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Why do Wikipedia editors dislike pseudoscience so much?Edit

I'm not here to oppose Wikipedia:Psci, and I'm not saying that it's unreasonable, but I just sometimes wonder: Is there philosophical or moral reason why Wikipedia editors hate pseudoscience so much? Most other encyclopedias (edit: e.g. Britannica) I've read don't attack pseudoscience that much (but they still note when something is unscientific), but why does the typical Wikipedia editor do so? (Some editors are very short tempered to such people.) Félix An (talk) 01:27, 19 June 2021 (UTC)

Other encyclopedias can't be edited by the proponents of pseudoscience. It gets a little old pushing back against nonsense. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:44, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
Presumably because it is diametrically opposed to the goal of an encyclopedia. Pseudo-, which means "false, not genuine, fake" is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to do here. Zoozaz1 talk 01:47, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
It befouls the very concept of science, substituting some mixture of superstition, folly, and outright fraud for actual scientific inquiry into truth. --Orange Mike | Talk 01:51, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
Honestly I think the answer to this should be common sense but basically pseudoscience ruins the reputation of the encyclopedia.CycoMa (talk) 01:50, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
Pseudoscience topics can be suitable for Wikipedia provided that they are Notable (as evidenced by many independent reliable sources) and clearly LABELED as pseudoscience or as being outside the mainstream canon (for example see Heim theory). What must never be done is to imply that pseudoscience topics are in the scientific mainstream, although this is what their proponents often try to do. Xxanthippe (talk) 03:39, 19 June 2021 (UTC).
A more interesting question is "Why do followers of pseudoscientific topics like promoting them as not pseudoscientific?". Johnuniq (talk) 03:50, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
User:Johnuniq - I think that is a relatively easy question to answer. That is because it is often difficult for people without a scientific education to tell pseudoscience from science (and it isn't always easy with a scientific education). And often pseudoscience, unlike science, has simplistic answers. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:21, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
That is for sure the root problem. Wikipedia goes ahead and calls pseudoscience what it is, and people whose income is dependent on selling healing crystals or tiger penis wine don't like seeing it clearly stated that it's a bunch of nonsense. Beeblebrox (talk) 04:45, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
That's what makes it so dangerous, it's nonsense disguised as science. —El Millo (talk) 04:49, 19 June 2021 (UTC)
If the only information about a topic comes from within a WP:walled garden of true believers the topic will not be suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. Xxanthippe (talk) 23:10, 19 June 2021 (UTC).
I can think of two reasons. In Medicine, where I work, money is a major factor. The "dietary supplements" industry rakes in several billion dollars a year, but it's pennies on the dollar compared to what gets spent on real medicine, and they know it. But the other factor, I think, is that some forms of pseudoscience are akin to a religious belief for some people (and indeed, there are some new (ie within the past century) religious movements that incorporate pseudoscience. "Toxins" is just the new word for Haram or Traif, "natural" just means the same as Kosher or Halal. Hyperion35 (talk) 15:23, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
For those who have access to Netflix, I recommend a watch of Behind the Curve for an explanation of why flat-earthers believe what they do. Sdrqaz (talk) 01:39, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
Because one set of POV pushers mostly beat the other set. There is a way to cover the topics with more neutrality, as mentioned above like real professional encyclopedias. But as Beeblebrox mentions this one can, for the moment, be edited by anyone. Pros and cons to everything! PackMecEng (talk) 01:43, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
Wikipedia provides an environment where bad reasoning is discouraged. Personal attacks, red herrings, argumentum ad populum, to mention just a few instances, will not work here. (Insofar, it is similar to science, which has high standards for reasoning too, but slightly different ones.) That means that in a discussion between two "sets of POV pushers", the side with the good reasons on their side will beat the bluffing windbags. This is what happened: climatology beats denialism, medicine beats homeopathy, physics beats perpetual motion, evolution beats creation. Of course, the people who are not competent enough to tell good reasoning from bad will only see that one side won, but not be able to make out the pattern. --Hob Gadling (talk) 15:00, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
That is a good theory but I am not so sure that is what really happens in practice. Each side seems themselves as the one true bastion of reason and the other size as crazy POV pushers. As noted above and below our pseudoscience articles tend to go to far in one direction or another pushing them outside neutrality. Your statement sounds alarmingly like you are trying to right great wrongs. I only mention that because I do consider you a close friend on here and just want to help. PackMecEng (talk) 15:26, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
I am not so sure that is what really happens in practice Of course not, because you don't look at the actual reasoning and try to determine whether it is good or bad, using expert knowledge about quality of arguments as well as about the scientific subjects in question. If you did, you would see the difference and be sure that is what really happens in practice.
The right-great-wrongs thing does not make sense. The only wrong I am trying to right is wrong content of articles based on bad sources or original research. That obnoxious one-sided fake friendship thing of yours is also wrong, of course, but I have no way of making that right. --Hob Gadling (talk) 09:50, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Again right great wrong is an editing style. You keep harping on that your arguments are obviously right so we need to stomp down and push the POV way to the other side. So instead of making an encyclopedic article it becomes a pov hit piece. Your view is apparently the exact same as the pov pushers for the other side and just as much of a problem for creating an encyclopedia. Again you are not looking at this objectively with the aim of creating encyclopedic content, rather from a perspective of someone that is fighting the great wrongs of the other side. It's not a sides thing, it is an encyclopedia thing my friend. Fight as you may, we are still buddies though. Don't worry! PackMecEng (talk) 17:22, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Your comments about being friends read like passive aggressive harassment to me. Also, you're grossly mischaracterizing Hob's points. Taking those two facts together, this discussion really strains my ability to AGF here, and I wouldn't be surprised if Hob's ability to do the same was null.
Even if you're being completely sincere, it really doesn't look like you are.
And to be clear: I don't have any issue with you. We can be buddies, if you like (as long as you add a song or two to my little collection). I'm just explaining what I'm seeing here, because I think you might benefit from a third opinion. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:33, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Yeah the friend stuff is a bit of fun since they get so uppity about it. I have no problem with either of you! But I do think they get a little blinded by their opinions of pseudoscience which leads to unencyclopedic editing. It's a distinction that Hob and others truly seem to be missing in this discussion. Yes, by all means describe pseudoscience as what it really is. That does not mean that every other sentence needs to be alone the lines of "and its a terrible such and such". It's repetitive and just bad writing style in general, let alone for an encyclopedia. That is the issue I have with all people that have strong feelings for or against pretty much anything and why WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS fits so well to describe the situation. Heck I remember we had to have a full RFC to remove one sentence out of like 3 or 4 from the lead of a pseudoscience article, not because it was wrong but because it was already said 3 other times in the same section. It's tiring dealing with both sides honestly and that's why people with strong feelings gave up there. PackMecEng (talk) 20:49, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
I've heard a few editors express this sentiment, but I've never seen an example of this in action, except on dangerous medical pseudosciences, where it's absolutely warranted. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:59, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Without an example to point to, I would think it is completely possible to make sure a few running sentences can be worded as clear attributed claims and assertions to the pseudoscience, followed by the necessary rebuttals based on sound science and medicine. I agree in the area of bad medical pseudoscience that there needs to be more "break points" in the narrative of the pseudoscience to call out to why it is wrong/bad/etc, but again, doesn't need to be a per-sentence rebuttal. Should be a thought-by-thought aspect. --Masem (t) 21:43, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
I agree. What I was saying is that I occasionally see it claimed that many of our articles on pseudoscience do stop every other sentence to refute the BS, or that they use intemperate language to do so, but I've never once been shown an example of either.
In my entire Wikicareer, I've seen exactly two examples of skepticism going too far. One was so long ago I can't even remember what it was about, and the other time was when I butted heads with JzG and SlimVirgin about the definition of "conspiracy theory". You can read that whole shebang through several sections here, and you can check the article to see that my preference (to not state that all CSs are categorically false in the lede) won out.
That's the biggest difference I've seen between skeptical editors and fans of pseudoscience; skeptics can and will change their minds, even if things get heated and heels get dug in, so long as the evidence is there. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:19, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Which also brings up a point that likely dominates individual discussions: editors (both new and old) tend to qualify which "category" ("skeptic" vs "fanatic" vs "Anti-pseudoscience") an editor is on simply by which side they argue, which may not always be true, and that itself can cause problems. Arguing for a nuanced approach rather than a hard "refute" mode is not necessarily the sign of a "fanatic", but perhaps an editor seeing to balance what can be said from RSes. Its a good idea to remind all editors that we comment on content, not commentators, and if there is a behavioral issue (a "fanatic" that won't drop the stick, for example) that's where AN/I comes into play. This is probably not as major a factor overall here, but knowing how I see it come up all the time in other discussions related to neutrality on pages where we're talking ideological issues, I'd expect it is a frequent occurrence. --Masem (t) 22:35, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Sometimes we get new users who would be "on the side" of skeptics, but for the fact that they do not behave in the way required of Wikipedians, especially WP:IDHT and WP:NPA. They never stay long because they are even opposed by the people who are against pseudoscience. On the other hand, there are some profringe editors who are able to stay longer because they can stop themselves at the right moment, or are good at Wikilawyering and stay just below the sanctionable limit. They still try to turn articles into fringe propaganda pieces again and again, they whitewash criticism away, you have to explain to them the same basic principles again and again in different Talk pages, and that is a very good reason to categorize them on the dark side - their goal is a different, lower-quality Wikipedia. But usually, bad behaviour, disrespect of rules, and short Wikipedia life closely correlate with a profringe position. In any case, that "simply by which side they argue" thing is not strictly true. --Hob Gadling (talk) 07:52, 22 June 2021 (UTC)

OP, "Most other encyclopedias I've read"... which ones? How many general purpose encyclopedias except for us and Britannica are out there anymore? I mean... Colliers? Funk & Wagnal's? Encarta? I kind of have to question your experience. If you're talking about the many specialized encyclopedias out there, music encyclopedias and biology encyclopedias and comic book encyclopedias, I'm not sure how they relate to what we do... If you're talking about Encarta etc., I mean these articles are like 15 years old at least, so... if you're talking about just Britannica, well, I dunno, who knows why they do what they do. Maybe it's not that we're too hard but that they're too soft. Ask them. Herostratus (talk) 03:03, 20 June 2021 (UTC)

I don't think that most Wikipedia editors hate pseudoscience. I for example think that articles on any pseudoscience should explain that it has no support in science, then explain to readers what it is about in a neutral tone using reliable sources. The tone of many of these articles is preaching, which harms the credibility of what articles say. If I read the Journal of the Plague Year and want to know more about how doctors of the time treated it, I don't need to be reminded every other sentence that their methods were not based on science and didn't work. I'm smart enough to know that modern medicine has improved since the 1600s.
In my experience, the most anti-pseudoscience editors have backgrounds in GMO research, chemicals and agribusiness, since a lot of often unfair criticism comes from pseudoscience. Hence the Genetic Literacy Project ("Science not Ideology"), which has overlapping support with climate science denial websites. Since the runup to the 2016 U.S. election, a lot of these editors have broadened their interests into U.S. politics.
Bear in mind though that since some readers may rely on Wikipedia articles to treat illnesses (even though they shouldn't), we need to take extra care that claims that have no support in science are never given credibility.
TFD (talk) 04:28, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
This right here. Wikipedia definitely should not show any type of legitimacy to pseudoscience, but that doesn't mean we should treat the topics with hostility or contempt in Wikivoice. There are ways to still write neutrally to present what the theory/concept is behind the psci - without necessarily commenting on its bad science - and then going into a breakdown of how its been refuted or the like from appropriate scientific RSes. Instead, we sometimes treat these topics as if they are morally reprehensible in wikivoice, which is a problem. We can stay completely out of giving pseudoscience any weight while staying neutral in tone while writing about them. --Masem (t) 06:07, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
The topics definitely are "morally reprehensible", but I agree that we should not use the encyclopedia's voice to say this. A major problem, as is made clear by comments above, is that pseudoscience supporters regard any information on the ineffectiveness of pseudoscientific medical practices, however well sourced, as attacking and non-neutral.
@Masem: write neutrally to present what the theory/concept is behind the psci - without necessarily commenting on its bad science - and then going into a breakdown of how its been refuted or the like. I thnk this is impossible (or at the least very difficult) to do without violating WP:STRUCTURE, since it will appear as one section for the proponents and one for the opponents, which is explicitly (and rightly) prohibited. You cannot present pseudoscience neutrally without incorporating the evidence that it is not correct. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:31, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
While it is likely impossible to generalize to all cases, I would expect in a reasonable neutral article on psci that the pseudoscience at the basis of the matter would be only a section, elements like its history and impact/reactions/etc. fleshing out the rest of the article. And keeping to the fact that we're sticking to RSes and not to primary works, we would then only briefly summarize enough of the pseudoscience in one shot as to give context to these other sections of the article, and then following that in the same section, the refuting sound science fact that disproves the psci. If for some reason there's many parts of the psci then there it would make sense to present one facet, then the refuting RSes, then another facet and the refuting RSes, and so on. We do not need to set constant flags that the psci topic is false/mistaken/bad (This is what leads to the apparent hostility). We can use wording to be clear anything said about the psci concept is not in Wikivoice and part of what the pseudoscience theory is, and making sure that after brief summaries we're there with the refuting text, its still clear WP is not treating the psci in any way as true. I do agree we do not want one big section that lets the psci topic be introduced without addressing its problems overall, but we also don't need to be at the per-sentence rebuttal level either. Its a tonal balance. --Masem (t) 13:42, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
With medical topics, it doesn't matter how neutrally you phrase "X is unscientific nonsense that has no medical use" (i.e. Homeopathy), you are still going to get supporters and exponents of those things complaining about it. There's simply nothing we can do about that. Black Kite (talk) 14:08, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
I know of hardly any, if any, anti-pseudoscience editors with backgrounds in GMO research and agribusiness. Even if there is "overlapping support" of the Genetic Literacy Project and climate science denial (I haven't seen any evidence), some people are pro-(part of)-science for the wrong reasons. Some people on the political left support climate science mainly from being anti-corporation (Big Oil), which then leads them into denialism with GMOs, which they perceive as benefiting big corporations. The same thing happens at least as much on the right with reversed polarity (especially regarding climate science). Crossroads -talk- 20:43, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
User:Jytdog for one works in biotechnology at a univerity.[21][22] A number of other editors report similar backgrounds on their user pages. Note his edits on Himalayan salt: he added additional cites that health claims are baseless. Himalayan salt is sold in specialty sections of grocery stories are purchased because some chefs recommend it and it has a pleasing pink hue and some people erroneously think it has health benefits. But there's no need to turn this into an article about pseudoscience. (If you are interested, you can read through the edit wars and discussion page.) Some people buy pink lemonade. We don't need paragraphs explaining that it tastes no different from yellow lemonade and has no additional health benefits.
The Genetic Literacy Project was (GLP) founded by Jon Entine who began his pro-GMO advocacy as a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute which advocates climate change denial. I found it ironice that the GLP would accuse anti-GMO activists of denialism and anti-science, comparing them with climate change deniers.
TFD (talk) 21:44, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Given that there are actual RSes that point out that there are claims that pink Himalayan salt provides health benefits (and which go on to say these are hooky), it makes 100% sense to include that those claims exist and then include MEDRS sourcing to refute them. Jytdog (and presumably others) did not pull this nonsense out of thing air to add because they are anti-pseudoscience - there was actual documentable (via RSes) pseudoscience to cover and properly refute. As soon as you point to sources that make the claim that pink lemonade had health benefits over normal lemonade, then the same issue can be raised at that page. --Masem (t) 21:58, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
A broad answer is that since most Wikipedia editors are interested in accruing knowledge, there will be an intense dislike of falsehoods and lies and such. Additionally, pseudoscience generally disrespects and actively opposes values like verifiability, NPOV, accuracy, etc. A more focused answer is that many Wikipedia editors work in scientific fields or in fields that are essentially applied science, like medicine or engineering. So for us, we have experience in decisions based on science and evidence, and in having a responsibility to make those decisions carefully. We're often more aware of the costs of pseudoscience. And finally, I think you also have to take into account that most forms of pseudoscience, at some point or another, wind up involving conspiracy theories against actual scientists and people who work in these fields. My patience for hearing that I gleefully watch people die of cancer because I won't agree to cover Laetrile is so infinitesimal that Planck would have difficulty finding it. Hyperion35 (talk) 15:31, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
I think we are all pretty constant. -Roxy . wooF 15:44, 20 June 2021 (UTC)
To iterate on this point, WP editors should be interested on the how and why a piece of pseudoscience came about and/or why it is maintained despite science and medicine pointing out why it is flawed. e.g. how can people still believe in the Flat Earth theory? We are not going to document, in a great extent, the theory itself, but the reasons why - as documented in our reliable sources - why the theory continues to propagate or the like, and that helps to keep these topics neutral without conceding too much toward inclusion of the pseudosicence. --Masem (t) 21:41, 20 June 2021 (UTC)

Yes. We are biasedEdit

Yes. We are biased.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, once wrote:

"Wikipedia’s policies ... are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.
What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn’t.[23] [24] [25] [26]"

So yes, we are biased.

We are biased towards science and biased against pseudoscience.
We are biased towards astronomy, and biased against astrology.[1]
We are biased towards chemistry, and biased against alchemy.[2]
We are biased towards mathematics, and biased against numerology.[3]
We are biased towards medicine, and biased against homeopathy.[4]
We are biased towards venipuncture, and biased against acupuncture.[5]
We are biased towards solar energy, and biased against esoteric energy.[6]
We are biased towards actual conspiracies and biased against conspiracy theories.[7]
We are biased towards cargo planes, and biased against cargo cults.
We are biased towards vaccination, and biased against vaccine hesitancy.[8]
We are biased towards magnetic resonance imaging, and biased against magnetic therapy.[9]
We are biased towards crops, and biased against crop circles.[10]
We are biased towards laundry detergent, and biased against laundry balls.[11]
We are biased towards augmentative and alternative communication, and biased against facilitated communication.
We are biased towards water treatment, and biased against magnetic water treatment.
We are biased towards mercury in saturated calomel electrodes, and biased against mercury in quack medicines.[12]
We are biased towards blood transfusions, and biased against blood letting.
We are biased towards electromagnetic fields, and biased against microlepton fields.[13]
We are biased towards evolution, and biased against young earth creationism.[14]
We are biased towards holocaust studies, and biased against holocaust denial.[15]
We are biased towards the sociology of race, and biased against scientific racism.[16]
We are biased towards the scientific consensus on climate change, and biased against global warming conspiracy theories.[17]
We are biased towards geology, and biased against flood geology.[18]
We are biased towards medical treatments that have been proven to be effective in double-blind clinical trials, and biased against medical treatments that are based upon preying on the gullible.[19]
We are biased towards astronauts and cosmonauts, and biased against ancient astronauts.[20]
We are biased towards psychology, and biased against phrenology.
We are biased towards Mendelism, and biased against Lysenkoism.

And we are not going to change.


  1. ^ [1] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Astrology". Archive 13, section "Bias against astrology"
  2. ^ [2] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Alchemy". Archive 2, section "naturalistic_bias_in_article"
  3. ^ [3] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Numerology". Archive 1, section "There's_more_work_to_be_done"
  4. ^ [4] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Homeopathy". Archive 60, section "Wikipedia_Bias"
  5. ^ [5] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Acupuncture". Archive 13, section "Strong_Bias_towards_Skeptic_Researchers"
  6. ^ [6] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Energy_(esotericism)". Archive 1, section "Bias"
  7. ^ [7] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Conspiracy_theory". Archive 12, section "Sequence_of_sections_and_bias"
  8. ^ [8] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Vaccine_hesitancy". Archive 5, section "Clearly_a_bias_attack_article"
  9. ^ [9] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Magnet_therapy". Archive 1, section "Contradiction_and_bias"
  10. ^ [10] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Crop_circle". Archive 9, section "Bower_and_Chorley_Bias_Destroyed_by_Mathematician"
  11. ^ [11] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Laundry ball". Archive 17
  12. ^ [12] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Ayurveda". Archive 15, section "Suggestion_to_Shed_Biases"
  13. ^ [13] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Torsion_field_(pseudoscience)". Archive 1, section "stop_f****_supressing_science_with_your_bias_bull****"
  14. ^ [14] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Young_Earth_creationism". Archive 3, section "Biased_Article_(part_2)"
  15. ^ [15] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Holocaust_denial". Archive 12, section "Blatant_bias_on_this_page"
  16. ^ [16] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Scientific_racism". Archive 1, section "THIS_is_propaganda"
  17. ^ [17] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Global_warming_conspiracy_theory". Archive 3, section "Problems_with_the_article"
  18. ^ [18] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Flood_geology". Archive 4, section "Obvious_bias"
  19. ^ [19] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Quackery". Archive 1, section "POV_#2"
  20. ^ [20] Talk page of Wikipedia article "Ancient_astronauts". Archive 4, section "Pseudoscience"

--Guy Macon (talk) 01:38, 21 June 2021 (UTC)

I'm aware of that essay, and I've even made a minor contribution to it. I'm mainly wondering why the editors are sometimes impolite regarding pseudoscience. Félix An (talk) 13:41, 28 June 2021 (UTC)
Because the editors trying to whitewash pseudoscientists and promote pseudoscience are frustrating otherwise patient users trying to maintain a neutral tone. I literally see multiple talk page posts each day that fall into the following categories:
  • "Edit Request: take the words "pseudoscience" out of this article because I know it's real."
  • "Wikipedia is a liberal/skeptical/atheist cesspool and it sucks and nobody believes it.
  • "Please look at this geocities blog that confirms that [pseudoscience] is not pseudoscience, but very real."
Almost all of them get reasonable responses from the regulars, but about 1/2 of those responses result in the (almost inevitably) brand-new editor going on a tear about how stupid, biased, ignorant and stupid (and did I mention stupid?) we are for not doing what they want. Of the remainder, about 1 in 10 results in the new editor trying everything they can to get the editors that answered them blocked.
On top of that, every once in a blue moon, we get an experienced editor show up who will inevitably hurl aspersions at every regular watcher of that page, make dire threats about getting us sanctioned, go on and on about how we're ruining Wikipedia, and eventually end up ranting and raving about how Wikipedia is a cesspit.
So yeah, it's a little tiring to work on pseudoscience-related articles. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:48, 28 June 2021 (UTC)

I’d be interested in seeing the reasoning behind the OP’s conclusion that Wikipedia editors dislike pseudoscience. Brunton (talk) 08:14, 21 June 2021 (UTC)

Well said User:Guy Macon, not all heroes wear capes. HighInBC Need help? Just ask. 08:19, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Guy Macon, that response is brilliant. I might steal that for a subpage of my profile! doktorb wordsdeeds 09:09, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
It already is Guy's subpage: User:Guy Macon/Yes. We are biased., with three WP shortcuts and the redirect Wikipedia:All your bias are belong to us. --Hob Gadling (talk) 09:58, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Furthermore, I released it under CC0 instead of CC BY-SA 3.0 specifically so that anyone can use it as if they thought of it themselves without attributing it to me. Information wants to be free. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:34, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
It's not a question of hatred but of describing topics with accuracy in mind, aiming for a good encyclopedia. Describing science and its methods properly would be unrealistic here but scientific method and epistemology may help. Science aims to be universal as well as to test its tenets, correct them and revise its knowledge and textbooks. This allowed it to gain a certain reputation and led to advances in technology, medicine, etc. Conversely there are belief systems that when contradicted by evidence or confronted for the lack of evidence to support them, can come up with science-like apologetics or already were based on science-like, but discredited methods or untestable tenets (in some cases, prescience, protoscience). The demarcation line can be difficult to draw in some cases but is also often obvious. In the latter case, critical sources usually are easy to find and it's part of a respectable encyclopedia's role to educate. This may also avoid unnecessary harm that can result from dangerous practices or the failure to recognize them as lacking evidence, especially if it also leads to the avoidance of more reliable or safer solutions that exist (medicine comes to mind). It is also common for pseudoscientific arguments to be used in attempt to justify ideologies of all types, including some that are divisive or harmful to education, peace, the environment, etc. The last two points touch ethics, possibly partly answering the part about morality. Some argue that ethics should be outside of science, but it certainly can be informed by science and is unavoidable as part of its process. Many universities have good introductions to the scientific method and pseudoscience on their sites. —PaleoNeonate – 17:03, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Are you kiddin me? I LOVE pseudoscience! It's one of my favorite things, alongside conspiracy theories. The way adherents create their own little worlds, the amusing stupidity on display by some of the more vocal and less-well-educated believers, the narratives of Fighting For The Truth™... It's fascinating stuff. And each one has a puzzle in terms of discovering how and why it's flawed, or occasionally, even if it's flawed. Pseudoscience is awesome and I love it.
I just wish people knew better than to believe it. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:38, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
That's basically the whole point of our systematic bias, which is a combination of external and internal factors, most that we cannot resolve since it all stems from sourcing. All we can do is recognize that we do have this bias and that should be of concern when we are looking to points of tone and neutral writing style, not necessarily content, on these topics. We can maintain an impartial, dispassionate voice in writing about psuedoscience while still treating them with the implicit bias of underlying sourcing that these are "wrong" and reflect bad science or poor critical thinking. It is just often difficult to do when we have the supporters and avid followers of that psci areas wanting better promotion of that (eg the recent mess on the Wuhan lab leak stuff). --Masem (t) 17:43, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
I think it's pretty obvious that competent Wikipedia editors should hate pseudoscience - it denies the basic concept of an encyclopedia based on accepted, confirmed knowledge. Having said that I think that there are editors who convert that hatred into unencyclopedic, non-factual activity. As one example from many years ago I remember editing an article about a homeopathic society that was established well before homeopathy had been debunked, and others insisted on it containing a long screed about how homeopathy is now considered pseudoscience (as it is) rather than consisting of content about the history of the society, to the extent that more of the article consisted of the former rather than the latter. Of course such content belongs in our article on homeopathy, which was linked, but we don't need to reproduce it everywhere as if this was an encyclopedia for small children who are incapable of recognising bunkum when they see it. Phil Bridger (talk) 20:11, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
There's a point where someone can treat science as a religion. The role of science is to find theories than can predict future events rather than a search for absolute truth. In that sense they are turning science into a religion. I don't hate Babylonian astrologists or shamans. I just think they tried to interpret the world and were wrong. People who look for wisdom in their teachings are misguided. I think articles should say that without preaching, which is more typically associated with religion and belief systems than objective science. TFD (talk) 20:43, 21 June 2021 (UTC)

Pseudoscience is a species of cultural pathology and is as worthy of study as any other pathology is. Xxanthippe (talk) 23:16, 21 June 2021 (UTC).

Why do Wikipedia editors like the word pseudoscience so much?Edit

I think a legitimate question is: Why do Wikipedia editors like labeling things as "pseudoscience" so much. Outside our Wikipedia bubble it's not that common of a word, but we so often use it in the first sentence of an article. Like, "So and so is the pseudoscientific practice of blah blah blah." (My spellchecker (Firefox) is underlining the word pseudoscientific.) Really we should be defining the subject before going off on its pseudoscientificness.

Here's a current example from an article:

Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects.[1][2][3][4]

That might be better written as:

Astrology is the practice of attempting to forecast information about human affairs and earthly events by studying the movements and positions of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets.

That's more fair to its long history as a protoscience. (I'm not an expert on the topic, but I assume that many early astronomers were astrologers, as many early chemists were alchemists.) And the 2nd paragraph makes it clear that modern astrology has no basis in science. (Though if we took the word "pseudoscience" out of the first sentence we should put something in the 1st paragraph the way Brittanica does when it says Astrology is "diametrically opposed to the findings and theories of modern Western science."

I suspect part of pseudoscience's ubiquity here stems from constant fighting over categorization of certain articles, and the title of Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Pseudoscience. But in the majority of cases I think it would be more clear to our readers if we used plain language like "So and so is not supported by science" or "So and so contradicts many scientific principles" or "So and so contradicts many scientific principles" instead of "So and so is pseudoscience." ~Awilley (talk) 00:14, 22 June 2021 (UTC)

Pseudoscience is easy to identify. A topic in mainstream science will be extensively cited in the science citation databases, all of which deal only with reliable sources. If the topic is not in those it is outside the mainstream and likely to be pseudoscience. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:21, 22 June 2021 (UTC),
Definitely a non-sequitur, but I'll reply. It certainly would be convenient if we had a canon of scientific knowledge. But reality isn't as tidy as you describe. There's plenty of undiscovered truth that hasn't yet found its way into the scientific literature, and plenty of what was once considered common knowledge that has since been overturned. As Carl Sagan said, "Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking." ~Awilley (talk) 01:30, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
I am talking about what is in the current mainstream. If somebody has their own little nugget of undiscovered truth then it is up to them to get it into the mainstream by means of scholarship and research that is accepted by the scientific community. Until then, Wikipedia will regard it as fringe. Xxanthippe (talk) 02:35, 22 June 2021 (UTC).
That's because astrology is pseudoscience, and utter horseshit. That is the current status of astrology, and our article needs to reflect that. You can, after making it clear to the reader that this is considered nonsense by anyone with half a brain, discuss the history of astrology and the like. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 11:07, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
Astrology is nonscience. Astrology makes no scientific claims whatever. By the way, it isn't Wikipedia's job to "make it clear to the reader" what is or isn't "considered nonsense by anyone with half a brain." If that were the case, all of our Christianity articles would say that the belief that a human was resurrected from death after being in the earth three days, then physically floated up into the sky where he's still up there hanging out with angels and saints, AND that everyone who doesn't believe this is going to be tormented in a lake of fire for eternity is considered nonsense to anyone with half a brain. And has caused a HELL (pun intended) of a lot more real world damage than people believing that what time of the year your birthday happens to be might influence your personality (not at all far fetched - there are social implications of this that share common patterns). Of course, we all know that that would not be allowed to stand for more than about two seconds. (maybe that's one of the reasons for all you zealots' crusading against "easy targets" - new age and anything that comes from dark-skinned or squinty-eyed populations - frustration that you can't target western religion, because that's off limits?). Firejuggler86 (talk) 16:12, 17 July 2021 (UTC)
While I'm no fan of pseudoscience, I would say that awilley has a point. It seems that our internal lingua of marking things as "pseudo science" has crept into the lead of lots of articles.. I do think that that is problematic. Many in the general public have never heard of the term pseudo science I presume and they would never qualify things organically as such. This means that the term probably isn't good for the first sentence/lead of an article. Descriptors like "a custom", "a practice" , "a religion" or "a speculation/theory" seem much better to me. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 11:53, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
@Xxanthippe, I find that pseudoscience is not always easy to identify. More specifically, I find that some reliable sources use 'pseudoscience' as a kind of general insult for anything they disagree with, without using the word precisely and correctly. It's easy to find sources, for example, that say economics is a pseudoscience. Or religion. The main problem with calling everything a pseudoscience is not that you can't find some source, somewhere, to back it up, but that it's usually WP:UNDUE outside of things like homeopathy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:46, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
And how do you identify which things are "like homeopathy"? Is it easier than identifying pseudoscience? There is no problem with having terms the applicability of which is difficult to decide; there is no restriction saying that everything needs to be easy.
You seem to have your own definition of pseudoscience which is different from that of reliable sources. You are second-guessing reliable sources here: some reliable sources use 'pseudoscience' as a kind of general insult for anything they disagree with. Of course, you are free to do that, but your opinion cannot be used as a foundation for policy. If you think a reliable souce is not as reliable as others believe, you know which Wikipedia page to go to to have it pegged down. --Hob Gadling (talk) 06:20, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
By "things like homeopathy", I refer to subjects about which many reliable sources say that the subject is pseudoscience, or they provide a description of the subject that is sufficiently similar to the first sentence of our article on Pseudoscience ("statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method") that it is no stretch at all to use the term.
One can find the occasional claim that art history is pseudoscience, that economics is pseudoscience, that religion is pseudoscience, but these sources form a tiny minority. We do not need to have these sources rejected as unreliable to note that their views are undue, and contradicted by others.
My own views appear to align with reliable sources such as
As is surely obvious, "pseudoscience" is a term of abuse, an epithet attached to certain points of view to discredit those ideas, complemented by "pseudoscientist" to designate the practitioner. ... On the imagined scale that has excellent science at one end and then slides through good science, mediocre science (the vast majority of what is done), poor science, to bad science on the other end, it is not the case that pseudoscience lies somewhere on this continuum.  It is off the grid altogether. The process of demarcating science from non-science is a central and quite general aspect of all scientific activities, but pseudoscience attracts particular vehemence as compared to, say, non-science.  Scientists rarely spend much energy arguing that the Catholic Church or Vietnamese literature is pseudoscience; they are just not science—and devotees of those domains are quite happy with that designation. Pseudoscience is different.  This is a combative notion deployed to categorize (and, its users hope, weaken or eliminate) doctrines that are non-science but pretend to be… WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:35, 24 June 2021 (UTC)
non-science but pretend to be... is the defining factor. Non-science that does not pretend (claim) to be science is not pseudoscience. It fails the definitive test. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:24, 24 June 2021 (UTC)
  • In answer to the original question of this section, I think in some cases it may be intellectual laziness or the inability to effectively argue the point without resorting to simplistic labelling. I may be wrong, but that is an impression I get. There are cases where the term is quite appropriate, but it does appear to be overused, and sometimes applied like a blunt instrument. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:38, 24 June 2021 (UTC)

I also agree with many things User:Awilley is saying, including having a point in overusing the label of pseudoscience, and as Firejuggler86 says, Astrology for example is a nonscience-- so there is no need to label as pseudoscience something that is clearly distinct from science. Just like religions are. And Wikipedia is at its best by describing religions without constantly labelling them as something scientifically unproven. User:WhatamIdoing also is persuasive in that the label of pseudoscience is an amorphous and biased label. I think we should find a better way to describe topics, especially non-western cultures/traditions, without being derisive. Al83tito (talk) 07:23, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

Al83tito Astrology for example is a nonscience-- so there is no need to label as pseudoscience
The very article you link to contains several citations to reliable sources that label it as pseudoscience. We do rely on reliable sources for selecting what to say and what not.
There may be reliable sources that call astrology a "nonscience", and/or deny that it is pseudoscience. Can you cite them? (Please keep WP:BURDEN in mind.) Paradoctor (talk) 18:28, 24 July 2021 (UTC)
Two points:
  • In a typical ontology, all pseudoscience is a subcategory of non-science. (Bad science is still part of science, but 'pretend science' is part of the 'all the things that aren't science' category.)
  • It may be too simplistic to describe astrology as only being a pseudoscience. I expect that Western authors have spent more effort over the centuries condemning it as sinful than as pseudoscientific.
WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:03, 24 July 2021 (UTC)
I have no problem with astrology being both. It is Al83tito who wants to avoid the pseudoscience label on the grounds that the nonscience label applies.
More to the point: We go by what the sources say. It's that simple. There is really nothing to discuss. Paradoctor (talk) 22:46, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

Yes, this answer is inefficientEdit

The article on Feng-shui is far from a flat, historical and scientific study of the phenomenon, across countries and centuries. Rather, it gives the impression of a leaflet writen by a preacher deprived of some market share by another preacher. Geomancy has been used to build cities, palaces and tombs. But the good preacher doesn't care. His target is the cheap house decorating pendants sold by the bad preacher around the corner. In the CJK world, geomancy has been criticized from ages, as can be seen in the Dream of the Red Chamber, and so many other sources. But the good preacher doesn't care. His pet books, writen here and now by his pet preachers, are circumscribing his horizon. Across the centuries, a lot of social unrest has arisen around the motto "powerful people are monopolizing favorable places". This is not even alluded to. And now, the most important question: why are there people who are not convinced by the argument: "pray with us, or be branded as a laundry ball advertizer" ? Pldx1 (talk) 15:30, 21 June 2021 (UTC)

No. We are not going to treat on Feng-shui as if it is anything other than complete bullshit. And we already do a great job of discribing the history of Feng-shui. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:42, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
I recommend WP:FIXBIAS and to post suggested changes at the article's talk page instead of here, —PaleoNeonate – 01:26, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
Dear User: PaleoNeonate. My previous post was not about the Feng-shui article, but about the "ineffectiveness" of preaching against Feng-shui. To be proud of being biased is ridiculous, and rather counterproductive. Once again, many cities, palaces and tombs were planned and built using Feng-shui. The existence of Beijing, Xi'an, etc. is a rather massive fact, and deserves scientific and respectful studies. Even including the fact that Feng-shui did not prevent the Summer Palace from being ransacked by the opium soldiers. Shouting "bullshit" ... and rearranging other people's posts won't change the story. Pldx1 (talk) 08:17, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
@Guy Macon, you know how to make stuff don't you? @Pldx1's mention of laundry balls reminded me that it's summer, and the world still doesn't have a machine that will get fine sand out of swimsuit fabric. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:26, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
We already know how to do that. Let it dry, suck up the sand with a shop vac (I recommend Ridgid[27]), and follow up with a trip through a standard washing machine. --Guy Macon (talk) 01:50, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. I can give it a try. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:41, 24 June 2021 (UTC)

pseudoscience vs religious beliefEdit

  • I would like to ask people to examine how we write articles on pseudoscientific beliefs and compare that to how we write articles on religious beliefs.
In articles about religious beliefs (even fairly fringe beliefs), we tend go out of our way to be respectful to believers. We are able to neutrally describe the belief as being a belief - without feeling a need to editorialize and caution the reader by noting that non-believers find that belief utterly ridiculous.
This isn’t how we write articles about pseudoscientific beliefs. With pseudoscientific beliefs we sometimes go out of our way to note that non-believers find it ridiculous.
My question is - why? Why don’t we write articles about pseudoscientific beliefs using the same neutral tone and language that we use when we write about religious beliefs? Blueboar (talk) 12:22, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
@Blueboar: the problem is repeatedly that what appears to be a neutral tone to one editor/reader does not to another. I think that the articles on Christian Science and Traditional Chinese medicine are neutral – too neutral in places in my view – but I suspect that believers in either would take a different view. Certainly it has been a constant battle to get any criticism into some of the articles on traditional Indian medical systems, and believers are constantly adding bits to articles about plants used in these systems that violate WP:MEDRS and have to be removed. So the key question is "who defines neutral"? Peter coxhead (talk) 12:39, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
At Wikipedia:All your bias are belong to us I have, with the invaluable help of the Wikipedia community, documented places where wikipedia has been accused of being biased against holocaust denial, acupuncture. laundry balls, creationism, conspiracy theories, etc. It is fascinating how few items on my list have not generated such complaints. Note that the complaints have resulted in a more favorable treatment of the subject exactly zero times.
As it says on that page, saying that "Wikipedia is biased" or that "Wikipedia fails to follow its own neutral point of view rules" is not a set of magic words that will cause Wikipedia to accept your favorite conspiracy theory, urban myth, pseudoscience, alternative medicine or fringe theory. --Guy Macon (talk) 13:58, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
"we tend go out of our way to be respectful to believers", not really. We make things clear that religious beliefs are religious beliefs. When religious beliefs overlap with the real world, and are held in spite of evidence, we call them out as such, like faith healing. Or when Mormons claim that Native Americans are descendants of a lost tribe of Isreal, we also clearly label it as not accepted by anyone that knows anything about archeology/genetics. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 23:13, 22 June 2021 (UTC)
But we don't say that the Mormon religious beliefs are pseudoscientific. We say that there's no scientific evidence, which is a more normal/less fight-y way to disagree. We don't try to slap derogatory labels on their religious stories. The same is true for origin stories when we're writing about Native American people. We may say that the traditional belief is that the tribe originated in this or that way, and that genetic research indicates this or that instead, but we don't say that these are pseudoscientific beliefs. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:33, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
Pseudoscience is just one type of non-science and the term should be restricted to examples that fit the definition. Religion is usually not pseudoscience. One of the characteristics of pseudoscience is that it is claimed to be science, but is not. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 12:13, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
Yes indeed. And this is the reason why starting the said article with the assertion Feng shui, 風水, is a traditional pseudoscientific practice [1] [2] [3] originating in ancient China is as misleading as possible. Traditional practice, at least according to Wikipedia, began around 4000 before our era, that is to say a few millennia before Matthew [2-3] started to preach. It was not only well before the emergence of the concept of science but, on the contrary, this protoscience, that is, all these attempts to collect and organize facts and interpretations, formed the path which has led to science and technology today. Extracting the metal from an ore leaves out some slag. But describing cartography, astronomy, compass etc. as only bullshit, seems to be the biggest bullshit ever. Pldx1 (talk) 14:19, 23 June 2021 (UTC)
A simple test for pseudoscience could be: do the practitioners claim that the practice is based on scientific principles, or that their claims have been tested following scientific methodology? If they make such claims, and they can be shown to be invalid, then it is pseudoscience. If they make no such claims then it is another form of non-science. (feel free to test this hypothesis). Mislabelling other forms of non-science as pseudoscience is a disservice to our readers. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:07, 24 June 2021 (UTC)
@Pbsouthwood, looking at Talk:Feng shui#"Pseudoscience" and the rest of the talk page, I don't get the impression that editors care whether they are using the word precisely, so long as they can use this derogatory word. The first source cited in Feng shui is titled "Superstition and the Chinese Real Estate Market", and its main point is to say that superstitions related to feng shui have a significant effect on real-world prices, but we're not citing it to say that it's a superstition or that it affects real estate value; we're citing it to say that it's a pseudoscience. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:30, 24 June 2021 (UTC)
Using an inappropriate term to label something with the intention to give the readers an inaccurate impression is extremely undesirable and fails neutrality. It is unfortunately a common tactic of fallacious argument, and many of the perpetrators may not even realise what they are doing, Competence is required, but not always evident.
I have not looked into feng shui, so I don't know if the practitioners make any claims that can be used to justify labelling it as pseudoscience. I accept that it is not science, but who claims that it is? Cheers, · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 07:22, 25 June 2021 (UTC)
You don't understand; Abrahamic religions are the only legitimate religions and deserve to be treated with respect because Europe, being primarily Christian, is the most important continent in the world. Christianity deserves the most respect, then the rest of the Abrahamic religions, then the rest of the world religions. If Chinese people make a claim about the functioning of the world not testable by science, that's pseudoscience. But if a Christian person makes the claim that it's possible to turn wine into the literal blood of Jesus, well that's a religious belief that we need to respect. There is no room for us to respect all world beliefs by instituting a Wiki wide standard that for something to be considered pseudoscience, it must claim to be science and not actually be scientific. It doesn't matter what so-called "reliable sources" say about the definition of pseudoscience. What matters is that we can call beliefs held by uncivilized Chinese or Indian people "pseudoscience" and that we call beliefs held by civilized peoples "religion". Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 21:49, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
But we don't say that the Mormon religious beliefs are pseudoscientific. We call creation science a pseudoscience. I'm not sure what our main article about Mormon beliefs about Native Americans is, but I'm of the opinion that if it's not referred to as "pseudohistory", and any lines of evidence touted by Mormons as confirming it labelled "pseudoscience", then it's not neutral enough.
Religious convictions are not the same thing as pseudoscientific beliefs, and should not be treated the same way. This is why I'm okay with not defining the broader belief of creationism as a pseudoscience. But pseudoscience which is based on religious convictions should not have any special privilege in relation to pseudoscience stemming from secular beliefs. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:01, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Assimilating the whole Feng-shui topic, across countries and millenia, to a pseudo-science is just another religious belief, as unfounded as to affirm the Real Presence of Christ in what president Biden ingests every week. But why people so proud of being biased would care? To say the least, it seems rather ludicrous to criticize people of the past ages for not using what took millennia to emerge from their attempts to record, classify, and tentatively extract some general rules. This amounts to require people from the past to not discover the compass until the full emergence of Maxwell's theories. This amounts to require people from the past to not wonder where to put their dwellings. Probably, they should have waited a few millennia under rain or frost and then enlist the services of a modern architect. Maybe one from Florida and/or from Fukushima? Such an attitude is ignorant of the process which led from protosciences to modern sciences. To quote the famous [2-3]
    The legitimate, sure and fruitful method to prepare a student to receive a physical hypothesis is the historical method. To trace the transformations through which the empirical material accumulated while the theoretical form was first sketched out; describe the long collaboration by means of which common sense and deductive logic have analyzed this material and molded this form until one is exactly adapted to the other: this is the best way, surely even the only one , to give those who study physics a fair and clear vision of the very complex and living organization of this science (Duhem 1954, p. 268) .
In other words, metal mining should not start by discarding the ore as an impure and shameful substance. But why people so proud of being biased would care? Pldx1 (talk) 12:15, 25 June 2021 (UTC)
Obviously, Feng-shui became a pseudoscience only after the considerable success of modern science. Beforehand, it was just a traditional practice, not a pseudoscience. It is pseudoscience now. tgeorgescu (talk) 06:45, 28 June 2021 (UTC)
  • It's fine to call pseudohistory, pseudoarchaeology and mythology, respectively, what they are, including in relation to religion. Origin myth and flood geology, for instance. —PaleoNeonate – 13:27, 25 June 2021 (UTC)

Clarifying my questionEdit

I think that pseudoscience should still be opposed. The thing is that I think some skeptics are impatient (for lack of a better word) with editors who promote pseudoscience. I think those people are people too, and we should more respectfully let them learn from their mistakes. Félix An (talk) 13:45, 28 June 2021 (UTC)

The battleEdit

I've seen out of line nastiness on both sides. A part comes from wiggle room in the meaning(s) of the term. The core meaning is something that claims to be science but isn't. And so the main meaning is "falsely claiming to be science" which makes it a PEJORATIVE. But there is enough wiggle room in the term to allow people who are on the warpath against belief systems that aren't science-based to let them (try) to apply that PEJORATIVE to bash the target of their choice, even where the belief makes no claim to be scientific. I'm a very skeptical, very scientific atheist and so I am surrounded by belief-based stuff that I consider to be baseless at best. And though I always nicely call "baseless" or BS on those when I hear them (except I don't touch religion) I feel no need to bash those things. And in Wikipedia, that includes not stretching the use of the pseudoscience term to apply it to beliefs that do not generally claim to be based on science. Plus one solution to many eternal wiki-battles is that our mission is to be informative. Wikilawyered-in value-laden words are generally not informative. There are always better, more informative words to use than value-laden words.

The other side of the wiki-battle is to prevent things going in appearing as fact or scientific that aren't. And until we evolve policies and guidelines to reduce that, wikilawyering can get that type of stuff in. Which, of course, certainly raises the blood pressure of the people trying to keep that out. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 22:21, 2 July 2021 (UTC)

@North8000, I ran across this on the definition of Pseudoscience when an editor questioned whether the term is actually derogatory, and it lines up with your thinking: "definitions of pseudoscience range widely among authorities depending on their personal criteria for an acceptable scientific method, and the only consistently clear quality of pseudoscience is that the term is derogatory".[28]
That said, I don't object to using value-laden words in articles – if they're DUE. What we shouldn't be doing is saying "All the serious sources say this is <your choice: religious, paranormal, superstition, performance art, fraud, whatever>, but I found one guy who says it's pseudoscience, so the article needs to start off by saying it's pseudoscience". The same principle applies for all value-laden terms (including the reverse: if most sources say it's pseudoscience, then that's what we say, even if you find one guy claiming that it's not). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:57, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing:I was wrong in calling it (flatly) value-laden. If it's something that clearly claims to be science but isn't, then that falls within the core definition of the term and then the term is informative / providing information. And in the example you gave, where sources overall strongly call it that, then certainly it should be used. But I happened to drop into the article which is more typical of the endless battles on certain types of articles. Basically trying to wikilawyer it in as a "bash" based on 1 or 2 biased (= unreliable) "WP:RS" opponents. North8000 (talk) 18:16, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
I think it's always value-laden. The value it's laden with is that science is good and lying is bad. Words can be objective and still laden with human values. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:26, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: I don't see how lying relates to this in general. The most common situation is a sincere belief that has no scientific basis. E.G most religion. Then there are people who sincerely believe that there is science supporting that belief. My sister who mistakenly believes that there is a scientific basis for astrology is an example of that. They don't understand what science is. Probably the most extreme is snake-oil stuff where they know that their claim is baseless, and they know that their claim of it being science-based is false. IMO this is the rare case of being outright lying.North8000 (talk) 04:59, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
Intentional fraud and quackery are not uncommon in the 'product' range.
Your definition ("belief that has no scientific basis") is not pseudoscience. To be pseudoscience, you'd have to claim that your sincere belief was actually scientific. The guy who claimed that his car never needed gasoline is pseudoscience. The person who says they feel better when they look at a beautiful piece of artwork, or when they engage in a religious ritual, or when they wear red clothes, may have a sincere belief that has no scientific basis, but they're not claiming that their belief is based on science. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:44, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
Part of the problem here seems to be the use of the weasel word "is claimed to" (by who?) in the definition of pseudoscience. The same underlying belief (feng shui, say) may be promulgated by some people without claiming it is science, but by others who represent that it is. So people eager to claim that things "are" pseudoscience can dig up sources where people present it as science, and people eager to claim the opposite can dig up sources where people are not presenting it as such.... CapitalSasha ~ talk 16:56, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
Good point. IMO if the claim isn't widespread amongst proponents, then IMO the pseudoscience term is not informative and IMO should be left out.
@WhatamIdoing: I agree 100%. For my example which you were discussing, I was not saying that it is pseudoscience and agree with you that it isn't. We may have been involved on the same one. I briefly visited Feng shui. But an editor was unleashing a continuous barrage of false accusations of wiki-violations at everyone wh disagreed with them. My choices were endure it, take them to ANI or leave, and I chose leave. North8000 (talk) 23:28, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
As did I. Some editors are pushing their version of the truth in a very agressive way. The problem of that is that it makes other, well-intentioned editors to leave this project. As such, it causes Wikipedia to be more partisan, which is a bad thing for an encyclopedia. That is worrisome. Secondly, on the Feng Shui-article: the version we had five years ago was more neutral, only with an elegant judgement at the end of the lead:

Modern reactions to feng shui are mixed. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience states that some principles of feng shui are "quite rational", while noting that "folk remedies and superstitions... [have been] incorporated into feng shui's eclectic mix".

That invites so much more to read the rest of the article, as opposed to say "this whole concept is a bunch of lies" in the first sentence. After all, why would anyone read it further if it is a bunch of bullcr*p anyway? And finally, please take a look how the Brittanica discusses homeopathy. I think Wikipedia can learn from that.Jeff5102 (talk) 09:20, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
I prefer our approach to homeopathy. Brittanica is trending towards Lying by omission – everything they say is true, but some very important things they don't say are also true. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:18, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
My experience and opinions on the matter are a close match to what North8000 describes above. Any attempts to question the evidence are labelled as original research and attempts to undermine a reliable source, and any attempts to question the logic of these claims is labelled as off topic, disruptive, or personal, rinse and repeat. Cheers, · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:23, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

A proposal (pseudoscience)Edit

So... pseudoscience is a term that sparks passionate opinions. Proof of that is that even though this wasn't started as a policy proposal, we all jumped to discuss the matter here.

This is how I see it: 

  • Some wikipedians find it very important that claims of science that are actually unfounded, be clearly labelled as such in the articles.
  • Some wikipedians find the use of the term "pseudoscience" an often derogatory term that should be used much more sparingly.

No one objects to calling something being "scientifically unproven" or there being "no scientific evidence" for it.

It seems to be that those terms could replace the term of "pseudoscience"; it would achieve the goals of the first group, while also achieving greater neutrality in the tone and precision in the language, as seen by the second group.

And, the term pseudoscience could still be used, when an article is tested against this question (as proposed above): do the practitioners claim that the practice is based on scientific principles, or that their claims have been tested following scientific methodology?

Could this be a reasonable proposal for all? In my view this would be a great way to build consensus around this matter in our community. Thank you. Al83tito (talk) 07:52, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

Corrected the header. It is not "the" proposal, just "a" proposal.
(I was not aware that this was still going on. Just read all the contributions since my last one.)
I suggest that we continue as before instead:
  1. If high-quality reliable sources call it "pseudoscience", Wikipedia does.
  2. For that matter, if high-quality reliable sources call it "schnorglebompff" instead, Wikipedia does.
  3. If high-quality reliable sources are divided on the matter, some saying it is pseudoscience and some saying it is not pseudoscience, Wikipedia says they are divided.
  4. If some high-quality reliable sources say it is pseudoscience and some do not, that is actually the same as case 1.
Your proposal suggests we should second-guess the reliable sources and avoid a term they use, because some of us do not like it, and on top of that, that we do WP:OR to use it when we do like it. We shouldn't do that, and it should be obvious that we shouldn't. --Hob Gadling (talk) 08:41, 24 July 2021 (UTC)
I agree with the foundational principle that we ought to base wikipedia on what the authoritative sources say, instead of our personal beliefs.
There are some (surmountable, with good will and intellectual humility) challenges to the practical application of this principle.
  • It is entirely possible that a good number authoritative sources don't use the pseudoscience term, but it easy for the lack of use of the term in some sources to go unnoticed, and for the sources that do use the term to be very noticed. (and the scientifically-proven selection bias can be a factor impacting the source selection by editors)
  • Also, some judgement calls can be too quickly discredited with an argument of no original research, but all wikipedia articles require of judgement/editorial calls.
  • The most basic is that we are supposed to summarize from multiple sources into our own words- that requires of an intellectual effort that is not necessarily original research. I suspect that there will be an array of reliable sources that talk about the unreliability of astrology (for the record, I don't have any interest in astrology); some may say that that "there is no evidence" that it is accurate, and other sources may call it a "pseudoscience". So it is still the call of the editors to take the overall consensus of the scientific literature, with different sources using different wording, and summarize it in our own words. In those instances I think it valid to have a conversation along the lines I was suggesting above, to discuss about wording that we would all believe to accurately portray the scientific consensus, while being seen as neutral by the greatest number of editors.
  • Another is how much weight different aspects of a topic are given. So it is not just about whether astrology is described as a pseudoscience, but where and how prominently in the article it is mentioned. The weight that something is given can carry its own bias, even if there are valid underlying sources. Having a reasoned deliberation on how prominently to talk about astrology as pseudoscience, is very much a subjective decision that does need of thoughtful conversations in good will. There is risk of bias in either direction: in underplaying something, and also in overemphasizing it.
    • For example, in a maybe parallel discussion going on now in the Idea lab ( Should slave ownership be mentioned in the first sentence of articles about slave owners?) some of us were suggesting that the lead paragraph should focus on what about the person makes that person notable: if they were notable for being owners of enslaved people, then that belongs in the top paragraph. If they were notable for another reason, and they also happened to be owners of enslaved people, that information still belongs in the article, but not in the top paragraph.
Thank you. Al83tito (talk) 12:42, 24 July 2021 (UTC)
I like your last point a lot -- if something is notable primarily as a pseudoscience, then it can be called that in the lead sentence, but if it straddles the line between pseudoscience and, say, traditional or religious belief, and the pseudoscientific aspect isn't the primary part (e.g. some kind of religious belief system that has attracted pseudoscientific justifications that then become part of the system itself, but don't make up its primary substance) then the pseudoscience part should be later in the article. CapitalSasha ~ talk 02:44, 25 July 2021 (UTC)
There are some (surmountable, with good will and intellectual humility) challenges to the practical application of this principle You seem to be saying that your challenge against my reasoning is "surmountable, with good will and intellectual humility". I guess this is just an accident.
  • So, there may be selection bias for sources which use the term. So what? There may also be selection bias in the other direction.
  • Same with judgement calls. All you are saying here can be added, with equal justification, on both scales and is therefore devoid of power.
There is nothing wrong with weighing the sources: if every source we can find says "this is pseudoscience", we repeat it a few times. If half the sources mention the term and the other half doesn't, we say that depending on which aspect the sources want to focus on, they call it "pseudoscience" or "myth" (or whatever they do call it). If there is only one source calling it "pseudoscience", we name the source: "X calls it pseudoscience".
It is like Blind men and an elephant: if pseudoscience is the trunk, religion is the tail, myth is the ears, interest groups are the tusks, worldview is the legs, and politics is the belly, those who want to eliminate the word "pseudoscience" are demanding that we should not mention the trunk when describing the elephant.
Since the beginning of Wikipedia, that word, and every other word with a negative flavor, as a description of fringe ideas has been the target of proponents of those fringe ideas as well as of dogmatic fence-sitters who reject any categorizing of beliefs by credibility (to pick one representative subgroup of that group: postmodern sociologists), and by people who see a little merit in what the first two groups say. This is just the newest round of that conflict. --Hob Gadling (talk) 17:46, 25 July 2021 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling: if my words have offended you, I am sorry, it was not my intention. I come at this with as much good will and neutrality as I can. I meant my words with sincerity and not as an underhanded jab at you or anyone. Al83tito (talk) 08:23, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
Offended is the wrong word. It is just that I have heard pretty much this same thing every week for fifteen years on some Talk page or other. --Hob Gadling (talk) 13:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
On the original proposal: "No scientific evidence" is not an adequate substitute for "pseudoscience". There is no scientific evidence for many things, and yet they are not pseudoscientific.
On the numbered list's point 4 ("If some high-quality reliable sources say it is pseudoscience and some do not, that is actually the same as case 1"): I'm not sure exactly what this means. For example:
  • "If some sources say homeopathy is pseudoscience, and others don't mention any sort of science or efficacy at all, and instead only talk about the business and marketing aspects of the industry, then..."
  • "If some sources say homeopathy is pseudoscience, and others say that it is best classified as a traditional European treatment that 96% of people never use, then..."
In the first example, a source that is silent on any given quality doesn't "undo" what other sources say about that specific quality. The pseudoscience-focused source doesn't contradict the high-profit-margins source, and the high-profit-margins source doesn't contradict the pseudoscience classification. Both of these are true.
In the second example, the sources disagree with each other (a little bit), and the solution is about determining what's WP:DUE, not treating the second source as having nothing to say on the subject. (In the example of homeopathy, that probably means mentioning both views somewhere, with the more common view [i.e., pseudoscience] being first and more prominent. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:12, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
I do not see any disagreement in the second example. "Pseudoscience" and "traditional European treatment that 96% of people never use" are almost orthogonal properties, meaning that there is almost no correlation. Actually, if something is a traditional treatment, it is more likely to be pseudoscience than not. --Hob Gadling (talk) 13:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:@WhatamIdoing: thank you for your responses. I agree with you that most of these areas that area labelled as pseudoscience in Wikipedia, don't hold water when evaluated scientifically. So I believe we agree on the substance. I don't have an agenda about these topics (astronomy, acupuncture, etc.), I am just an interested editor hoping to have a collegial deliberation to find out how we can refine our processes for making determinations on how to label subjects in Wikipedia. @WhatamIdoing: I further agree with you that not all reliable sources can be used to determine how to label a subject -- your point that for example an article on the business of homeopathy may not delve into what homeopathy is, is well taken. @Hob Gadling: your point that it is easy for sources to be cherrypicked to advance many differing opinions, is also well taken. I wonder if we could still find a way that enable us as a community to make a more objective, and more consensus-building determination on what the reliable sources say overall.
One possible more objective way would be to create a list of a subset of sources. For example, the five top other encyclopedias, plus the top five Google Scholar search results, plus the top five New York Times search results. We try to exclude those sources that (per the "business of homeopathy" point above) don't provide a description of the subject (if the top-fourth and top-fifth listed sources are stricken out, then we look at the sixth and seventh to fill the "top five"). Most importantly, we list/commit to them before knowing how they describe the subject, so that we remove as much as possible individual predispositions to any outcome. Then we go and see how they describe the subject, and determine how do the sources predominantly describe it. This is a rough idea; don't take it as a template purporting to be complete and final, but see if the spirit of it has something going for it, to then build upon.
I'm sure this rough idea has flaws (how do we agree on that "objective list" in the first place? Wouldn't some editors pre-research lists and propose only the ones that are in their favor?), and some other practical kinks to be sorted out. But, is there any kernel of it that something better could be built from it?
At a personal level I don't care for astrology, or many other systems of belief and superstition. But as a member of humankind as and enthusiastic contributor of Wikipedia desiring to compile and preserve all human knowledge, I think that many of those are important subjects with a long and rich history, and I just want to participate in developing practices that make those articles the best they can be according to Wikipedia's principles. From this deliberation, I would much rather have come out of it a clarified and consensus-driven process, than predetermining any result in any individual case. Thank you. Al83tito (talk) 10:54, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
I don't think that the demarcation problem can be solved by simple algorithms like that. The system is not broken and does not need a fix. If there have been wrong decisions in individual cases, they can be fixed individually, not by applying a rigid mould. --Hob Gadling (talk) 13:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

Discord logsEdit


Wikipedia policy prohibits linking to personal information posted off wiki and also prohibits connecting and editor to accounts in other places (e.g. Twitter) unless the editor has disclosed that onwiki. Historically this has meant that IRC logs of Wikipedians are oversighted if posted onwiki and are considered personal private information. Recently there have been questions about whether or not Discord logs on servers linked to from Wikipedia (e.g. WP:DISCORD, Wikipedia:WikiProject Tropical cyclones, Wikipedia talk:New pages patrol/Reviewers) should be oversighted as well. A few key differences between IRC and Discord are that Discord logs are kept centrally by the service, anyone who joins a server may access these past logs, and several Wikipedia linked Discord servers explicitly note that they are public. Barkeep49 (talk) 14:07, 2 July 2021 (UTC)


When, if ever, should Discord logs be eligible for removal (up to and including oversight)?

Possible answersEdit

This is a non-exclusive list of answers someone may give to the question:

  1. Discord logs from any server marked as public on the Discord server may be quoted/linked.
  2. Discord logs from any server linked to onwiki and marked as public on the Discord server may be quoted/linked.
  3. Discord logs may be quoted/linked if the person has authenticated/linked their Wikipedia account
  4. Discord logs should be treated the same way as IRC logs

Discussion (Discord logs)Edit

  • I don't believe options 1 & 2 could be viewed as reasonably complying with OUTING policy, and I certainly don't want to change that, so I think that leaves us with 3 & 4. Option 3 is, functionally speaking, the status quo, to the very limited degree that posting of Discord logs has happened, without it being directly stomped on. There is a question as to whether that is wise, as well as being somewhat anomalous compared to the major IRC channels. I'll have a think as to whether option 3 or 4 is best, but I would note that option 3 should probably be nuanced to something like "public channels", so as to exclude moderated comments and so on. [Disclosure: Discord mod] Nosebagbear (talk) 14:40, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    To clarify my actual position, I think I shall support option 4, neutral option 3, and oppose 1 & 2 as against OUTING. That let's us be synced up with IRC (which may be advantageous if we split over a bunch of different off-wiki fora) and prevents some potential issues. Obviously if dubious stuff starts coming up then it should be taken to ARBCOM if it's bleeding onto Wikipedia. Nosebagbear (talk) 00:30, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
    It's not an authentication issue. We have cloaks on IRC, so you can verify you are the holder of a NickServ registered account, but still IRC logs cannot be posted. Whether a Discord account is authenticated or not is mostly irrelevant IMO. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 15:41, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I lean 4. As ProcrastinatingReader notes, IRC has an authentication method as well and doesn't change anything about posting of content from there. I recognize that IRC has had it's own history and issue over this topic, some of it predating WP:OUTING. WP:OUTING requires that such offsite connections be disclosed "on Wikipedia", bolded, in the first sentence. It goes further in paragraph 4, including that editing under your own name or other easily searched identifier does not allow for posting off-site opinions or doing opposition research. That may be a hard line black and white take of the current wording, but if I am posting publicly on Facebook about editing Wikipedia and link an example of one of my edits (Therefor identifying myself to FB readers), but have made no such disclosure on Wikipedia, it is my understanding it would be forbidden to link or quote publicly by WP:OUTING. That the Discord servers denote their public nature is a privacy warning, a critical one, but it doesn't change anything about OUTING in my view, anymore than the fact Twitter or Facebook have public posts. *deeeeeep breath* Furthermore, the use of direct links to specific Discord messages should likely be disallowed entirely, as even if the particular message was posted by someone who has publicly disclosed their Discord account on Wikipedia, it will by nature expose comments from users who have not. Summary: Follow IRC-esque rules regarding "no posting of logs" on Wikipedia. Adhere to strict OUTING interpretations. Limited private disclosure as necessary and allowed under OUTING in paragraph 5 (I.e. to admins/functionaries/arbs/WMF/etc for reporting). Disclosure: Discord mod and server operator. -- ferret (talk) 16:50, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Question - Isn't the Wikimedia Community Discord (and some of the others) technically "private servers", in the sense that the invite link is not technically public? For example, if Nitro subscribers were to use an emote from these Discord servers on another server, the emote will show up as being from a private server, not a public server. If my understanding is correct, options 1 and 2 are out of the question anyway for these servers. Epicgenius (talk) 19:06, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    I don't know how Discord classifies them exactly, whether it indicates they are available in Discovery, Partner, or what. However the technical label within the service falls, the invite links are publicly viewable on Wikipedia. -- ferret (talk) 19:47, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Ferret: I believe it is classified by Discord as private and not partnered. A month ago I sent a screenshot as a joking response to a comment by Izno (a Discord mod), which showed an emote from the Wikimedia Community Discord server, followed by "Wikimedia Community - private server". I'm not sure if this is still the case. Epicgenius (talk) 23:50, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I thought most IRC logs are revision-deleted per WP:RD1, as copying them here is a violation of the copyright policy. This does not apply to linked pages containing the original content. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 19:35, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    If there's a copyright argument to IRC copy and pasting, I'm quite confident that Discord falls into the same. Certainly there's no disclosure from every participant that their messages are free and clear to copy and paste. -- ferret (talk) 19:50, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    Well, IRC logs can't be linked to in their original form. Discord logs can. Linking to the original should be fine copyright-wise. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 20:42, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, was agreeing on the specific of copy and pasting. -- ferret (talk) 20:48, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I think there are at least two separate issues in play. First is outing. It is difficult, given the point ProcrastinatingReader makes above regarding cloaks and authentication, to argue that Discord should be treated differently as far as outing goes. But there is something beyond outing that I have a hard time articulating succinctly.
    Even if someone authenticates, even if someone discloses on-wiki what their Discord username is, and even if it's unambiguous that it's not outing, I think we should still at least discourage linking to what the person has said off-wiki. In doing so, we're recontextualizing things said in a space which is not governed by the same norms and expectations (nevermind policies and guidelines) that apply to on-wiki discussion. That doesn't mean some basic policies don't apply, but it's a very different platform for communication such that the context (not just of the words, but of the platform) matters an awful lot. It's not just "if you did nothing wrong you have nothing to hide"; the photos you post on facebook don't have to be incriminating for you to not want slideshow at a job interview or family reunion. The discordance (ahem) can be jarring and uncomfortable. Another analogy: Wikimania is subject to some basic behavioral policies like Discord, and similar outing policies. That doesn't mean it should be acceptable for anyone to record my casual conversations there and post them to Wikipedia. Yes, we should all be mindful to be sure we're not doing things that we would find embarrassing if recorded, but even a reasonably innocuous conversation can sound strange or worse if recontextualized in a more "serious" setting.
    So while it's not so much an outing issue, I'd prefer to see some language about strongly discouraging these links or logs, if not disallowing them, except when it's necessary to, for example, provide evidence of egregious canvassing or harassment. And perhaps then it should only be sent to arbcom. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 20:02, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    • Erring on the side of Option 4 based on the above. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 22:18, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 is safest. It is difficult not to accidentally breach OUTING while linking to any Wikipedian's offwiki activities. Social norms are different in different spaces, so repeating something said on Discord onwiki without context is problematic, while presenting the full context might expose and involve other people. Harassment taking place offwiki can be reported to Arbcom without posting logs onwiki. —Kusma (talk) 21:49, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • This discussion should consider the similarities and differences with the previous RFC about SUL onwiki at WT:Harassment/Archive 20#RfC: Clarification of OUTING. --Izno (talk) 22:35, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    • I would prefer a better definition of "personal information" this time around. It appears that RfC only covers information like names, ages, jobs, contact information, etc. Posting of private correspondence (chat logs) doesn't seem to fall within a normal definition of "personal information". The relevant policy appears to be Wikipedia:Harassment § Private correspondence. I'm of the opinion that what happens offwiki is offwiki (except if reported to ArbCom or T&S), and editors do not need to be worried about people prying into their private lives, nor do they need to feel like they're 'on the record' all the time. Offwiki political views or other such statements are irrelevant to ones Wikipedia account. To that end, I think it would be better if the relevant section is updated to codify existing practices (eg relating to IRC logs) better and more generally, as it seems to be a hole bigger than just Discord. Currently it appears the sometimes-enforced prohibition derives from an ArbCom principle on copyright status, but I'd be surprised if someone hasn't pulled the "fair use" card before. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 23:17, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 2.5 Option 1. IRC gets to avoid having logs posted because they post "no public logging" in the MOTD. In IRC there is no way to "see the history" of the server unless you've logged everything. On Discord, history on a public channel is stored and visible to everyone who ever joins a server unless that history is deleted or hidden. I would like to see a combination of these two options that anyone who is authenticated and posts in a server publicly linked from onwiki can have their logs posted; as well as the ability for servers to choose to not have logs publicly posted onwiki. I'd also like to elaborate on WikiProject Tropical Cyclones thing which Barkeep mentioned as a reason for this RfC. For the past several months stealth canvassing has occurred from that (publicly accessible) server to onwiki by a certain authenticated user who I won't name at this time (due to the lack of clarity on WP:OUTING rules). This might look like it's just about a certain admin candidate who expressed certain views offwiki but this RfC would cover a lot more than that. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 23:32, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    Why discourage authentication? —Kusma (talk) 23:41, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    If someone isn't authenticated there's no proof that the person on discord is the same person. I'd like to see at least some kind of protection against that possibility. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 00:19, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
    So you are saying that only people who don't authenticate should be protected? That doesn't compute. —Kusma (talk) 06:19, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
    as well as the ability for servers to choose to not have logs publicly posted onwiki What do you envision for this? Is it simply a declaration? -- ferret (talk) 23:58, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
    Same way IRC gets to say "no public logging" and have that respected. Put it in the rules of the server and what channels it applies to. Servers should make their expectations clear if they don't want logs going onwiki, but they should understand this means that this forces problems to go to ArbCom as a first resort. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 00:19, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
    I've struck my original !vote after reading what Only in death said. The premise of a lot of Option 4 !votes is that ArbCom will deal with reports of off-wiki harassment. I've seen people acting abusively on Discord and was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to ArbCom on that front to decide whether or not to deal with it. That was one of the premises of my !vote, that cases where people have linked themself to their onwiki identity in a Wikipedia related server can be dealt with my the community and that ArbCom would have the capacity to deal with grey areas where joe jobs are a possibility. But after hearing from another person who has had the experience (backed up by evidence) that ArbCom doesn't wish to deal with offwiki harassment I doubt that ArbCom would be able to effectively deal with these "edge cases". On another note, that !vote made me disagree with the current way that we deal with IRC logs as well and I would like to see some kind of change to that. A significant proportion of the Option 4 !voters voted the way they did because any other option would create an inconsistency between Discord and IRC. I believe what we really need is a change in the OUTING policy itself and not just a change that addresses Discord logs.
    It's tempting to discuss this in terms of "controversial political opinions" since the last event where Discord logs were posted onwiki dealt with a person who made comments promoting the destruction of Israel and calling the IRA's actions "justified" but editors should bear in mind that there are very real cases of abusive conduct on Discord. If an editor was to say "someone should get his stupid ass fired" about an indeffed user who was revealed to be a contributor to a YouTube channel? What if that editor pinged another editor and told them to track down the aforementioned indeffed user on a Discord server for that YouTube channel and to "get him fired" based on their onwiki conduct? These are cases where the community might take a different approach than ArbCom. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 01:29, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 2 I don't think the community can or should be subject to the strict masquerade that nothing exists in discussion other than the pages on this site. IRC logging was always problematic, both in IRC culture and in technical reasons. Discord pages are semi-officially endorsed by the community, have a publicly-linkable archive, and have user authentication to prevent Joe Jobs and other abuse. If a participant in the Discord does not want their account linked to other Discord servers or their real life identity, they already must take precautions; there is simply no real privacy benefit at stake here by prohibiting it on-wiki. There is concern about copyright when copying archival logs here, but linking to public Discord logs should always be permitted. User:力 (power~enwiki, π, ν) 23:44, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm leaning toward option 3. While the server is "private", this is only a technicality of how Discord functions, as the invite link to the server is public. The mods have not disabled the ability to see message history, but they also have not disabled the ability to set a custom nickname, and so any user can create any nickname they want. The only way to verify if a user is who they say they are on Wikipedia is through authing. As for outing, Discord profiles can carry across dozens of servers (up to 200 with Nitro and 100 without). People who wish not to be outed may create an alt entirely for Wikipedia use and have their existing account just not join the Wikimedia server. Epicgenius (talk) 23:59, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Eh, I don't see much point in doing anything other than treat it similarly to IRC, lest we then have to make further judgement calls for the Next Big Chat Platform that ends up getting used? - TNT 😺 00:05, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 Consistency between IRC and Discord should be used, if we change the discord outing rules we should also change the IRC outing rules.Jackattack1597 (talk) 18:16, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 While I see people above mentioning the fact that Discord users choose to authenticate as a argument I would like to point out that A) there is as far as I'm aware not a way to undo such authentication, and B) because of a Discord LTA currently almost all channels are locked to non authenticated users. -- Asartea Talk | Contribs 17:24, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 3 – this really isn't like IRC, as IRC servers don't maintain a public record of anything that was ever said, and is therefore generally unusable as evidence. This is more like Twitter. If you have publicly linked your Wikipedia account and your Twitter account via a link on Wikipedia, it is not a violation of WP:OUTING to refer to those tweets publicly. The same principle applies to Discord – if you have publicly linked your Discord account via an edit on Wikipedia, your messages on Discord can be publicly discussed.
    More practically, handling Discord evidence as private means that the only way problematic behaviour that affects Wikipedia can be handled is via ArbCom. ArbCom has received far too many complaints about Discord already, and they should be handled by the community instead. For comparison, ArbCom almost never receives complaints about IRC, and when it does, they get referred to the IRC operators. ArbCom occasionally receives complaints about Twitter, but only handles them in cases when they cannot be publicly discussed.
    Going with Option 4 essentially puts ArbCom in charge of dealing with problematic behaviour (canvassing, harassment, etc.) on Discord. I don't think the Discord crowd wants that, and ArbCom definitely doesn't want that. Clearly establishing that Discord logs are public information is the best way to discourage misbehaviour. – bradv🍁 17:46, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    The same principle applies to Discord – if you have publicly linked your Discord account via an edit on Wikipedia, your messages on Discord can be publicly discussed. This doesn't occur though, in the main. Linking is private via OAuth. -- ferret (talk) 17:49, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Thanks for the correction. I struck the words "via an edit on Wikipedia". The point is that the identity of the account is proven, which is the reason for that line in the OUTING policy. – bradv🍁 18:01, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Already linked in this discussion, but Wikipedia_talk:Harassment/Archive_20#RfC:_Clarification_of_OUTING suggests even SUL is not considered sufficient for OUTING. It was particular to personal information, though. -- ferret (talk) 18:10, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Right. I don't think the name of an account on a Wikipedia-specific Discord channel, for the purposes of discussing Wikipedia with other Wikipedians, counts as personally identifiable information. If some changes are required to make this clear to people on Discord, or to change the governance structure, server settings, or advice to new Discordians, I would encourage the leadership to enact them. – bradv🍁 18:18, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    I'm not sure anything is required yet, at least for WP:Discord (I cannot speak for any other servers, the other two mentioned here or the 20+ others linked from Meta). The server is already very clear that anyone can read anything posted and to be mindful of it. Any changes required would need to result from how the community wants this handled (via this discussion). To be clear, in the end, I accept whatever the community wants. I've simply chosen to argue a more hardline take on OUTING, especially the paragraph dealing with opposition research. If the community feels otherwise, that's fine. The server itself cannot dictate the community's position and how to handle things on wiki though, hence the need for the discussion. Even the server declaring "Our logs are not to be posted on Wiki" (As suggested by Chess) is untenable UNLESS the community agrees with that position. -- ferret (talk) 18:28, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) if you have publicly linked your Discord account via an edit on Wikipedia, your messages on Discord can be publicly discussed. Discord accounts are not linked like this. On Discord you have a link to the user's Wikipedia account, but there is no disclosure or linking onwiki. The verification of this authentication is also in the hands of whichever user hosts the verification bot (ie, they could make up an auth and nobody else can verify it, unlike enwiki revision history). ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 17:52, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Presumably, a login checkuser could. -- ferret (talk) 18:16, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Sure, technically speaking, but the WP:Checkuser policy does not allow checks for the purpose of confirming/denying whether offwiki messages are authentic, or selfrequested checks. (nor should it) ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 18:45, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    This is more like Twitter. Hmm... If I (or someone with my name) made a Twitter, and on that Twitter set the bio to "Authenticated as "ProcrastinatingReader" on" are any Tweets that account posts citable onwiki as if I wrote them, even if I don't make an onwiki link to that Twitter account? ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 18:53, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    If we say Discord is like Twitter, we should still discourage (or even prohibit) the quoting/linking to messages that are not connected to Wikipedia. It is one thing to publicly shame Discord users for attempted votestacking in an RfA, and a very different thing to link to their posts in an offtopic channel about whatever political or other opinions they hold (possibly in jest). It may be "public" that User X said "I hope Trump dies from COVID" or "We need a dictator now to fix climate change" or whatever on Twitter or on Discord, but it is nobody's business on Wikipedia. (There are some outrageously bad things that should get a user removed from Wikipedia by T&S, but that's not the type of things I'm talking about here). —Kusma (talk) 19:06, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure that any of this really matters in practice. Imagine that you see something relevant on the Discord system. You could:
    • Quote it on wiki
    • Put a link to the log/archives on wiki
    • Say "Well, I don't want to fall afoul of any policies, but let me just say that anyone who joins Discord can see everything ever posted, and I'm talking about a comment that was made at 19:34, 1 July 2021 (UTC)."
  • All of these have the same end result, namely that anyone who wants to read it can. This policy is just about as privacy-protective as someone saying "Oh, noes, I'd never doxx someone on wiki. If you want to know that editor's name and his employer's phone number, you have to e-mail me instead". I don't know what the current practice is, but in the past, we haven't even been willing to warn people who post on wiki that they're willing to share personal information off wiki. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:20, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    That's why Option 4 isn't feasible. IRC doesn't have server-side logs, nor does it have pre-join scrollback. If you weren't in the channel when the message was sent, you can't ever read it. – bradv🍁 18:28, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    Well, logging bots are very common on IRC. The #wikipedia-en channel prohibits them so there is no 'official' log, but any user can setup a logging bot, add it, and spread the URL around, and nobody would be the wiser. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 18:46, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    True, but the authenticity of the logs cannot be verified, and posting them on Wikipedia violates our copyright policies. The point is that, unlike Discord, messages can't be linked, and unless you maintained a log yourself, you can't read past comments. – bradv🍁 18:50, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    It violates an ArbCom principle on copyrights, but falls entirely within US law on fair use: the fair use of a copyrighted work ... for purposes such as criticism, comment ... or research ... is not an infringement of copyright, which seems to cover both the archiving, and I would imagine that pasting a sentence or two of a user's IRC-expressed political views to oppose their RfA is "criticism". It's also of a "non-profit" nature that doesn't affect the "commercial value" of the "work". Not to mention, you could link to the full IRC log, and I can't see how this would be any different to linking to as far as copyright law is concerned. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 19:05, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
    "Violates our copyright policy" has always been an unconvincingly lame excuse against the posting of IRC logs. —Kusma (talk) 19:08, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 3, with caveats. Since Discord is publicly logged and authenticated users have chosen to make an explicit, public connection between their Wikipedia and Discord accounts (FWIW almost everyone on Discord is authenticated) I don't think it makes sense to treat these messages as private information. Anyone who joins the server can read the entirety of the message history and the user authentication logs.
    With that said, we should still be mindful of privacy issues and not treat this as a carte blanche to engage in opposition research. Discord is a different environment from Wikipedia and some users may feel encouraged to share information there that they wouldn't post on-wiki (particularly because Discord messages can be deleted by the poster whereas Wikipedia edits generally cannot). I would not consider it appropriate to repost personally identifying information or otherwise sensitive material that has been posted on Discord but not on Wikipedia. Posting a log of someone discussing Wikipedia-related matters is probably fine. Logs of someone stating their real name or location, discussing personal issues, etc. are not fine, and should be eligible for revdel or oversight. Spicy (talk) 20:53, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 because it avoids having unofficial non-wiki platforms be de facto extensions of Wikipedia where we can block people for what they say on them (yes, I'm aware ArbCom can for other sites and that we've had ArbCom cases over IRC stuff, but that's been a long time ago...)
    I'm not a fan of the environment on the Discord. I'm not a fan of Wikipediocracy. I'm an IRC regular, but I also try to separate it from what actually happens on Wikipedia. The entire point of these off-wiki platforms is that they're a way for people who like Wikipedia and want some social aspect of it to talk, network, and discuss things without the strictures of the rules we have on here, and if we allowed linking to them, we'd effectively be expanding our rules to a platform as, yes, we'd have someone inevitably be blocked for what they said there at some point. That's just how it goes. People can be jerks in chatrooms, oftentimes more so than they can be on wiki.
    The short of it: many people who are active on this site have preferred off-wiki ways to communicate, some of them open for the public to view forever (forums and Discord); others aren't publicly logged (IRC.) Traditionally we have not allowed people to link to these communications unless the user in question consented.
    I don't really see why we should treat Discord any differently than we treat other public off-wiki sites, and I'm very skeptical of any attempt to extend regulation of conduct off-wiki more than is absolutely necessary such as in cases of off-wiki harassment. Allowing linking to Discord logs would be a huge step in that direction, and I am very much not comfortable with it, even if it's not something that will impact me as much. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:08, 4 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4. I concur with Ferret's comment above. Authentication by a private process whose results are not made publicly visible on Wikipedia itself (i.e. OAuth) is analogous to posting publicly on a Facebook or Twitter account about editing Wikipedia under a given account. WP:OUTING has historically made very clear that this FB/Twitter example is plainly insufficient for allowing quoting/linking of external comments, even if an editor has posted personal information or edits under their own name, making them easily identifiable through online searches. The defining factor is not accuracy nor ease of identification, but the location: public identification (PI) must have been made on Wikipedia itself, not simply in a semi-public location like Discord. As Izno raises above, the 2019 RfC established that PI made even on other Wikimedia wikis can be an insufficient form of PI for OUTING purposes, particularly if it requires much "research" to find or if it is non-consensual. Discord is even further removed from Wikipedia than other Wikimedia wikis are, so allowing quoting and linking from Discord without further and narrow stipulations (like the "too much research" or "consent" ones for other WM wikis) would constitute a major and inadvisable reduction in the policy's sensible requirement for on-wiki declaration. — Goszei (talk) 05:48, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
    My comment above is mainly concerned with the identifying information tied directly through Discord accounts/links/usernames or posted in messages, but I want to also express my concurrence with several editors here (Rhododendrites, TonyBallioni, ProcrastinatingReader) who have commented on norms and the "wall" that should be maintained between the on- and off-wiki environment. The atmosphere created by opening the door to free posting and linking of off-wiki opinions, possibly out of context, would not benefit the encyclopedia -- what happens on Wikipedia should certainly be transparent, as Levivich opines, but the accountability of its editors should not extend to any and all online expressions. — Goszei (talk) 19:24, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Copying/quoting them here is almost certainly a copyright violation. Linking I guess isn't terrible. I guess that translates to option 3?
    Not relevant to the present poll, but I abhor the use of Discords or other off-wiki fora for discussing matters that should be discussed on-wiki. Stifle (talk) 10:21, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I don't do Dischord, so I have no clue what the rules are, and what I'd like to see clarified is if accounts on WP-related Dischord have some vetting process to link them with WP accounts. If the accounts are confirmed as the same operator and the whole thing is viewable by the public I don't see the problem with linking or quoting. what I would expect however is that anything submitted here as evidence in support of a sanction had better be really egregiously out of line and not just "something you wouldn't normally say on-wiki." Dischord is not subject to WP's rules and neither arbcom nor the community should be acting as the thought police. Beeblebrox (talk) 16:27, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 Substantively, I'm in agreement with TonyBallioni, and believe the other options are flawed and inconsistent (per my comments above). More importantly, I'm concerned with any attempt to formally make thoughtcrime a violation of Wikipedia policy. What a user says in their private time offwiki - privately to their friends or publicly on their Twitter feed - is none of our business. Every user has probably at some point in their life expressed a comment, somewhere (online or in person), that they would not repeat here. Ultimately, all other options permit editors to do opposition research to effectively harass other editors without consequence. I do not think Beeble's 'strong discouragement' will work; such wording is toothless, and when it comes down to it someone will violate it, and it's unlikely others will challenge the posting, especially if the comment is unflattering, and even if it should not have been posted in the first place. Sometimes things are better left unknown, even if we can't consciously make the decision to ignore it. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 17:10, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Treat the same as IRC. The differences between IRC and Discord are real, in particular the authenticated log. I agree with Kusma that the "copyright" reason has always felt a bit flimsy. Ultimately though my line of thinking aligns with Tony. Unlike IRC where we're all on a single server with control of channels by individuals, in Discord's case we're on a multitude of servers with the whole server being under the control of individuals. Beyond the 3 discord servers I linked when formulating the question I am aware of at least 5 other Wikimedia/Wikipedia related discord servers none of them publicly advertised. So ultimately when the differences are real, I don't think they're real enough to overcome our general protections against OUTING (which as noted, offer limited protection on enwiki even against onwiki disclosure on other language wikis). Barkeep49 (talk) 02:04, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
  • My thoughts on this are similar to what Kevin says in their close at Wikipedia talk:Harassment/Archive 20#RfC: Clarification of OUTING, and functionally I think that ends up with something similar to option 4. I also like TonyBallioni's take. Ironically, what follows is an adaptation of something I said in Discord, but I digress. Personally I find digging through old conversations for something to discredit someone with is smarmy. We should have a norm if not policy against doing that. Erring on the strict side has the benefit of disincentivizing rumor milling. Imagine if User:Example just started posting things on wiki about how bad those Wugapodes are and all the bad stuff I say, with quotes but links that don't work for some reason. Example explains (falsely) that I deleted them. It will be hard if not impossible to disprove, but if posting logs or quoting messages was disallowed (and redactable), we sidestep that whole issue. On the other side of the coin, it incentivizes responsible reporting. Rather than taking accusations to the pillory AN, the private evidence is sent to admins or arbcom who can figure out what if anything needs to be done before a frenzy rather than trying to clean up afterwards. Wug·a·po·des 06:02, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 per Wugapodes - been following this discussion for a while but their reasoning convinced me stronger than anyone else's. Elli (talk | contribs) 21:09, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 1/2. Lets be clear about this, the IRC 'rules' that prohibited logging were entirely in place to protect abusive IRC members from having their actions and statements challenged on-wiki. These were not channels that were unrelated to Wikipedia, they were specifically set up to deal with on-wiki issues, run by wiki-admins, donated to by the WMF and intricately tied in with WMF staff members (the history of WP-on-IRC is a dark and murky one that a lot of editors are going to be unfamiliar with). Some people may not have been around for the the issues of IRC logging, "throatpunching", Arbcom declining to do anything about an admin making comments about bathing an editor in acid - and keep in mind these are not examples of calculated abuse by secretive IRC members. They were just unpleasant people saying unpleasant nasty things and getting away with it for a long time because of secrecy rules that protected them. The actual outcome was of course that they were logged, and acted upon, but it took a far greater amount of effort to get any traction on them, and in the meantime they continued with their abuse. The Super Secret Sockpuppet hunting co-ordination etc (amongst other IRC groups) was arguably far more calculated abuse due to its secretive nature when it targeted editors.
So when I see the same people who refused to do anything when IRC secrecy was abused, advocating for the same approach that led to abuse previously, who deliberately avoided doing anything about that abuse, arguing in favour of applying the same process here? They either learned nothing at all, or have an ulterior motive in keeping their own activity hidden. I will also take 'hopelessly naive' for a third option.
And let us also be perfectly clear on this: Discord is logged, everything you do there, as well as your online identity (that you use for Discord) are kept and will be used against you if you step out of line. The only question is do you want it addressed on-wiki where your peers are likely to take a more understanding approach? Or do you want to go down a path where because of a prohibition here, you are discussed at say, Wikipediocracy, maybe a news article from a sympathetic journo. You have no protections against harressment or outing in other venues. By forcing people to seek redress elsewhere, you will end up (as has previously been the case) in attracting the attention of a group of people who rarely have any sympathy when it comes to abuse and are willing to be more direct in their attempts to bring it to light.
This is another example of why the Outing policy is hopelessly unfit for purpose and needs to be adjusted to take account of reality and experience, not attempt to adjust reality to suit the outing policy. Only in death does duty end (talk) 10:17, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
The community has the power to amend the arbitration policy to broaden the scope of when offwiki evidence should be considered. If they wish users could ask prospective arbs a question about how they will handle offwiki evidence and vote for the ones that promise site bans for offwiki evidence like your examples. So I don't see why what the 2015 ArbCom did or didn't do is relevant.
where your peers are likely to take a more understanding approach Let's be clear, the most recent onwiki Discord incident (that I know of) was quoting a user's offwiki political views at RfA, and people were not sympathetic. Are you saying fellow editors will be (or even should be?) sympathetic if actually problematic content is reported? IMO the problem here isn't really about problematic content, which should be dealt with appropriately, it's about non-problematic content. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 23:04, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4. Per TonyBallioni. –Novem Linguae (talk) 18:04, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 per Wugapodes and Spicy. I especially strongly agree with Spicy's take on the environment Discord provides, as I myself am open to disclosing information about myself to a select few who were part of a conversation (or to any authenticated user in the server at the time, for that matter) on Discord, but not on Wikipedia. The RfC that Kevin closed (linked repeatedly above) also has comments on opposition research (This RfC does not constitute a green-light to snoop around...) and disclosing personal information from off-wiki venues in general, both of which I strongly agree with. Given that, Option 4 would be the only decent choice here that follows the RfC. My own take on the matter is that personal information, such as birth dates, ages, names, etc., must not be quoted/linked at all, no matter what. Additionally, ArbCom should be sent the particularly nasty or egregious comments (pertaining to Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects, including its users) made on Discord by an authenticated Wikipedian to decide what should be done to that user. Bringing those comments up in a publicly-viewable venue on-wiki (God forbid, ANI) for Wikipedians to lynch the user in Wikipedia's special version of cancel culture based on possibly out-of-context comments can and will start a mess and possibly cause damage that can't be undone, even after oversight, which can and will happen if we went with Option 1, 2, or 3. Disclosure: I moderate the RedWarn Discord server, which requires SUL authentication. My thoughts, however, focus more on my experience with WP:DISCORD. Chlod (say hi!) 07:01, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment - I would worry about vague references to Discord that aren't specifically links. I get the argument for linking to specific messages being bad, but I wonder about if I said something onwiki like "per a discussion on WP:DISCORD a few hours ago". Or imagine I mentioned the channel specifically. Once or twice I've said something like that myself (like: "I asked for advice on WP:DISCORD and they directed me to policy XYZ"). I worry about such vague references being considered not that far away from direct links. Leijurv (talk) 07:13, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 5 : Discord chatroom logs are public and IRC chatroom logs should be as well — My opinion is probably not gonna count for much but I might as well chime in. Anything that could have been read by anyone present in the chatroom at the time of its posting should be available to be re-read by anyone. Any other policy that tries to implement a fake feeling of privacy through "you had to be there, now you'll never know" is completely ridiculous. As a good example, this is the way logging happens on Wikimedia projects. Ben · Salvidrim!  10:23, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
    We should have a new RfC on "logging" practices in general, honestly. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 21:45, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 1 (aka Ben's "Option 5", applying this to IRC as well) per OID, Chess, and Ben. Public means public. The notion that on this public website, we would be prohibited from quoting or linking to something on another public website (or chat server, or message board, or a published print magazine, or whatever), just doesn't make any sense to me. If people on other websites don't want to be quoted elsewhere, they should lock down (make private) those other websites. Otherwise it seems like we're making a rule that people can say things in public and we have to pretend here that it didn't happen, simply to ensure that the speaker avoids any consequences here for what they said elsewhere. Balancing the competing values, I come out with: if you said it in public, you said it in public, and having everyone pretend like it didn't happen isn't helpful or productive in any way that I can figure. This especially true when we have a page in projectspace called WP:DISCORD that points editors to the Discord server. Even if the page says it's "unofficial," it's still part of the Wikipedia ecosystem by virtue of being linked in projectspace. We don't have a WP:WIKIPEDIOCRACY or a WP:WIKIPEDIAREVIEW or a WP:WIKIPEDIASUCKS, etc. In my view, the projectspace page, and that it's mostly moderated by admins, makes it at least quasi-official. (Same with WP:IRC.) Particularly where this is Wikipedia, where our strongest values are transparency and accountability. We keep a record of everything everyone does, of every change. All future generations will know it took me multiple edits to write this comment :-P Prohibiting linking/quoting to other public wikipedia-related conversations runs directly counter to those values of transparency-and-accountability-through-excellent-recordkeeping. Levivich 17:18, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Personally, I'm not strongly opinionated regarding which direction is taken for logging, as long the approach is made clear. (In any case, I think the question of what off-wiki actions can be used as grounds to evaluate an editor's overall characteristics is going to be more prominent.) I am concerned about maintaining the current minimum requirement for full participation in the English Wikipedia community, which is to be active on this web site. I wouldn't want on-wiki discussions to start pointing to external servers to lay out arguments for whatever topic is being discussed, or for off-site discussions to become the central point for decision-making. If IRC/Discord/Twitter/Facebook/Reddit/any external forum becomes essential to participate, this will have a significant effect on the editing community. isaacl (talk) 21:42, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
    I agree with this, but will note that I have learned through my UCoC work that in quite a few communities this isn't true. That is substantial project coordination occurs in Telgram groups or through a particular affiliate. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 00:08, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
    I appreciate that many users like to use more real-time modes of communication. I'm not sure how well it would work with a global community the size of English Wikipedia's. Can you share any info on the size and number of time zones spanned by the communities you have in mind? If all of the interested parties are able to participate using another service, at least they still have a say. I fear, though, with the size of English Wikipedia, that wouldn't be the case. isaacl (talk) 01:51, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Shouldn't any copy-pasting of Discord logs into Wikipedia be immediately revdel'd on the spot as a copyvio? Leijurv (talk) 22:49, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
    The copyright issue is less pertinent to Discord than IRC because Discord logs can be linked to thus avoiding the question of copyright altogether. Barkeep49 (talk) 00:06, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4. Even if it is a public server, a Discord username can still be considered personally-identifying information, especially if someone uses a different Discord name than they use on-Wiki. The only possible mitigating circumstance is that unlike IRC, Discord requires a registration and it's harder to see someone's IP. —A little blue Bori v^_^v Jéské Couriano 00:28, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
    Discord username is PII? Citation needed. Levivich 13:54, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    If my Discord username were my real name ("Alex Smith" or whatever), it could be. Sdrqaz (talk) 13:58, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    What ^^ said. PII is anything that allows you to personally identify someone. So any Discord ID that allows you pinpoint a person is PII. The mistake is in thinking that because something is PII it is also not public information. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:00, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    If you use your real name as your username on a public discord server, then you've already made it public. There are reasons to oppose this but privacy is not one of them: were talking about linking to public logs. Imagine the reverse argument: that people who use their real name as their username on Wikipedia can't have their contribs linked to on another website because it's PII. I mean, LOL that makes zero sense :-) The person choosing to use their name as their username would be the person who made the PII public, not someone who later links to it. Levivich 14:02, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    My understanding of policy was that if you looked up where "Alex Smith" lived on Facebook (say they disclosed they lived in a cottage in rural Kazakhstan) and you said that on-wiki and the "Alex Smith" on Wikipedia had not linked to their Facebook profile or given indication of their Kazakh abode, that would be outing. Even if "Facebook Alex" said "oh I'm an active Wikipedia editor called 'Alex Smith' too", linking to that on-wiki still would not be allowed. Couldn't you argue that that is roughly analogous to the Discord username problem, since "Facebook Alex" had made that information public? Sdrqaz (talk) 14:22, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    Oh yes that's my understanding of our outing policy too. But this isn't an RfC about giving people permission to link usernames on WP and Discord. One can link to discord server logs without doing that. Even that aside, Discord requires OAUTH authentication to post in (most?) channels, so that link between accounts is made public anyway and saved in public logs, using "official" WMF tools to ensure the link is correct. So much for outing, then, since Discord requires you to out yourself anyway? Levivich 14:30, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 per TonyBallioni and Wugapodes. Link20XX (talk) 15:01, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 5 per Ben, Only in death, Levivich, and Iridescent here and here. I have thought a lot about this, considering the role the Discord server played in my RfA. My vote may thus be surprising, but in the Discord server I am on record saying "If you don't want to be revealed as being an asshole, don't be an asshole". My RfA showed the proof in that particular pudding, and in hindsight I see it as an inevitable spark for the discussion we're having now. Regardless of the officiality of the Discord server, it still wears the black W on a white field, is still staffed by admins, and has hundreds of members who have publicly linked to their Wikipedia accounts. It is part of the WikiSphere. Everyone in that server, as the landing channel hints, should be prepared for the consequences of their actions there. –♠Vami_IV†♠ 02:59, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 5 (no restrictions on posting public logs, per Ben). If you send a message to someone, you can't control what they do with it. If you send a message to a public board (like Discord), you can't control what anyone will do of it. And if that message is signed with your Wikipedia username in a Wikipedia-related forum you can't expect others not to make the link. The alternative isn't keeping this correspondence private; it's an absurd situation where everyone knows that "X said Y on Discord", but they have to pretend that they don't on-wiki. The fact that we sometimes (very inconsistently in my experience) apply a similar logic to IRC, email, Wikipediocracy, etc. is part of a legacy of well-meaning, but ultimately futile, hyper-sensitivity to privacy that we also need to shrug off. – Joe (talk) 08:45, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    But we don't allow public twitter messages to be used in this way. Why should someone have less protection on Discord than Twitter? Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 15:06, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    We don't? For example, earlier this year someone was sanctioned at ANI for a BLP COI based in part on their tweets, which were linked to, quoted, and discussed in the ANI thread (and without which the COI may not have been so apparent... along with some of the editor's blog posts). This wasn't an OUTING violation because the editor had already linked the accounts (same with Discord auth). If we had a rule preventing quoting/linking the Twitter account, the community may not have been able to address the COI; that's the type of danger I hope we can avoid and why I'm supporting options 1/5. We've similarly seen Twitter, Facebook, etc. be linked/quoted on-wiki when dealing with off-wiki canvassing. To me, the other options (like 4) would make Discord be treated differently than other social media like Twitter. Levivich 15:35, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    same with Discord auth and the same with IRC cloaks. But if we want to discourage people from using that authentication, this is good motivation. AFAIK linking to Twitter is only allowed if (a) it has been linked to from the English Wikipedia (authentication on Discord doesn't create a link in that direction) and (b) if it's being used to illustrate COI. At least that's what's outlined in the "specific situations" at WP:OUTING. The rest should be done through off-wiki channels (e.g. emailing an admin). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 16:23, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    But the reason why we require disclosure in one direction (disclosure on-wiki of the off-wiki account and not the other way around) is for authentication reasons (we can't be sure the off-wiki account is controlled by the wiki account holder unless the wiki account says so logged in on-wiki). By using mw:OAuth, Discord authentication satisfies this concern. OAuth is the key, for me, for why it's not an WP:OUTING concern. Levivich 16:43, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    That's not the only reason, no. If what you say were true, we would not say
    If an editor has previously posted their own personal information but later redacted it, it should not be repeated on Wikipedia, although references to still-existing, self-disclosed information are not considered outing. If the previously posted information has been removed by oversight, then repeating it on Wikipedia is considered outing.
    In that case, someone has already verified that it is their account, but we respect their wish not to connect the two. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 17:02, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    I'm not sure how being allowed to un-verify changes anything? But either way, we can honor that for Discord just as we do for any other off-wiki site. And even putting the linking-accounts thing to one side, we can allow linking to Discord logs without allowing OUTING... I can link to a message without saying which WP editor posted that message. Levivich 17:54, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    I'm not sure how being allowed to un-verify changes anything you just said the purpose of not allowing linking is for authentication reasons. But it's not, as evident by our stance that even if someone has authenticated, if they've decided not to share it later that must be honored. It's not unauthenticating or "unverifying", after all; it's choosing not to share what one shared in the past. When someone decides to oversight it, they're not saying "actually, I'm not that person" they're saying "actually, I'd rather not share." — Rhododendrites talk \\ 18:05, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    My argument is that whether it's Twitter, Discord, or anything else, rules like this don't offer any "protection" at all; just the impression of it. If you are posting on a public, off-wiki forum under a name that can be linked to your Wikipedia username, you should assume that people you talk to on-wiki are capable of finding it. And if they're not, Wikipediocracy will definitely do it for them if they think there's the slightest nugget of drama in it. If you don't want the two things to be linked, the only true solution is not to link them. The taboo against mentioning that link on-wiki is at best a means of obfuscation, but I think in reality just a polite fiction. – Joe (talk) 10:43, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    It is simply not true that there are no shades of grey here, as you seem to imply. While information may be out there and could be used by stalkers, we can be better than these stalkers and not link to everything that is technically out there. It is simply disrespectful (consider WP:5P4) to mention/link to all the idiotic stuff User:X said to you yesterday while ranting, whether in the pub or on Discord, to the entire Wikipedia community, which is a far more public area than many of the other technically public places on the Internet. Let's be better people on Wikipedia. —Kusma (talk) 11:09, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    "Wouldnt it be nice if everyone was nice" is no basis on which to formulate policy given the ample examples of where that is blatantly ignored. Only in death does duty end (talk) 11:13, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    Personally I find talking behind people's backs to be far more uncivil than calling out people for acting badly off-wiki. It is not "stalking" to merely acknowledge what we all already know: that there are places, other than Wikipedia, where Wikipedians talk about Wikipedia. – Joe (talk) 12:03, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    The thing is, Wikipedians also use these places to talk not about Wikipedia, and there is no reason to ever bring up such conversation onwiki. More concretely, I find things like User:Chess bringing up Vami IV's non-Wikipedia related chat history during the latter's RfA to be wholly unacceptable and want this to be clearly disallowed going forward. Yes, it's all technically public, but if you want to shame people for whatever non-Wikipedia related thing they do offwiki, do it offwiki. —Kusma (talk) 13:24, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    I wasn't the first person who brought the candidate's Discord history up. Many people voted support because of their interactions with Vami on Discord. Would those support votes be disallowed as well? And for those unfamiliar with the context, that nominee said "oppressors exist to be killed by the oppressed" in an #offtopic discussion on WP:DISCORD about whether the IRA/Hamas were justified in their actions and brought up that the existence of Israel was "intolerable" in an on-topic channel with no prior discussion of Israel. These are not normal political beliefs. These are extreme political beliefs that were expressed in the quasi-official Wikipedia Discord server.
    I get that you're angry a candidate you supported lost their RfA and you want to prevent evidence from being brought up that could change the community's opinion in the future. But these comments were said in a Wikipedia related Discord server with a big old Wikipedia related logo with accounts authenticated with the user's Wikipedia related account. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 18:25, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    It's not that the candidate lost, I have no problem with that. There were reasons brought up to oppose the candidate that I found absolutely valid, based on recent onwiki evidence and mentioning actual issues with candidate edits or attitude. But "candidate says idiotic things in non-Wikipedia related chat" was one of the really low and unfair blows (bringing up onwiki POV-pushing or actual evidence of following a nefarious agenda would have been ok, or of evidence that the candidate's judgement is terrible in their actions on Wikipedia. There are already more than enough ways to sink an RfA without sifting through a candidate's chat logs in addition to everything they ever said onwiki). —Kusma (talk) 22:04, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    don't offer any "protection" at all - The protection isn't that nobody can read it; it's protection on Wikipedia that we don't want people to post users' off-wiki conversations except in very specific circumstances. Basing policy on Wikipediocracy won't do seems scarily cynical. there are places, other than Wikipedia, where Wikipedians talk about Wikipedia - presumably, then, if I go to Wikimania or Wikicon or a local meetup and record or transcribe (whichever allowed by law) the conversations people have over lunch, there would be no problem uploading those recordings to Commons and posting transcripts here? Most of the people involved have identified themselves by their username, after all. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 13:41, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    A rule that prohibited us from talking about anything anyone said at a wiki meetup, or posting video/audio recordings from meetups, would not make sense to me. We post videos from meetups all the time. Imagine if we had a zoom call and then couldn't quote the transcript of the zoom call or post the video of the call. Why don't we want to refer to off-wiki public recorded discussions on wiki? It's so very easy for people to create private safe spaces online for themselves if they want privacy. But public is public. Levivich 13:50, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    You missed the point of "over lunch." Yes, conference sessions can be recorded and posted. Likewise any other time people give their consent (although at Wikimedia meetups anyone can typically indicate when they don't want photographs of them to be posted via a colored lanyard or a sticker or something). The point is, Discord doesn't include just the "conference proceedings" part of the conference; it's also what's said over lunch where, yes, people can hear you and you still shouldn't say anything you wouldn't want other people to hear, but where we nonetheless treat it differently. In that context, it would be creepy and inappropriate to record conversations, even if people are self-identified by their username and even if people know they're where other people can hear. It's an imperfect analogy, granted. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:09, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    I actually think it's a pretty good analogy, but I disagree about this: there is no "over lunch," all of Discord is the "conference." All of it is being recorded and saved all of the time--all of it is public, all of it is logged--so it's all "the conference" part to me. "Over lunch" would be DMs or private servers/channels/whatever. What makes it "conference" and not "lunch" IMO is that it's linked from WP, the OAuth, and the public logs. Levivich 17:39, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option 4 I just don't see the need to support these things and best to have these "conference" within Wikipedia. if they're in these lunch situations, then even less reason to support them. Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:06, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Option four. To me, it doesn't really matter if you're certain that they're the same user or if they've indirectly outed themself using the OAuth system – the distinction between on-wiki and off-wiki behaviour is one that should be maintained. I am aware of at least one former administrator who was desysopped and banned due to conduct off-wiki, and another editor who was banned for similar reasons. Should behaviour on off-wiki platforms prove problematic, the Committee has been willing to take action against such individuals in the past, and they should now. To be honest, even if an editor outs themself on-wiki and you are working within the policy at OUTING, you should not be posting such opposition research anyway. I can think of an RfA, an RfB and a Committee candidacy that failed because of those reasons, which was regrettable. Sdrqaz (talk) 18:08, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I think that nearly everyone has missed the point here, which is that we should not endorse any external platform for discussions that have any impact on what happens on Wikipedia. We shouldn't have done that previously for IRC (just look where that's got to) and we shouldn't do it now for Discord. Any discussion that is not on Wikipedia, or, if it needs to be private, via secure email with trusted functionaries, should not be taken into consideration here, and then it wouldn't matter what's said in Discord or whatever the flavour of the day is because it would be ignored anyway. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:29, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
    The problem is that people can't un-see undesirable behaviour. If someone is uncooperative, aggressive, or unduly dismissive in some off-wiki venue, those witnessing it may well take it into account, and there's no way to avoid it. As I wrote previously, I do personally agree that discussions that lead to decisions on what happens on English Wikipedia should take place on English Wikipedia. I appreciate that some editors find it more effective to use a real-time discussion tool for preliminary discussions such as brainstorming. However in order to include the entire global community, we need to have patience to establish the consensus view. isaacl (talk) 01:19, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
    I didn't miss the point, it's just not reasonable. You already carved out an arbitrary exception for email, so why should your particular off-wiki communication be preferred over others? It's not even particularly secure; I would bet few of us host our own SMTP servers, so most email gets routed through a major corporation's surver farm and is thus vulnerable to both data leaks and corporate introspection. You don't want to endorse any external platform, except that Discord isn't endorsed by Wikipedia or the WMF. I don't see anything at WP:IRC saying that it is an official mode of communication. They're no more official than TheWebsiteThatMustNotBeNamed, they just have fewer banned users. If by "endorse" you mean "has a project page" then that's a pretty low standard. Lots of in-person meet-ups have project pages and I wouldn't want to suggest that we "endorse" them all in any sense of the word or create that implication. Even if we could avoid that, they'll just get moved to Meta since they relate to the wider wikimedia ecosystem and you'll have a hard time getting to endorse a global on-wiki-discussion requirement. For all the hand-wringing about Discord and IRC these are fundamentally places where people with similar interest gather to talk about their shared interest. Unless you want to turn Wikipedia into a social networking site where I talk about the Pidgey cards I've been collecting or forbid me from playing chess with Kevin, you'll need to accept humans having social relationships. Trying to control how people choose to associate in their free time off the website is not only dystopian but futile. The best course is what we're doing right now: determine the relationship between off-wiki conduct and on-wiki discussion. Like WP:CANVAS it probably won't be a clear line but a set of considerations ranging from most to least acceptable. It's a nuissance, but it's far more sustainable than pretending nothing exists off Wikipedia. Wug·a·po·des 22:06, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
    I agree it's fruitless to try to stop people from having conversations elsewhere, because social interactions are the norm. But I do think it's reasonable to strive not to provide privileged access to participants in other forums over those who participate solely on English Wikipedia. I don't want to have to participate on sites A, B, C and apps X, Y, Z in order to be able to influence decision-making or gain greater insight into the decision-making of others. Of course people will often kick around ideas in email, IRC, Discord, or whatever communication tool they use. Nonetheless I feel we should migrate discussion on-wiki as soon as possible, to be more inclusive of the entire English Wikipedia community. isaacl (talk) 23:06, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
    I don't disagree, but from the manufactured moral panic in this discussion one could easily get the mistaken idea that there is some massive off-wiki conspiracy taking place where things are decided in secret rooms with no oversight from the wider community. The Discord has apparently existed for quite some time before I joined a few months ago and at no point did I ever feel like I was unable to participate in Wikipedia decision-making; my participation has largely been making bad puns and answering newbie questions. I haven't used IRC in months and have managed to participate in Wikipedia decision-making just fine. I've responded to non-sensitive email requests on the emailing user's talk page instead of by email. We're arguing about a hypothetical situation that simply doesn't exist.
    How are we currently not being inclusive? One of the major arguments (repeated just below this comment) is that the Discord is public so it is very difficult for me to take arguments about "exclusivity" particularly seriously. Who is being excluded from what decisions? It feels like everyone's gotten together to complain about how the band kids always sit together, except instead of high schoolers its middle-aged and retired adults complaining about how the youngest segment of our editor base chooses to engage with the site. Many of the editors on Discord weren't even born when you and Phil started editing under your accounts; I was 10 years old when you made your first edit as Isaacl, and from your writing style at the time I would put money on me being your junior.
    Critique and reasoned discussion about how we should engage with the site is fine, but part of that discussion should be the recognition that this discussion is part of a pattern where editors socialized in the ways of the early internet try to avoid the reality that the internet has changed in the last two decades. Evidence is largely non-existent given our anonymity, and I haven't done a particularly systematic investigation, but it is my impression that opinions on this RfC are distributed by age---personal or account (probably both). Your essay, User:Isaacl/Consensus requires patience, is one of my favorites, but ours are not the only correct philosophies on how wikis prosper. Quite the contrary: wikis work because they can support multiple contradictory workflows and philosophies simultaneously. Many wikis like work well with real time communication strategies, while others like MetaWiki work best on glacial time-scales. While I agree that it is best for as much discussion to happen on-wiki as possible, it is disingenuous to say that it is the only way for a wiki to operate. If we want to be inclusive, and I believe that is our shared goal, we need to recognize that not everyone likes or works best using our favorite mode of communication. If we want Wikipedia to survive another 20 years, we need to figure out how we can engage younger internet users who did not grow up in the age of dial-up internet in our discussions and wiki-culture without explicitly or implicitly saying "our way or the highway". Regardless of the specifics, I believe there is something wrong with older editors saying "our favorite communication methods are privileged, but your favorite method has no such privilege and can be used in whatever character assassinations we want." Wug·a·po·des 20:24, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    I don't believe I've said that the only way for wikis in general to operate is through on-wiki discussion. In many (perhaps most?) situations, wikis are used solely to store info, not communicate between users. I agreed that people like all kinds of communication methods, and that's just the way it is. (*) However English Wikipedia isn't starting from scratch today, and so there are existing expectations. If the community decides it wants to alter the minimum requirements for full engagement, so be it; I just think the community should make a conscious decision around this and establish new expectations. (For instance, it would be really hard to jump back and forth between a real-time, logged messaging app and a talk page to discuss a dispute; the new standard might be for all conversation to take place on the messaging app, with the talk page used to host any desired wikitext examples that can be referred to from the messaging tool.)
    (*) Regarding using information from other venues to help make decisions on editors, that's a separate issue from changing the requirements for participation. Part of the problem is that dealing with behavioural issues in an large group conversation is terribly inefficient and frequently counter-productive as it engages in open speculation. For better or worse, though, it isn't going to change in the intermediate future. isaacl (talk) 21:36, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    I think we're in a heated agreement, and I'm sorry if I conflated your and Phil's points. To be clear, my point is that the rise of IRC never changed the minimal requirements for participation, and neither has Discord. It's simply the next iteration of that technology which routinely, and particularly on Wikipedia, is met with moral panic. A great example is xkcd 1227. In the 1800s commentators were concerned that letter writing would die out, that we would be so obsessed with reading books that we wouldn't talk to our compatriots. Of course, we still write letters, and we still talk to people on the train. Those morphed into how emails ruined our ablity to write letters, or how we're too invested in playing on our phones to talk to each other. It's an anti-pattern, and we should be aware of it. Centralized communication is useful, and since we all work on Wiki, coordinating on wiki is often easier. That's why it sticks around despite changes in other technologies. We should be aware of how new technologies can change the dynamic on wiki, but we should be wary of making them seem more consequential than they are (unless you do want more pictures of my pokemon card collection...) Wug·a·po·des 01:33, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
    Although they both occurred before either my time on Wikipedia or in paying attention to such things, the eastern European mailing list issues and WP:Esperanza are key influences on how English Wikipedia editors currently eschew off-wiki discussion forums to make decisions. I don't think a shift is imminent, nor do I think anyone is panicking, but it's something that I feel we should keep an eye on, if only to determine that new procedures would be desirable. (I'm guessing by "rise of IRC" you are referring to some point where participation on the Wikipedia IRC channels increased? IRC predates Wikipedia considerably and as I understand it, Wikipedia IRC channels predate the WMF.) isaacl (talk) 02:36, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
    Re You already carved out an arbitrary exception for email, so why should your particular off-wiki communication be preferred over others?: well one big difference is that email is private, and the public Discord servers are public. But in fact, we have no rule against disclosing private email communications on-wiki (AFAIK anyway; Wikipedia:Private correspondence was a failed proposal), but we have a rule about not disclosing public IRC conversations, and may soon have a rule against linking to public Discord logs. That's really backwards, eh? Levivich 15:54, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    Publishing private e-mail messages would have to comply with copyright law, which is a barrier to posting them on wiki. I don't know what terms the Discord system sets for copyright, but that would have to be investigated. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:19, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    IME posting emails is generally frowned upon even if not explicitly forbidden. I cannot find any project-wide discussion that rejected the proposal you linked, and from the talk page it seems that the authors never decided to see it to completion. It seems that the 2008 draft proposal was in response to the arbitration committee stating unequivocally in 2007 that private correspondence should not be posted on-wiki without permission. See July 2007, reaffirmed December 2007, where they link the posting of private email to a violation of the copyright policy. Regardless of how backwards you think these rules may be, as I said above, we should have a norm if not policy against digging through old off-wiki correspondence to find things to discredit people with per project-wide consensus. Despite the occasional exceptions (see WP:IAR) you point out, we have a robust norm against posting off-wiki correspondence regardless of the mode, and even UPE have had evidence from undisclosed Twitter or Facebook accounts redacted because of this. Quite simply, it would be backwards to give carte blanche to posting Discord links or logs when such behavior is at the very least discouraged for all other modes of communication. Wug·a·po·des 20:47, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    Yeah, that norm needs changing. Copyright is the silliest fig leaf (of course quoting an email doesn't violate copyright, and no, we don't own the copyright to every word or every sentence of an email we write... entire paragraphs or emails, maybe, but then there's fair use to consider... copyright is so overcited on this website). "Option 5" is right on: public communications are public communications; prohibiting them on-wiki seems to me to be a contortion to allow people to escape any on-wiki consequences for public off-wiki behavior. Levivich 21:06, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    I agree that copyright concerns are overblown. (I feel there is a good case to be made for an implicit licence being provided for many group conversations. Plus copyright enforcement is about protecting the author's rights for commercial exploitation, which is non-existent for the vast majority of messages.) However in the interest of not marshalling inaccurate arguments in favour of this conclusion: a writer does own the copyright to every specific expression of ideas in a message that is written, and explicitly quoting someone is literally copying their words. The writer doesn't own the underlying ideas, though, so paraphrasing is fine, and even using the same words is fine when there are limited ways of saying the same thing. isaacl (talk) 21:48, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
    Copyright definitely constrains what we can do in large-scale ways. You could normally quote a small section of an e-mail message without running afoul of copyright, especially if you comment on it; however, you couldn't routinely publish long e-mail exchanges – or, more relevantly, whole logs of every comment posted to any chat or social media system – without suitable copyright licensing being in place. I see this as a surmountable problem, but it's still a problem.
    Given that we've blocked and de-sysopped editors for what they've said on IRC in the past, I think that concerns about not being able to punish people for bad behavior if we can't copy their words directly to the wiki (rather than sending it via e-mail to arbs or similar) are overblown. I've no doubt that it's frustrating to a few busybodies, but we seem to be able to manage overall. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
    Context matters. People routinely quote entire message exchanges on mailing lists and bulletin boards. As this is the norm, expectations are set appropriately and thus anyone participating is implicitly agreeing to this behaviour. In the general case, people communicating with each other haven't consented to posting the contents in other venues, but in specific cases, such as people working up a proposal, the nature of the work implies an agreement. But the issue isn't really copyright, which as I said is more about protecting the author's rights to profit from their work and doesn't prevent paraphrasing, but privacy. Open discussion forums should make it clear what the ground rules are regarding privacy. isaacl (talk) 02:21, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
    Whether or not you believe they're overblown, the links I gave show that your premise is flawed, and as isaac points out your conception of copyright is flawed to start with. I don't particularly care about the copyright status of email; I pointed to them because you said we have no rule against disclosing private email communications on-wiki which is not accurate since the arbitration committee has said it is a violation of copyright. You may disagree or wish to change it, but that doesn't change the fact that your starting premise is flawed. If your ham-fisted principle, public communications are public communications, enjoyed consensus we would not have WP:OUTING. For all your concern about on-wiki consequences for off-wiki behavior, you have aboslutely no regard for off-wiki consequences of your unflinching support for the right to post my tweets. When people have expressed concerns in this thread about privacy or outing, you blow them off as if having your information posted on one of the ten largest websites in the world forever is a minor inconvenience (ironic, considering you make a point in your rationale of how revisions are stored forever). Post your social media accounts and email publicly, right here, if it's no big deal. I'm sure you would love for us to comb through your posts; you have nothing to hide yes? Of course this is rhetorical, because I assume you're intelligent enough to know that you're being disingenuous. There is something unsavory about actively lobbying to make it easier to harass people while working very hard to maintain your own anonymity. That alone would be gross, but not only are you using simplisitc slogans to advocate for decimating an editor's ability to have a private life, every time someone points out how incoherent your arguments are you shift the goalposts or move on to a new argument that contradicts your last one.
    Your original opinion (which you repeat here) is that not posting off-wiki communications on wiki is somehow designed to prevent on-wiki consequences for off-wiki conduct. Nevermind that I and others have pointed out how this can acctually incentivize proper reporting, let's assume you're right: if so, I still wouldn't trust your opinion because you gave your own counter example in reply to Barkeep ("For example, earlier this year someone was sanctioned at ANI for a BLP COI based in part on their tweets, which were linked to, quoted, and discussed in the ANI thread...We've similarly seen Twitter, Facebook, etc. be linked/quoted on-wiki when dealing with off-wiki canvassing"). So clearly you know that we can and do santion people on-wiki for off-wiki conduct, but incorporating that nuance and assuming people are sane enough to apply WP:IAR would undercut the asinine tautology you keep repeating. Moving on, you later say that we should be allowed to out people's real names ("If you use your real name as your username on a public discord server, then you've already made it public" which points out how frivolous this argument is because if taken to its logical conclusion we could post anyone's real names because if you choose to use your real name on Facebook or your driver's license you've made it public, sorry) because you say that we have no rule against linking editors who use their real names to their external contributions ("Imagine the reverse argument: that people who use their real name as their username on Wikipedia can't have their contribs linked to on another website because it's PII. I mean, LOL that makes zero sense :-)"), except that we do have such a rule. When someone points that out to you, you reverse course ("Oh yes that's my understanding of our outing policy too") and show a complete lack of understanding of this RfC or its context saying that Discord requires OAuth (it doesn't) and that this isn't an RfC about linking WP and discord usernames (it is, unless you just want to be able to post random discord links with no context). Rhododendrites does a good job of pointing out the flaws in your argument, and it again illustrates how you keep interpretting OUTING however you want without regard for what it actually says. Now, here, you say that somehow the norm of not posting off-wiki communications doesn't extend to email (it does) based on a proposal that was never put up for community discussion, and when that is pointed out you move on to saying that pointing to the copyright policy is invalid (by making inaccurate claims about copyright law as isaac covered). Arguing with you about this is tiring, which presumably is the point (see Gish gallop: "The technique wastes an opponent's time and may cast doubt on the opponent's debating ability for an audience unfamiliar with the technique, especially if no independent fact-checking is involved"). If you seriously think that there are no consequences to indiscriminately posting off-wiki communications and radically altering our OUTING policy, I really don't know what to say, but to speak candidly, given your anonymity, I think you do understand the consequences. If that norm needs changing, be the change and post your social media accounts for inspection. Until you out yourself or make a consistent argument I'm really not interested in continuing this conversation with you. Wug·a·po·des 00:37, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
  •   Comment: This proposal is hard to understand. Which is the most permissive and which is the most restrictive? Please ping me if required since I do not watch this page. If anything, Option 5 (which sounds like the least restrictive) sounds like the best choice. Leaderboard (talk) 12:00, 23 July 2021 (UTC)

Rules canceling modificationsEdit

Wikipedia is not a nomic. We settle issues by discussion and consensus, not by making arbitrary "laws" and asserting rules about how people are allowed to discuss proposals. Discussion here has shown this has no chance of a useful outcome, in part because of the proposer's insistence in idiosyncratic terminology. If you're here to improve Wikipedia, then get to it. If you're only here to try to play nomic, you're likely to be blocked. Anomie 12:04, 9 July 2021 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Original close: Closed per snowball clause  . This discussion has gone for long enough, with a great deal of bludgeoning. (non-admin closure) Sdrqaz (talk) 02:37, 9 July 2021 (UTC)

I strongly oppose the system of canceling article edits without having a box in which to write the reason for canceling the amendment is mandatory, and I consider that writing things like (Reverted edits by..) is not a reason to cancel the amendment, so I ask that a law be put in place that states that everyone who cancels amending without mentioning the reason for cancellation is considered a violation of the law, which is suspicious. I also drew attention to the fact that the status of this law will greatly reduce the opening of discussions about the reason for canceling the amendment, I ask everyone to participate in this matter. Qeuffyg45(☎) — Preceding undated comment added 18:48, 5 July 2021

  • User:Qeuffyg45, Wikipedia develops best when such changes are based on what has actually happened rather than what someone thinks may happen. Do you have any examples of where this has been a problem? I can't see any in your history, because your history only consists of your edits here. I would take issue with your statement that such a change "will greatly reduce the opening of discussions about the reason for canceling the amendment". Discussions are good, not bad. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:52, 5 July 2021 (UTC) And, by the way, I don't know what policy says, but I certainly find the size of your signature distracting. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:57, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I would think that posting a message on the article talk page asking “Why did you revert?” would be the best way to open a discussion about a revert. Blueboar (talk) 20:21, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
  • bpy not stating the reason for canceling the amendment, the amendment can be canceled with biased goals or the like.
  • with the existence of this law, it remains possible to open a discussion about the reason for canceling the amendment.
  • this law will enable the user to know the reason for canceling his modification, which will make him learn more.
  • with the existence of this law, the user will not be asked about the reason for canceling its amendment, but will start the discussion directly to reach a solution.

I thank you for your opinion about my signature. I tried to modify it to delete the sticker, its size is perfect, and its color is not in violation.Qeuffyg45(☎) — Preceding undated comment added 20:47, 5 July 2021

  • No, the size of your signature is not perfect. Read the very first point of WP:SIGAPP, if you need confirmation, and remove "font-size:20px" from it. Also the last part with the telephone icon links somewhere that will never exist. Why not concentrate on improving some encyclopedia articles first before badly customising your signature? Phil Bridger (talk) 21:25, 5 July 2021 (UTC)
    WP:REVEXP already exists and deals with the issue you're talking about. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 02:41, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
    Chess I thank you for my guidance on signing, but on our topic please don't change the main topic, I'm talking about making a law, so don't suggest other things to me, I know what to do, let our discussion be scientific. thanks again.Qeuffyg45 — Preceding undated comment added 11:33, 6 July 2021
    Qeuffyg45, I know there are a lot of details to keep track of in this new environment, but Chess didn't say anything about your signature, Phil Bridger did. And on that topic, two points from me: (1) thanks for reducing the size of your sig, and (2) please include the date when signing, by adding four tildes, (like ~~~~). You might want to look at Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines to learn more about signing and indenting on talk pages. — JohnFromPinckney (talk / edits) 15:33, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
  • While I can see the frustration, under our current system edit summaries are optional. Having edit summaries as optional is really important because it makes a lot of vandalism easier to spot. Goodfaith editors almost always leave an edit summary, badfaith editors often don't. Changing the rules to force more people even everyone to leave edit summaries is a perennial proposal, chiefly because the disadvantages outway the advantages, and also that it would make Wikipedia even more rule bound thhan it is. ϢereSpielChequers 14:50, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
    WereSpielChequers There are points that need to be clarified more, forcing everyone to leave a description will make everyone learn and develop from himself and will help more in discovering and investigating the reasons for canceling the amendments, and not mentioning the reason for cancellation will cause boredom and tiredness to ask the question about the reason for cancellation, I think this is a not good system unfortunately, it suffers from a major imbalance and it is an unfair system, of course, I am not talking about the editing system that can remain as it is, but I am talking about canceling the amendments. If you think that this exposes the sabotage, well, it will remain as it is, so, the possibility of not leaving a description of the main reason for canceling the amendment will give a great opportunity for those who cancel the amendment to not abide by the rules, and if we assume that it was discussed about the reason for canceling the amendment, it will be difficult to punish him because he will try to fabricate reasons, in this case the Wikipedia system will suffer from many problems in this system, which may not I can count them.Qeuffyg45 20:17, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
    Am I correct in thinking that when you say “cancelling an amendment” you are talking about the practice of reverting an edit? If so… if someone is likely to “fabricate a reason” for reverting in a discussion, they will be just as likely to “fabricate a reason” in an edit summary. However, in a discussion you can counter what the other guy says by laying out WHY there reason is not valid… you can not do so in an edit summary without engaging in edit warring. Blueboar (talk) 22:28, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
    Blueboar We can't prevent everything, do you think that when there is a clear reason for canceling the amendment, it will be re-amended? If there is a discussion that will open after this, we have nothing to do with us, it will happen. the important thing is that after the reason for cancellation is clear, the matter will be more just, and there must be rules condemning any someone who makes up reasons or something like that will be revealed in the discussions, and there are previous positive points that I have made and I do not want to repeat them, after all, we are striving to reach credibility, and this will make it easier for us to uncover the problems that revolve around canceling the amendments, whether by mistake or with improper goals.
    I didn't say there were no advantages to making edit summaries compulsory. I just explained that the disadvantages out weighed the advantages. I might also add that if it was compulsory to leave an edit summary the risk is that more people will leave edit summaries thatare overly short and not very helpful. This is a volunteer community, extra rules are rarely the best solution when dealing with volunteers. ϢereSpielChequers 23:02, 6 July 2021 (UTC)
    WereSpielChequers I am not talking about leaving the amendment summaries, I am talking about leaving the summary canceling the amendment. If you want to discuss the summary of the amendments, you can open a private discussion in a private paragraph. I do not currently have plans about it, although I think it will reduce sabotage operations, well, thank you for your observation regarding what will happen if the summary of the amendment is mandatory. also, you can know my answer through what I mentioned above, when I said we can't prevent everything..) Qeuffyg45 01:07, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
    Sadly, People all to often re-amend when their amendment has been cancelled (ie revert a revert)… we call it “edit warring”, and and have a policy against it. They do it anyway. Blueboar (talk) 01:19, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the OP is running in to a English language barrier with some of this proposal. Certain words have very specific meanings that seem to be getting used in the wrong way. Wikipedia does not make "laws", governments do - we can make policies, guidelines, etc. Edits are never "cancelled", pages can be revised, and new revisions may or may not incorporate any of the old revision content. It seems like they are suggesting a new policy that more descriptive edit summaries should always be required when reverting. If so, oppose as there are many reversion use cases and the OP has not seemed to consider them. This entire policy proposal seems extremely premature and I expect it to snow close due to not being developed further prior to posting here. Suggest that if the OP wants to proceed, they bring this to Idea Lab. — xaosflux Talk 10:04, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
    Xaosflux I call politics in Wikipedia encyclopedia laws as a metaphor, as the owners of groups on social media put terms or laws. Qeuffyg45 12:37, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Qeuffyg45, I don't see that an edit of yours has ever been reverted? So I am unsure why it is an issue? CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 21:27, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
    CaptainEek My mission is to develop laws and I do not let anyone deviate from the core of my topic that I am talking about, so please make our assessment objective without looking around or looking here and there. Qeuffyg45 23:33, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
    If your mission is to develop laws, then that will put you out of line with most of the editors on this page, who generally have the goal of making Wikipedia work better, and who propose rule changes only to achieve that goal. As it is, the rule change you call for is an odd one, in that it will put more requirements on those who restore the status quo than on those who change it, while one really should have reason for making a change, and the status quo should be the default. And in many cases, the edits being undone are vandalistic or in some other form of bad faith, and giving additional effort to the bad faith actor can be seen as "feeding the troll".
    If you think you have the power not to let anyone deviate from the core of your topic, then you overestimate your strength. --Nat Gertler (talk) 23:54, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

NatGertler Your method of dialogue is unscientific, unsystematic, illogical, and off-track, and you turn positive things into suspicious and negative matters to create an atmosphere of suspicion. do not rush like that, my friend. let me mention the positive points and take into account the negative things that are always raised.

❶ The absence of this law will allow editors to cancel the amendments without others knowing that they canceled them for bias or the like, and they may be accused of things that are not true even if they did not mean them when they canceled.

❷ Most of the people who cancel the edits do not write a description showing the reason for canceling the amendment, and therefore the owner of the amendment will not learn from his mistakes, it will become almost impossible for him to learn.

❸ Without mentioning the reasons for canceling the amendments, the editors will not learn from their mistakes, as we said, which will allow them to happen again in other articles.

❹ If you think that through the existence of this system, the amendment will be re-edited and the same mistake will be made, then know that the modifier will be held accountable or accused of sabotage, and if the reason for canceling its amendment is because it does not contain sources, it will modify algain and provide its amendment with sources and there is no problem in this and the encyclopedia is built on understanding and a solution conflicts, problems and access to solutions.

If you think that this will cause a recurrence of sabotage, then this means that we will calculate the matter with them and their punishment will be issued immediately, our colleague said WereSpielChequers ((Having edit summaries as optional is really important because it makes a lot of vandalism easier to spot. Goodfaith editors almost always leave an edit summary, badfaith editors often don't.)) so the functioning of the system according to this law will speed up the process of settling and settling matters with them, and there will be no room for sabotage in the coming times, If the reason for the cancellation was due to a defect in the amendment, the solution to the matter would be more peaceful and clear, It is still possible to reveal their sabotage motives because they will write short things such as (edit) or the like, although we do not issue a law about describing the amendment, but rather a law about describing the cancellation, but I say this in the event that the amendment law is discussed in the future.

❺ Those who write the amendments make an effort, and whoever cancels them without mentioning any real letter in the description indicating the reason for canceling the amendment is considered a miscalculation of their efforts and carries a kind of insult and, and the damages from this cannot be counted.

❻ Cancellation of the amendment without stating the reason is a kind of grumbling and failure to complete the duty with dedication، there is also a waste of a certain effort when not leaving a description, because the one who reviews the amendment will not pass judgment on the person who made the amendment because he did not leave a description, which will cause a waste of effort and time in the future when his other disruptive amendments are reviewed and read all from scratch and then judge the saboteur ((I mean here to search for disruptive modifications, not any modification made by the vandal and has been canceled، because there are those who have dozens of canceled modifications, and not all of them are vandalism, so If we search for its vandalism modifications, this will consume time and effort)) whereas, if the canceled modifications contain a description, there is no need to waste time reviewing and reading its modifications, but rather reading the description of the cancellation.

❼ If there was a saboteur who made an amendment and it was cancelled, then the second time if he wanted to do the sabotage again, there would be some kind of difficulty in finding his previous disruptive amendments, because there are things written like (Reverted edits by..) or (this person’s edit was cancelled) by..), that's how the history of edits becomes a messy place.

❽ Not leaving the reason for canceling the amendment in the description will make the saboteur covet more to carry out sabotage in other ways and in another place. he will learn and transform from a reckless and reckless person to a person who writes impartially.

❾ With the possibility of canceling the edits without leaving a true description of the reasons, it will allow the opportunity to cancel the amendments with non-Semitic and good purposes, and this will not be wikipedia’s system based on trust, as it constitutes a suspicious loophole in its system, and because of this, the problems will be magnified.

❿ The existence of this law will open the door to justice and make wikipedia more credible and impartial, and they will force those who cancel the amendments with unpleasant purposes to accept them forcibly and in compliance with the Wikipedia system.

❉ If I had continued to mention the important points that expose the flaws of this system, I would not have finished, as I would like to close the door of negative matters that are always raised about the existence of this law, and as I said “we cannot prevent everything”, so I will mention this story that can be through which to derive an equation that closes the door to questions that revolve around the negative aspects of this system.

● When we peel oranges with our fingers, the process will be slow, but when we invent something called a knife, the process of peeling oranges will be faster, but at the same time this knife will be used to achieve unpleasant goals by others, such as killing and the like, but here important questions are raised that need deep contemplation: ▪did the presence of knife killings make this scientist refrain from making the knife? ▪do criminals only use the knife to kill, or is there really another way for criminals to achieve their ends? ▪Is the knife alone that carries both benefits and harms at the same time, or are there many similar things that carry positives and negatives at the same time, such as the presence of chemicals, for example, that are used for agricultural fertilization and at the same time criminals use them to make poisons in order to kill others? ▪Is the knife used only for killing, or is it also used for self-defense or fight criminals and eliminate criminals?. Qeuffyg45 00:12, 9 July 2021 (UTC)

So far, you have won no one over to your side, and this technique of not listening to what you're being told and responding instead with a larger wall of text and some insults is not likely to change that outcome. So I suggest you WP:DROPTHESTICK and instead address your energies to article edits. Having some experience in the process may help you understand it. (Meanwhile, could someone uninvolved please hat this thing?) --Nat Gertler (talk) 01:11, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
For future reference, use number signs rather than unicode numbers to number bullet points. e.g.
  1. Wi
  2. Ki
  3. pe
  4. dia Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 01:37, 9 July 2021 (UTC)

Decisions must be taken if there are no objections, and no one is allowed to object without justifying the reason for his objection. Qeuffyg45 01:59, 9 July 2021 (UTC) The discussion is not over yet, you have no right to close it so quickly, I suggest opening a vote before ending the discussion. Qeuffyg45 11:47, 9 July 2021 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Limiting the scope of COI edit requestsEdit

As of signature time, the backlog of outstanding edit requests by WP:COI editors is 150 requests long. Apparently, the bot maintaining the page broke on 29 May, so it’s not clear how old the oldest requests are, but we can easily find requests that have been open since December 2020 [29][30].

A significant portion of these requests consist in very large rewrites and substantial additions to articles. These are very difficult to implement, since WP:COIRESPONSE calls for an in-depth review of the proposed changes. As a result, these requests are not likely to ever get a satisfactory (from the COI editor's point of view) response. A good case study here is this one, where a COI editor has requested complex, WP:MEDRS-sensitive edits and is insisting on a review.

I propose that we limit the scope of COI edit requests by specifying that such requests should, in principle, only consist in corrections and small additions to the article. Edit request consisting in wholesale rewrites or substantial additions could be closed without action at the discretion of the reviewing editor. This amendment would affect WP:COI, WP:PSCOI and WP:EDITREQ. JBchrch talk 16:14, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

Alternative proposal: Several editors have proposed an automatic close of unanswered requests after a set period of time, such as one month. JBchrch talk 19:48, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

I know of at least two other editors who have advocated a similar view, and I'm taking the liberty of pinging them: David Eppstein and Melmann. JBchrch talk 16:14, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
Oh geez, yes please. COI-edit request needs to be fundamentally reconsidered, particularly when it comes to WP:PAID editors snowing us under a mountain of detailed requests that meet the requirements at first glance, but are often carefully crafted to hide WP:BALANCE and WP:NPOV issues. These people people are literally professionals at getting you to believe what they want you to believe, and responsibly checking their requests can be very time consuming effort. As Wikipedia continues to become more and more important in defining the public image of companies and kind of people who have a PR company on a retainer, we need a better system. In turn, genuine COI requests such as Talk:Greg_Woolf#Personal life section languish being unanswered until eventually somebody digs into the queue and offers basic guidance.
I am supportive of a proposal made here, although it obviously needs to be more fleshed out, but almost any change is a change for the better. Alternate idea I had is to establish a new WP:PAID process where any page that sees substantial WP:PAID activity can be protected with the Pending Change protection so that the paid editors can implement all their changes themselves and then submit them for review, and the reviewers would have wide discretion to decline the changes based on any policy-based argument. This puts the onus of implementing the requests on editors who are literally paid to do this, while the few COI/PAID volunteer reviewers we have should be in position to deal with more requests. I also think that reviewers should have more discretion to be firm and sharp with WP:PAID editors who almost never WP:HERE and almost never edit constructively outside of the topics they are paid for. Of course, we should remain civil and professional, but I think that any WP:PAID editor who demonstrates failure to engage with core policies such as WP:NPOV or WP:BALANCE should be simply WP:SNOW-ed without the editor being expected to walk them through doing the policy reading they should have already done. Melmann 16:49, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
In the winter I reviewed Talk:Bordier & Cie. This review took a month to complete because there were sourcing concerns, problems accessing sources, POV concerns, and I had to research the firm to understand the edits. I don't like completing requests like that anymore. I would prefer it if COI editors proposed edits in sections, or a maximum of four paragraphs of changes (about the max size of a section). This makes it easier for editors to evaluate the edits. Also, shorter requests tend to be responded to quickly, so increasing the chance of quicker responses will make COI editors happy.
I also suggest that COI requests be automatically closed as "stale" if they remain open for more than a month. This is what requests for unblock does (albeit their time limit is two weeks). If a request is closed as stale, we can link to a page that outlines common reasons why it was not responded to, such as length, number of requests and problematic sourcing. This also lets reviewers know that the requester is probably going to be active on WP to answer the request's concerns. Z1720 (talk) 17:41, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
I don't believe this needs any change to policy, but simply when a COI editor makes a long request they should be told quickly that the request is likely to take a very long time, and it is more likely that they will get some of what they want if a request is split into smaller chunks. It should also be made clear that any edits requested by COI editors are subject to a volunteer being willing to perform the edit, which may never happen. Phil Bridger (talk) 17:55, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
@Phil Bridger: Regarding which may never happen: What's your view on Z1720's idea regarding automatic stale closures after a set period of time? I am asking because it would be still be useful, for "backlog management" purposes, if unanswered requests stopped appearing at CAT:EDITREQ at some point . JBchrch talk 18:35, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

As a sidebar, don't just think about paid editors. WP:COI covers situations immensely broader than that. Anyone who has children has a likely COI when writing anything about children.  :-) But more directly to the point, such would preclude COI editors from having any legit way to make any edit of substance. North8000 (talk) 18:30, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

I did a lot of work for an exemplary COI editor. Their submittals were immensely careful, policy-knowlegable, well-explained in any questionable areas, open and honest, and Wikipedian and fully ready-to-go. So they basically cultivated a relationship with me to be trusted, minimize and respect my time and in turn I was happy to help. Perhaps giving some guidance to editors that they really need to do that, especially with substantial edits, in order to get a volunteer to help them. And closing the long ones as stale after a 1 month wait would be a way to say "you didn't do that" or "your edit was too big, messy or problematic". North8000 (talk) 18:42, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

BTW the exemplary COI editor was a paid editor. North8000 (talk) 19:51, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
I hear you, and you are not wrong, but in my experience, all the most difficult edits are WP:PAID. Most non-paid COI comes from a place of desire to make things better, and often can be relatively easily guided towards a better place. Alternatively, if the COI editor is really not acting in good faith, it is relatively easy to use existing enforcement mechanisms to to correct and ultimately control their behaviours. PR professionals, on the other hand, are subtle and sometimes downright deceptive, and it takes lots of effort to check their edits when most of the time you lack context and expertise and you really have to research in depth to see their edits for what they really are. I think that one of the fundamental mistakes of the current policy is lumping paid editors with general COI editing as paid editors are fundamentally playing on a different level in terms of PR expertise and incentives compared to a general COI concerns. Melmann 18:53, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
Yes, I know. I mentioned it to keep in mind that anything we write applying to wp:COI editors also applies to all of those other un-paid folks.North8000 (talk) 19:54, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I don't think COI edit requests should only consist in corrections and small additions. In fact, if the corrections are small enough, no edit request is required, or it might be fulfilled faster. The main problem with many edit requests is that they are not clear. Edit requests should state the exact change, and if they do not, we should decline them early and let them prepare the request better. Sometimes a rejection for a borderline request may be harsh, but it's probably less harsh than silence. MarioGom (talk) 19:05, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
    (ec)Most COIs doing big edits have good intentions, but they don't understand the policies like other editors might. They are also frustrated because they read articles with promo language and think that's acceptable when in reality it just hasn't been flagged and/or fixed by an experienced, non-COI editor yet. Right now editors who request big edits see their request languish for months without action. By having a bot close it as stale, they get a notification that there was a problem with their edit and they need to reconsider how it is formatted. Z1720 (talk) 19:06, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

(ec) Limiting COI edit requests to small fixes will make editing harder for open paid editors, effectively forcing them to go UPE. If anything, we should make disclosed paid editing easier to discourage UPEs. A pending changes like process per Mel's suggestion would be sensible, although we should somehow highlight these requests as accepting pending changes merely indicates the absence of obvious copyvio and vandalism (per Wikipedia:Pending changes § Reviewing pending edits). Paid editors could also implement their request, then revert themselves and provide the diff at the COI request to make reviewing it easier. Automatically closing stale requests sounds good to me. The current lack of reviewers means that a period of one or two months seem appropriate to me. 15 (talk) 19:40, 7 July 2021 (UTC)

Paid editors could also implement their request, then revert themselves and provide the diff at the COI request to make reviewing it easier. this would make reviewing requests SO MUCH easier. Having to actually make the edit is such a pain, I almost never look at COI requests for that reason alone. Elli (talk | contribs) 21:08, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
(NB: I'm a paid editor and have been for many years. Posting here on my own behalf, not speaking for my employer or any client.) I agree with this take – some articles really do need substantial updates, and I'm not sure that several small requests are actually easier to review than one larger request, especially when all the relevant information is interconnected. In particular, there are often occasions when an article has been rewritten with a negative POV by someone with a grudge, and correcting that requires nuanced and thorough review of the article's contents and sources. I believe doing so does make Wikipedia better, and I'm not sure there's a way to do it and ensure it's neutral that doesn't require some investment of effort.
I also have seen my own clients get frustrated with the edit request process when they're seeing competitors get better results with obvious UPE that goes unflagged. (I myself have fired clients in the past for turning to UPE over my objections.) Making edit requests even harder will incentivize UPE.
Also love the idea of implementing and then reverting edits to streamline review of the diffs. Personally, I'm always happy to do whatever I can to make my requests easier to review. In my experience, different editors often have different preferences for how requests are formatted and presented. Clearer guidance would, I think, benefit everyone. Mary Gaulke (talk) 22:11, 7 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Opppose. This proposal effectively aims to ban meaningful paid editing. Edit requests are already mandatory for COI and/or paid editors. The policy doesn't actually say that but if you spend any time at WP:COIN you will see that the policy is enforced that way. Banning edit requests from proposing "substantial additions" to articles will effectively be a ban on any meaningful paid or COI editing, given that there will be no other option than to just ask on the talk page without a template and never get a response. Do you think all the people banned from COI editing will just say "well, I guess I just won't edit Wikipedia anymore"? Or will they just turn to UPE to try to make changes to the article? Automatically declining COI edit requests after a month is effectively equivalent to just banning them altogether given the length of the backlog.
    Not all corporations or people with COIs that seek to edit Wikipedia do so for nefarious purposes. As Mary said, there are many cases where there are legitimate concerns that paid editors raise with the content of articles. In order to effectively deal with this we need to allow paid editors to have meaningful changes be made to articles in a reasonable amount of time when those changes advance the goal of creating a better encyclopedia. There is already barely any incentive to choose legitimate paid editing over UPE and this proposal would reduce that incentive even further. We should be focusing on increasing those incentives rather than decreasing them and part of that is ensuring that opportunities exist to legitimately engage with the process of creating an encyclopedia. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 02:03, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Chess: I respect your views but you are not addressing the concrete problems here, i.e. the size of the backlog, the complexity of some of these requests, and the shortage of editors willing to work on them. JBchrch talk 09:30, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Chess. I appreciate there is a problem, but the solution proposed here will solve only a small aspect of it but will come with significantly worse problems in other areas. The answer to me would seem to be two parallel processes - one for small tweaks for things that can be reviewed and accepted or declined with at most about 5 minutes work from a reviewer, and another for more substantial changes. This on it's own wont stop the backlog of large changes but it should solve the issue of them blocking small changes. Paid and COI editors wanting to edit Wikipedia is a fact of life whether you like it or not, if we want them to work with us then we need to make it easy as possible to do so otherwise they'll just go ahead and edit without declaring. Thryduulf (talk) 10:01, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the reasons already stated by Chess and Thryduulf. In particular, I agree with Thryduulf's last sentence, that any limits we impose will simply drive them to not cooperate. That said, I recognize that having a long backlog is, in itself, a disincentive to cooperate, but I'm afraid that just reflects a strain on what Wikipedia can currently accomplish. The best way to clear the backlog is to clear the backlog (and yes, I'm implicitly volunteering other editors to do tasks that I don't feel like doing). There are ways to get more editors working on the backlog. Messages can be posted about it at locations where there are more eyes, and there should particularly be periodic notices about it at WP:COIN. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:09, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Tryptofish: you may have seen that COIN has a huge sidebar with all the requests. Maybe a way to incentivize editors could be through events or contests like Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/GAN Backlog Drives—with, however, two caveats. First, that's way above my pay grade as a relatively new editor, so I'm also volunteering for others by proposing this. Second, WP:COIRESPONSE lacks an "immediate fail" criteria like WP:GAFAIL, which prevents sub-par requests from being closed quickly. JBchrch talk
    Yes, in fact I checked how it appears at COIN before I posted my remark. My thinking is that it is just that – a sidebar. It's easy to overlook it when checking to see if there are new reports at the bottom of the page. So I think that it would be helpful to post, periodically, a new section to the page, drawing attention to the backlog (the fact that it would be a notice instead of a report of a particular COI should not be an issue). --Tryptofish (talk) 18:03, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose to both proposals per Thryduulf. As someone who's actually been in the weeds reviewing and carrying out these COI/paid edit requests, this idea is well-intentioned but will simply move things underground. Not all of these large requests are bad. I have implemented quite a few that I strongly believe were improvements: culling unsourced puffery in a BLP and replacing it with sourced material, and comprehensive rewrites that undoubtedly made the article far better. Please see the difference between this with one! inline citation to the organisation itself and this with 30 inline citations. And this bloated and largely-unsourced BLP and its current state, with some work left to do. This severe limitation in scope for COI requests would not have allowed those improvements to occur. The large backlog of edit requests is due to the fact that many editors simply have zero interest in helping with that backlog; while the automatic expiry of those requests may ostensibly help "reduce" it, I would much rather that human eyes made that judgement on which were good and which are bad rather than some arbitrary time limit. If that part of the proposal passes, I hope that those here advocating for it would actually try to tackle the backlog, instead of just seeing the number go down and think to themselves "well the system's working, job done". Sdrqaz (talk) 17:45, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Sdrqaz: This comment is unfair to the editors commenting here who have worked on many edit requests, and you may exclude me from this category if you so wish. JBchrch talk 18:03, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    I've struck it, with apologies. I was being too snarky and thank you for reining me in / giving me a reality check. Some of my frustration stems from the fact many editors (perhaps not here) wouldn't touch the COI/paid request process with a bargepole because they are disagree in principle with COI/paid editing, and would rather the practice was banned completely. No amount of trying to make the process simpler would help. As someone who's worked with these requests but have never been paid or edited in areas where I have a conflict of interest, I've been accused of being paid twice in three days (here and here) without evidence. In my opinion, it is that hostility that puts people off working the backlog, and the perception that you're doing a paid editor's dirty work. Sdrqaz (talk) 18:44, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    Thank you Sdrqaz. Yeah, I've been on the receiving end of one of those too, strangely enough in the same topic area [31]. In any case, all I'm trying to do is find a balance between what we want to do for COI editors and what we actually have the ressources to do. I'm absolutely not making a moral judgement on COI editing, just attempting to streamline the process and make it work. JBchrch talk 19:23, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
  • There are a few things going on here so it is difficult for me (with limited time) to make individual replies. Firstly my comment above about splitting edits into smaller chunks was intended to allow at least some COI edits to go through earlier than would happen with large edits. Yes, some rewrites need to go through in one go but it takes time, which, as I have said, is limited in many volunteers, to check for neutrality and balance. There's also the opportunity cost of reviewing COI edits - it comes at the cost of making edits here which do not have any COI. If more editors concentrate on the backlog then they will perform fewer other edits. Do we want COI edits to have priority over others? I don't pretend to know the answers, but people should at least be aware that there are serious questions about this process. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:17, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment / idea Give guidance as follows: A requested edit is a request for a volunteer to spend their time reviewing and doing the edit. Editors are usually more willing to invest their time on edits that improve the encyclopedia than on those that appear to serve primarily other purposes such as promotional. Also please be sensitive to factors that affect the amount of time that is being requested. Things that reduce the amount of time required are a finalized and clearly formatted request (such as substitute "xxx" for "yyy" verbatim), being not borderline or problematic, being consistent with and reflect knowledge of policies and guidelines, and smaller proposed edits. So a proposed edit that is mindful of the above is more likely to get done or done faster. When a requested edit makes large departures from several of these, it may fail to get a volunteer to work on it. It it is unable to do so for 2 months, the request will be automatically removed for that reason. North8000 (talk) 18:42, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    @North8000: You raised your experience with a COI editor where you were able to communicate in a way that significantly reduced the workload of the edit requests they submitted. I was wondering if there's a way we could better encourage communication between COI editors and the people reviewing their requests because it looks like your practices might work significantly better than the existing method where we look at the request, spend a bunch of time researching it, then stamp an approval/denial at the end of the process. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 23:41, 8 July 2021 (UTC)
    Of course getting a really good proposed edit according to the above criteria and sensitivity / respect for the volunteer's time helped a lot. But the communication was also a big help. Of course working with them on several articles helped build fluency and trust so maybe that longer term pairing can be a part of it. So once they were a stellar paid Wikipedian editor, there was something that still took a few cycles for them to fully understand. And that is that unless they describe the exact proposed edit very clearly as described above, they were inadvertently making it a lot bigger job for me. They were also an immensely experienced Wikipedia editor. Maybe if I could coax them ( @CorporateM: ) a bit out of retirement they could add a few tips. I also worked with a second stellar coi editor through multiple edits at one article ( Girl Scout cookies ) and this was also the thing that it took the most time to get them to understand. What's handy there is that the entire process is visible on the current talk page and one talk archive page. Another key point was that both situations made the work enjoyable for me. North8000 (talk) 01:24, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    I was going to bring up CorporateM as the kind of paid editor that we need to cultivate. We need to make legitimate paid editing a viable option for organizations or people that have legitimate issues with the content of Wikipedia articles. We're already massively struggling against UPE and I don't think full-on prohibition is a battle we can win. If we can siphon people with real concerns out of UPE and into a system where they can hire editors that are actually willing to comply with our policies (not just on disclosure but on NPOV or what not) that's the lesser evil. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 04:39, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Chess: I would argue that we are not currently providing a viable option to paid editing: a backlog of 3 to 6 months is very close to a "no", at least in a US/UK corporate context. JBchrch talk 10:06, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    I don't have experience at that request area, but could it be that the people who already in essence follow my proposed guidance above are getting their edits handled and those who don't don't? And that maybe if my proposed advice/ routine were adopted that could help kill many birds with one stone?: 1.Show that there is a good viable route for declared COI's thus encouraging vs. discouraging declaration 2. Encourage behavior that will reduce the workload 3. Thus reducing backlog 4. Encourage behavior that will make it more pleasant/fun for the reviewing volunteers. 5. Thus also getting/keeping more reviewing volunteers 6. Then for requests that do age out, there were reasons for it and thus that was a part of the process (and guidance for a 2nd try) vs. being just a "system that didn't work" North8000 (talk) 14:09, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    I think this could work, at very least as a starting point to see how things can improve. The only thing is that there is some opposition in this section to the idea of automatic closes. So maybe the only thing I would amend is the last sentence: we could say that editors may close requests older than 2 months and, when doing so, should try provide guidance to the COI editors as to how they could improve their requests. JBchrch talk 15:26, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    I don't think any request made in (apparent) good faith should be closed without a response. For requests that are not done or partially done that response should explain why, even if only briefly, and if resubmitting in a different way would be worthwhile then the response should say that and give an indication of what that way is. This needn't be voluminous or overly detailed - just a "sorry this was too detailed to properly review, if you break it into chunks it will more likely get a proper review. See also WP:Guide to effective COI edit requests." Conversely, saying "This will not be done because ..." will discourage people resubmitting it/similar requests - requests not submitted cannot add to the backlog. Thryduulf (talk) 15:50, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    I generally agree and (for clarity purposes), that's why I mentioned that maybe editors should be closing these requests => i.e. not a bot. JBchrch talk 15:59, 9 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Thryduulf: Was the red link a typo or a reference to a potential new page? If we agree just there would be links to it in the most useful places, I be happy to start that page as an essay. North8000 (talk) 23:48, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
    It's a link to a potential new page, there are probably better titles for it. Thryduulf (talk) 01:10, 11 July 2021 (UTC)
    I agree with that; the practice (not based in policy) that all edits be done via edit requests is flawed. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 01:15, 10 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I would oppose the original proposal, as just contributing to UPE, not to mention leaving companies with significant problems on their articles with nowhere to go to. That said, a multi-month response time also drives UPE, by failing to offer a specific solution. I think an update to ERW is the way to go here - how can we structure it to encourage smaller, more comprehensible, edit requests? How can we drive more eyes to the issue? And given the circumstances, I could back encouraging a greater willingness to can borderline proposals. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:43, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Note, @JBchrch: while one bot may be down - this report does seem to include most of the backlog information you mentioned and appears to be current: User:AnomieBOT/EDITREQTable. — xaosflux Talk 15:25, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux: I may have misunderstood your comment (no good with computer) but it looks like there's the same problem here, which is that a large number of requests are dated "2021-05-29 11:55", although they are much older than that. JBchrch talk 17:00, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @JBchrch: ah OK, sorry I misread you. It looks like that bot did break and used that as its "earliest date", that bot does seems to be working right now so the number of entries and more recent dates are correct after that. The oldest one I saw looks to go back to October 2020. — xaosflux Talk 17:40, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux and JBchrch: AnomieBOT didn't break. Humans changed the category, which made it seem like all the opened requests were closed. Then when the bot was pointed to the new category, it saw them all as new requests. It uses the "page touched" timestamp as the date of newly-seen requests, which in these cases was the timestamp of the change to the template. It's not worth trying to parse the page history trying to find a more accurate date when usually "page touched" is close enough. Anomie 22:25, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Anomie: Those pesky humans, ruining the good work of bots! Thanks a lot for the clarification. JBchrch talk 13:07, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

Alternate proposal #2 (edit requests)Edit

Create WP:Guide to effective COI edit requests and incorporate guidance based on the discussion above. Once somewhat developed, provide links to it in the relevant places. It would start as an essay but upgrade to some other status could be discussed at a later date. North8000 (talk) 14:56, 12 July 2021 (UTC)

It looks like wp:snow against the original proposal but it's acknowledged that there is an issue to address. The first alternate never got a separate would need to be organized as such to really proceed further. I'd volunteer to start or help start the proposed essay / page in Alternate #2 if there is support for this proposal and specifically the linking part of it. North8000 (talk) 15:03, 12 July 2021 (UTC)

I don't think you need a vote or even a consensus to just start doing this. You can write an essay about pretty much anything, then try to get it promoted to a policy or guideline later. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:48, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
Acknowledging that, the only operative part of my proposal is deciding now that it will be linked once somewhat developed.North8000 (talk) 18:10, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
I started it so that people have something more specific to look at.North8000 (talk) 19:01, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
What do you think about a "one at a time" recommendation? I've been trying to muster up the energy to tackle Talk:Cladribine (it's not a bad set of suggestions overall), but it's a table with a dozen different sets of suggested changes, and my interest is sort of like "Give me just one, and when/if I get around to that, then you can post another". WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:46, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
I'd say it depends on the proposals. If it's a dozen typos or there is something that they think should be adjusted in the lead and in the body then put them together. Similarly if there are related proposals it might make sense to consider them at the same time, especially if it's a please do either both or neither sort of thing. However, for complex independent proposals then separating them into different requests makes sense. Thryduulf (talk) 22:44, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Support, whatever else is decided this will benefit the project. Thryduulf (talk) 17:49, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Support, with the hope that the elements of this discussion might ultimately make their way to Wikipedia:Edit requests § Planning a request, and that this essay will be a step in that direction. JBchrch talk 18:21, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Support as proposer The essay was created so as to have something specific to look at. So a key part is the portion deciding to link to it. North8000 (talk) 12:00, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I support this endeavour but you don't need consensus to begin. Once the guide is actually finished perhaps we could have a !vote. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 01:55, 15 July 2021 (UTC)
It can and will be evolved but I think it has been ready for review since July 12th and hasn't changed since.North8000 (talk) 19:13, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
  • This is a good idea. Thanks for starting it. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:31, 15 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Support as eminently reasonable. – Sdrqaz (talk) 23:15, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

Alternate proposal #3 (edit requests)Edit

Add to Wikipedia:Conflict of interest § Dealing with edit requests from COI or paid editors that an edit request may be closed after two months if no editor has responded to the request. The closing editor should, however:

  • Consider implementing the request themselves.
  • Explain why the request has not been implemented prior to the closure, if only briefly.
  • Indicate if resubmitting in a different way would be worthwhile and provide a short guidance as to what that way might be (including by linking to Wikipedia:Edit requests § General considerations).
  • If resubmitting might not be worthwhile, indicate it and briefly explain why.

This proposal is not strictly an alternative to Alternate proposal #2: both could be implemented cumulatively. If that is the case, the bullet points above could say that the closing editor may provide a link to WP:Guide to effective COI edit requests. JBchrch talk 17:35, 12 July 2021 (UTC)

Comment. I'm opening this sub-section as suggested by North8000. The concept of allowing unanswered edit requests to be closed after a period of time has received some form of support in the discussion above. This specific proposal is pretty much copied from a suggestion by Thryduulf. JBchrch talk 17:40, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • This seems fairly reasonable to me. If a request sits for two months with no response, that implies no non-COI editor is interested in implementing the proposed changes as written. This is hardly surprising as it is generally a terrible idea for a COI editor to completely rewrite an article. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:51, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment I need to think more about whether I support putting a firm timescale on things before supporting this proposal as written, everything else does get my full support though (probably unsurprisingly). Thryduulf (talk) 17:54, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    Oppose specific timeframe. After further thought and reading the comments below, I have to agree with others that regardless of the intent, a firm time will be seen by at least some reviews as a time limit after which requests can be dismissed without review simply for being old. That is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Everything else about the proposal is good though. Thryduulf (talk) 12:05, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment Before this gets too far, consider that "Explain why the request has not been implemented prior to the closure, if only briefly." might be an inadvertent poison pill for the proposal. In essence / inadvertently it requires review and rejection of the edit request, which IMO defeats the purpose of the proposal.North8000 (talk) 19:53, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Oppose. What'll likely happen is nobody will give a shit about COI edit requests and we'll pretend the problem is "solved" because we've managed to get the COI edit request queue under 2 months long. It will also create editors who spend their time robotically declining COI edit requests once they've gone past 2 months. What will likely happen in those cases is editors will just reply with a link to a policy that explains nothing about what was specifically wrong (if there was anything wrong) with the edit request. COI edits will respond to this by either a) giving up and hiring UPEs or b) just resubmitting the same request over and over again which doesn't actually address the problem of "too many edit requests". This will create exciting fodder for AN/I when the first editors are accused of "tendentiously resubmitting COI edit requests" with zero improvement without being told about any actual issues with their edit requests beyond "it's been two months since you've submitted it". This'll end up like something out of a Franz Kafka novel. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 21:35, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @Chess: I really don't mind you opposing this proposal. In fact it's not even my proposal, really, it's just an attempt at summarizing what some people have said above. However, in light of your contributions to this discussion, I feel compelled to ask you the following: do you think that the current system of edit requests cannot be improved in any way? JBchrch talk 21:47, 12 July 2021 (UTC)
    @JBchrch: I'm planning on !voting for proposal 2, although that's not the only improvement I would like to see. For instance, many editors brought up the complexity of COI edit requests. I'm wondering if there would be some way to "atomize" requests and enable partial responses by using templates. For instance, a template that allows responding editors to fill in the individual changes that were requested, the response to said changes, and the reason for declining if applicable. This would allow editors to implement some changes while holding off on implementing others. It could also provide for an easy reference point for communication with COI editors, allowing us to refer to the specific problems that we have with specific parts, e.g. "would it be possible for you to provide a page number on the source for change 5?". It might also improve our general workflow.
    Preferably said change would be accompanied by asking COI editors to format their requests in a specific way in order to simplify atomization and analysis. For instance, bullet points containing each specific change along with the reason for that specific change. An inability to atomize can result in declines. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 04:36, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    The essay under #2 suggest breaking up large proposed edits into smaller ones. North8000 (talk) 12:03, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
    I'd disagree inasmuch that I'd rather see one COI template with a bunch of different requests in it than a bunch of COI templates with only one request for each one. I'd also like to see clearer guidelines than "break up large edits" and more in the realm of "list every individual change that you want to make" in the style of Git where the general rule is one feature = one pull request. I'd like to see the same idea applied to edit requests given that it's the same general thing. Chess (talk) (please use {{reply to|Chess}} on reply) 00:55, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
  • I think that, broadly, this is a good approach. I would suggest removing any time schedule, though. There is no reason why one would have to wait a specific amount of time before closing a request, so long as the kind of explanation described here is given for the closure. Depending on how flawed the request is, it could be closed (with an informative explanation) soon after being opened, or at a much later date, depending on the availability and interest of reviewing editors. I don't think that it will be a "poison pill", so long as there is either constructive criticism about how to fix it, or an explanation of why it is incompatible with our policies. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:38, 15 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Neutral, leaning oppose. I appreciate that there are caveats to this two-month "limit", with the closing editor meant to consider whether or not to implement it themself. However, that time limit tips the scales towards rejecting the edit request after the requisite two months is up. Edit requests should be considered on their merits (and I appreciate that the proposal attempts to do that), and I feel the imposition of such a time limit would discourage that, even if the reviewer isn't consciously aware of it. And let's face it: in the context of COI edit requests, two months is barely anything. Sdrqaz (talk) 23:15, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm slightly in favor of the core idea of a fixed expiration date, so this is more related to secondary factors. Regarding the item "Explain why the request has not been implemented prior to the closure, if only briefly.", even with the "if only briefly" qualifier, this in-advertantly self-cancels the entire proposal. If someone has to make a determination in order to write such a thing, that have largely had to review and have reviewed the proposed edit, thus defeating the purpose of the proposal. Second, if #2 passes (=linking that essay) the essay basically acknowledges that if a proposed edit has a lot of those challenges/issues, that it may not be able to garner a review and so it more softly introduces this concept of "might never get reviewed" and so at least partially satisfies the intent of this proposal #3. Amongst other things, this could provide relief for the volunteers who what to keep that venue in reasonably good shape. The guidance will cause the submitters to submit less of the problematic ones, the reviewers don't have to consider a few aging out as being a failure of the venue, submitters might self-remove the ones that are aging out in order to change or reformat their submittal. And for (now fewer) those which never get reviewed, the "timeout" could be informally implemented with "wasn't able to garner a review" becoming more clearly a reason. So in short, those later points make it so that there is less of a need for a hard time-out. North8000 (talk) 12:49, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
    submitters might self-remove the ones that are aging out in order to change or reformat their submittal. do we say anywhere that people can do this? If not we probably ought to make it clear that it's perfectly acceptable and there is no penalty (as long as it's being done in good faith). Thryduulf (talk) 13:10, 20 July 2021 (UTC)

Corner the systemEdit


Hallo, I'm sure I often read about cornering the system as a bad sin, consisting in twisting the rules around until I can bypass them or maybe in beating the system with its own means but I cannot find the relevant policy page or any link whatsoever. Is my memory tricking me? Thank you 2003:F5:6F0E:7300:C1D5:F373:C240:349C (talk) 19:28, 13 July 2021 (UTC) Marco Pb

Are you talking about Wikilawyering? CapitalSasha ~ talk 19:33, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
Or Wikipedia:Gaming the system? Anomie 21:19, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
Yes, thank you, so it was gaming, not cornering, the system. 2003:F5:6F0E:7300:A888:2AFF:3DDC:4842 (talk) Marco PB

Links to copyrighted material on Open LibraryEdit

Discussion at Wikipedia:External links/Noticeboard § hosting of copyrighted material indicates that there is an apparent need for wider discussion.

The problem: Open Library (OL) provides unlicensed access to copyrighted works despite protests by numerous rights holder organizations. Currently, a lawsuit by several large publishers over this matter is pending.

Wikipedia has tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of links to such holdings of OL, either directly or via WP:Book sources in conjunction with {{ISBN}}.

The guideline WP:COPYVIOEL states editors are restricted from linking to the following, without exception [...] material that violates the copyrights of others}

The policy WP:COPYLINK states if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work (my emphasis)

I maintain that

  • The current contested status of OL's practice of lending copyrighted works constitutes reasonable suspicion.
  • We therefore have to delete links to copyrighted works.

Seeing as several editors have protested this view, a few questions arise:

  1. Is Open Library's practice "reasonably suspect" according to WP:COPYLINK? Does it apply?
  2. If WP:COPYLINK does apply, should offending links to OL be removed on sight, or is it ok to risk letting them stand?
  3. Should WP:COPYLINK be changed to make the same exception that is currently made for archived web pages?

Paradoctor (talk) 06:15, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

Ummmmm... before we get too far into an actual policy discussion, it should be clear that non-Wayback content provided by Internet Archive includes both links to "" and links to "".
I will not pretend to understand the details of the distinction between these two, but both of them provide links to material that is "in-copyright". So referring to "OL" is generally confusing unless you are intending to exclude the non-Wayback links.
There is also the fact that WP:Book sources will provide OL links if available, when you click on the book identifier (e.g. ISBN) and then select the "Open Library" option. Fabrickator (talk) 09:11, 16 July 2021 (UTC)
Relevant prior discussion: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 159#Stop InternetArchiveBot from linking books Anomie 11:24, 16 July 2021 (UTC)

Am posting some RfC notices, should I...Edit

Ok, there are ongoing RfCs about the series boxes for US Presidents and series boxes for VPs at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject United States Presidents. I am helping get the word out and have already placed the RFC notices at Talk:Abraham Lincoln, Talk:JFK, Talk George Washington, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Politics/American politics, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography/Politics and government, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Congress, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject United States Presidents, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Politics, and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject United States. I need some feedback from experienced editors if notices should be placed on all the US Pres & VP main bio articles.
Other than the ones I've already placed a notice on, that will be almost 90 articles and I really don't want to get some kind of CANVAS notice when I am just trying to do the right thing...but then again I don't want slews of editors to come in afterwards and not know about it. I want to make a good-faith effort to let any and all interested editors know about these RfCs. So advice please. Thanks, Shearonink (talk) 15:30, 19 July 2021 (UTC)

Shearonink, by posting this question, everyone now knows, so no need to get the word out! A post at WP:VPR would be more appropriate next time though. Sungodtemple (talk) 17:31, 19 July 2021 (UTC)
Sungodtemple Sometimes it's a toss-up for me figuring out which VP to post a query at...this one seemed most appropriate at the time. Heh, I didn't think about "everyone now knows", duh on me. Shearonink (talk) 02:49, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
To be honest, I think posting at {{CENT}} and all those aforementioned WikiProject talk pages (eight!) was more than enough, but others may disagree ... Sdrqaz (talk) 17:36, 19 July 2021 (UTC)
Sdrgaz Ok thanks, appreciate your thoughts on this. Shearonink (talk) 02:49, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
As mentioned before, the result of the RfC will directly affect the content seen on those US president + VP articles so in my view I think it is a good idea to.  Spy-cicle💥  Talk? 19:00, 19 July 2021 (UTC)
Thanks Spy-cicle. Shearonink (talk) 02:49, 20 July 2021 (UTC)

WP:DUPLICATE - DiscussionEdit

At the moment the shortcut is running straight to Wikipedia:Merging#Reasons for merger, however I just used the shortcut as a point for deletion on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Suriname national football team 2016 which I started. Surely duplication should be covered as a delete argument also which the redirect does not point out. Govvy (talk) 11:09, 20 July 2021 (UTC)

  • WP:RFD is probably a better venue for this discussion, but it seems to me that in most cases if we have a duplicate article that we would want to merge content from one into the other and then redirect the title to avoid the duplication happening again. In this case there isn't anything to merge, but redirection is still more appropriate than deletion so I see the current target as correct. Thryduulf (talk) 12:02, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
    RFD seems more of a delete process, okay, I just thought the info written at Reasons for merger, seemed, a bit short. Govvy (talk) 22:15, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
    RfD is Redirects for Discussion and proposals for retargetting are common. Thryduulf (talk) 23:04, 20 July 2021 (UTC)

Status of guidelines and criteria for good and featured articlesEdit

Just curious how we categorize the guidelines and criteria for good and featured articles? Are they policies, guidelines, essays, or what? See WP:PGE. I notice they lack the header that typically identifies such pages. I don't particularly care, just looking for guidance. Not that it is directly relevant, but anticipating someone might ask I'll volunteer that the inspiration for this question was the discussion about "high quality" sources at Wikipedia_talk:Featured_article_criteria#"high-quality"_reliable_sources and I got there from an RS discussion at an article talk page, here. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 17:27, 20 July 2021 (UTC)

The criteria can't be easily changed, just like policies and guidelines can't be easily changed. Doesn't mean there is any point in wasting screen space by advertising this fact with a banner. —Kusma (talk) 17:50, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
They are not any of the above. They are just, I don't know, information pages? Maybe? But they definitely aren't policies, guidelines, or essays. Not everything needs to be shoehorned into an arbitrary classification or ranking system. Sometimes, things can just be useful and not need to be anything else. --Jayron32 17:51, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
They are controlled by the respective projects (as are the DYK and ITN equivalents). In effect, the community has sub-contracted to these projects the running of these areas. Johnbod (talk) 17:57, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. That sheds a little light. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 19:31, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm not sure "sub-contract" is the right word, but yes, these are WikiProject guidance pages. The community can decide some WikiProject guidance is unwarranted, but generally as long as no undue onus is placed on those uninterested in the WikiProject in question, editors interested in a given initiative are free to determine their own operating procedures. isaacl (talk) 23:20, 20 July 2021 (UTC)
Thanks, is there a template to help others like myself understand when we run across those .... project ... uh.... "maintenence page"? Errrr, mmmmm, "local project consensus page"? NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 09:06, 21 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm really not getting what you don't understand about it? It's a set of criteria for what makes a featured article. If you want an article to become featured, it needs to meet those criteria. --Jayron32 16:30, 21 July 2021 (UTC)
Well, I understand them now but only because I took initiative to come here and ask. We have these templates that appear at the top of the respective pages
all of which are intended to help people just arrived at those pages understand what they are looking at, without coming to the Pump or Teahouse to ask. Seems like the GA/FA pages would benefit from something similar, not to help you or me, but to help editors new to those areas. Do you disagree? NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 01:31, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
It's the featured article criteria. It's the criteria for an article to be featured. I'm not sure it requires specialized knowledge beyond basic competence in English. If someone doesn't know what, for example, the word "criteria" means, I'm not sure what good a template would do them. --Jayron32 13:13, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
@Jayron; it would provide the missing info "criteria according to who" and provide navigation links to the respective project pages and any relevant WP:Policies and guidelines. Just like the examples of other procedural templates listed above. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 13:32, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
That makes a lot more sense. You had never expressed what information was lacking. I still don't think we need to fit it into a pre-defined category like "policy" or "guideline", but if something like WP:WIAFA needs a link to an explanation that better describes the history and process of the featured article system and by what authority the criteria were defined, that may be useful in answering your confusions (assuming such information exists). --Jayron32 13:38, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
Thank you very much for helping articulate why I showed up here. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 10:18, 23 July 2021 (UTC)
Maybe what the newcomer really needs to know, though, is what the specific page is about, and not how that page or process fits into various broader schemes. (Also, you missed Template:WikiProject advice and Template:Wikipedia how-to and probably several others.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:40, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
It's the same as all guidance in English Wikipedia: it reflect consensus views of the community. Guidance for any initiative is by definition applicable within the scope of that initiative. Anyone can start a conversation to discuss altering the guidance, though just as in real-life, it's easier to be convincing when you're already an active participant in the initiative and have demonstrated some level of commitment to it. isaacl (talk) 22:32, 21 July 2021 (UTC)
In terms of level of consensus required to enact changes, it's as strong as a guideline. The difference, however, is that you can choose to ignore the rules and procedures of FA, GA, ITN, DYK, etc. by not participating in them, whereas you are forced to follow real guidelines across the entirety of Wikipedia. -- King of ♥ 21:04, 21 July 2021 (UTC)
Exactly! During a friendly content discussion I was directed to one of those criteria pages. I had never been there before and found myself asking "How did all this get established? If I want to understand context and read discussions building this consensus, where do I go? Who is involved?" I wasn't thinking of making changes, only seeking WP context. So I looked for Wikipedia Namespace template at the top, which usually answers such questions and it wasn't there. So I came here and asked. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 10:18, 23 July 2021 (UTC)

I would say whether they're {{Wikiproject advice}} pages (as mentioned above) or {{guideline}}s depends on whether it takes a widely advertised RFC to change them, or whether just a consensus at the relevant project's talk page is enough. Levivich 03:32, 23 July 2021 (UTC)

excellent distinction! NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 10:18, 23 July 2021 (UTC)

Editors citing RS they have authoredEdit

Are there any WP policies that relate to a WP editor citing a RS journal article which the WP editor has himself authored? Of course, I understand that the source must actually be RS and that the material added must meet all WP policies, but are there any policies or guidelines specific to this situation? I am not asking in order to play "gotcha" or to report an editor, but to act preemptively by advising a friend whether such policies exist. If this question doesn't fall within the focus of this page, please direct me to the correct forum. Thank you and happy editing! YBG (talk) 04:43, 22 July 2021 (UTC)

It is not generally prohibited, but you want to be really careful about WP:COI, WP:DUE, and the perception of self-promotion. I don't want to name names, but there was a WP editor who was interviewed for a news article in a major outlet on Slate Star Codex and many felt that he had a COI regarding the article (though the interview was not the only reason people felt that way). -- King of ♥ 05:17, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
See WP:SELFCITE too. Meters (talk) 05:25, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
Yes, that is the relevant policy. I've cited my own work, and its seems reasonable to me. (Others cite it as well of course.) There is no WP:COI issue. WP:COI: Conflict of interest (COI) editing involves contributing to Wikipedia about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, or your financial and other relationships. WP:SELFCITE says: Using material you have written or published is allowed within reason, but only if it is relevant, conforms to the content policies, including WP:SELFPUB, and is not excessive. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 05:31, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
I would also say that a editor who has appropriated outed themselves on WP and known to be an expert in a given field would probably not find a lot of resistance to using their own papers (through peer-review) to cite things on WP. We don't want every grad student to push their freshly published paper onto WP, but someone with a career history as to be labelled an expert would be different. But key would be that peer-review to assure the addition wasn't an SPS, and of course long-term behavior may point towards a COI (eg if such an editor were dropping citations to their paper every article that a certain term is named, that would be a problem). It definitely would be better if the editor made the suggestion on the talk page ("Hey, I have this recently-published paper that may help") and let the other editors deem if its appropriate. --Masem (t) 05:32, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
We don't want to discourage editors who happen to be experts in an area from editing in the area of their expertise, whether disclosed or not. We also don't want to compromise the privacy of editors who are editing under names designed to protect their identity. If an editor is citing a source and it's a good source, reliably published and relevant to the article for which it is cited, then that should generally end the inquiry. If an editor (self-citing or not) is removing existing good sources in place of a source that is not particularly a better source, or making WP:ONESOURCE articles, or citing something to the point that its relevance is strained, that is the point where a problem needs to be addressed. BD2412 T 05:56, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
If someone is uncertain whether a particular source is relevant or due then they can ask on the talk page and/or at a WikiProject page. Thryduulf (talk) 09:18, 22 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm not sanguine about authors citing their own works and not getting yelled at and/or reverted. If someone who disagrees with the content even suspects that a newcomer is citing their own publications, then that's one more thing they will claim in an effort to force the "right" content into an article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:57, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
See also WP:CITESPAM -- there is a difference between adding WP:DUE new information with reference to an RS you created, and adding citations for already-cited or insufficiently relevant information with the aim of steering people to your writing or increasing your prominence as an expert. --Nat Gertler (talk) 20:08, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

Usage of peerage titles in lists and tables RFCEdit


The usage of peerage titles in lists and tables has an RFC for possible consensus. A discussion is taking place. If you would like to participate in the discussion, you are invited to add your comments on the discussion page. Thank you. DBD 14:06, 25 July 2021 (UTC)