears that all of the WMF projects ran on a cluster of 10 servers -- which was an improvement over the three servers it had previously. (Which were once described to me as "one doesn't work, a second can't handle DNS, leaving only one to handle all of the work".) So a run-away job like that could easily bring the cluster to its knees.
As an aside, I'm finding the written records for Wikipedia's earliest days are beginning to dissolve. I spent hours looking for materials to confirm my memories -- which I admit can be incorrect after 15+ years -- only to repeatedly come up short. It appears that the Foundation has purged all of its content from its website before 2010; the Signpost only started publication in 2005; the WikipediaEN-L archive is missing emails from that time; linkrot is endemic in the wider Internet. (If I need to research activities in those years again, I will need to find my own mail archives which are on a hard drive somewhere in my house. If I can get the hard drive to spin up.) While I believe I can provide a sincerely accurate account of Wikipedia prior to 2007 from my own memories, I know others from that time will disagree with at least some of what I might write; having primary sources to refer to will limit the controversy. -- llywrch (talk) 21:26, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Time for all bronze-age Wikipedians to write their memoirs. Thanks to WMF's bold new strategy-vision-thingie, this neglected, indeed oppressed, minority group may soon be able to post its oral history as articles. Johnbod (talk) 21:34, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Or stone age. I'm just kidding Llywrch — Ched (talk) 22:54, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
"As an aside, I'm finding the written records for Wikipedia's earliest days are beginning to dissolve." - this sounds bad. Is it too late to do anything about it? Carcharoth (talk) 14:15, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
The records will almost certainly be kept somewhere even if they're not publicly visible, for legal reasons if nothing else. Have you asked the WMF? ‑ Iridescent 14:54, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
@Llywrch: as they brought this up (I'm only responding to what they said). Carcharoth (talk) 15:10, 23 October 2019 (UTC)

@WhatamIdoing: Hi. A couple of things caught my attention in your original post: 1. There has been generational change. and 2. Overall, I'm worried about a shift from "use your judgment" to "follow the rules". Now in all fairness my observations are completely different so I'll freely admit that context matters. For my observations I'll say that I was away for a while and only recently returned a couple months ago. grrr ... I want my comma splices With item 1 regarding the generational change I'd have to say both yes and no. Some of the editors when I started were teenagers; those teenagers are now adults raising their own families in many cases. Still we do have our younger editors; unfortunately, they tend to be much more impertinent in the extreme. I've seen several cases of young'ish' editors berating other editors, admins, etc. who have been around for 10+ years. or more. .. teehee - I know you love the English language With respect to number 2 I would say it's gone the other way. Policy and guidelines that have been followed since the beginning seem to be mere suggestions to many editors these days. You want to edit inside a closed discussion? Sure, so long as you have something you want to say. You want to gravedance? Go right ahead after you change your post to a "civil" degrading insult. You say you want to have all kinds of BLP violations on your user and talk page? Of course you can, we'll even find you an sysop who thinks it's funny. So yes, since my return I have found some rather unexpected things about the project. — Ched (talk) 22:54, 13 October 2019 (UTC)

The "rule-following" that's on my mind isn't so much the problem of people behaving badly on the internet (although I think you're right that we might have a bit more of that going on than we used to – back in the day, I understand that people were too busy creating still-missing VITAL articles to have much time to insult anyone who wasn't directly interfering with their own work). What's bothering me is that I'm seeing people with thousands of edits whose orientation is all about What Policy Permits, and who never seem to have an opinion about whether the proposal is a good idea or a bad idea.
As an example, a couple of months ago, a four-year-old account with 30K edits seriously asked whether the {{coord}} template violated the WP:External links guideline, because that template was "in the body of the article", where external links are generally prohibited. More recently, there was a dispute about whether bibliographic citations in a WP:PROF's ==Publication== list needed to have all URLs removed, to comply with the External links guideline. None of them seemed to even think about whether this was a good idea or a bad idea; it was just "My guideline prohibits this" vs "My guideline says it's okay". WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:55, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Well, maybe it's because the policies (rules) have been in place for so long that some people no longer question them. Back in the "old days" :) .. folks were still so fond of WP:BOLD and WP:IAR (I figure you know the 'links' to them) that it was common to see folks making changes to the policy page, and having long discussions on the accompanying talk pages. Now that the project is more mature, it's harder to make those changes. Deciding "consensus" is one thing, but changing it can be a bit harder once it's been established. Just IMO. — Ched (talk) 16:33, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
I've seen this "rules" mentality at work in other websites and it was chalked up to a) people being inexperienced (from young age, say) and thus following any guidance to the letter as they have no other frame of reference for appropriate behaviour, b) people using policies and guidelines as a club to win arguments and c) people confusing any policy or guideline for a firm rule because they didn't bother to read the "occasional exceptions" text atop of {{guideline}}.
My hypothesis is that rules wonks tend to drive out non-rules wonks and thus the proportion of rules wonks in a website user base tends to increase over time. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 16:51, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Your hypothesis feels plausible. Also, if we assume that rule-following is harmful to the project, then it feels scary. If rule-following increases over time, and if it is harmful to the project, then we're doomed. Eventually, nobody will write articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:07, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
The ultimate problem is that consensus doesn't scale upwards as a decision-making mechanism, and so English Wikipedia's attempts to do so will always run into difficulties. Without a hierarchy to manage disputes, editors instead try to enact specific rules for every situation, to try to make every case cut-and-dried. But eventually it becomes far too unwieldy to manage the network of rules, and despite its disadvantages, having some kind of hierarchy is the only way to protect the group from its own internally conflicting aims (see Clay Shirky's "A Group is its own Worst Enemy" for more on this). isaacl (talk) 19:15, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Ched, it wasn't any different in the "old days" when Bishzilla wasn't the only dinosaur & we wrote Wikipedia with stone tools. (It was hard carving those electrons with flint knives, let me tell ya!) My browse this weekend thru the archives of WikiEN-L for 2004 & 2005 confirmed that. People sniped at each other -- or followed the letter of the rules while ignoring the spirit -- while writing those "VITAL articles". There were valued editors who were more of a pain to work with than Fram ever was. Despite being someone from those old days, in some ways I'm glad to see less reliance on WP:BOLD & (especially) WP:IAR nowadays than 15 years ago -- although I would be happier if some rules were revoked, such concerning WP:MOS. Things will never be perfect, & everyone will know too much about how the sausages are made in this factory. -- llywrch (talk) 17:27, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
What I miss most about the dinosaur days is how easy it was to contribute something that was accepted as worthwhile. My first ever Wikipedia article was all of three words, had no wiki-syntax and certainly no references.[1] And that was fine! We could learn how to wiki while working on totally worthwhile things requiring very little effort. It's something we can't bring back but I wish we could give newbies a little taste of it. Haukur (talk) 19:27, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Ah yes, the days when you could just load up an article, hit the edit button, and start writing anything you happen to know about that topic, with referencing just a nice-to-have on top of that. You clearly get a better output the way we do it now, but it's a different skill and one that's harder to rope newcomers into, as the learning curve is much steeper.  — Amakuru (talk) 22:34, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Which raises the following dilemma: do we want an encyclopedia that is easy for people to contribute to, or an encyclopedia that is informative for its users? A dilemma the Foundation hasn't even bothered to acknowledge. -- llywrch (talk) 04:57, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
To be honest, and I mean no disrespect - but it seems to me that the WMF has very little clue about what goes on here. (present company excluded of course). There's a few folks from WMF that I have a lot of respect for, but in general, as a group - not so much. — Ched (talk) 05:24, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
Are "informative" and "easy for people to contribute to" mutually exclusive? I think that a lot of readers are really only looking for the first sentence, so getting the first sentence onto the page at la:Islandia is (somewhat) informative. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:21, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

@Ched, I don't think "the WMF has very little clue about what goes on here" is entirely fair. It's probably an artefact of the fact that WMF people tend to use their real name for their 'official' accounts but their original and probably pseudonymous screenname for their 'editing' accounts (User:WhatamIdoing/User:Whatamidoing (WMF) is a rare exception), and that some of them have their experience in other-language projects so aren't particularly familiar here. If you dig through the histories of the people here, quite a few of them have fairly extensive experience. A lot has (reasonably) been made of the fact that the responses to recent high-profile debacles have illustrated that there are people in positions of high authority—including the three most recent CEOs—who literally have no idea what Wikipedia does, and while I'm not disputing that it's an issue, I don't necessarily see it as a deal-breaker (the chief executive of United Airlines probably doesn't know how to fly a plane).

I can make—and in the past have made—a reasonable case that most of the problems with the WMF don't stem from inexperience, but from inappropriate experience. Those employees who've come from the wikis tend to be old sweats from the early days, before the Free Culture lunatics and Wikipedia Is An Agent Of Social Change cranks had been marginalized, and consequently the WMF has a set of values which no longer reflects either the editor or reader bases.

Adding to that, the whole Wikimania culture acts as an echo chamber. Wikimania is invariably scheduled during the summer vacation in the US and UK, which is invariably both the most expensive time for travel and in most professions the period in which it's most difficult to take time off work. Unless you happen to live within commuting distance of the venue, I doubt there's ever been a Wikimania that would cost less than $1000 to attend and probably closer to $2000, no matter where one is coming from, when you add travel, lodging, admission fees and incidental costs. (I can think of experiences for which I'd consider $350 a day to be a reasonable price, but I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that the phrase Crosslingual Embedding via Generalized Eigenvalue Decomposition would not be involved.) Since they only subsidize the travel of the truest of True Believers, that means the people management meet—and assume constitute the editor base—are either the ultra-loyalist payroll vote, or the kind of people who think paying for the privilege of taking a week off work to fly across the world to listen to a bunch of WMDC types slap each other on the back and talk about how wonderful they are. Someone like Katherine Maher or Jan Eissfeldt will quite reasonably assume that the people they meet at Wikimania and at the WMF office are representative of the editor base, whereas in reality they represent the fringiest edge of Wikipedia/Wikimedia's lunatic fringe.

As a consequence of all the above, strategic decisions are being made in entirely good faith, by people who either have a wildly unrepresentative view of what editors and readers want, or by OG Wikipedians from the early days who lament the change in culture and are trying to socially engineer us back to 2004.

On the original query about blacklists, I don't personally think we should be blacklisting anything; even something like Stormfront is theoretically a reliable source in certain circumstances. I do think we ought to be much more forceful when it comes to discouraging the use of newspapers as sources in general. They're completely appropriate in some circumstances (sports scores, reviews of the first night of a play, totally uncontroversial facts…); they're a necessary evil for recent events when the reliable sources haven't yet been written, but there are way, way too many people using "it was in the paper so it must be true" as an alternative to fact-checking. All that said, I can understand why people are supporting blacklisting specific cases. There's been a recent proliferation of pseudo-news sources that contain just enough genuine news that they're not immediately recognizable as propaganda outlets or hoax-farms, and I can entirely see why people who patrol current affairs articles would like to be able to blacklist sites like The Canary, Mail Online and Breitbart rather than have to patiently explain over and over that no, regardless of whether you read it on a website we're not going to include it. (TL;DR answer; rather than arguing over individual cases we should be treating all newspapers as generally unreliable, but some are more unreliable than others.) ‑ Iridescent 17:10, 21 October 2019 (UTC)

Since you pinged my other account, I'll reply from here with a few factoids that might amuse:
  • I requested my work username when I was hired in 2012, and it has been officially enshrined as an example of one of the four desirable username styles in the WMF's (internal) user account policy since 2014. (They are: the default first initial+last name [watch the capitalization: it's not a bad signal for the age of the account – if the username is all lowercased, then the staff member was probably hired around the same time as my team originally was], your real wiki-name, a name that people can actually spell, and any of the above with -WMF rather than (WMF) [for people who do a lot of RTL work, because parentheses behave oddly].)
  • I asked Jan E about his view on Wikimania attendees just now, and he said, "the statistical correlation between Wikimania and onwiki editors is terrible". Staff going to Wikimania who don't already know this get lectures about it from those of us who do. It's more affiliate folks and edit-a-thon folks than everyday editors. In my particular area of interest/self-defense, most Product PMs get a lecture (half of them directly from me) about the critical difference between enthusiasm at Wikimania and enthusiasm on the wikis.
  • The scholarship distribution process is up for review soon-ish. If you've got suggestions, please feel free to share (here, on my talk page, e-mail, ping me to any related conversation – it all works).
Now for the less amusing part: If there is a shortage of information about "what goes on here", where's "here"? How many of them are there? I had a brief conversation this morning with a couple of PMs, about the mw:Talk pages project. One mentioned a goal of encouraging "positive and productive conversations". (Design can affect some aspects of communications, e.g., Twitter encourages short comments, IRC encourages impermanence, etc.) It's kind of an obvious idea, right? Except (as I told them), Rudeness#Utility is a thing, and sometimes positivity isn't good. But – and this is a major problem with just saying that we shouldn't care about rudeness – if you're operating in a permanent system (and we are), a certain level of background rudeness drives away potentially valuable contributors. There's a reason that Aaron Halfaker described the English Wikipedia as "the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection, and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit". It's because our system isn't appealing to a lot of folks, e.g., folks from the very large parts of the world where a little superficial politeness is typical and culturally valued.
All of which is to say, is my own favorite "here" the only "here" that matters? If the WMF's attention is primarily on other projects, I don't think that's necessarily a problem. Most of English Wikipedia editors don't know what's happening at the Indic Wikisources; those Wikisourcers don't know much about what's happening in the Carribbean Wikipedias; they, in turn, don't know much about what's happening in Wikinews; they, in their turn, don't know much about what the edit-a-thon folks are up to; the editing event organizers don't really know what's happening with the Stewards (mostly another spambot attack over the weekend, from the sounds of it); the Stewards – well, I'm going to stop before I imply that the Stewards are anything less than omniscient. ;-) The movement is huge and sprawling, and nobody knows all of it. If the WMF's focus is on some other parts of the movement, maybe that's a good thing. I know there are things we could use (e.g., better anti-spam protection), but maybe the value that the WMF can provide (e.g., grants and training) is actually more needed in other places. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 19:09, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
Hmm, better check out Languages of the Caribbean - the only thing that can really be called "the Carribbean Wikipedias" [pap.wikipedia.org/wiki/Página_Prinsipal has 1,916 articles]. Johnbod (talk) 20:09, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
w:ht: has over 56K articles.--Ymblanter (talk) 20:14, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
Ok, missed that - but there doesn't seem to be an iw link at Haitian Creole. Johnbod (talk) 20:23, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
There is an interwikilink from Haitian Creole to w:ht:Kreyòl ayisyen, as it should be, but at the bottom of this page there are also four templates pointing out to Wikimedia projects in Haitian Creole, Wikipedia included.--Ymblanter (talk) 20:30, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
(quick driveby comment, substantive reply to WAID when I have time) Haitian Creole Wikipedia isn't a good example to be using for anything as it's a unique case. It's the wiki that was chosen for testing publicly-visible Reasonator pseudo-articles generated on-the-fly where in normal circumstances the reader would see a redlink, which skews their article count as it makes it much easier to flesh out the bones to create pages. In reality it's virtually moribund (its last 500 recent changes go back more than a week and are almost all the work of a single editor), according to the WMF's own figures a grand total of 27 people have made at least one edit in the past 30 days, and it has a mighty one admin registered (who has never made a single edit). These are the sort of engagement levels that would embarrass a schoolchild's Snapchat account, not something you'd associate with the sixth most visited page on the internet. If you (plural) are serious about wanting to engage more extensively with Caribbean communities, you'd almost certainly be better off improving coverage of Caribbean topics on the English, French and Spanish Wikipedias, since I guarantee you that the Kid In Port-au-Prince might speak Creole at home but it's French they're taught in at school and French they read and write in; this kind of "every country's dialect needs to be treated as a separate language in its own right" mentality among a certain WMF faction is the same kind of warped misunderstanding of what respecting diversity actually means that gave us Scottish Wikipedia. (IIRC you're Russian; if you have a very long memory you may recall the Siberian Wikipedia farce.) ‑ Iridescent 23:32, 21 October 2019 (UTC)
Siberian is an imitation language which was fully invented by one person and has never been used for anything except to create the Siberian Wikipedia, whereas the Haitian Creole is real, but I see indeed your point and I was not aware of the background of the HC Wikipedia. And I also agree that our coverage, in any language, of Caribbean topic is miserable - last month I was the first person writing articles on stations of Line 2 of Panama Metro, open in April, in any language; this month I have the same story with Santo Domingo (only Portuguese articles exist), open in 2009; people after whom the stations are named often do not have articles either.--Ymblanter (talk) 05:41, 22 October 2019 (UTC)
The Haitian Creole Wikipedia has 56K actual articles, and 41K of them were created by a single editor, operating as an unflagged bot, between December 2007 and August 2008. Most of them say little more than "____ is a town in the ____ state of the US". (The "admin" is the AbuseFilter.) Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:26, 22 October 2019 (UTC)
  • A quick note that I saw and appreciate the ping. I admit I hadn't been aware of, nor had I considered anon accounts becoming first, last (WMF) accounts. I see there's a lot for me to read, and once I've done my research I'll respond once I get back up to speed, and if it's proper. TY Iridescent (and other folks too). Cheers. — Ched (talk) 05:23, 22 October 2019 (UTC)

Break: reply to WAIDEdit

Belated reply to WAID's substantive points:

  • If staff get lectures about the critical difference between enthusiasm at Wikimania and enthusiasm on the wikis, that's certainly a step in the right direction. Although you haven't mentioned it, I assume they're also lectured on the critical difference between the type of people who have the time, money and inclination to attend events of any kind; the type of people who reply to WMF surveys (both surveys of editors, and surveys of readers); and the actual makeup of the editor and reader bases.

    I keep saying it ad nauseam, but the people who actually drive the wikis are middle-aged people whose kids have moved out and who consequently suddenly have more spare time on their hands than they're used to; professionals who have either recently retired or are divorced/bereaved and as a result have more time then they're used to and simultaneously less money to engage in more expensive activities; people in jobs that involve shift-work or work in a foreign country, who are out of sync with their friends and families so have big chunks of spare time at 3AM with nothing else to do; and stay-at-home parents of young children. The scheduling of Wikimania in peak-travel vacation season couldn't be more hostile to all of these groups if the WMF specifically set out to deter them.

    Yes, I know you've told me before that the WMF has conducted surveys and found these groups aren't disproportionately represented, but go to the areas where the heavy lifting is done and run your eye over the most active participants there, and I'll roughly estimate that this "middle aged and middle class" demographic accounts for at least 75% of the actual work on the wikis, and if you add in military/law enforcement (who don't necessarily fall into the same age group, but are also disproportionately represented owing to the "weird hours" aspect) and graduate students, it's probably closer to 90%. (There are certainly a lot of younger editors here but not that many of them are particularly active and when they are they tend to hang round drama boards and talk pages and the gnoming areas, rather than substantive work in either content or policy.)

    Wikimania 2019

    I find it hard to believe that—with the obvious exception of ethnicity—the demographic makeup of other wikis is going to be substantially different to that of en-wiki or Commons, but I cast my eye over the attendees at Wikimania and this is not the Wikimedia I recognize. You can lecture people as often as you can that this isn't representative, but people go by what they see not what they're told. (If I've visited Japen five times and on each occasion been robbed, then while intellectually I may know that Japan has the lowest crime rate in the world and I'm just an unfortunate statistical outlier, I'll still think twice before booking a vacation in Tokyo.) If these are the only people that the management-level folks are ever meeting, then it's no surprise they keep signing off on initiatives which seem to take it as read that everyone on Wikipedia is a 20-something tech nerd, and are freshly shocked each time when the relatively conservative (small-c) editor base greets it with something between skepticism and disdain.

  • I can't really comment on the scholarship distribution process, as I think the whole thing is based on the flawed premise that Wikimania itself is something worthwhile, whereas as far as I'm concerned the WMF should be allocating a grand total of $0 to any aspect of Wikimania (and that if any of the individual chapters are funding it in any way, the WMF should withold an equivalent amount from their grant in the next funding round).

    Wikipedia/Wikimedia is an online community, and flying (and it almost always is flying) in 500+ people just so they can slap each other on the back and tell each other how great they are is a complete waste of time and money; we're supposed to be a website, not a religious cult, and IMO it's a clear misuse of donor funds to use them to reward True Believers with free vacations. (Particularly in the current climate—pun intended—we shouldn't be flying anyone anywhere unless it's genuinely necessary. That the WMF boasts about its green credentials, while having a CEO who boasts of taking 200 flights each year and whose official biography says that she "lives in a metal tube in the sky", is just embarrassing.) If these people want to talk to each other and for some reason are incapable of installing Skype, let them organize their own event and pay their own way the same as any other Wikipedia meetup. (Slightly bitchy aside, but if the WMF really want to shed their image as being obsessed with management buzzwords and Grand Visions and completely out of touch with what readers and editors actually want, then publishing drivel like this recent offering from two of your Community Engagement colleagues a few days ago is probably not helping.)

  • On If there is a shortage of information about "what goes on here", where's "here"?, I know I've said this to you before (not sure if it was in private or on-wiki); to me "here" is English Wikipedia, Commons, and to a lesser extent French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish Wikipedias, and Wikidata. The WMF has—by accident or design—hidden most of the more interesting statistics since Wikistats 2 went live, but I assume things haven't changed particularly dramatically since the final snapshot in October 2018. Of the across-all-projects stats, English Wikipedia on its own accounted for half of all page views, ​13 of all edits and a little under half of all active editors; the big six (English, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, French) accounted for 76% of all page views. The non-Wikipedia wikis—Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikiversity, Wiktionary—are all statistically insignificant. (Commons and Wikidata are statistically insignificant as well, but obviously have a disproportionate importance as changes there affect pages elsewhere.) It doesn't fit the WMF's "we are a global resource" PR to say so, but ultimately every other project is a bolt-on to English Wikipedia, and the decisions taken by and regarding English Wikipedia ultimately affect all the other projects regardless of how much they might dislike the fact.
  • Background rudeness is a problem you're never going to solve, given the existence of the "have a nice day" problem; the WMF is a global project and English Wikipedia is the most global of the WMF's projects (although 40% of en-wiki readers are in the US, the remaining 60% are spread across the entire world), and what constitutes politeness in some places constitutes rudeness in others. (Remember the guy who thought he was being polite by signing all his talkpage posts "Cheers"?) The best you're ever going to get when it comes to trying to impose a code of conduct is "if someone asks you to stop doing something, please don't do it again unless there's a justifiable reason why doing it is necessary", which ought to be a universal basic rule of life anyway.

TL;DR summary of all the above: if the WMF feel that some of the smaller subprojects could do with being watched over by machines of loving grace then they're welcome to do so if they feel said project is genuinely incapable of resolving their issues themselves. However English Wikipedia and the other five big Wikipedias continue to be the geese that lay their golden eggs and the WMF should learn that just because someone tells them that it's theoretically possible to mould the shape of the eggs by shoving their fingers up the goose's butt, if they try to do it in practice then the goose is eventually either going to turn and bite them, fly away and never return, or die of internal trauma, and even if it works in the short term they might briefly get eggs that are a more pleasing shape, but they'll still be the one with their hands covered in goose shit. ‑ Iridescent 14:44, 23 October 2019 (UTC)

Insightful and interesting as always. Quick question: How do you know stay-at-home parents of young children do a substantial amount of editing? I know plenty of people in this category and they have no spare time whatsoever. (I was going to sign my post with "Cheers" but now I know not to :)) Clayoquot (talk | contribs) 16:30, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
I'm sure the overwhelming majority of parents never edit Wikipedia, but the same could be said of any group. My analysis of the demographics of highly active editors is purely apocryphal and based on personal experience rather than any statistical analysis, but I'm nonetheless fairly sure I'm right, based on personal knowledge of those people I've met IRL or communicated with extensively. (I won't name individuals, but pick the "active editor" metric of your choice—WP:WBFAN, the "Top editors" tab on the talkpage of a non-moribund Wikiproject, the regular participants at a bottom-of-the-rabbit-hole page like Wikipedia Signpost/Newsroom etc—and you'll see the same breakdown when it comes to who the most active people are.) Some activities, like using WP:AWB to search-and-replace for all instances of a typo, are ideally suited to looking after children, as they don't require concentration or your full attention so you can do them while simultaneously watching TV with the child. WAID or someone else from the WMF will pop up shortly to say point out that the WMF's surveys show that only a small proportion of Wikipedia editors are parents, but that misses the points that (a) WMF surveys don't measure editors, they measure people who consider it a good use of their time filling in surveys and (b) those parents who are editing might be lower in numbers than the proportion of the general population who are parents, but they're disproportionately active. ‑ Iridescent 16:44, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm, I'm still scratching my head. In my 13 years on the wiki I can't think of a single editor whose occupation is taking care of their young (younger than school-age) children. I'm also struggling to reconcile the overwhelmingly-female nature of the stay-at-home parent demographic with the gender gap we have here. And our articles on parenting tend to be lousy. I'm not arguing with what you've personally experienced, just putting out that my experience is different. Clayoquot (talk | contribs) 17:13, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
We did attachment parenting for our older three kids...but they were all in school by the time I began editing. My youngest was born in 2008 but I worked more with that one. My wife has never edited. Sort of agree with Clayoquot - free time is definitely patchy, and times children are not occupying your time you're busy sorting laundry/kitchen/etc. I asked a friend when it got easier, to which they replied, "when they learn to drive" ......Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 23:23, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
It depends on the child. After my first daughter turned 5, I found I once again had time to edit Wikipedia; if you look at my edit stats, you can make out the approximate dates she was born & when she became old enough I could spend my a part of my non-work time at other pursuits than watching endless episodes of Caillou & Curious George. Then her sister came into our lives, & based on my experience I expected the same thing would happen; no such luck. Today I & Ms. Llywrch spent an hour & ahalf in a conference at her grade school with the principal, vice principal, half the kindergarden staff, the case worker, & the head of the afterschool care center concerning her behavior. (How bad is her behavior? Were she an African-American attending a charter school in Florida, she'd likely be in jail by now. If there was no WP:NPOV policy, I could use this experience to improve a number of articles currently languishing at a "Start" class.) -- llywrch (talk) 04:35, 24 October 2019 (UTC)
I also can't recall ever being aware of a heavy editor with pre-school kids. Among heavy-duty female editors, empty-nesters are very common. But one thing we can be sure of: dogs, horses and husbands are no impediment to editing. Johnbod (talk) 16:42, 24 October 2019 (UTC)
I am unsure if you are forgetting extremely active editors with young children that you did know and interact with frequently, or if my knowledge of the ages/children/gender of those editors was private rather than publicly known, but you did know such editors, Johnbod, including prolific female editors. I started editing as an empty-nester, and was in awe of the parents who were active editors with young children. (I was less in awe of those I felt were neglecting their children and spouses, and told them so :). I think Iri has it about right. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:13, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
On the lectures:
  • the type of people who have the time, money and inclination to attend events of any kind
    • Yes, but that message is complicated. There's a lot of talk about how only privileged volunteers can attend (because even if you get a scholarship to pay for the entire trip, it takes time away from work and other responsibilities), the problem of an English-only or English-primary event, some talk about privacy concerns, and in the last year or two, some talk about autistic people, who either don't want to attend or who don't feel fully supported when they do.
  • the type of people who reply to WMF surveys (both surveys of editors, and surveys of readers)
    • The team that runs the ~annual editor survey regularly complains that highly active editors are disproportionately over-represented in the survey.
  • the actual makeup of the editor and reader bases
    • This is a broader subject than just Wikimania participation.
I'm going to go find some breakfast. In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas on a machine-friendly method for differentiating high-volume gnomes from people who create good content, please share. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 15:18, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
About editors' age: I saw a question over at the Village Pump about how many of us made our first edits before creating an account. The similar question I've been thinking about is how many of us made our first edits while we were students at university. Back when I was new, that seemed to be normal. Ten years later, it's not as typical, and the median age of survey-taking editors has risen by approximately the same ten years. I know people who edited as students and stopped when the whole marriage-job-mortgage-baby thing happened to them, and there are several others who have disappeared that I suspect of being affected by the same time-sucking process. Back in the day, these were students in the middle of their first university degree, and fixing up Wikipedia articles was a study technique for them. I've encountered several retirees, and there are (and also were, sadly) editors with disabilities who edit because it could be done when they felt up to it and dropped when they didn't. I know two men who started editing when there was at least one pre-school-age child in the house, but there were some extenuating circumstances in both cases. I don't know any women who started editing while caring for young children.
The new(ish) chief of Community Engagement wants to focus on recruiting young adults (16–25 or 18–25; I can't remember which, but it's whatever category the UN uses for similar purposes) as editors. I'm not sure how much it will affect enwiki, because there's an overlapping focus on Asian and African languages. I like the idea of getting another generation of editors in place. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:21, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
If I had to guess, on en-wiki the next generation will come from the 25–34 cohort, not teens–25. Based on no data but a decade of watching people come and go, in general the younger editors sign up in a burst of enthusiasm but don't tend to stick around. We need an influx of new blood and new ideas, but I really don't think the college crowd is the group likely to provide it. If you're planning on targeted recruitment, target it at underemployed graduates. College kids faced with the choice of "partying" or "Wikipedia" are probably unlikely to choose the latter (and the ones who would choose the latter are disproportionately likely to be the kind of loner weirdos who end up either flaming out and getting blocked, or walking out in a huff because we won't host their rant about whatever their pet issue turns out to be. College graduates who are currently driving cabs, working as care assistants or pulling pints, would often like nothing better than a chance to keep active when it comes to writing and researching, and would welcome the chance of an environment where they're taken seriously when they have something to say, and where they're judged by the quality of their abilities not by their job or their earnings. ‑ Iridescent 17:23, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
P.S. Tell whoever's in charge that the WMF's IP Masking plan is a really, really, bad idea. If it's really the case that "Most people I talked to [at Wikimania] expressed support for the project, including some expressing surprise that this has not been implemented after so many years", there's evidence right there that the Wikimania crowd is so unrepresentative as to be meaningless, given that the current for/against count on the Meta discussion is 3 for, 75 against. If I were to make a prediction, if the WMF does try to bulldoze this through then the four big wikis will immediately ban all IP editing even if it means going against direct orders from the WMF. ‑ Iridescent 17:23, 31 October 2019 (UTC)

And on the subject of change…Edit

I did not see that coming. ‑ Iridescent 08:16, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

  • ..Trust & Safety returning to the Legal department.. is what caught my eye - ty for the link. — Ched (talk) 14:13, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Well, yeah, that's unexpected. A roundabout way to do thorough house cleaning? Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 15:11, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
  • The AGF explanation would be that the WMF has listened to community concerns and from now on T&S is going to give up on the "make everyone adhere to their definition of civility" crusade and focus exclusively on child protection issues, conduct so serious it constitutes criminal harassment, and issues around defamation, and as such it makes sense for it to be run directly by the lawyers since whatever they deal with is going to end up on the lawyers' desks anyway at some point. The cynical explanation is that senior management and/or the board were unimpressed at spending what should have been their summer vacation cleaning up the flaming bag of poop T&S dumped on their doorstep (and presumably one board member in particular wasn't delighted at the fact that T&S's unnecessary escalation led to assorted people of various degrees of crazy poring through her personal life) and have concluded that none of these people should be left in charge of anything more complicated than a spoon without reporting directly to someone else. The WMF is legendarily opaque in terms of its internal structure—read this page and see if you can actually work out who reports to whom and where the buck actually stops—and it will be interesting to see who actually ends up in charge of the various functions of Community Engagement once the dust settles. Someone will probably leak the internal discussions that led to this at some point, even if the minutes don't officially get released. ‑ Iridescent 16:46, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
Yeah. T&S is the obvious one, and I suppose the Community Relations will segue into Communications, with Community Resources (the grants people) going to Finance. It's the bits and pieces - Community Development, Community Programs, Events, Learning & Evaluation - that are less predictable. Their work isn't as obvious, but generally provides some degree of infrastructure and support for initiatives that are wide-reaching and counted upon by chapters and commmunity groups as they develop; in many cases, it's the only support developing groups get from anywhere or anyone, even if it's awfully bare-bones. These don't fit well into any of the other existing departments or programs; there's a reason they weren't already folded in elsewhere. Risker (talk) 19:23, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
In the certain knowledge that nobody at the WMF (with the possible occasional exception of WAID) has the slightest interest in my opinion, I suspect T&S into legal isn't going to have quite the effect they hoped for. Legal understandably has a very precautionary-principle approach to communications and never say anything unless they have to, so I think there's a real possibility that "I have concerns about this editor"—"This is to confirm receipt of your message—"never heard from again" becomes common, and ends up alienating and upsetting people who report what they feel are legitimate concerns and are never heard of again. I could also make a case that the remits of Legal and T&S don't fit as snugly as you'd think; the kind of persistent assholery that leads to global bans doesn't necessarily involve any kind of legal issue, or even necessarily a violation of the ToU.
I'm also confused as to why this is being done; with the exception of T&S who haven't covered themselves in glory since they replaced SuSa, Community Engagement seems to be the only part of the WMF which isn't terminally dysfunctional. Things like providing management support for small wikis in local languages, or assessing grant applications from people who want to hire professional translators, would be an awful fit if they tried to shoehorn them into Advancement. The more I think about it, the more this looks to me like it could be laying the groundwork for a huge Big Bang change like a separate management structure for Wikipedia or a revival of the Knowledge Engine. ‑ Iridescent 19:47, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
Based on my understanding, legal had to sign off on any global ban anyway, so making them actually in charge makes sense. TonyBallioni (talk) 20:04, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
AFAIK that's just a double-checking exercise to ensure they're not defaming someone with the block reason, or about to hardblock New York City with the rangeblock (back in the distant past we once inadvertently IP-blocked an entire country), rather than legal actually making the decision. One of the current arbs would be much better placed than me to explain how things are currently done. (There are good reasons for being wary of putting any more power in the hands of Legal than there needs to be. Historically, WMF Legal has attracted some—erm—characters. Plus, one of the known flaws of the WMF is an institutional difficulty in admitting to mistakes, and I find it hard to imagine introducing lawyers into the mix will make that particular issue any better.) ‑ Iridescent 23:11, 16 November 2019 (UTC)‎
Re opaqueness of the WMF internal structure: this version might make it a bit easier. --Yair rand (talk) 06:39, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Not really—it still doesn't show who reports to whom, and what the nature of the relationships is (e.g., who is who's boss, which departments are autonomous and which are sub-departments, whether the high-level folks have authority over junior staff in other departments, etc). None of their staff directories pass the "if I chose someone at random and wanted either to commend or complain about that person, who would I contact and how would I contact them?" test. ‑ Iridescent 13:48, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
The human resources software is allegedly the only place that contains the entire and current reporting chain. Of course, from the POV of most English Wikipedians, commendation should be delivered publicly, and probably in the form of barnstars. Alternatively, you could send it to the m:answers@ address and ask to have it forwarded appropriately.
The WMF has "departments" and "teams". All departments are autonomous, and there are no sub-departments. The only organizational level below department is "team". Anything below that level is not officially recognized. To give an example, Product is a large department, and mw:Contributors is a large team of about 50 people inside of Product. The mw:Editing team, although functionally behaving as a team, is not recognized as a separate, official entity in this model. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:38, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Code of ConductEdit

  • Also, plans to go ahead with the proposed CoC seem to be underway in some form or manner. There's an interesting photograph as well, representing universal values of Wikimedia communities .... WBGconverse 14:45, 18 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Precisely.
    By the way, who is the uploader? Seem to be a WMF staff, given that (s)he has done precious nothing over any project other than uploading this photo and two other charts, which were all used by a new T&S recruit. WBGconverse 09:09, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
A 'new T&S recruit'? Do we need to avoid naming User:NNair (WMF)? Neha Nair, Trust and Safety Specialist, Wikimedia Foundation, who started that page and says on their meta user page: "I am passionate about curbing hate messages and violent extremism from internet platforms." What is the recruitment process used by the WMF here? Carcharoth (talk) 15:16, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
It looks like User:NNair (WMF) is Indian. Regarding the "constitution of India" issue, in my experience a lot of Indians—particularly those who live and work in India and get their information from the Indian media—have something of a blind spot regarding how unpopular India currently is with the rest of the world. (Saudis, Israelis, Russians, Brits, Turks, Americans etc may not agree with why their country is currently unpopular but in general can at least appreciate why many external observers see their country as a negative influence.) NNair probably genuinely doesn't understand that "a constitution currently being imposed on an unwilling population at gunpoint in a wave of rape, torture, extraducicial killings, government censorship and racially-motivated mob violence onto a public that doesn't want it" isn't something with which most people would want to be associated, let alone something that reflects "universal values of Wikimedia communities". (If I were being very cynical and bitchy, now would be the point at which I'd mention that the Indian Constitution is famously unworkable, is the most-amended national constitution in the world despite having been in place for less than 70 years, and is so full of unnecessary bloat in efforts to appease various interest groups that it's now the longest constitution of anywhere in the world other than Alabama's national laughing-stock, and as such is exactly the perfect metaphor for the WMF's values. But I'm not so I won't.)
Regarding the other issues, at a guess NNair probably doesn't know a great deal of Western history, and has just done a Google Images search on various WMF buzzwords and used whatever came up, without appreciating that (e.g.) while Concorde does indeed translate as "Consensus" the Place de la Concorde is the execution site of Antoine Lavoisier and 2638 others (back then it was the Place de la Révolution—its present-day name was intended to symbolise French regret at its bloodstained history), that the monument outside the US Capitol commonly known as the "Peace Monument" is in fact a memorial to the US Navy (and I don't think even the most devout American patriot would deny that much of the world does not consider the US military a force for good), or that when selecting photos with the intent of illustrating a global project, 50% of the images being of DC and Paris while a grand total of zero black faces are visible (unless you count the statue of MLK) says something about the WMF and it's nothing good.
(As an aside, one of the photos—File:Dongxiang minority student.jpg—isn't even credited, so technically the whole thing constitutes a cut-and-paste copyvio and could be speedily deleted. That image—along with File:Harmony Day (5475651018).jpg—wave some massive red flags to me; they're both scraped from Flickr rather than uploads by established Commons editors, and I'd be willing to bet a sizeable sum that none of the children pictured, or their parents/guardians, ever gave consent for their images to be "specifically and irrevocably released to be used by anyone, anytime, for any purpose".)
The whole thing is something of an illustration of just why trying to create any kind of universal anything, on a project covering so many different cultures, is going to be unworkable. Unless any "Universal Code of Conduct" is just constrained to platitudes like "try to listen to other people's opinions" and "if someone tells you they find something offensive try to avoid doing it unless you can justify why it's necessary", you're never going to find something with which all cultures will agree. Yes, the big American social media sites are making tentative steps to impose worldwide rules, but those are all variations on "wherever you are, you are obliged to follow the cultural values of the United States when using this service", and if the WMF tried to impose anything similar the wikis would explode. ‑ Iridescent 11:52, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
  • That page on the proposed CoC is ... interesting. If I understand it correctly, after taking lots of meetings & getting lots of input they've come to the decision that there will be a CoC. And they're going to even more meetings & get lots of input to come up with a process for writing a CoC. (Unless I missed something & they're going to even more meetings & getting lots of input to come up with a process for creating a process for writing a CoC.) -- llywrch (talk) 21:01, 18 November 2019 (UTC)
Interesting indeed. Is Maggie Dennis still off for health reasons? –xenotalk 11:59, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
Maybe she is still away. I got a message from Karen Brown that presumably went to all those who failed to follow through on participation at WP:FRAM with participation at the meta survey (guilty as charged). "we are interested in why you didn't participate in a recent consultation that followed a community discussion you’ve been part of." So should I fill in the Google Docs survey? Carcharoth (talk) 15:20, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
I filled it in ... and the gist of it was "I don't trust WMF to actually listen to what the community tells them so I didn't bother with your consultation." Ealdgyth - Talk 15:30, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
Did you copy me, or did I copy you? [2] --Floquenbeam (talk) 15:35, 19 November 2019 (UTC)
You both copied everyone I know well. And that has been my stance on every survey I have ever received from them. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:49, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
The proposal of a Universal CoC is simply unworkable unless it is so vague and generalistic that can cover lots of things and none at the same time; thus being a useless policy. And a text aimed to prevent or prohibit conducts must be clear and specific, otherwise it'd be quite dangerous. I think Section 4 of the current Terms of Use is enough, leaving ordinary behavioural "micromanagement" to individual projects except of course cases like WP:CHILDPRO or other legal issues. It is still not clear to me what problem is this UCOC aimed to resolve, but I can imagine how many new ones a text forced upon the communities will. —MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:41, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Agreed with the above. The defined purpose is an entirely useless non-answer that basically implies it attempts to unify the movement by applying onto every project the same arbitrary disciplinary authority, which plainly is a bad idea. Vermont (talk) 01:13, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
For the record, anyone following along here (who isn't totally sick of the F-word by now) might also be interested in the related thread at Wikipedia:Community response to the Wikimedia Foundation's ban of Fram#End of community consultation on temporary and partial office bans which in turn relates to this T&S statement. If one cuts through the verbiage, it boils down to "T&S abrogates arrogates to themselves sole discretion to determine what constitutes 'poor conduct', have no obligation to make public how they reach any decision, and are infallible and it's not permitted to dispute any decision made by them". There may be a way to interpret this as something other than T&S digging in for an attritional campaign against the governance of the individual wikis and/or laying the groundwork for a purge of anyone they don't consider a pure enough True Believer, but if so I can't think what it could be. ‑ Iridescent 18:01, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
abrogates -> arrogates? EEng 19:16, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Just testing… Safari has many fine features but whoever decided to switch autocorrect on by default needs drowning. ‑ Iridescent 19:36, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Kay BurleyEdit

Oops, I've hit rollback on the wrong edit. Sorry.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:16, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

No problem—it seemed unlikely you'd be doing it deliberately, but Burley is someone who for reasons I don't quite understand stirs irrational anger in otherwise rational people. (Someone—not me—really needs to do something about that article which is a BLP disaster. A fairly bland newsreader on a channel with an average weekly viewing of 13 minutes per person[3] should not have a "controversies" section longer than the rest of the biography combined. ‑ Iridescent 16:53, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
Unfortunately, if you're a reporter who broadcasts to millions and you have a persistent habit of putting your foot in your mouth - ranging from ignorance of the facts you're discussing, through complete untruths all the way to outright offensiveness - there's going to be a lot more column inches on your idiocy that there is the run-of-the-mill remainder of your output. Though she does seem to have toned it down in recent years (well, either that, or Sky have told her to get her act together). I think Chris Bryant summed her up best. Black Kite (talk) 17:11, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
"Millions" is probably overdoing it—this is Sky News we're talking about, "dozens" is likely nearer the mark. Given that her 0700-0900 slot is directly opposite Piers Moron, I doubt she even gets the "tuning in to see if anything controversial" audience any more. I assume Sky keep her on as a kind of mascot as the last survivor of pre-BSkyB days; whenever there's anything remotely significant going on, Adam Boulton or Beth Rigby get the gig. (If you want an even better example of undue weight, see Tim Martin (businessman), where his views on Brexit literally get more coverage than all the rest of his biography combined. Don't get me wrong, I think the man is an unmitigated bell end, but at the end of the day his position is "supports current government policy", it's not as if he's advocating a nuclear strike on Belgium.) ‑ Iridescent 17:36, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I was quoting millions as a cumulative audience rather than a daily one. I've never looked at the Tim Martin article before, but let's face it not only is he a bellend but he's using his position to promote Brexit to, shall we say, those customers of his in perhaps more working class areas who believe what they read in The Sun. And he's also a liar. So no, I'm not rushing to "fix" his article either. Black Kite (talk) 19:45, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
Hoorah! Good old Captain Underpants!! Martinevans123 (talk) 20:38, 31 October 2019 (UTC)
In the event anyone hasn't seen it, La Burley has redeemed herself somewhat with what's surely the most entertaining moment in what's otherwise been a thoroughly dour election. ‑ Iridescent 19:25, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Pour encourager les autresEdit

Not as interesting as it sounds, just mildly puzzled to find two redirects on this:

I suppose it says something about French spelling. Before clicking on them, try and guess where the redirects go to. Carcharoth (talk) 18:27, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm mostly shocked that we don't have an article about that phrase. Risker (talk) 18:57, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
I was lazy in 2009. –xenotalk 19:18, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
I've seen other instances like this, where slight variation in spelling redirect to different places, but I can't now think of any off the top of my head. When it comes to French-language terms, I do think it's sensible to have redirects for every plausible spelling—often even native speakers of standard Parisian French can't agree on how a particular work should be written (c.f. ognon/oignon), let alone the broader Francophone world—non-French-speakers trying to remember rules they learned at school decades ago certainly can't be blamed for getting confused. ‑ Iridescent 19:37, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Just a noteEdit

No one pinged you in the discussion, but one of your edits is a point of discussion-just fyi. –xenotalk 20:07, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Ah—all I did was issue a warning. If it was recent I'd consider it problematic, but that was in early 2018, which is about a decade in Wikipedia years—if nobody can find any problematic conduct since then, then I'd take that as a positive. (I'm mystified that someone could really be active on Wikipedia for a decade and not know that deliberately following somebody around editing whatever they edit to try to attract their attention is frowned upon—even if one had never stumbled on WP:WIKIHOUNDING it would surely be common sense to assume "even if I haven't personally seen a written policy against harassment, it's at best an appalling lack of manners"—but not impossible that he genuinely wasn't aware.) Anyone can breach policy; someone who'll stop doing something once they're told to stop, instead of digging in, is a good sign not a bad one—what we want in administrators—both in the technical sysop sense and in the broader sense of anyone who participates in administration—is someone who'll follow a consensus and respect personal opinions even if they don't personally agree. ‑ Iridescent 20:29, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
OK, on looking more closely you're challenging "you're coming across as a really, really, creepy stalker". I stand by my phrasing there; I'm not accusing him of a criminal offence, but saying that his words in that thread gave the impression that he was a stalker. Two years later and I still believe that on re-reading—this is someone who explicitly said that whenever he had a dispute with another editor, he would subsequently follow that editor around editing whatever they were currently working on. If instead of issuing a warning I'd forwarded a link to that thread to ca@wikimedia.org, it's well within the bounds of possibility that he'd have just been quietly disappeared. ‑ Iridescent 20:51, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
Not at all challenging it. You said “coming across as” which appropriately AGF’d. Purely a courtesy note. –xenotalk 23:57, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
@xeno, looking at the page again today I think your clerking may be becoming over-enthusiastic. "Hounding" and "stalking" aren't synonyms—"hounding" means intentionally interfering with other people's activities in an attempt to annoy, distract or upset them; "stalking" means inappropriately watching someone else's activities. (The difference is important; the 'creepiness' factor in 2018 that provoked my "what the fuck is wrong with you?" wasn't that GR was following people around editing pages they'd recently edited—he'd stopped doing that once warned—but that he was by his own admission deliberately poking through the userspace subpages of an editor whom he'd just been asked to keep away from.) By changing "stalking" to "hounding" you're unintentionally creating confusion and unnecessarily inflaming tempers by making it appear that people are making false accusations. If you really feel "stalking" is an inappropriate term to use (although "unwanted and/or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person" would seem to me to exactly describe what GR was doing in 2018), perhaps "possibly unintentional harassment" or even a more WP:WikiSpeak construction like "unwanted following" would be a more appropriate term. ‑ Iridescent 10:27, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Thanks Iridesdent, SilkTork has taken a similar tack on my talk page and if you’re both in agreement that “unwanted following” would land nicely, I will go ahead and amend my clerk edits? –xenotalk 10:37, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
No issues from me, but I'm not the one whose words are being changed; it's really a matter of whether SchroCat and Sagaciousphil think you've changed the meaning of their comments. Maybe something like "inappropriate intrusion" would capture the spirit of the accusations more accurately than the relatively neutral "following"? Any reasonably active editor has followed someone at some point, whether it's "I've just corrected an error this person introduced, I need to check whether they've made the same mistake elsewhere", "I find this person's series of articles on widgets really fascinating so I periodically check their contribution history to see if they've written a new one", or "This person is writing biographies of living people with clear errors and grossly inadequate sourcing and is also a blatant undisclosed paid editor and now I'm aware of it it's my duty to check everything else she's written to see if it has the same issues"—the issue is just where the blurry and shifting line between "duty of care to the integrity of Wikipedia's information and community" and "inappropriately intrusive" lies. As you may recall, even the combined minds of a team of highly-paid professionals tasked with determining what constitutes inappropriate activity and the intellectual powerhouse that is the Arbitration Committee recently had a spot of difficulty establishing exactly where that line should be drawn. ‑ Iridescent 10:54, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I didn’t change anything written by Sagaciousphil or SchroCat: those experiences are their own and they are entitled to describe them in their chosen words, imo.

I think I’m going to hang my hat on “unwanted following” (thank you for that suggested wording), I don’t want to make things (even) worse by trying to make things better. –xenotalk 11:02, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Many thanks to you both. xeno, I think your decision in leaving mine and SagaciousPhil's as they stand is the right one. The problem I had was as Iri has decribed the difference - not following the edits, but actively interacting across a series of pages. It's a clear difference, but I'm not sure which one or two word subsitute phase could capture that - I'll leave that headache to you! BTW, as others have said on the pgae, the 'general comments' section is probably becoming a distraction to some, so collapsing it or moving it to talk would get my support (although others may disagree, of course. Cheers - SchroCat (talk) 11:13, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Break: lack of bureaucratsEdit

It’s a can of worms proving difficult to digest. Apropos of nothing in particular, but this should be blue. –xenotalk 11:39, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
If there were a need for more crats I'd be willing to put my name forward, but I'm not seeing it at present. RFAs are so thin on the ground that the existing crats are hardly snowed under, and I don't have the coding skills to assess requests for bot flagging/deflagging. I already have the ability through legacy admin rights to give out IPBE, account creator and PC reviewer should I ever feel the need to do so (unless there's a secret set of additional powers that aren't mentioned at Wikipedia:Bureaucrats). Consequently, unless there's a long backlog of people demanding the addition or removal of the interface admin permission, an RFB would just be hat collecting. (Besides, that 85% threshold excludes pretty much anyone who's done anything remotely contentious. Assuming perhaps 300 people participate in an RFB, I can pretty much guarantee that there are 46 who would oppose—in the wake of the earlier unpleasantness this year I presume I'm on WMDC's hitlist.) ‑ Iridescent 12:14, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
← There is a need to refresh the corps, we’re down 7, basically wiped out all the gains in the Last some years (back to 2013 I think?), if only to account for attrition. I’m not sure if you’re aware but bureaucrat discretion just expanded somewhat substantially; I also really want more bureaucrats that are willing to actually get their hands dirty and clerk RfAs while they’re running (community asked this of us in 2015 but a lot of current bureaucrats are less active and such clerking takes a lot of time, thought, response ability, etc.). I think you’d pass, but I thought Fram would pass too so clearly my internal polling figures are miscalibrated somewhat; my ear clearly isn’t as closely to the ground.

Grassroots work by fresh bureaucrats in improving conditions at RfA would hopefully create the work for them that you’ve indicated is lacking. –xenotalk 12:37, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Assuming you mean Wikipedia:Bureaucrats' noticeboard#RfC closure grants bureaucrats new discretion in processing resysopping requests, I'd hazard a guess that this will have the unintended consequence that nobody will ever pass RfB again, as the process will become an endless procession of carefully-constructed "gotcha" cases trying to trick candidates into saying that someone whose last 250 edits go back 7 years is clearly WP:NOTHERE and so on, in the same way the self-appointed gatekeepers have already made RFA such an obnoxious pit of smartassery.
I think Fram would have passed if he'd held his nerve and not withdrawn; the people who'd been canvassed on the mailing list to oppose had all said their piece by then, so that dip in support would probably have self-corrected in the following days. That said, I can see why he withdrew—it can't be nice having so many people methodically listing why they hate you. ‑ Iridescent 12:49, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Heavy sigh. –xenotalk 14:11, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Break: potential arb candidatesEdit

You're right - it should be blue, but so should this too. - SchroCat (talk) 11:51, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I wouldn't pass an Arbcom election at the moment, and would probably oppose myself were I a candidate—there's no way I could commit to such a timesink at the moment, and I've been virtually inactive in the last 12 months (my last 150 non-minor article edits stretch back to 2018). If you're looking around for someone to pester into running, Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2019/Candidates/Ealdgyth would probably be my choice as a fresh voice who understands the issues and isn't a typical "middle aged men and slightly overenthusiastic students" member of Wikipedia's bureaucratic class. ‑ Iridescent 12:14, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I think she would make an excellent addition to ArbCom. Whether she'd want to or not is another matter, or course - there are a lot of good people who would run a mile from it. - SchroCat (talk) 12:53, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Although I've opposed them both previously, this time round I think The Rambling Man and Newyorkbrad (and Risker, but I can't imagine she'd be tempted) would make good candidates as well. This election is unique: not just because the expansion of the committee means 11 candidates being elected, and not just because the wave of resignations means only three existing arbs (plus whoever runs again) to carry on the institutional memory, but because for the first time we're electing a group in the knowledge that there's a small but non-negligible chance that they'll end up becoming the War Cabinet holding the line against an attempt by the WMF to impose direct rule. (This is why—even though Eric would be disgusted—I'll support GW 100% if and when the mob turn on her; even though she's made some weird calls in the past, she's one of the few people on that committee to really grasp just why Wikipedia only works when people aren't making well-intentioned interventions to try to make it work better.) ‑ Iridescent 13:08, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
oh, fuck no. Ealdgyth - Talk 13:31, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I figured this might happen....which is why I've run in case an insufficient number of folks do.. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:49, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Well if Ealdgyth still refuses to sign up (and, really, who can blame her—or anyone—for running a mile from the opportunity) I'll be voting for you - you may end up serving by default, if you're not careful! - SchroCat (talk) 13:58, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I've been tempted to run again (I only ran once and had to buy a lot of pizzas) but I have an unerring feeling that a non-admin, previously blocked candidate would never be welcomed to the golden archives of doom (where plenty of secret discussions about myself exist) and the tools of might (all of which I've held at various Wikipedias and never abused, but hey). But there's plenty of time for that last minute entry I guess. The Rambling Man (Staying alive since 2005!) 14:15, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Those were different times, but FWIW they certainly didn't sanitize discussions about me from the archive when I was elected. You'd be surprised just how dull Arbwiki actually is; people have the idea that it's full of juicy gossip, but it's actually lots of archives of "does everyone agree with the proposed wording of this resolution before I post it?", and page upon page of "User:Foo is User:Bar's brother-in-law so if a checkuser flags them as potential socks it should be disregarded". From memory, the only part of it that was at all interesting was the discussions about who the Chosen Few were to be for the ill-fated WP:ACPD proposal. ‑ Iridescent 14:30, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Apologies, Iridescent, I started this ball rolling with your diffs, and I should have let you know I had done so. ——SN54129 22:24, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Oh dear. Your (Iridescent's (as well as Risker's)) well-expressed views on not always having the same people were a major reason I am strongly leaning toward not running again, and now I see this. Newyorkbrad (talk) 13:50, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

I've expressed that as well, but you're a clear exception to that desire - on my part anyway. –xenotalk 13:52, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Ditto from me too. - SchroCat (talk) 13:58, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
User:Kirill LokshinUser:KelapstickUser:CallaneccUser:DrmiesUser:KeilanaUser:Opabinia regalisUser:CasliberUser:GorillaWarfareUser:Worm That TurnedUser:RickinBaltimoreUser:CallaneccUser:Premeditated ChaosUser:KrakatoaKatieUser:Opabinia regalisUser:BU Rob13User:Alex ShihUser:SilkTorkUser:Joe RoeUser:GorillaWarfareUser:MkdwUser:CourcellesUser:AGKUser:NewyorkbradUser:Ks0stmUser:EuryalusUser:DeltaQuadUser:MkdwUser:DGGUser:Doug WellerWikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2019Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2018Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2017Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2016Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee Elections December 2015
The right-hand side of this chart should explain better than words just why the usual concerns about too many old-timers blocking fresh blood from coming through aren't going to hold true on this occasion. Assuming OR and Katie aren't planning on re-running, that leaves only four people (or five if WTT wins) to act as institutional memory, at least one of whom I wouldn't trust to tie their own shoelaces. Given that we have eleven vacancies, there's a genuine possibility that we'll end up with an absolute majority on the committee who'll see it as a bully pulpit from which they can smite their enemies, rather than a dispute-resolution body of last resort.
In some ways I think that would be good for Wikipedia—I assume it's no secret that I think the current setup isn't fit for purpose, and a judicious dose of HTD might force people to start thinking seriously about workable alternatives—but now really isn't a good time for that unless you think the WMF imposing a hand-picked provisional government is really going to be good for anyone concerned. ‑ Iridescent 14:24, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
To be fair, that's probably the only angle that could work to persuade me to run... the "keep WMF and T&S from putting something in place" angle. However, I've just finished (mostly) moving, the kids are mostly on their own (assuming the stepdaughter doesn't come back home with two toddlers), and I've got horses to work, books to write, and stuff to do. It's no secret that in the past I've not been a big fan of GW on ArbCom, but I will say that I'm more inclined to support her given her likelyhood of not knuckling under to T&S. I supported both TRM and SMcC in the past and would again if they ran... (hint hint). Who else would work well (and not-so-incidentally save me from a fate worse than death?) Ealdgyth - Talk 15:29, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I would also run to counter additional land-grabs from WMF. --Laser brain (talk) 15:47, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Sandy will probably never forgive me for saying it but Wehwalt might be a good bet. A committee of fifteen of him would be a nightmare, but as one voice among 15 he might well be valuable for giving a slightly different view of events to the usual wikiorthodoxy; the same "their more eccentric calls would be outvoted 14–1 and they might have some interesting things to add" case could also be made for someone like Bishonen (who I'm certain wouldn't want the job) and Carrite or Tryptofish (who might). Tim Riley would also be an excellent choice although I doubt he'd be interested. If we're going down the 'institutional memory' route then Dweller (who out-insiders even NYB) and Johnbod or RexxS (who are familiar with the wikibureaucracy through their work at WMUK) would be interesting each-way bets.
If you want to speculate about long-shots who would really spice things up, then bear in mind that unless there are twelve or more candidates this election will be a straightforward matter of "anyone whose support outnumbers opposition by even a single vote is automatically elected", and in that context Fram would have a realistic shot. It would be worth it just to watch the WMF panic. ‑ Iridescent 15:58, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Arbcom is a horribly thankless job. The rate of burnout always astounds me. It seems to me that most years, there a lot of fresh arbs that go in as active editors, become sort of half-active during the term (understable, as Arbcom is a timesink), but they're never quite back after the term is over. That said, I think we're at unpleasant time where we need to assert as a community that we can deal with the sort of problems that Arbcom is regularly tasked with, lest the WMF and T&S step in. To anyone considering running, or having been advised to run, I would advise them to consider where they want to see our dispute resolution/governance/etc processes in a year or two. Perhaps the mentality of "if you want something done right, do it yourself" applies. It's a two year term, but if it's truly awful, I guess it's possible to call it quits after a year such that the seat is filled in the next election. Maxim(talk) 16:45, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Iri, I don’t have to agree with people to like or appreciate them; you are worth your weight in gold even when you are wrong. Laser brain has my support as the best candidate among those mentioned, not only because of his knowledge, but because he is governed by principles, and cannot be counted on to go with any crowd just to maintain his popularity. Bish, too. Trypto tends to follow the pack even when the pack is wrong. RexxS is a knowledgeable straight shooter, but he has developed a following of influential editors who could oppose him. Risker, as a sane person, is sorely needed and missed. Of course to Cas and NYB-- goes without saying-- and NYB should reconsider, since there are only three returning. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:07, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
While no one asked me, I've occasionally considered running for ArbCom, & if either I retire or my kids get old enough I can ignore them without feeling I'm neglecting them I just might. While I would work to oppose the Foundation's arrogation, my campaign slogan would be "Since everyone needs to take a turn in the barrel, I'll take my turn now." But I figure I'd either come across as the ultimate dark horse, or a long-term volunteer who knows enough to do a good job yet fails at it. (And I figure more than a few long-term editors believe the same thing.) -- llywrch (talk) 18:54, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Wow, I'm flattered as all get-out. And Iri is right, the answer will be no, at least for now. I am already stretched pretty thin with other commitments. On the other hand, while I've actively been campaigning to get some fresh faces onto arbcom, it does still need some folks with historical perspective, particularly if they've taken time away from Arbcom in the interim. And any of my fellow "functionaries" can confirm that one of my most regular contributions to discussions involves providing historical perspective to existing practices, policies and things that we're definitely NOT doing.

    One of the things that is a bit of a red flag for me is that there isn't a lot of awareness within enwiki that some of the "initiatives" being pressed by the WMF are actually coming from different parts of the global wikimedia community, and the general unwillingness of English Wikipedians to engage with or learn about the bigger picture has given our community a reputation of being arrogant, ignorant, and sorely in need of some discipline. I can tell you that, outside of our project, there was near-universal support for the WMF actions related to Fram. So, anyone wanting to "keep the WMF in line" needs to realize it's not just the WMF that thinks we're the problem child. Risker (talk) 19:13, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Break: En-wiki dominanceEdit

  • I don't know how the WMF works, so I'm sure you can enlighten me. My question would be, if the English-language Wikipedia were to suddenly implode and disappear, would the WMF survive? Dr Horncastle (talk) 19:22, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Because I'm lazy, I'll just repost a reply I gave further up this page:

To me "here" is English Wikipedia, Commons, and to a lesser extent French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish Wikipedias, and Wikidata. The WMF has—by accident or design—hidden most of the more interesting statistics since Wikistats 2 went live, but I assume things haven't changed particularly dramatically since the final snapshot in October 2018. Of the across-all-projects stats, English Wikipedia on its own accounted for half of all page views, ​13 of all edits and a little under half of all active editors; the big six (English, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, French) accounted for 76% of all page views. The non-Wikipedia wikis—Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikiversity, Wiktionary—are all statistically insignificant. (Commons and Wikidata are statistically insignificant as well, but obviously have a disproportionate importance as changes there affect pages elsewhere.) It doesn't fit the WMF's "we are a global resource" PR to say so, but ultimately every other project is a bolt-on to English Wikipedia, and the decisions taken by and regarding English Wikipedia ultimately affect all the other projects regardless of how much they might dislike the fact.

Even though the other projects might not like the fact, ultimately the rest of the WMF ecosystem rises and falls with English Wikipedia first and foremost and is completely dependent on the big six Wikipedias plus Commons. We should certainly take the opinions of Kazakh Wikiquote et al into account, but ultimately what happens here is what matters. (I'm honestly not really convinced by "outside of our project, there was near-universal support for the WMF actions related to Fram", either. From what I saw, vocal factions within WMDE were ready to declare open warfare. Yes, I know there's always a vocal faction at WMDE ready to pick a fight with WMF on any given topic, but they seemed more sincere than usual this time.) ‑ Iridescent 20:33, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Just a note from a page-stalker: the en.wp is even more dominant than the numbers give an impression of. Eg.: I follow most of the Palestinian villages/cities -articles. When other projects start expanding in this area, they typically copy/translate directly from en.wp. Eg. the nn.wp and the ca.wp all copied directly from, say Huwara and the other West Bank villages on en.wp. And when fr.wp want to start articles on these articles, they go to English wp to copy/translate from. (When a guy like this have added more than 50.000 articles to nn.wp, then I would guess at least 99.99% of those are directly copied/translated from en.wp.) En.wp is the "mother of all Wikipedias", whatever the WMF would like to think, Huldra (talk) 23:33, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
This. I'm on very good terms with most of the Stewards who aren't robots, and I've had multiple sensible ones tell me in private that the most useful thing a native anglophone can do is make sure the articles on en.wiki are high quality so they can be translated into the other language editions. Build up a strong English project, and because of the nature of English as the de facto language of education and research in much of the world, you're significantly more likely to help smaller projects than if you started contributing to them directly. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:06, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
Just an example; I had been collecting sources for the West Bank cities/villages, hoping to bring them to a DYK or two.....then I suddenly realised that someone was translating them all directly to Catalan, like this: ca:Beit Furik. They had started in the northern most part of the West Bank, working themselves south, one village/city at the time. I think they were at Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate when I discovered them. So I just let potential DYKs go to heck...and worked like hell updating everything from Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate and south of it. So if you go to ca.wp, and look at ca:Governació de Jerusalem, and everything south of it, you will see that the history is "expanded"...but if you look at the northern most, say ca:Governació de Nablus, you will see that a lot of the articles only have sources listed (and not actually used). Huldra (talk) 21:55, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
Definitely. It's particularly noticeable with featured articles, presumably because people look at WP:FA and assume that anything listed there is important enough to warrant listing, so one ends up with such things as pt:O Anjo Destruidor e os Daemones do Mal Interrompendo as Orgias dos Maus e dos Intemperados, da:Quainton Road Station or most bizarrely si:රැම්ස්ගේට් උමං දුම්රිය මාර්ගය. Yes we shouldn't try to second-guess what readers want but I assume that any Sinhalese speaker interested enough in a derelict tunnel in Ramsgate to want a 2300-word history of it, would already speak English. ‑ Iridescent 23:15, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, the thing you’re not factoring in is that while there are some projects where being an anglophone is enough to make you persona non grata (see: id.wiki) there are projects where English is the prestige language for the region, and this includes major language editions of Wikipedia. To them, it’s a sort of signaling that their community should be taken seriously because they have similar featured content to en.wiki. So yeah, anyone from Sri Lanka that cares enough to read about the tunnel speaks English, it’s reasonable to assume that people in a former British colony want to show that they can translate English content. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:31, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
One could do a test to see how many translations of a FA, or a DYK have been made, say, one week/one month after they appeared on the front page of en.wp: I would presume quite a lot.
Another reason why people come to en.wp is to find people with like minded interest. I am not a native English speaker, alas, no-one on my "native language" wikis have any interest, or great knowledge of the Middle East (=my interest). I have learned a lot about the ME from my fellow (very knowledgable) editors, which I would never have learned if I had stayed at my local wiki. If you are, say, a Romanian interested in Romanian issues, the local Romanian wp would be fine. Alas, if you have an interest in British rail (or the Middle East) ...or anything not-Romanian, then the en.wp is the where you end up, Huldra (talk) 23:58, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
I used to get quite a bit of my more obscure stuff on European medieval art & the like translated (often shortened) in Thai and Portuguese in particular. I thought much of it was people practicing their foreign-language skills, probably starting from the mother tongue. Johnbod (talk) 04:28, 18 November 2019 (UTC)
Pt.wiki is very friendly to en.wiki users/has a sizable contingent of people whose English is virtually indistinguishable from native speakers, so I wouldn't be shocked if pt.wiki actually had people translating stuff from English to Portuguese because they wanted it on their project. Thai my guess is you're probably right on the source of the translations. TonyBallioni (talk) 05:28, 18 November 2019 (UTC)

Might Paul August be interested in rejoining? He was and would be good. 174.91.115.150 (talk) 19:26, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Risker, I'm surprised that anyone outside of en.wiki knows about the Fram incident. I went to WikiMania, which occurred around the same time & Fram, and Fram & T&S, was mentioned 0 times in the sessions I attended & the keynotes. I went to talk to folks on T&S about the issue & they definitely didn't want to discuss it. Liz Read! Talk! 19:36, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Arbitrary break: "new blood"Edit

If you all are really thinking of "new blood", why don't you suggest some experienced editors who have been active 5 years or less? I'm sure there are some dedicated in this range of experience editors (admin or not admin) who'd give it a shot. Editors don't have to have been here 10 or 15 years to make a contribution. Liz Read! Talk! 19:41, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
There are, but the collapse of RFA as a functioning process acts as a throttle. There are some voters who will automatically reject every non-admin in Arbcom elections on "well, if they're not trusted to drive a car, why should we give them the keys to a truck?" grounds (a legitimate reason to oppose); very well-established non-admins like Giano or TRM have the reputations to potentially get past that, but newer people haven't generally built up the name recognition. Someone who's been around for five years and is an admin realistically means someone who passed RFA in the last three years, and there aren't many of those around. Back in the Days Before The Dawn Of Time when I was on Arbcom and before we got blown off course by the mailing list leaks I was tentatively suggesting Arbcom having either electoral constituencies or recruitment quotas to try to get a broader spread of people, but nothing ever came of it. (Have you considered running? Unless you have a skeleton in your closet you'd almost certainly get in, although I'll warn you it's a truly unpleasant experience.) ‑ Iridescent 19:56, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Ha! Iridescent beat me to it; I was going to suggest that you consider running, as well. I've bugged two editors whose accounts are more than 5 years old, but one didn't really become active until 2014 and the other had a 7-year hiatus before jumping in again in 2018, so I think they'd more or less meet your criteria. I do hope you'll consider, Liz. I won't say it's fun, but it's...educational. (I'm not surprised that you didn't hear a lot about Fram at Wikimania. There was a lot of active "not talking" about Fram at Wikimania, for a lot of reasons, one of which was how divisive the issue is within the global community.) Risker (talk) 20:05, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Oh for Heaven’s sake, the pair of you MUST run. If you do Lady C will be very positive and kind in her famed and very perceptive analysis of the candidates. Seriously, 99% of editors don’t give a stuff about Wikimania and its, frankly mostly odd, attendees, they just want to see some common sense (preferably not of the kind bred in some obscure, sanctimonious N American state); they want to see honest editors complete with their human faults improving a still worthy project. Just go for it, what have you got to lose? Giano (talk) 20:24, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
As an arbitation clerk, I know too much about the demands of the job. And if my painful RfA is any indication, there would be significant & vocal opposition. But, who knows? Many people enter on the last day when they see if enough good people have decided to run. There have always been enough people I thought were qualified to satisfy me. Liz Read! Talk! 20:36, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Meh—I was the significant and vocal opposition. The things I considered negatives at RFA (stubbornness and a tendency to get involved in other peoples disputes) are exactly the things that are positives in an arb. FWIW, the reason those in the know wait until the last day isn't because they want to see if enough good people have decided to run, it's so they can see what questions people are asking, which answers are going down well, and what the people who write the election guides say they're looking for, and tailor their statement accordingly so the trend-setters think "hey, this person thinks just like me!". ‑ Iridescent 20:47, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
You're too smart for your own good. Dr Horncastle (talk) 20:54, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
This is no secret and not remotely unique to Wikipedia. The US is an anomaly because candidates are selected by means of primaries, but I assure you that if you're in the UK the candidates for the forthcoming election are almost all waiting for the 14 Nov deadline to declare their candidacies, so they can see which way the public mood is blowing on key issues before making their candidacy public and being forced to express opinions on those issues. ‑ Iridescent 23:06, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Arbitrary break: identificationEdit

FFS, just go for it. If it all goes horribly wrong (it won’t), who cares or knows? There must be at least twenty billion Lizes in the world, and at least one other Iridescent. If it wasn’t for this having to confess one’s personal identity I’d run myself, but once WMF know I’m a mass murderer and war criminal (which Jimbo suspects already) they’d probably say that would be one too many or something similar. Be brave....Go! Giano (talk) 21:07, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, you have to provide an identity. Unless they plan to fly every checkuser, oversighter and arbitrator on all 700+ WMF sites in to San Francisco to verify their identities in person, there's nothing to stop you giving any name you feel like, other than the fact that the legal department will do their best to hassle you to set an example should they catch you out. Plus, in many jurisdictions—most pertinently from en-wiki's point of view California and England—it's specifically in law that name change by usage is a legal right and one can call oneself anything one likes provided it's not done for the purposes of fraud. It's a known security hole, but one that can't be patched since even the WMF would baulk at flying someone around the world to physically check everyone's identity or demanding everyone attend their local WMF chapter to identify themselves in some kind of wiki-census-of-Augustus, and more to the point isn't worth patching since nobody cares who you are in real life provided you're not a child or a sex offender. ‑ Iridescent 23:01, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
No identifying information is required anymore. One signs a confidentiality agreement using one's user account. That's been in place since 2015. Only the WMF Board, the FDC, and the Audit Committee require real-name verification nowadays, and that's all for fiduciary purposes, not for access to private and non-public information. Risker (talk) 23:31, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I know they no longer check passports, but aren't you theoretically supposed to put your name on the Phabricator request when you sign the access to nonpublic personal data document? ‑ Iridescent 23:37, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Nope - nothing. They realized that there was no practical way to truly link real-world ID to usernames, and Legal even got the Board to change this rule. The folks in Legal at that time figured there was no point in continuing the security theatre. It got changed as part of the update of the Privacy policy. You do have to create a phabricator account, but you do that from MediaWikiWiki by logging in to your normal SUL user account. I *did* have to verify my identity with photo/signature ID at the first FDC meeting after I was appointed, but those were always in-person meetings so there wasn't much wiggle room there. Risker (talk) 23:44, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
The WMF realised that something was a pointless waste of time and decided to stop doing it, rather than setting up a highly-paid task force to spend eight years trying to engineer a technical solution from scratch? Are you sure we're talking about the same WMF? ‑ Iridescent 00:00, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Seeing as I've been the most vocal proponent of not using the term "stalking" to characterize GRuban's actions from January 2018, I wanted to chime in here and say that I didn't find your warning to be particularly problematic. Yes, it was harshly worded, but I don't think a warning of some sort was unwarranted. And to be very clear, I do agree that what he did was inappropriate, even if done with the best of intentions. I'm not in any way intending to invalidate the feelings and experiences of SagaciousPhil and SchroCat, both of whom I feel are warranted in feeling uncomfortable. I'm sorry if anything I've said has given anyone the wrong impression. Kurtis (talk) 23:14, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
    I'm finding this hard to understand. You can't "invalidate" anyone's feelings, they are what they are. Dr Horncastle (talk) 23:46, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
    It's an Americanism, but it's a legitimate term of art in psychology, not a misuse of language or a neologism; "invalidation" in this context means declaring that one doesn't feel someone's response is genuine. Here's a quick RS for it. ‑ Iridescent 23:56, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
    I see, thanks for the clarification. Dr Horncastle (talk) 00:00, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
    Full disclosure: I'm Canadian. Kurtis (talk) 08:01, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
    Just was alerted to this thread. I am no longer ambitious on Wikipedia and am disinclined to exhaust my limited enthusiasm that remains with pointless and thankless work. So with all due respect to the other fourteen of me (hi, guys), I'll pass. I would support Iridescent if they cared to run.---Wehwalt (talk) 04:34, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
    @Nikkimaria: Nikkimaria for arb. And Iridescent. ♦ Lingzhi2 (talk) 06:43, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
    I would support her too. There is some hope of getting rid of much of the anticontent clique on the AC if such good people run.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:56, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
But on the plus side, this is all a moot point because our overlords at T&S have a cunning plan to automate the resolution of on-wiki disputes, so Arbcom will presumably become unnecessary. (You see where I said above that "setting up a highly-paid task force to spend eight years trying to engineer a technical solution from scratch" is their knee-jerk response to problems? This.) Connoisseurs of WMF bullshit will particularly like we plan to implement a user risk prediction model which would be able to predict and flag users who are at risk of getting blocked in the future. This model will make use of the “toxicity scores” generated by the abuse detection model. In addition to these ‘‘toxicity scores’’, the proposed model will also leverage the temporal user activity features generated out of the revision activity data. I'm also taken by the assumption that one-fifth of the personal attacks get reported must mean that there's a huge shyness among 80% of editors to complain, rather than that it could possibly be the case that their model only has a 20% success rate in correctly distinguishing "personal attacks" from "reasonable commentary". ‑ Iridescent 16:16, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm entertained that the Foundation insists on pursuing the mirage of AI-generated content, when they should be going in the direction of other online encyclopedias such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Encyclopedia of Life. (To mention the two I am most familiar with.) -- llywrch (talk) 20:08, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
And that direction is...? Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 20:24, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure EOL is such a great example if you don't like autogenerated content—some of their pages (that one is currently on their main page, so I've hardly gone on a cherry-picking expedition) make Wikidata look like a masterpiece of Brilliant Refreshing Prose. ‑ Iridescent 20:58, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
Hmm. From reading their intro pages, I was under the impression that EOL consisted primarily of human-driven content. Drop that example then, but still sticking with SEP as an example of how experts, when properly managed & credited, will contribute to a free/libre knowledge project. (After all, having an article published in something like SEP is much cheaper than getting published in many academic periodicals.) -- llywrch (talk) 17:19, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
@Llywrch: EOL started like that (with some fanfare), but at some point I believe it was automated to some degree and started scraping from other sites. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:48, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that the project that got roundly pilloried on WO and then someone pressed Jan to admit that it's not actually a thing they actually plan to use? (P.S. This is smelling like a new subsection...) –xenotalk 03:25, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
You're thinking of the old m:Research:Detox which was just an amateurishly-made Naughty Word Scanner. As far as I can make sense of the dripping chunks of WMF bureaucratese at Automatic Detection of Online Abuse and the assorted papers and presentations linked from it, what this latest wheeze is attempting to do is have a neural net check the history of existing blocked editors in the run-up to their block, establish if there were common themes present in the actions of editors in the days before they got blocked, and subsequently monitor the actions of every other editor in real-time and report editors whom the software thinks are shortly going to deserve a block to the Wikimedia Precrime Division (there are some unintentionally hilarious examples here of which comments would be permitted and which would put you on the deathlist). You presumably don't need me to tell you in just how many ways I think this is an awful idea even as a proof-of-concept. (Additional bonus unintentional hilarity points for Ethical considerations in Wikipedia automatic abuse detection system which reads like something Jon Awbrey would have written as a parody on Wikipedia Review circa 2008.) ‑ Iridescent 14:19, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
Precogs? Kablammo (talk) 22:13, 13 November 2019 (UTC)

Penda revisitedEdit

@Haukurth, Kudpung, and Serial Number 54129: Well, I finally managed to find a convenient time to visit my friend in Worcester. See User talk:Iridescent/Archive 35 #Stained glass Penda for anybody who w3ants the background. We have a result! They recently published a new booklet The Cloister Windows in Worcester Cathedral, which I discussed with a couple of knowledgeable guides in the cathedral. It turns out that "East Walk Window 5", which contains the source image for File:Penda of Mercia.jpg is attributed thus:

1918 - James Eadie Reid / The Gateshead Stained Glass Company

I bought a copy of the booklet that I'm happy to donate to anyone who would make use of it, or alternatively I can donate it to the WMUK Office library, where inquiring minds can seek it out. If anyone would like to claim for themselves, let me know before 12 December, when I'm next at WMUK Office. Cheers --RexxS (talk) 21:30, 13 November 2019 (UTC)

Great news. You owe me five quid :p. ;) ——SN54129 21:45, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
Excellent news! :) Haukur (talk) 11:15, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
Excellent work, and I see I was completely wrong. Mea culpa and this is why we insist on reliable sources. ‑ Iridescent 14:50, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

ArbCom 2019 election voter messageEdit

Scale of justice 2.svgHello! Voting in the 2019 Arbitration Committee elections is now open until 23:59 on Monday, 2 December 2019. All eligible users are allowed to vote. Users with alternate accounts may only vote once.

The Arbitration Committee is the panel of editors responsible for conducting the Wikipedia arbitration process. It has the authority to impose binding solutions to disputes between editors, primarily for serious conduct disputes the community has been unable to resolve. This includes the authority to impose site bans, topic bans, editing restrictions, and other measures needed to maintain our editing environment. The arbitration policy describes the Committee's roles and responsibilities in greater detail.

If you wish to participate in the 2019 election, please review the candidates and submit your choices on the voting page. If you no longer wish to receive these messages, you may add {{NoACEMM}} to your user talk page. MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 00:07, 19 November 2019 (UTC)

Why are we still persisting with this mass mailing nonsense? This isn't an election for the Presidency of Wikipedia; anyone who's interested enough in the Arbcom elections to have an opinion, already knows that they're taking place, while anyone who's so detached from the back-office administration of the wiki that they aren't aware of the elections and haven't noticed the watchlist notice, almost certainly isn't familiar enough with what Arbcom actually does (and in particular, the unique-to-Wikipedia definition of "Arbitration") that their input would be of any particular use. ‑ Iridescent 11:50, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Probably because nobody managed to successfully object to it so it stayed per "we already did this last year so why not this year too". Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 12:26, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
This is the RFC for this years elections. The ruling Mass Message - eligible voters, have edited last 12 months before nominations was included in the "pre-determined items which we're going to carry over from the previous year" preamble at the start; the only thing that was up for discussion was whether blocked accounts and bots would receive the mailing. ‑ Iridescent 13:11, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
As I understand it, any editor can put an item on the agenda for the annual RfC, so you should feel free to raise this issue next year if you care to. (I don't have a strong view on it one way or the other.) Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 16:56, 20 November 2019 (UTC)
Life's too short to waste any time tilting at that particular windmill. The mass mailing increases participation roughly four times (from ≈500 to ≈2000). Since presumably those people who watch the (small-a) administrative pages are already aware of the election, that means that with the mass mailing in place ​34 of voters are relatively unfamiliar with the candidates. Consequently, the mass mailing hugely skews the process in favor of (a) incumbents, (b) guide writers, (c) the inner core of hyperactive editors who get about enough to be widely recognized, and (d) people fluent enough in bullshit to write particularly flowery self-nomination statements. Since those four groups are also the only people likely to participate in something as inside-baseball as the RFC on the administration of elections, the mass mailing is essentially now hard-wired into Wikipedia's processes as the only people who could stop it are the same people who currently benefit from it. ‑ Iridescent 14:10, 8 December 2019 (UTC)

Declined CSDEdit

Hello!

I Noticed that you have declined my CSD here. However, I think that the text, the username, and the edit summary clearly indicate that the intention was self-promotion. However it is also possible that I am mistaken on this one, so I would like to ask your thoughts on it for future reference.

Best regards, Kostas20142 (talk) 17:56, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

It was a potential role account so was correctly softblocked pending a rename request, but it read in full we are are a small town wrestling company. It's always been considered perfectly acceptable for Wikipedia users to include a brief description of themselves on their userpage, and that description was as neutral as they come; there's no remotely promotional language there. (There's no plausible way any reader could think "wow, a small town wrestling company, I'd better check them out".) The {{db-spamuser}} template with which you tagged it even explicitly says "simply having a page on a company or product in one's userspace does not qualify a userpage for deletion". ‑ Iridescent 19:44, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
It seems you are right, thanks! --Kostas20142 (talk) 19:51, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
There are way too many people who seem to think that merely discussing a company or a product makes something spam. I see them at AFD all the time, PR being a key giveaway. Sometimes I write a closing statement emphasizing notability based arguments as a response. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 19:54, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
@Jo-Jo Eumerus: Yeah I know, merely discussing it doesn't constitute spam. It was just the whole thing that gave me the impression that the only intention was self-promotion. Anyways, thanks for the comment! --Kostas20142 (talk) 19:57, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Meh, if a closer feels the need to decide the tension of NOTSPAM vs. GNG in a closing statement, they likely should be voting rather than closing. We have no consistent notability guideline, and what we keep or delete largely depends on historical practice in a topic area. What the GNG means for some random 11th century religious figure vs. what it means for a BLP vs. what it means for a corporation are very different and we do not at all apply the guideline the same, nor should we. Not really relevant to this particular instance, but the idea that we have a consistent notability rule that reigns supreme and that it is not frequently balanced with other concerns, and that other concerns can never trump it is also incorrect. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:42, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, no, because in many cases we end up with "delete, it's PR""keep, it's notable" arguments and then someone either decides - no consensus, keep or delete or something else - or the XFD stays open for all eternity. But since WP:ATD is a policy such cases tend to end up as keep or no consensus in many cases, unless notability is questionable or the promotion severe enough. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 09:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Plus, although WP:ATD is policy and WP:TNT is just someone's personal opinions, with the marginal topics the latter comes into play. The random religious figures differ from the small businesses in that they serve a different purpose to readers. An article that reads in full Ketill Þorsteinsson was the bishop of Hólar between 1122 and 1145. would still be a valid article (albeit one that IMO would be better served as a redirect to a list) provided one could verify that it was accurate since it's something someone could conceivably be looking for, and there's de facto automatic notability since by definition the holder of a position like that was someone that people at the time considered important and notability is not temporary. (We have lots and lots of articles like Mahalath and Hegai about minor Biblical figures about whom nothing more than their brief mention will ever be known, and whose stories aren't so interesting that they'll ever form the basis of significant commentary or artworks* so will never be expandable. Yes I know Mahalath appears in a few paintings of Ishmael or Esau, but AFAIK nobody ever depicts her as anything other than part of a group. We'd never delete them—although again, IMO they should form a single list, same as List of supporting Harry Potter characters—since multiple major religions consider them important enough to mention.)
Re: permanent stubs -- which articles like Mahalath and Hegai are. That's an issue we Wikipedians are going to have to face. IMHO, we should only have an article on a given subject if & only if there is potential content to turn it into a Featured Article; otherwise merge it into a relevant article. Yes, there are some subjects which are more difficult to find a path to FA for than others. But consider Manuel II of Trebizond, of whom there are very few facts: his young age as emperor, the brief length of his reign, & that he was murdered a year after being deposed. I thought about that hard, then realized that what made him worth more than a few sentences was the fact he was a rare example of (1) a child emperor in the Romano-Byzantine tradition, & (2) he was killed after his deposition. I put him in some kind of context, which is something a lot of our articles lack, & is how I expanded this article. That said, I suspect there are many permanent stubs out there that will never lend themselves to either a merge or possibly ever becoming an FA. -- llywrch (talk) 18:30, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
You're preaching to the converted here—I've always believed that most articles are more use to readers as entries in a list where they can be compared at a glance to the rest of the topics in the series, and only broken out when their entries are so long they make the list unwieldy. Having a single list also means that the background section, which is necessary for most articles to be comprehensible to non-specialists, only needs to be given once rather than repeated across a dozen articles which just annoys the readers. Infrastructure of the Brill Tramway is usually my go-to example of what I think most Wikipedia pages ought to look like. Unfortunately, the Great God Consensus doesn't agree with me, which is why (to stick with that Brill Tramway example) we have half-a-dozen near-identical pages at Wood Siding railway station, Westcott railway station etc. The "every grain of sand needs a separate page" brigade is small but is noisy enough to disrupt any attempt to rationalize any attempt to clean things up. You've been here since 2003—you presumably remember just how much time and effort it took to gain consensus even for the idea that each of the 900 pokemons (pokemen?) didn't need it's own full-length stand-alone biography. (Just gonna put this here.) ‑ Iridescent 18:53, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Something like List of seamounts in the Marshall Islands would be my idea of such a list article - only a few of the articles on it are so long as to deserve their own page such as Wōdejebato and Limalok which are at FA level. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I somehow missed that circus about the Pokemon stubs, although I heard about it later. (Odd none of the standard histories of Wikipedia ever retell that story.) But I did witness similar struggles to merge stubs into larger unified articles, so I know what you mean. I expect that historical forces (to steal a phrase from a political philosopher currently out of favor) will favor combining many of these stubs into lists -- or list-like articles. I base this on the fact that I haven't encountered anyone deconstructing any lists into groups of articles, thus there is a tendency for these articles to combine into larger ones. So over the long run this will succeed; it's just going to take a bit a patience & perseverance. (In my experience, I've found it effective to dealing with irrational objections to the right decision by simply waiting out those who object. Even if it takes years. No need to lose one's temper & start accusing the other party(s) of bad faith.) -- llywrch (talk) 08:18, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
Fictional topics have been on a long arc of merging to lists or wholesale deletion since the early expansion days in 06/07, after WP:NFICT failed and we got to a reasonable consensus about how to write about fiction. I expect questionably-notable topics elsewhere to follow a similar arc (where noticed, of course). That said, such lists do end up going the other direction when an editor interested in the topic and willing to put the time in expands it back out which IMO generally appropriate. --Izno (talk) 15:28, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
Writing a useful article on a work of fiction that follows Wikipedia guidelines is & likely always will be a difficult task. Part of the reason is that even people who graduate with a degree in Literature don't always learn of resources like the MLA Bibliography or Year's Work in English Studies -- which would greatly aid in finding reliable sources. But an even more challenging problem is that many notable works of fiction lack a discussion in a reliable secondary source, & may never be the subject of one. One example of this would be the works of Jim Thompson; another would be V.C. Andrew's Flowers in the Attic. If there was a way around the WP:NOR rule, the lack of secondary sources would not prevent us from actually discussing the work (e.g., themes, influences, characterization, etc.), which is just one more unintended side-effect of that fundamental policy. -- llywrch (talk) 17:21, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
When it comes to current businesses. the one-liners that just say something exists are a different kettle of fish. As well as the burden of expectation that the author explain why it qualifies as notable, there's also the "even if this is notable, does this page serve any useful purpose?" question; sometimes a redlink is better than a one-sentence stub since a redlink makes it more likely someone will write something better. The whole thing is a gray area, which is why we have deletion debates rather than a straightforward set of rules. On the subject of deletion and gray areas, if any passing deletionist wants a happy hunting ground, try both the articles and redirects brought up by Special:PrefixIndex/List of tall which should be enough to keep both RfD and AfD running for a month. ‑ Iridescent 10:57, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Sure, but WP:DELREASON is also policy as is WP:NOTSPAM, and notability is only one of the reasons listed. We agree on all the minor biblical figures, and roads, and train stations and how we shouldn’t delete them. The tension between not being a vehicle for promotion while also not being a paper encyclopedia is difficult, which is why we have those discussions. I fall on the other side than JJE, and consider arguments based on promotionalism to be significantly stronger arguments to delete than notability based arguments are to keep if we’re talking about some random startup where the claim to notability is borderline at best. This is why we have the discussions rather than G11ing everything on sight, but I was more challenging the idea that notability based arguments are superior in corporate discussions. It depends on the case, but in many cases involving corporations, there’s a significantly stronger case to delete than keep even when notability is taken out of the picture. TonyBallioni (talk) 13:09, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
The problem I often see is that deletion nominations citing the spam rules at AFD tend to be rather vague on explaining why the listed article qualifies as spam, and WP:NOTSPAM is not a blank cheque. It's especially a problem because a spammy article can be rewritten so WP:ATD comes into play whereas one cannot really make a non-notable topic notable during the course of an AFD discussion. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
The deletion pages in general are a mess, as they've had 18 years to accumulate people repeating things they heard somewhere about how things "should be done", which in turn get seen by newer editors who (reasonably) assume that because these are arguments they've seen made by experienced editors, they must have some validity. The rules around paid editing are a particularly problematic one which even experienced admins and WMF employees struggle to understand. My personal bugbear is people who proudly cite WP:USEFUL as if it proves arguments based on utility are forbidden, when in fact it's an especially stupid and very outdated personal essay and in reality "is this article/file/page actually of any potential use to readers?" should be the primary criterion when judging if something should be kept—ironically this is something which the legendarily dysfunctional Commons do manage to grasp instinctively when it comes to their own deletion processes. If I had my way the entire deletion process would be deleted and rebuilt from scratch based on which criteria are both useful and practical and on a practical definition of notability rather than "it's in a book so it must be important", with particular emphasis on destroying with fire and salting the ludicrous Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions. ‑ Iridescent 23:27, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm slightly less critical of our deletion processes, and don't often see WP:USEFUL cited myself, but I do find it silly that the number of pageviews a page gets is regarded as completely beside the point. The bio of an Indian actor with a role in a newish hit tv drama (also Indian) was nominated for deletion despite getting around 200 views a day over a couple of weeks. Johnbod (talk) 02:37, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
@Johnbod:Huh - I am pretty certain I don't see pageviews frequently cited at AFD, either by keepers or by deleters (in portal discussions on the other hand...). OTOH I often see people saying "keep, it's useful" with little explanation of why it's useful. I wonder what practical definition of notability because while the current WP:GNG is mostly "these are topics that we can write policy compliant articles about" "practical definition" to me sounds like it'd turn into a list of all topics that someone likes. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 14:25, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
You and I differ on our views of paid editing, which I view as an issue of utility via credibility, but I'd agree generally with what you've said above. I'd also delete arguments to avoid with fire. It's basically an essay that random people have created overtime to make it easier to shout down people who are raising valid points.
I guess if you had to sum up my views on the deletion process it would be delete things that harm our credibility and/or cause harm in the real world, keep everything else. I'm sure I could find a way to fit utility in there, though I view credibility and utility as going hand-in-hand. It's why I find the GNG so moronic: it means whatever you want it to mean and provides no real guidance as the internet and information sharing have substantially evolved over time. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:51, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
You say it means whatever you want it to mean and provides no real guidance, which I think is true of many of our notability guidelines. Or, rather, experienced editors tend to roughly agree on what they mean but that understanding is not actually codified in the text so it's quite a learning curve for newbies. The exception is WP:NBOOK, which is crystal clear for some reason. Haukur (talk) 07:27, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
The curious thing about deletion debates is that, if you look at it in a certain way, they are irrelevant. On the one hand, any experienced editor knows well to provide sufficient details & citations to any article they might create in order to prevent it from ending up at WP:AfD. On the other, if an article that should fail notability somehow sneaks in under the radar (e.g. practically any biography of a social networking consultant), it survives yet no one knows/cares it exists, like the proverbial tree falling in a forest without anyone to hear if it makes a sound. (And eventually someone will stumble across it & mark it for deletion years after this social networking consultant moved on to a more lucrative career as a barista or grocery store clerk.) -- llywrch (talk) 08:03, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
New biographies are certainly scrutinised, but if they survive say a fortnight are then fairly safe. Many of them are carefully referenced, just not with independent RS. There is often a genuine disagreement about who/what is and is not "notable". The list question is part of the wider issues around most of our editors preferring to start new articles rather than improve old ones. Johnbod (talk) 16:18, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Which I’ve always found interesting (on the start vs. improve point.) I’ve basically been non-existent in mainspace the last year (tl;dr change in life circumstances made that less enjoyable/feasible) but I always preferred improving existing articles over creating new ones, in part because I find it easier and in part because I find the end result is better. TonyBallioni (talk) 16:23, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

There are certainly some things that make starting a new article from scratch easier than expanding an existing one. Citation formatting is an obvious one, when whoever started the article used some kind of goofy citation format like "hand-typed list defined referencing" but WP:CITEVAR means you can't change it to something more sensible so are stuck trying to replicate it on 200+ references in a 10,000 word article just because whoever wrote the original 200-word stub in 2005 happened to use it. (I fairly frequently invoke IAR to completely ignore CITEVAR and overwrite the existing referencing to make the style of an article consistent with others in the series as it makes it easier for reusers and future editors to cut and paste material, and have never been challenged on it, but invoking IAR is always playing with fire.)
The other obvious issue is the sourcing; if one's writing from scratch, then one has all the sources in front of one (or at least, knows which library you borrowed it from and thus where to go to double-check things) and knows what they all say. If one expands on an existing article then quite often one is taking it on faith that "website that no longer exists", "book that has been out of print since 1950 and isn't available in any library on your continent" or "academic paper behind a $300 paywall" actually said what User:EditorWhoResignedIn2004AndIsn'tAvailableForComment claimed it said. Wikipedia's whole AGF culture means it's considered bad form to say "even though this is referenced I can't verify the reference so it comes out". Indeed, Some reliable sources may not be easily accessible. For example, an online source may require payment, and a print-only source may be available only in university libraries. Rare historical sources may even be available only in special museum collections and archives. Do not reject reliable sources just because they are difficult or costly to access. is formal Wikipedia policy; it's technically blockable disruption to say "you claim this book in the sealed section of the Vatican Secret Archives proves your point, but since nobody else can verify that I'm removing it until you can find another source". This isn't some abstract hypothetical point; it was a questionable source used in an early version of the article that had been retained after the article was expanded that set off the string of events at Moors Murders that got Eric Corbett banned. ‑ Iridescent 10:11, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
CITEVAR when expanding stubs from a decade ago is probably the best use case of IAR. TonyBallioni (talk) 14:47, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
Aye. When I expand articles, I usually install a form of sfn format. Then again I've noticed that in most if not all cases Wikipedia:Citing sources#Generally considered helpful comes into play as the previous citation format either lacked page numbers or inline citations. Or for that matter, because it was a different citation format but it was me who installed it originally such as at Uturuncu/Uturunku and Coropuna. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 14:51, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
I always believed WP:IAR was another way to express Rem tene, verba sequentur. Instead of getting hung up on ruleswanking & arguing over the meaning of is, obey the spirit of the rule. If you have to ignore a given rule, have a good argument why you ignored it in this specific case prepared first. And be prepared to take full responsibility for acting like a cowboy when you invoke that clause, instead of expecting everyone to bow down before your 73373ness. -- llywrch (talk) 22:05, 29 November 2019 (UTC)

TFAEdit

It seems TFA is passively accepting random standards by editors of questionable ability and sense, and rather than face up to debate, is pushing the most active volunteers, and FAC nominators to the wolves. I would appreciate your view at this discussion.link. Note the whole thing is rather painful, and it basically implies that some of our most respected editors have been asleep at the wheel. Ceoil (talk) 13:11, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

I'll comment there when I get the time, although I assume Dank and co are already well aware of my opinions of Kevin and his general insistence that he's some kind of indispensable power-user whose whims everyone else is obliged to indulge without question. Looking at Special:Contributions/Kevin_McE it looks like he may have finally got the message that his "corrections" aren't helpful, so hopefully this has resolved itself. ‑ Iridescent 10:03, 3 December 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Coropuna/archive1Edit

Pinging you to this discussion as you previously commented on the topic at peer review and the FAC has not received that much input in terms of "support","oppose" or "no opinion". Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 15:25, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

I will when I get the chance. I've put a placeholder comment asking the delegates not to archive the nomination until I've had a chance to re-read it. ‑ Iridescent 09:51, 3 December 2019 (UTC)
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