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Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Indefinitely semiprotecting the refdesk

There is No Consensus to implement the main idea of this post. There was a lot to sift through, but here is a summary for why the proposal did not succeed:
  • A number !voters justified their support for this proposal on the ability to easily create an account; however, autoconfirmed permission is not given until at least 4 days and 10 edits. Therefore, many users would still be locked out even with an account.
  • Several users who supported this proposal would have preferred them to be shutdown. Second choice votes are less persuasive than first choice solutions (and generally result in no one walking away satisfied).
  • It was noted that current volunteers at the RefDesks do not hold the view that contributing to the refdesks is a waste of their time.
  • Long Term Semi-Protection to some users felt like an inevitability based on recent protection trends. How that factors into the debate here is up for anyone to decide.
  • Various other arguments that were decently compelling:
    • Legitimate IP users would be arbitrarily cut off from the service.
    • The reference desk is supposed to serve the editors and not the reverse.
    • Vandals would just move elsewhere...
    • A "Don't let the vandals win!" mentality
    • Many parts of the site have semi-protection with little to no complaints.

Office Actions was considered rather extreme and was (for the most part) not in consideration.

Pending changes was seen by the editors who commented on it to be an unworkable alternative in the sparse discussions there were on it. This was not ever formally proposed, though. The feasibility of pending changes remains outside the scope of the RfC. However, down the road there may be other options available in finding the best solution for resolving the mentioned refdesk issues. In that case, a separate RfC in the following months of the solution being tested could be held.

As for Proposal II:

There seems to be an overwhelming Consensus Against this proposal. Many editors felt strongly about this subject. While most of the early !voters were in favor of closing, this reason for this should be noted as that they were factored out of the main proposal. However, the majority felt this to be a disagreeable idea. Ideally, this type of proposal should not be brought up again for at least another year and a half if at all.

That should be everything. Thank you all for your participation! (non-admin closure)Matthew J. Long -Talk- 05:29, 14 February 2019 (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.

Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals) § Indefinitely semiprotecting the refdesk: Due to the discussion becoming rather long (200,000+ bytes) I have moved the discussion to this subpage. I apologize for any confusion this may cause. Thank you. SemiHypercube 00:03, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

These constant reverts, revdels, and 2-day protects are a bloody waste of resources. All done in the name of DENY, right? It is the opposite. The waste and disruption constitutes feeding the troll. Half the activity now seems to be vandalism and actions against it. In the name of DENY, I suggest some sort of indefinite protection.

And the refdesk is somewhat outside the mission anyhow. It is a bit of a public board and is being abused. So, if it is an essential resource to help improve the mainspace, make it a resource for the community. I know, I know, the IPs. Look at the history of one of the desks. Depriving a good IP once in a blue moon is a small price. Besides, we're here to build the mainspace. The refdesk is diverting our resources away from that. We're not here to sacrifice the mainspace to support what is mainly a public service. Enough is enough. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 22:43, 26 December 2018 (UTC)

Note: I have factored out discussion and !votes about completely shutting down the desks into a separate survey below. Please keep this initial survey focussed on the issue of whether or not to semiprotect them. Fut.Perf. 11:41, 6 January 2019 (UTC)


  • Support and call for office actions: There's a reason why the main page and articles on contentious subjects are protected in one way or another. While one could argue that the troll (or perhaps his merry band of misfits) would simply divert his attention to other mainspace pages, I do agree that this long-term pattern of gross trolling, disruption and libel is more than crossing the line, and there's definitely something that should be done about it, but there should be more to this than just restricting RD access to trusted users. I believe that an action or two from the Wikimedia legal team should be done especially as there have been trolls who have carried out violent threats and libelous accusations against a number of users and administrators, which whilst they may be empty or done merely for the sake of schadenfreude/"dank" memes, is still by and large considered a felony. Blake Gripling (talk) 00:32, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Legal action would not be effective. For $200 I can buy compete control of 10,000 computers with 10,000 IP addresses distributed among hundreds of ISPs, then use them as proxies to vandalize/troll Wikipedia. Even if WMF legal took action against each one as I used it, I would simply move on to the next -- a computer/IP that had never been disruptive before I bought control of it. See botnet. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:56, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Then explain how cyber criminals, despite efforts at hiding their tracks and using botnrts, are still caught somehow. What you're saying sounds like as though we're stuck between a rock and a hard place - we can't lock down Wikipedia because it goes against the project's tenets, and then you're saying that we can't have this troll investigated and prosecuted because he's a chameleon or something. Well what must we do then? Blake Gripling (talk) 14:26, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Assuming that you really want to know how cybercriminals are caught, the simple answer is that, if all a criminal does is send information over the Internet, the only hope of catching him is if he makes a mistake. The way that law enforcement catches cybercriminals is by following the money. Somehow they need to get paid, and it is far harder to anonymize transfers of money. Of course it helps if you are a cop and can get a court order telling the bank to divulge information.
If you think that it is easy to figure out the real identity of the refdesk troll despite experts saying that he has to make a mistake that reveals his identity, go ahead and figure it out, then email your evidence to the WMF. (don't post any personal info. Our rules say that outing anyone, even the the refdesk troll, is not allowed). Finally, please don't assume that just because the countermeasures that you can think of won't work this somehow implies that no countermeasures will work. If there was a simple answer that completely solves the problem we would have done it already. --Guy Macon (talk) 02:36, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose I understand (if grudgingly) why the Reference Desks are regularly protected. But what is currently happening is suboptimal. These are pages whose goals (at least in theory) is to help in the improvement of articles, and they are a good resource particularly for newcomers who want clarifications on certain article materials. I'd rather accept the RDs be shut down rather than having them restricted to few editors, as doing the latter would kind of defeat their purpose. With that said, I'd strongly support some sort of office action being done, and I'm surprised that it hasn't been done yet actually. Narutolovehinata5 tccsdnew 00:54, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support long term protection. The Ref Desks are a poor substitute for Quora and Yahoo Answers or wherever people go for random people's opinions on the internet. We lack the crowd sourced scoring of answers that moves the good answers up and the crap ones down. Nothing would be lost in shutting down the ref desks or at least restricting them to registered autoconfirmed users. I see precious little evidence that anything happening at Ref Desks is going to improving articles. Legacypac (talk) 00:57, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
The options:
  • Ref desk - no registration, middle quality answers, moderation: people criticize most bad answers
  • Quora - privacy issues, very good and very, very bad answers, both with lots of upvotes
  • Stack Exchange - easy registration, very good answers cause of very good moderation, but people are usually rude to new users
  • Yahoo Answers - hard to register, absolute garbage answers, unmoderated spam
If anything these are all poor substitutes for the ref desks, not the other way. (talk) 22:12, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. The refdesk should be denied to the vandal so that it can function normally for logged-in users. The refdesk was not intended to be a public forum supplying answers to questions. Binksternet (talk) 02:10, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support I floated an idea along these lines a month ago. To clarify, my intention at that time was less ambitious, namely that the refdesks would be indefinitely semiprotected when needed, and that an informal arrangement among admins monitoring the area would result in someone unprotecting them at an unpredictable time, say after two or three days. However, the current farce is feeding the troll's habit so long-term protection is needed to resolve the issue. Chatting among editors with a track record of building the encyclopedia is helpful in that it also builds the community, but running an open-door chat forum is not helpful for Wikipedia. Johnuniq (talk) 06:43, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
Blocked user.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
  • Strong Oppose - Being too lazy to clean up the mess is not a valid reason for admins to unilaterally disregard WP:PILLARS and turn a section of Wikipedia into a secret clubhouse that only they can participate in. (talk) 09:19, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
Unsurprisingly, this IP comment was made from an open proxy. Favonian (talk) 09:35, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
Please WP:Assume Good Faith there are many reasons to use an open proxy. Zell Faze (talk) 19:18, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
...and many more reasons to block them as soon as we identify them. If you actually have a good reason to use a proxy, you can apply for Wikipedia:IP block exemption.
@Favonian: What the hell is that supposed to mean? (talk) 05:20, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • The Elephant In The Room: There is a cultural issue here. A small number of refdesk regulars act a certain way - a pattern of behavior that has been proven to attract trolls on a wide variety of online forums. The helpdesk regulars act in a different way - a pattern of behavior that has been proven to discourage trolls on a wide variety of online forums. The troll problem is a problem of our own making. --Guy Macon (talk) 09:33, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
Could you please elaborate, User:Guy Macon? I think if they could somehow be fixed without protection, that would be ideal. Benjamin (talk) 01:56, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
We have known how to deal with trolls since before the world wide web was invented. We knew how on USENET and we knew how on Fidonet. And we know how today. No troll feeding. No attempts by regular editors to control the behavior of other editors (other than reporting things to admins and letting them do the behavior controlling). We even have an example that works: the help desk. Alas, we have a small number of regulars on the refdesks that refuse to do either, so there is no answer. :( Protect them indefinitely or shut them down. --Guy Macon (talk) 02:45, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support protection as the least of several evils. If protection refocuses the RefDesks, making them more useful to the encyclopedia, they may even be worth saving. Favonian (talk) 09:38, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support To ind protect a page from being constant IPs vandalized edits is reasonable and the trade off is small. CASSIOPEIA(talk) 12:45, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support long-term semiprotection. No other page on this project has had such an enormous amount of disruption from anon IPs or new accounts (even before the recent pattern of vandalism), to be weighed against such a tiny amount of benefit from legitimate, genuine newbie edits, and there's no reason at all not to take the protective measures that would have been taken long ago had such problems occurred anywhere else on the project. There's been an irrational opposition to such protective measures from the side of some refdesk regulars, who tend to vastly over-estimate the value and importance of the desks in general and of their importance to anon editors in particular. The truth is: while the refdesks are a nice-to-have, they are of very minor importance in the overall mission of Wikipedia; the number of people who end up asking questions there is tiny compared to the number of visitors who use Wikipedia as a source of information in other ways; and the number of genuine, legitimate IP editors or newbies among these few is absolutely marginal. The vast majority of IP traffic on the desks, even before the activity of the current vandal(s), has always been from (a) trolls, (b) vandals, (c) a small number of serial long-term ban evaders, (d) two or three legitimate long-term IP users, who, while legitimate participants in principle, have known for years they'd only need to create an account to be immune from the protections, and if they still haven't done so they only have themselves to blame if they end up excluded. Finally, the current pattern of almost daily short-term protections simply isn't working. Protecting for 12 hours every day only gives the vandal his daily reward and another time to look forward to, when he can try the same thing again the next day. We need protection for a time long enough that there will at least be a realistic chance the vandals may get bored waiting in between and find something else to do with their sorry little lives. Fut.Perf. 14:22, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: Future Perfect at Sunrise's argument above has convinced me. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:32, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Shut Them down and let them move to Wikiversity (first choice) or Protect indefinitely (second choice) per Iridescent's compelling argument below. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:28, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • not support the protection is crippling the ref desks, and few people ask questions when they are protected. Really we need another solution. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 00:32, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Moving the refdesks to Wikiversity would be a solution... I' just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:28, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per pillars 1 and 3 and Jimbo's 2nd and 3rd principles. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The refdesks are meant to operate like library reference desks, but Wikipedia is not a library. I think it, however, is a net positive in fielding questions from readers and new editors to help us improve coverage to meet their needs. Indefinitely removing the ability for unregistered users to participate eliminates that main benefit, and makes it hard for me to support a process that is both not encyclopedic and not freely editable. I do support office actions like a cease and desist letter to the ISP of the troll(s) Wugapodes [thɑk] [ˈkan.ˌʧɹɪbz] 02:05, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
Please face the reality of how ref desks really operate, not some wishful thinking. Why do we need a library ref desk for a place that is not a library? Legacypac (talk) 04:06, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
Exactly, why do we need a library ref desk for a place that is not a library? What encyclopedic purpose does the ref desk serve that the Teahouse, the list of portals at the top of the mainpage, the help desk, wikiprojects, and article talk pages don't already? The Ref Desk Guidelines even point anyone having problems with using wikipedia to the help desk, so it's not for problems with Wikipedia itself. It says that it won't do homework for posters, but says editors at the ref desk may help with understanding and pointing to information to help with homework: "The reference desk is not a service that will do homework for others. It should be made clear to questioners that we will give assistance in interpreting questions, help with ideas and concepts, and attempt to point them to resources that might help them to complete their tasks, but that in the end they should do the actual work themselves." That definitely is not the point of an encyclopedia or its editors. The main page lists the ref desk as "Serving as virtual librarians". This isn't a library. It's not a forum to answer general questions about topics. But let's face the reality of how ref desks really operate and look at some questions recently answered on the ref desk:
-"I've been browsing photos taken by some high-end smartphones (by Samsung Galaxy S8 and by Huawei P20 Pro which uses Leica) and at full size nearly all appear watercolorish and grainy - basically just like on their inexpensive counterparts, including mine. What causes it?" 15 Dec under Misc (answers seem to indicate this isn't a phenomenon to be acted upon in articles)
-"I want to write a letter to MaryEllen Elia, the current education commissioner, but I don't know her title. Is is Madam Commissioner or perhaps something else?" 19 Dec under Misc (subsequent changes to the article do not take this question into account)
-"This a real problem I will face soon. I have a pile of 20 banknotes. How many I need to check for counterfeit in order to get 95% that the entire pile is not a counterfeit? And a side question - how to calculate this for any n banknotes with given p percent certainty?" 24 Dec under Math (no linked article that would be improved by this question)
-"I wonder if there are any soccer statistics databases that chronice red cards? More specifically I seek information on the red cards given to John Arne Riise." 21 Dec under Entertainment (no resulting edit to the article)
-"There are 400GB MicroSD cards for US$45 (US$0.11/GB) but I'm hard-pressed to get more than 32GB in my desktop, and it cost of about US$5/GB. Now, I realize that the memory in a desktop is much faster than that in a MicroSD card, but why is there such a large disparity in the technology?" 25 Dec on Computing (no resulting edits to the SD card article)
To be clear, I don't mind the ref desks; as I stated in my original comment, the encyclopedic purpose I see and that is stated in the ref desk guidelines is that it allows editors to get a sense of issues readers have with our article coverage. I think that's actually a very compelling reason. Whether or not that happens is a different question, but that the possibility is there is enough for me. But If readers, many of whom are unregistered, cannot do so, that benefit is severely diminished and it turns into a registration required forum that just seems like a worse StackExchange. Wugapodes [thɑk] [ˈkan.ˌʧɹɪbz] 06:05, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per FPS Abelmoschus Esculentus talk / contribs 04:11, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per FPS. Enterprisey (talk!) 05:09, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose - the ref desks are the worst pages in Wikipedia to require protection on, since they are so needed for help. It's not that I don't get the arguments being used, but there must be alternate steps that can be taken - SP risks the worst of both worlds. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:05, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
    • Hi User:Nosebagbear. You did see this, right? How many IPs are getting help there? Weigh that against the troll feeding and huge waste and....well, I just hope you read what Fut.Perf. wrote above and change your mind. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 20:25, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
    @Anna Frodesiak: - I am well aware of the deluge. I am also aware that the string of temp semi-protects aren't helping the IPs either. However, I'm just so reticent to accept it without any way to help those IPs and the (here) large group of non-autoconfirmed newly registered. I wouldn't say I'm qualified to judge whether the proposal offered below can mitigate on that count, so I'm interested in what others are saying. Nosebagbear (talk) 20:34, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Support: AGF is not a suicide pact. --K.e.coffman (talk) 19:44, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose: I'm an IP who sometimes asks and answers questions there and frankly, I think there's more than two or three of us. If you check the history of ref desks, you'll see that the days when they're protected, the number of questions goes down to almost nothing. By doing this you're creating a barrier to entry and destroying the informal nature of the ref desks, and driving their users away. I'm kind of insulted by this talk of "having myself to blame". If I'm not gonna create an account to edit articles, I'm damn well not gonna create one to ask questions either. (talk) 22:12, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose: If the Refdesks are semiprotected indefinitely,the troll wins. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gevaltio (talkcontribs) 09:13, 31 December 2018 (UTC) Gevaltio (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
    • No, semiprotecting defeats the troll. Shutting them down altogether, without providing a replacement, THEN the troll wins. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:49, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose Per Wugapodes's arguments (particularly the loss of purpose if it is indef protected). Like him, I am down with office actions being taken as needed though. Zell Faze (talk) 19:17, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Too great a barrier to entry just to ask a question. I don't really understand why, but a great many interested and thoughtful Wikipedia users will never take that step, easy as it is. --Trovatore (talk) 22:24, 31 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I still believe (AGF) that the amount of quality posts coming from IPs outweighs the bad ones and to lose those would not be a net benefit, we would lose out on so many potentially valuable posts from IPs. And the reference desks have been an integral part of enwiki for many years, "shutting them down" seems a drastic and shameful loss. -- œ 06:17, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • You believe the good IP posts outweigh the bad ones? Well, sadly, your belief is mistaken. Have you counted? My estimate, after following the Hum and Lang desks for years, is that about one or two out of a hundred anon/non-confirmed posts are from genuine newcomers. Fut.Perf. 08:08, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
      • Whether they're "genuine newcomers" is a completely different question from whether they make good posts. There is a large contingent of long-term editors who never register. As I said above, I'm not quite sure why they never register, but it seems pretty clear that most of them just won't do it, and I doubt semiprotecting the refdesks is going to convince most of them. As a group, they don't seem to be provably worse behaved than autoconfirmed editors. --Trovatore (talk) 07:09, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per OlEnglish. The refdesk is a net benefit to the project. Balkywrest (talk) 06:26, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Can you clarify please: is this an oppose to semiprotecting the desks, or an oppose to shutting them down, or both? Fut.Perf. 11:41, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support long term protection for now. It is needed for it is the only thing that is presently keeping the bot army away anyway and if a bot killing Reverse Turing test is implemented it would stop any further abuse everywhere at all times such that these and other pages on Wikipedia can be unprotected. Why should we even let any bot army edit anywhere on the project with near impunity anyway? Let's stop them before they do even more harm elsewhere. Modocc (talk) 13:46, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - I don't feel like my opinion on this section matters in any way whatsoever. If this proposal is rejected, admins will continue semi-protecting the refdesk every few days with the same effect as if it passed. They will continue to say that the trolling going on is so terrible that we can't possibly have it in the page history, and since I can't read it I can't argue against that. I don't matter, so why does my vote matter? This is obviously the province of WP:ARISTOCRACY. Wnt (talk) 14:43, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - Those who oppose protection on some ideological grounds should swear a commitment to watching the ref desks 24 X 7 in order to deal with trolling. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:30, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
I look at the Refdesk a lot, and I almost never see any of the vandalism people keep complaining about. If Wikipedia were a truly egalitarian crowdsourced project, then it would be OK for each of us to blunder into a bit of the useless crap and make our own decisions what to do about it when we do. Instead, I'm told that extraordinary powers are needed so that special people can remove all evidence of what the stuff posted was before I ever see it. I remain unconvinced. Wnt (talk) 01:43, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
I'd be willing to help clean up vandalism. Benjamin (talk) 02:09, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it is protected half the time anyhow and doing this would seriously save time and reduce disruption. Galobtter (pingó mió) 17:17, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Reluctant support on a trial basis. I hate to support anything that bars newcomers from contributing but I fail to see any other option that could be taken and be equally effective. I strongly support asking the Foundation to look into whatever legal ways might exist to stop this person because such people will just look for other targets and we cannot protect the whole project. Regards SoWhy 18:01, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Legal action would not be effective. For $200 I can buy compete control of 10,000 computers with 10,000 IP addresses distributed among hundreds of ISPs, then use them as proxies to vandalize/troll Wikipedia. Even if WMF legal took action against each one as I used it, I would simply move on to the next -- a computer/IP that had never been disruptive before I bought control of it. See botnet. --Guy Macon (talk) 07:00, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Anyone is welcome to create an account if they would like to access the reference desk. Applying protection wouldn't prevent anonymous users from editing Wikipedia articles, since the reference desk is an auxiliary feature of Wikipedia and not part of the encyclopedia proper. This proposal is a good way to make better use of editor resources, and may even encourage people to join Wikipedia. I don't think office actions are likely to make a difference in this situation, since the vandal(s) have access to multiple IP addresses that aren't being handled with a range block. — Newslinger talk 22:23, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support, if they're kept at all. This is too much disruption.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:30, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, absolutely not, per Wugapodes and OlEnglish. feminist (talk) 02:15, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, and also oppose the current patterns of long-range (more than a few hours) protections or semi-protections. The trolling is generally shut down pretty quickly with a very short-duration protection, and when it isn't, another one works fine. We don't need to permanently semi-protect anything here, especially an area known to attract many good-faith questions. Just no. --Jayron32 02:43, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support indefinite semi-protection. The loss of the ability of unregistered editors to use the Reference Desks is a small price to pay for being rid of trolls. I do not support any regime for long-term but not indefinite semi-protection, which will simply result in more quarreling over how to long to semi-protect. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:01, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Reluctant support. I don't like protection very much, but our RefDesks have lost the battle to be the best q&a site on the net to Quora and StackExchange long ago, so closing them to outsiders won't do all that much harm. Let's turn them into pages more useful to Wikipedians instead. —Kusma (t·c) 16:02, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Do those sites require registration? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:10, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
      • I think they do, but they have clickthrough registration using Google/Facebook/etc. accounts, so if you are willing to use that, you don't notice the need to register. —Kusma (t·c) 16:37, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support indefinite extended confirmed protection but oppose their closure. There is clearly an LTA targeting the refdesks and I share the concern that they are simply conduits for questions that are better suited for Yahoo Answers but I think we should keep them because the latter problem only seems prevalent in inexperienced users and the deleting them would hand the LTA a victory. They do have a valuable purpose to serve, but it needs to be adequately protected from bad-faith abuse and good-faith misunderstandings. SITH (talk) 19:27, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Regrettably, I have to agree with the closure !votes, Wikipedia simply isn't WikiAnswers. So, yes, I support their closure. SITH (talk) 22:07, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support; levels of disruptions are far too high. Vanamonde (talk) 20:50, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. If we can't shut them down as blatant forums, indefinite protection is the next best thing. Every minute of admin/editor attention spent on disruption there is time that could be better spent writing an encyclopaedia. – Joe (talk) 21:13, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support indefinite semiprotection if Proposal II below is rejected. The recent disruption is worse than I've ever seen anywhere on the project, so if the refdesks are not done away with, we really should shut out the throwaway open proxies. —DoRD (talk)​ 21:16, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. There's no good reason to indef-protect any kind of help desk. WP:RD isn't like Donald Trump or Main Page: it's a page where people come, including newbies, to get assistance on various matters. It should only be protected in response to vandalism; given current disruption, we may need to give long-term semiprotection, but we need to revisit protection every so often, instead of just indef-semiprotect and forget about it. Nyttend (talk) 12:57, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The desks should be easily usable. I would defer to the admins who commonly tighten and loosen restrictions on the reference desks in response to changing vandalism levels. But my hope is for maximum openness. I'm a believer. Now, where's that Kool-Aid? Bus stop (talk) 15:47, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support if Proposal II below is rejected. The ref desks are not an essential or important part of the project, and there is no reason to tolerate disruption originating there. --JBL (talk) 18:21, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose if we keep them in the first place. The very point of them is for people coming for the first time. As Guy Macon said, a good part of the problem is the quality of the answers. DGG ( talk ) 19:50, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Per FPS. Edison (talk) 21:20, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support as escalating protection is common practice. Indefinite does not mean forever, so I don't see a problem with readdressing this further down the line. AIRcorn (talk) 06:31, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I oppose protection of the Ref Desks fullstop. Per RBI we should keep them open. They have traditionally been a venue for IP/new editors. If we have troll difficulties, we should find solutions that address trolls not prevent IPs and new editors from getting into Wikipedia. --Dweller (talk) Become old fashioned! 14:22, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    Hi again, Dweller. What other solutions? There are none that we know of right now. And right now, if unprotected, vandals have their way. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 14:27, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    If I knew a better option than RBI, I wouldn't say it because of WP:BEANS. Without it, there's RBI. And there are admins who apply periodic protection, which I note is not one of the options being considered here. --Dweller (talk) Become old fashioned! 14:44, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    Hi Dweller. The history for Dec 2018 shows RBI (and revdel) levels so high that something needs to be done. That is why I started this post with a suggestion of longer protection. Usually, the periodic protection has been hours to around 2 days max., but now when one period ends, immediate protection is required again, hence the need for longer protection. That is where this will end up, I suspect. I do not see consensus happening for refdesk closure or other solutions. I expect admins will just start to protect for longer and longer periods, eventually satisfying the original suggestion at the top of this post. Rather than starting this huge resource-vacuum of a post, I should have simply protected longer and longer and just suggested to the regular protectors to do the same and see if there were objections. Best, Anna Frodesiak (talk) 20:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support An efficient way to protect the ref desk from vandalism. --It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:56, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. As others have said, it would discourage questions. Benjamin (talk) 02:04, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support a different quality of protection, whether that's lengthier semi-protection or higher-protection (ECP) or both. The admins make it clear they're fed up with the time absolutely-necessarily-wasted on the bad actor in this case. What has not been tried, as pointed out below by SkyGazer, is a lengthier period of protection, without necessarily jumping to indefinite. Start with a week or a month, then escalate as appropriate. --Izno (talk) 04:50, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Somewhat, I think we should keep it semiprotected but keep it for public use. User:Billster156234781 21:15, 13 January 2019‎
  • Strong support for indef semi-protect or at least indef pending changes protection at this stage. Alucard 16❯❯❯ chat? 13:25, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
I should note this page and original thread is about semi-protection. The Refdesk has been de facto semi-protected for a long time now. I strongly dislike this but would object more to Pending Changes, which I have felt to be a bad idea from start to finish and which, I should note, would leave all the junk commentary in the history that the admins feel they so desperately have to "clean up" by making it deleted from my ability to view. The main niche for it on Wikipedia is for articles that nobody reads about a local football team where they are afraid somebody will edit it to say that the quarterback CAN"T HOLD A BALL AND SUCKS DOOR KNOBS and we leave it up as the live article for two years because, well, nobody reads it. The damage in that case is at least minor because nobody edits it either! Wnt (talk) 14:09, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
"The Refdesk has been de facto semi-protected for a long time now" is untrue. In fact, all the pages are open except the talk page. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:58, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Reluctant support best of several very bad options. A shutdown or PCP are excessive and unworkable, respectively. – Teratix 23:59, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose kowtowing to a troll army: it's our project, not theirs. There are probably things we can do but just acceding to their demands isn't going to solve anything, they'll just move on to hold some other Wikipedia function ransom to their bullshit. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 18:51, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support The RefDesk is supposed to be used to improve articles, not for general questions. Unfortunately, most, but not all, IP edits are disruptive. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the encyclopedia to limit the RefDesk to account-only editors. IPs can be directed to the Teahouse or Help Desk. If those areas become cesspools as well, then that can be addressed at that time. If semi'ing does not work, then shutting down can be considered. But only after this option is tried first. Rgrds. --Bison X (talk) 08:38, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support for indef semi-protection. Best low-key way to deny the trolls. Hopefully IPs can make an account and make a few edits and ask away. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 10:48, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support for indef pending changes protection. Semi'ing would keep out new editors, which have traditionally been the main demographic using the ref desks. Philroc (c) 13:26, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Comment Pending changes is less exclusionary than semiprotection, but the user interface leaves much to be desired. Any time someone makes a non-autoconfirmed edit to a PC'd article on my watchlist, I get a big obnoxious banner that I don't know how to dismiss. Is there a setting in Preferences or something that would make this less obtrusive? --Trovatore (talk) 20:46, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support per nomination. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 23:57, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose closing the reference desks. Closing them would only move people's questions and the vandalism issues back to WP:Help desk again -- this was one of the reasons for creating the help desks initially. Use WP's counter-vandalism tools to keep the vandals away. Don't fold to the trolls! - tucoxn\talk 18:24, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Hmmm... so the Help Desk spun off the Ref Desk to redirect the vandals? No wonder the Ref Desks have so much trouble with that stuff. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:32, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Despite what many people are saying, the refdesk does provide two useful services for Wikipedia. Firstly, knowledge questions can be in persuance of writing or improving an article. I have used the desks many times to get extert opinion to point me in the right direction. They can't be used as sources, but they can point you to the sources, or at least clarify what you should be searching for in sources. Secondly, it gets irrelevant discussion about a topic (rather than the article) off the article talk pages where they can cause severe clutter. That's not to say the refdesks can't be improved. There are too many people there just to pontificate with their own baseless opinions, or even worse, incorrect guesses. The procedures for answering questions ought to be better regulated, but close it altogether – oh no. SpinningSpark 01:13, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
Tucoxn and Spinningspark Did you mean to post these comments in a different section? I know the layout here is a bit confusing, but this section is about indefinitely semiprotecting the refdesks, not closing them. --Trovatore (talk) 08:46, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
I followed a link from The Signpost saying there was a proposal to close the refdesk and this is where it led. I may have posted in the wrong place, but I oppose indef protection as well. All that will do is spread the problem all over the 'pedia. At least with the trolls concentrating on the refdesk we have them all in one place and out of the all-important mainspace. The real problem is that admins have insufficient powers to deal with problem ip ranges, not anything specific to the refdesk. There is an awful lot we could do about this, if only we were prepared to be a bit more intrusive with our users. Cookie based blocks would help (why has that not been implemented already? It was ready months ago), but I would go further; force ip users on problem ranges to download an app that positively identifies the device being used, or give admins the power to block the entire range of problem ISPs. With the massive increase of address space with IPv6 there really is no reason that ISPs cannot now permanently assign ip addresses. SpinningSpark 11:53, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly support as it's a very reasonable measure in my opinion to prevent vandalism and IPs also have other ways of getting advice ect. Again, the tiny proportion of good edits isn't enough to prevent the protection. IPs can't create articles themselves, and even though you'll find some good ones over at WP:AfC, IPs still can't create them. JACKonWIKIS (TalkMy edits) 16:33, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Support This seems reasonable. ~Awilley (talk) 02:50, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose. I understand why this option looks appealing, but in my experience, the average IP does in fact ask a good-faith question that can be answered with references and which is not per se disruptive. And those who do not conform to such standards can be easily handled by adopting guidelines which better encourage (or indeed require) a firmer adherence to WP:DENY. So my thoughts in Proposal II below for some of my thoughts as to how we accomplish that. Snow let's rap 14:45, 4 February 2019 (UTC)


  • Query on Pending - Pending is obviously really tough to use on active pages, like these. But just how many posts do we get on one in an average day by non-EC individuals? If it is at all viable, then permanent Pending might be the way to go Nosebagbear (talk) 15:05, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Alternative proposal: Assuming that there is a consensus to semiprotect the refdesks, how about making subpages that are open to IP editors but are under pending changes protection, along with a strict rule that no answers are allowed on the subpages and that those who have the pending changes reviewer right are allowed to move the questions to the associated refdesk. Note: if you are not familiar with PC protection, please read Wikipedia:Pending changes before commenting on this proposal. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:03, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
    • For the current pattern of vandalism, this would not help at all – even on a PC subpage, the vandal edits would still all have to be reverted and revdeleted, so the amount of potential disruption and the workload required to deal with it would be exactly the same as before. (Same goes, of course, for the idea of PC-protecting the main boards themselves.) Fut.Perf. 17:17, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
      • If the creation of a page inevitably leads to the refdesk vandal using that page, why are the other 48,396,936 pages not filled with his vandalism? I fail to see how vandalizing a page where his vandalism would be invisible to the vast majority of Wikipedia readers would be attractive to a troll. Even if he did vandalize the subpage the only editors who would see it are the relatively small number who [A] have the pending changes reviewer right, and [B] watchlist the subpage. An admin could come by every few months and do a revdel so even PC reviewers could no longer see the vandalism in the history. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:25, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
        • All of the above would apply to PC protecting the refdesk itself, but doing that has a huge flaw: When editors who are not reviewers post to a PC protected refdesk that contains unreviewed pending changes, their edits are also marked as pending and are not visible to most readers. The subpage idea solves that problem. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:30, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
        • Correction: I just logged out cleared my browser history and looked at a page with PC protection. When reading the page I saw the latest accepted revision, but I could see the rejected pending changes in the history, so it looks like revdel would still be needed (but would be far easier to do on a subpage where nobody replies to a post). --Guy Macon (talk) 19:01, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
    • I agree with Guy Macon on PC protection, but oppose the creation of a subpage for IP queries. It's not a perfect fix to IP vandalism/trolling, but being a Pending Changes Patroller myself, I think it's better that PC patrollers revert vandalism at the pending change phase than the status quo (vandalism goes live immediately). PrussianOwl (talk) 20:02, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - Regardless of the outcome of this, I urge editors to avoid encouraging or endorsing legal action against any troll(s). WP:NLT is a uniform policy and it very simply states that you cannot make legal threats on Wikipedia. Any matters should be taken before the Wikimedia Foundation itself.--WaltCip (talk) 19:57, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Question for the admins - have the troll(s) revealed any pattern in their interests by targeting one Refdesk more than another? If we can respond to the troll by pulling together and improving, for example, our math resources on Wikiversity, we might bring it to a point where they feel their activities are counterproductive (by their standards). Think of the RAND study on bombs dropped vs. resistance in Vietnam. Wnt (talk) 14:17, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - I wonder if we could maybe try protecting all of the Reference Desks for 6 months or so and see what happens after that? It occurred to me that IIRC, we've only ever tried doing short intervals of protection, usually not longer than a few days, and I'm not sure that we should go straight from that to indefinite. Perhaps the troll will find something else to do with their life after 6 months?--SkyGazer 512 Oh no, what did I do this time? 15:25, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment The fact that so many people are fine with long-term protections on what is ostensibly a service for new users makes it very clear that the RefDesk has stopped doing that useful work, and people know it. ApLundell (talk) 20:25, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Request can we please move this RfC to a subpage? Its getting really long, and however it closes people will want to be able to refer back to it. The relevant policy is at Wikipedia:Requests for comment#Placing an RfC in a page other than a talk page. I suggest moving this to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/RefDesk. Just my 2 cents --DannyS712 (talk) 00:41, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment All refdesks should at least have indefinite pending changes protection. As a pending changes reviewer anytime I've come across vandalism that needs to be revdel I've followed the instructions at WP:RFO and it hasn't let me down. Alucard 16❯❯❯ chat? 13:23, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Fundamental purposesEdit

Wikipediants need to decide on the actual fundamental purposes of the ref desks. I have not seen these published anywhere. The only clue you get is in the guidelines which say what the reference desks are not. You need to say what the desks are and what they are for. Then you can decide how to achieve those objectives. Do you want to limit questions rigidly to existing articles? Or do you want to provide a service answering questions that cannot be answered by looking at a wp page. These are the fundamental questions that must be asked and answered in order to determine the future of the ref desks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:38, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

No, we really don't need to decide that. --Trovatore (talk) 03:41, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

Proposal II: Shut down the Ref DesksEdit

Should the ref desks be shut down? 14:06, 6 January 2019 (UTC)[1]

  • Previous discussion: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/RfC: Should the Reference Desks be closed. ―Mandruss  19:06, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut Them down and let them move to Wikiversity (first choice) or Protect indefinitely (second choice) per Iridescent's compelling argument below. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:28, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Close the refdesk Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a discussion forum or a reference desk. It has lived past its usefulness, as further evidenced by this situation. --Pudeo (talk) 23:51, 27 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Shut them down - Bite the damn bullet and get rid of the friggin' ref desks, already Spin them off into another project, maybe, but they have little if anything to do with building an encyclopedia. Deep six 'em. Beyond My Ken (talk) 13:58, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down. The reference desks have almost no relevance to Wikipedia, haven't been used in the way they're meant to be used for well over a decade, and are a fertile breeding ground for problems that constantly spill over into the rest of the project. If the regulars really feel the desks are so damn important we can't do without them, take them over to Wikiversity where their mix of original research and vague speculation at least vaguely fits into the culture. There comes a point when the half-dozen people to whom it's a pet project can't keep expecting the rest of us to clean up their trash, and we passed that point long ago. ‑ Iridescent 14:52, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose shutdown. While I can understand this reaction, I'd still consider this a regrettable outcome. The desks are potentially useful, even if on a rather modest scale. And the current issues aren't some home-made trash produced by the regulars (as some situations in the past were), but really just the problem of keeping a small number of vandals out. For that purpose, semi-protection works. In fact, as you may have noticed, somebody in the meantime went and did just that (without causing any outcry, surprisingly): semiprotected several of the desks for a few weeks. And see what happens: the desks are working fine now. Sensible questions coming in, reasonable answers being given. (I'm talking mainly about the Humanities and Language desks; I don't usually follow the others.) Fut.Perf. 17:25, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down - They are causing too many problems and are not improving the encyclopedia. I am not sure if any other foreign language Wikipedia has a reference desk but they are not helpful to the encyclopedia. Pkbwcgs (talk) 15:16, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down per WP:NOT or, at least, semiprotect indefinitely. buidhe (formerly Catrìona) 19:32, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down and since WP:ABUSE has no teeth since ISPs will laugh off any reports from people without a @wikimedia email address, support WMF legal actions against the ISP, with detailed diffs of every misuse, with a preference for those which would violate criminal statutes against harassment, threatening statements, etc. (WP:OFFICE really has no use here other than to revdel/oversight/OFFICElock the RefDesks; thus asking for office actions to be taken on Wikipedia proper wouldn't particularly help. This is a fight where WMF's legal counsel would have to get involved to send out the C&Ds, and that isn't going to happen on Wikipedia itself.)A little blue Bori v^_^v Bori! 22:42, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down since that appears to be on the table, again. Same arguments as last time, but they can be summarized as "outside our mission" and "cost exceeds benefit". ―Mandruss  22:52, 5 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down I have long been of the opinion that the refdesks aren't really part of Wikipedia at all. They don't operate under the same rules and also don't operate like a proper reference desk, there a librarian will provide, you know, references, as opposed to just making something up. They do nothing to improve the encyclopedia and have long been a source of needless drama. If they were a user we would've banned that user years ago as a "net negative." Beeblebrox (talk) 04:07, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down Not only are they not relevant to our purpose, but apparently they have become a net negative to the project. In a time of declining editorship we need to use our resources more wisely. --Rschen7754 04:17, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Your problem is that you treat other editors as your slaves, just "resources", which need to be managed wisely. Ruslik_Zero 14:04, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    No, they are using human resources language. Additionally editors/admins who don't spend time at the ref desk have to manage the trolls and drama that lands at ANi. The ref desks don't work and waste our collective time. Legacypac (talk) 15:37, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Time, energy, and money (think WMF staff time, bandwidth, server space) are all resources. --Rschen7754 18:12, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Well, Wikipedia:Don't worry about performance clearly states we should not argue based on whether something might use such resources as bandwidth or server space (in fact, deleting takes more space). WMF staff is not involved afaik, so there is only human resources. But volunteers will choose for themselves how they want to spend their time, so any argument that amounts to "If we take away project X, editors will surely spend time at project Y" is a fallacy. Speaking from experience, removal of one part of something that holds interest to you will more likely result in you abandoning that something completely rather than focusing on other parts of it. So it's far more likely we will lose editors who will become users of other pages instead than those editors starting to focus on other areas of the project. Your argument would make sense if we were paid to edit because then the community could force us to work in areas even if we are not interested in them. Regards SoWhy 18:23, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    There have been calls to have WMF staff involved in the latest issues. I am also concerned about the necessity for administrators and patrollers (and oversighters) to have to monitor the refdesk. As far as your argument about losing editors, this is all hypotheticals without any data. --Rschen7754 18:27, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Yes because someone is attacking this site in an illegal manner but this would always be problematic, not just when they target the refdesks. No administrator or patroller is forced to monitor the refdesk. As for the last part, you do realize that the same applies to the argument that those editors will focus their attention elsewhere? In contrast, there are many examples of pages losing users when they have - for whatever reason - become less attractive. Tumblr banning adult content is the latest example. Affected users didn't transition to creating SFW Tumblr pages instead but moved to other platforms. I can only speak from personal experience but I have yet to see any website, game, company, organization or other entity maintain its user / customer base after removing a certain part. If you or anyone else have some examples, feel free to share them. If not, I'd argue that the risks of closing the RDs and losing editors outweigh the perceived benefits. Regards SoWhy 19:31, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Of course SoWhy is right in that the risk of shutting down part of the project is that some of the goodfaith editors depart and the badfaith editors are emboldened and move on to their next target, which may well be another part of the project. But I wanted to make a comment re the declining editors idea. Did you know that editing levels in late 2018 were significantly higher than in late 2014? ϢereSpielChequers 21:41, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose and call for office actions -- the refdesks are a valuable resource, and the best way to deal with the sort of gross abuse which is the problem here is to start going after the trolls, so they would face real consequences (such as getting kicked off of Wikipedia) for their actions. 2601:646:8A00:A0B3:74C8:E1A4:A5D:7436 (talk) 07:43, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • We have kicked the trolls off of Wikipedia. A few thousand times. They immediately come back through a new proxy that we never heard of before. I happen to be more technically sophisticated than most (but not all) trolls, but if I was a vandal or a troll I could, for the princely sum of $25, buy compete control of 1,000 computers with 1,000 IP addresses on a botnet, and use them to abuse Wikipedia until all 1,000 were blocked. $110 would get me 5,000 IPs and $200 would get me 10,000 IPs. --Guy Macon (talk) 08:01, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - A human alternative when automated searches prove to be unsuccessful is useful to both editors and readers. As long as volunteers choose to allocate their time to that portion of the site, so be it. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 07:53, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I started a short discussion last Nov. about alternatives to repeated blocks or a permanent block, see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 147#Ref. desk protection. I can't speak for all the desks, but for one I work on regularly most of the question come from people who aren't regular editors, so blocks keep the main source of 'customers' away. To me the root cause here is that WP has not kept up with the technology available to vandals; when a bot can vandalize a page every minute, each time under a new IP or dummy account, it's not practical to try to counteract it manually. The Ref. Desks seem to attract a lot of attention from vandals, but as long as they have the technology there's no reason they can't move on to other pages, so a permanent block or removal would result in the problem being moved, not solved. I interact with several other wikis besides WP and I've noticed that they don't seem to have the same issues with vandalism, and I think that's mainly because they implement measures that WP isn't willing to. These measures seem innocuous to me: requiring a registration to edit, or using reverse Turing tests to weed out bots, and perhaps there were good reasons for not implementing them in the past, but the world has moved on and perhaps it's time to re-examine these reasons. To those who say the Ref. Desks are not encyclopedic, I think WP has a wider mission to disseminate reliable information, and the Ref. Desks fit in with that mission. Sometimes you don't know in which article to look for the information you need, or you don't know the relevant term enter into Google, and some kind of human guidance is needed. The proposal seems like cutting off your nose to get rid of a pimple, it does solve the problem but it's hardly the right answer. --RDBury (talk) 09:55, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down the reference desk. It is not within the scope of our mission of writing an encyclopedia. Those who enjoy answering questions can migrate to Quora or fork the RD off into an offwiki project, where it does not produce maintenance overhead for Wikipedia. Sandstein 10:20, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down - I don't see anything that is helpful to this project coming out from the refdesks. There are a lot more forums in the Internet rather than the Wikipedia Refdesks. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 11:58, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
The refdesks are operating outside the scope of Wikipedia, which is nothing more than a human search engine. Random people are giving random answers which may be anything they made up in their heads with no strict policies such as WP:V. Some refdesk regulars enjoy having a nice time there while making extremely few edits outside, and some treated them as a place to ask questions and gain new knowledge for themselves, which is a bit egregious. Every time a proposal for closing the refdesks/draft and implement rules etc., they come out from their comfortable grottos and oppose for whatever reason, resulting in the proposal not accepted by the "community" a.k.a. no "consensus". While it may be a little bit helpful for users to ask for something they want and provide "information and knowledge" for the minority, it is still a net negative - draining resources such as oversight/administrator tools and other people's time to clean up the mess with no significant benefits to the project as a whole. The best (most productive) editors in Wikipedia never waste time in the refdesks. Even it is not being shut down as opposed by various egocentrics, it should at least, like Donald Trump/Michael Jackson, protected indefinitely, disallowing the troll to vandalise with IPs. The rationale for closing the refdesks are not only because of the troll, but for other reasons that breaches policies and out of scope.
Note that WP:DENY is not a policy. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 08:55, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Meaning no disrespect, I think you've reached a number of conclusions here which are non-sequitors with regard to the underlying observations:
"Random people are giving random answers which may be anything they made up in their heads with no strict policies such as WP:V."
First, I find there's something perplexing and entirely out-of-sync with Wikipedia's guiding philosophies in your use of the word "random" here; it seems to be a proxy for "non-expert" and yet, you can hardly be unaware of the fact that Wikipedia has never required that anybody contributing content to any space on this project be a certified expert in the relevant content area. And honestly, in my experience, RefDesks regulars (outside of a handful of editors who want to play polymath to serve their egos by answering every question posted; the worst of such offenders we've already topic banned) tend to be -more- inclined to contribute content in only areas they have a reasonable amount of expertise in. Now, to the extent that there is an issue with not requiring fidelity with WP:V, which a small minority regularly abuse to throw out wild speculation, you and I are in agreement that this is a problem. But, uh, it's not a problem unique to the desks by any stretch of the imagination, is it? When this sort of thing happens in other talk spaces, we ignore it to the extent possible and those who become habitual pushers of such contributions we eventually restrain with sanctions. What we do not do is get rid of article talk pages and WikiProjects just because some members of the community cannot control themselves. What is needed here is more administrative actions for vainglorious bad actors, not the wholesale excising of a valuable process space. The proposed solution is like using an icepick lobotomy to cure temporal lobe epilepsy; a much more refined technique is needed to actually reach the underlying problem and a more indiscreet/blunt approach will only damage the organ as a whole.
"Some refdesk regulars enjoy having a nice time there while making extremely few edits outside, and some treated them as a place to ask questions and gain new knowledge for themselves, which is a bit egregious."
Ummm, because a project with an expressly educational mission should have a problem with its volunteers utilizing one of the project's spaces to gain new knowledge for themselves? I fail to see how this could be perceived as even remotely a part of the problem we are talking about here, let alone "egregious".
Every time a proposal for closing the refdesks/draft and implement rules etc., they come out from their comfortable grottos and oppose for whatever reason, resulting in the proposal not accepted by the 'community' a.k.a. no 'consensus'."
Here we're partly in agreement. It's not the self-educational types who oppose reform at the desks (they more than anybody stand to gain from questions being answered in a more reliable way). Indeed (and still without intending this for the sake of cuasing offense) I question how much first-hand knowledge you have of the desks, if that's the conclusion you've come to. Rather it's the editors who want to hear themselves talk no matter whether they have something of value to contribute in responding to a given question that attempt to filibuster and discussion to get the desks back on proper focus.
But you've described the tactics more or less perfectly and I am in complete agreement that this is where the heart of the problem lays. Luckily there's a really simple solution to this that just has not been attempted before, and it's the Wikipedia standard solution. The problem with previous attempts to sharpen the desk guidelines is that they have generally been hosted on the desk talk page. This is inappropriate given we are really talking about bringing the desk into conformity with multiple content policies, not changing a single policy (which would be cause for talking about such alterations on a single talk page. This approach has also allowed a small handful of editors to stonewall discussion about any proposed pages because those editors obsessively stalk the desks (rather than checking in so often as the average Ref Desker does) and so they are outnumbered merely in a four-to-one manner rather than the fifty-to-one if all refdeskers inclined to follow policy where there at once. As such, changes to bring clearer expression of established policy to the express guidelines of the desk have been limited.
This next time, we need to host the discussion here at VPP, advertise it to the larger commonity through the CD list and numerous RfC bot notice channels and let it run for at least a month. This will assure the broader community (including but by no means limited to a broader selection of RefDesks contributors) have a chance to express their collective views on the matter, and I have no doubt that under those circumstances the small handful of obsessive "free speech" advocates who the desks for ego-building exercises and therefore instincivly oppose any restriction how they can comment, will be thoroughly drowned out. At the same time, it will help us recruit a few admins willing to actually apply these more express conditions, including enforcing them with block for serial offenders--just as it works anywhere else on Wikipedia.
"...with no significant benefits to the project as a whole."
Patently false, in my experience. Not only do some requests come from users looking to improve article content, many are the times that, in answering a question that is asked for more self-serving premises, I have suggested an article based on its nominal topic to the OP, only to realize there were faults and omissions in said article, which I then chose to remedy. I know I'm not alone in this. Beyond those direct improvements to the encyclopedia, the RefDesks contribute to the general mission of the project of sharing the sum of human knowledge.
"The best (most productive) editors in Wikipedia never waste time in the refdesks."
How could you possibly know that with anything even remotely approaching empirical rigour or even significant confidence? I'm not even going to touch a statement so obviously predicated in presumption and confirmation bias, except to say it's pretty discorteous to stamp a group that includes hundreds of regulator contributors to this project who have created and enhanced tens of thousands of articles and particpated regularly in the maintenance of the project with the label "not particularly productive."
"The rationale for closing the refdesks are not only because of the troll, but for other reasons that breaches policies and out of scope."
Well, at least we can end on a note we can agree on. However, I reiterate that the solution to those problems is to follow standard Wikipedia procedures in responding to bad actors, not tearing off a longterm and useful component of the project and casting it aside because a very small number of contributors cannot control themselves. Snow let's rap 16:52, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose. Not again, really? We only had that discussion a short while ago and consensus was, rightly, that any such shutdown would be tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Whatever problems some people might cause there, there are plenty of positive ways to use them, like allowing editors to find new information that might not be readily available through searches (for example when you don't really know what to search for) and discovering areas where the encyclopedia needs improvement. So yes, they are within our mission to provide knowledge to the public. And if some people (myself included) like to take some time to answer questions there, it's our choice to do so. The idea that people editing the refdesks will magically start editing other areas if the refdesks are closed is absurd. Best case scenario they will spend that time on other webpages but more likely they will spend less time on Wikipedia in general. Because people at Quora or similar pages seldom come here to fix or expand articles but people at the refdesks do. PS: I'm pretty sure closing down an entire area of the project because of one persistent troll will be very rewarding to said troll who will likely then target another area (since we would have proven to them that their tactics are effective). Regards SoWhy 12:00, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down, they are not helpful to this project. Defer them to wikiversity or a new project. --Dirk Beetstra T C 12:19, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down; no convincing reasons have been presented to disregard NOTFORUM, which is what the desksare. It is disingenuous to suggest this is solely about one troll; it is about editors building and maintaining an encyclopedia and going elsewhere for their chitchattery and navel gazing. ——SerialNumber54129 12:21, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • You do realize that WP:NOTFORUM includes the text "If you wish to ask a specific question on a topic, Wikipedia has a Reference desk; questions should be asked there rather than on talk pages."? So WP:NOTFORUM is actually very much in favor of keeping the ref desks since it explicitly directs people there (and has been doing so for over ten years). Regards SoWhy 18:12, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
We will simply remove the suggestions to go to the ref desks, just like someone added them at some point. Legacypac (talk) 20:50, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
So your argument is to change policy after this discussion has resulted in your desired outcome so it then supports said outcome? That sounds kind of circular to me. Regards SoWhy 06:22, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
No I propose to remove the suggestion to use the Ref Desks against core policy. Why tell people we have a policy against using the site as a forum, but hey, if you don't like that policy over here we ignore it? Thank-you for nicely pointing out an area we direct people to use the Ref Desks against policy. Legacypac (talk) 10:23, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Maybe because people don't all agree with you that they are "against core policy" and have, as pointed out multiple times in this discussion, very valid uses? After all, selectively reading the policy does not make a good argument. Let's examine the rest of WP:NOTFORUM in detail, shall we?
  • "Please try to stay on the task of creating an encyclopedia. You can chat with people about Wikipedia-related topics on their user talk pages, and should resolve problems with articles on the relevant talk pages, but please do not take discussion into articles." Ref desks do not take discussion into articles.
  • "In addition, bear in mind that article talk pages exist solely to discuss how to improve articles; they are not for general discussion about the subject of the article, nor are they a help desk for obtaining instructions or technical assistance. Material unsuitable for talk pages may be subject to removal per the talk page guidelines." This section only talk pages, not other areas.
So nothing in WP:NOTFORUM's actual wording is against having a place where people can ask for information. In fact, the whole section is entitled "Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought" and filed under "Encyclopedic content. On a side note, changing the policy during a discussion in which people are citing said policy in their favor is not "bold" but unhelpful. If you disagree with the current wording of the policy, propose it to be changed after this discussion is over. Regards SoWhy 10:42, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down (based on comments above and my look at the RDs). A real library reference desk isn't a place for detailed discussions; it's to "provide library users with direction to library materials ...". DexDor (talk) 12:36, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    @DexDor: Yeah, and a real (ie paper) encyclopedia doesn't look anything like Wikipedia either. Breaking news, we're not trying to simulate the real world here. What's the harm? Amisom (talk) 21:31, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    WP:RD begins with "The Wikipedia reference desk works like a library reference desk." DexDor (talk) 21:42, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    @DexDor: I'm sure the header can be edited if you're concerned it's inaccurate. Amisom (talk) 21:50, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down - I've long had the opinion that these should be done away with, Sure they might of been helpful (and may of even served a purpose!) in 2005 but now they're nothing more than a trolls playground, Whilst it's true "If they're at Refdesks they're not on mainspace" the continued revdelling and trolling that has taken place over there has gotten worse and worse and worse and if nothing is done about it it will only continue to get worse,
If you have a question - Ask Google like everyone else. –Davey2010Talk 12:41, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Just to add I would've supported closing whether we had trolls or not - My main reasoning is they've outlived their usefulness here and we have better venues for questions etc. –Davey2010Talk 21:49, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I've been yelled out for suggesting Google. And unless you know of a site where you can ask "what species of bird is this?" then the ref desks remain useful. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:26, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
User:Baseball Bugs I googled "bird identification forum and instantly had a number of places better then the ref desk including forums. (I had to break the link) and I bet some real experts hang out there. Legacypac (talk) 06:54, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
How do you know that anything said by those self-styled "experts" is accurate? Wikipedia is supposed to be driven by valid sourcing, not by "experts". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:58, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • You make an excellent point, originally articulated on this page by Wnt, that species identification is a good example of the usefulness of the reference desks. I always read such sections. At least I can find out how ignorant I am. That is a plus. Plant and animal identification and the associated discussion is quintessentially educational and inevitably links to encyclopedia articles. By the way, what Wnt wrote was: "For example, every month we get one or two 'can somebody tell me what this bird/bug/etc. is?' questions". Bus stop (talk) 16:38, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down, as I've been saying for a long time, well before the troll came around. The issue isn't whether the ref desks are useful; Yahoo answers and Quora are also useful. The issue is whether they have much of anything to do with supporting the goal of building an encyclopedia. They don't. They are a generic question and answer forum, and Wikipedia is not a forum for general discussion. As I've said before, if the ref desk regulars want to violate NOT, then they should spin off the ref desks into a sister project, WikiAnswers or something, as the travel ref desk is spun off to WikiVoyage. That's the type of thing we do with projects that may be useful, but which violate NOT. I'm fine with Wikipedia hosting a landing page, as we do with the travel desk. But there has always been a problem with recurring behavioral problems there that the community has struggled to resolve, because we can't enforce our basic policies on a corner of the project that itself violates our basic policies. They can make their own project if they like, where they can formulate their own policies and regulate their own problems without being a net negative to those of us who are primarily focused on building an encyclopedia. GMGtalk 13:02, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support closure Wikipedia is not a library and time would be better spent writing and maintaining articles, not doing other people’s research for them. Aiken D 13:11, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Do you have any hard data that closing this area will indeed lead to time "spent writing and maintaining articles" and not to editors leaving the project altogether? Because in my experience, taking away something from people rarely results in them being happy with the community who decided to do so. Regards SoWhy 14:00, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    No I don’t have any hard data, just my understanding that the reference desks are beyond an encyclopaedia‘s scope. Any time spent away from it is a waste. Aiken D 14:48, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose outright closure, Transfer to Wikiversity with a tighter scope concerning 'opinion' or conjecture based responses over source based evidence. Also back the calls for the trolls to face legal action irrespective of the closure decision.ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 13:27, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Legal action would not be effective. For $200 I can buy compete control of 10,000 computers with 10,000 IP addresses distributed among hundreds of ISPs, then use them as proxies to vandalize/troll Wikipedia. Even if WMF legal took action against each one as I used it, I would simply move on to the next -- a computer/IP that had never been disruptive before I bought control of it. See botnet. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:54, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • The languages desk should ideally be moved to Wiktionary. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 13:46, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Alternate proposal: Adopt Wikianswers as a WMF hosted project and transfer Refedsks to it.: , given that it has established policy and a community. (WMF adopting an third party site isn't unheard of, given Wikivoyage's adoption).
    Per the above suggestion -]]
    A vote like this is the only place people will work on these ideas. If you think any of those are possibilities, make one of them work and then try to woo us over. But you won't -- if you even come near succeeding the only thing that will happen is the troll will start targeting your new project also, followed by overbearing admins who make it out like a few rude messages are the end of the world and it's worth doing anything at all to stop them. Wnt (talk) 14:35, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
There are plenty of existing places better suited for people to go ask questions and get unreferanced opinions and useless banter. Nearly all of them work better than the Wikipedia Ref Desk. No one needs to invent anything new to replace something here that does not work well. Legacypac (talk) 20:50, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Striking this out, as it would need support from both WikiAnswers and Wikipedia, and at present this doesn't seem to exist. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 22:18, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Ruslik_Zero 13:59, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down If the ref desks were used *as* a ref desk, this wouldnt be necessary. They arnt, and are actively prevented from doing so by the users who regularly fill it with crap. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:10, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose closing the refdesks -- Procedural close of this RFC instead!. This "RFC" was constructed by starting an unrelated discussion, getting a bunch of "close" votes together, then dumping them into a "!vote" to start off a lynch mob with a bang. I can't prove it, but I think that there are some trolls, admins, and Refdesk critics all working together here as the paid agents of a single commercial entity which sees our project as a potential rival. We know almost the whole Internet has been taken over by the worst kind of corporate scum and that there is nothing they do not stoop to. Telling us that we should give up and go sign up with that competitor and let them track everything we read and censor everything we talk about is not going to get a positive response from me. What we are doing is no different than what people have done on the refdesks from the beginning of Wikipedia. The only thing that has changed is that we are under a persistent, visible attack from the outside and from the inside -- not even a large attack! -- but if people won't stand up to a bully they will find themselves on their knees before him. Wnt (talk) 14:30, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Just out of interest, has there ever been someone on Wikipedia who expressed an opinion with which you disagreed whom you didn't think was on the payroll of some kind of vast conspiracy? ‑ Iridescent 15:03, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Incidentally Iri, I need you to log into the shadow conspiracy employee portal and sign your time sheet. I've made a few small corrections regarding your expense account. GMGtalk 15:12, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Don't even joke about it, Wnt will take you seriously—it's not that long ago he was accusing me of taking bribes to promote Final Fantasy because I supported its nomination at TFAR. ‑ Iridescent 15:18, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose closing the refdesks. Closing them would only move the questions and issues back to WP:Help desk again - which is why we separated them in the beginning. Rmhermen (talk) 14:34, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Nay, then the admins can just keep semi-protecting and patrolling the Help Desk until they say that it has to be closed because of trolling. Then they can notch another win for their resume. Wnt (talk) 14:37, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down or alternative, devolve them to Wnt's conspiracytheorywiki. Nick (talk) 14:41, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose close/fine with protect: Because a few times, I have used the Language Desk to get info to help me improve the Encyclopedia, mainly with translations. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:21, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down beyond the trolling problem we have an ongoing behavor problem with regular contributors posting useless comments and doing other stupid things. Sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers have crowd sourcing mechanisms to boost good/useful answers and depreciate junk answers. We lack that, and unlike articles, we don't crowdsource edit responses to improve them. Therefore the ref desks fail by design and will only ever be a poor subsitute for other better alternatives. Legacypac (talk) 15:33, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Close the refdesks. We are not yahoo answers, we are trying to build an encyclopedia. This little sideshow does not contribute to this mission in any way and takes up time cleaning up after trolls. Natureium (talk) 15:52, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Close the desks. To me, the trolling wouldn't be reason to abandon the project if it was one that otherwise was worthy of support. However, the thing that makes Wikipedia great - the incremental crowdsourced pooling of knowledge from many, preferably well-referenced sources - is ill-suited to a quick question and answer format where there is a small pool of volunteers who may have no special insight into the area being asked. The format itself tends to prevent the type of nuance and clarification that one receives from true reference desks. Wikis are designed to be incremental and accrete useful information, the reference desk as it currently functions simply dispenses answers, some of great value, some not. In either case, though, it is not functioning structurally the way this wiki was designed. Add that in with the difficulties in maintaining the desks, and I do feel their benefit is exceeded by the cost. Xymmax So let it be written So let it be done 16:01, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • I don't have any statistics but personally, I have oftentimes found new information through questions at the RD which I wouldn't have found otherwise because I didn't know what to search for. I think that is very much what Wikipedia is for, finding what you are looking for. Also, people will never stop asking such questions here because they expect Wikipedia to be a helpful community that assists in finding information. Closing the desks will only redistribute those users (back) to the help desks and the Teahouse. As for difficulties maintaining, so far the whole argument is one troll with too much time on their hands. Can we really argue that it's too costly to maintain if a) nobody is forced to work in that area and b) we have not even tried protection to deal with it (since that discussion is still ongoing above)? Regards SoWhy 16:46, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose Closing Down the Reference Desks: I strongly oppose closing down the Reference Desks. They have been extremely useful and helpful to me, personally. I use them rather frequently to ask questions. And, I often peruse the questions (and answers) posted by others. I must be missing something. I have never really noticed any issues or problems on these desks. Thanks. Keep them open, please. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:02, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    If you've genuinely "never really noticed any issues or problems" you can't have been looking that hard… ‑ Iridescent 16:11, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
No, I didn't look "hard". In fact, I didn't look at all. I don't understand. You gave me a link to a bunch of different ANI Board episodes of past issues and problems. This is the first I have seen of that. What I am saying is that in my 12 years here, I have never seen or noticed any issues or problems. Once in a blue moon, I see a slight issue. And it goes away rather quickly. I don't read every single board, ever single question, and every single post. But, in 12 years, I never saw any issue or problem. In 12 years, this is the first I have seen of that ANI Board (that you linked). No, I didn't go "looking to see if there were any problems". I assume that there are; and I assume that no one is "making this all up" out of whole cloth. But, I am simply telling of my day-to-day Wikipedia experiences on the Reference Desks. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:32, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Question: Wasn't this proposal brought up in the recent past? I thought I remembered this issue arising. Whatever became of that discussion? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:04, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • If I remember correctly, that was part of another proposal. This is a problem because If you have a proposal for A and a bunch of people don't care one way or the other about A, they never get down to where B is proposed. Having a separate heading and thus having the proposal in the TOC helps some, and having template:RfC at the top of the new proposal helps a lot. I don't think either happened the last time this was proposed. Also, the trolling keeps getting worse, and more and more people are coming to the conclusion that `the refdesks aren't worth the amount of trouble they attract (which of course is the direct result of feeding the trolls, but that horse has left the barn). --Guy Macon (talk) 18:05, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • I have linked the previous discussion at the top of this subsection. October–December 2017, no consensus. ―Mandruss  19:06, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Close the desks per Sandstein, Rschen7754, Beeblebrox, etc. Ealdgyth - Talk 16:26, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down conditionally - If someone goes looking for the ref desk, the former ref desk page should contain one or more redirects to somewhere else that they can ask questions. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:46, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Of course. No proposal like this would be complete without some free advertising for our corporate sponsors! Wnt (talk) 17:00, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down and they can petition the WMF to create their own project if they want to. TonyBallioni (talk) 17:03, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, the ref desks perform a useful function. Closing them would cause legitimate questioners to move to article talk pages, where answers are rarely timely. And the vandals, who I never see, are no different than the kids who used to call real librarians and ask them silly questions. Vandals would just find something else to disrupt, and eventually all of Wikipedia would be closed. Abductive (reasoning) 18:04, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Useful tool to many people who want to find something out, and the trolls are there, but they can be dealt with in the same way we deal with vandals. [Username Needed] 18:36, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • What would be the alternative? I have occasionally come to the refdesk with a question that, if I could ask the talk page of the article I was working on, I would, but because I'm often the only person working on said articles, I need a larger audience. So what is the current proper place for a signal boost for an actual encyclopedic question? --Golbez (talk) 18:38, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    @Golbez Assuming you want to keep it on-wiki, the relevant WikiProject is usually the best bet regardless of whether the RDs are shut or not, as that way you get the people who actually know about the topic rather than the RD regulars half-remembering something they once read. (Even the moribund projects tend to still be watched.) ‑ Iridescent 19:25, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Disagree, I do not think this is accurate, there are not responses on Wikiprojects often, and the claim they actually know about things there, not elsewhere, is just wishful thinking. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:43, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support closing refdesks I can't believe that I've landed on this side of the argument, but what has been typed here and some of my own experiences really makes the justification for the refdesks somewhat weak. I remember when they were a great place to go for questions, answers, discussion, links to articles and interesting additional details which can't make it to articles. Now I notice that they are rather dead, and when not struggling with people asking homework questions or dubious political points, they are being shut down and cleansed for trolling. I think that the time is up. Other parts of the Internet exist for this kind of reference questions and Wikipedia seems to be no longer suitable. doktorb wordsdeeds 18:42, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose shutting them down. If someone thinks the desks are not useful, they can just not come to them. But I find them very helpful—often the answers contain links to Wikipedia articles, so they are a good form of support for the body of the encyclopedia. Just ignore any trolls. Loraof (talk) 18:49, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
You have obviously not been apprised of the situation. The ref-desk trolls cannot be ignored because they are actively posting maliciously offensive and libelous statements at a high volume.--WaltCip (talk) 18:51, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Posts that are libelous toward specific named individuals are one thing, but “maliciously offensive” statements can indeed be ignored. Loraof (talk) 19:01, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Suggest that you review the diffs listed for the miscellaneous ref-desk as of December 2018.--WaltCip (talk) 19:07, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
What diffs? All I see is stuff that has been crossed out, which can be read only by People Better Than Me. It's like the ridiculousness of having a US Congress when only the CIA and the NSA and such have access to the Truth and all the Terrible Things That Might Happen If They Are Not Obeyed. The Congressmen ought to understand that they don't have the clearance to know what they're doing and hand over all their power to the spy agencies as the natural dictators of the world. Wnt (talk) 00:13, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
On the rare occasions when I've happened to see some of that stuff before it was rev-del'd, it was typically grossly libelous statements, accusing various users of being child molesters. I don't see how you can argue that that garbage should remain visible. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:58, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
There are a lot of places where "garbage" has been tolerated in the history. I remember some remarkable allegations on Jimbo's talk page never got revdeleted, even when people talked about it, possibly because of some technical reason. Random old versions of Wikipedia pages that stood for a couple of minutes are not really an emergency demanding some admin get out the magic wand. Left to our own devices we would clear the crap and keep a notice up most of the time (except when the troll deleted it) saying to ignore ridiculous allegations on this page. A lot of us remember the glory days of the internet when it was a joke "meme" for people to send usenet messages at each other saying they knew some guy in special forces who was going to break into their house and torture them. The kind of namby-pamby lemmings who would shut down a school over a 4chan posting that says "I like some of you, so don't go to X high school tomorrow" are alien to us. I mean, I grew up feeling proud to be a coward among the real men at high school who would get into fistfights over nothing, and now I feel like I am surrounded by abject simpering weaklings terrified of stupid text postings like I could never have imagined. Trolling is not that big a deal, and by making it out to be a big deal, the admins have made it a big deal and made the troll the Ruler of Wikipedia. Wnt (talk) 02:55, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Well, maybe you don't mind if some random troll claims you like to kill and eat babies, and you don't mind if that kind of thing is left in the history. But there's no reason anyone else should have to tolerate it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:57, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Wnt: ...The original 4chan post like that became famous because the poster went to school the next day and killed 10 people. Spewing your conspiracy garbage all over this thread is one thing, but do try not to use actual school shootings and people mimicking them as your reason why people are weaklings for not wanting to read the rantings of jerks and children. --PresN 04:01, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@PresN: I never heard of this, and I just double-checked our article 4chan and it has no mention of such an incident. If you can cite it and add to the article please do; meanwhile I remain skeptical. I realize that occasionally nuts really do post something real (the 4chan article describes a case of a murderer posting pictures of his crime to the site) but even then they are usually making the world a safer place by incriminating themselves. However, a known troll we know is lying is certainly no such person. We don't need to freak out over whatever crap he dumps on our forum. Wnt (talk) 04:14, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Wnt: [2], though of course you can't prove that it was real because 4chan is anonymous. I'm sure you think they made the world a safer place if it was real, though. --PresN 04:24, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@PresN: we've strayed off topic but I should note this is refuted [3] and is therefore not mentioned at Umpqua Community College shooting. Trolls, as always, are best at confusing you and wasting your time. Wnt (talk) 14:17, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Wnt: really? I'm not easily scared, as I think most people who watch what I do here would acknowledge, but I had to move house because of credible threats directly relating to activity on Wikipedia. And they managed to do a lot of actual harm off-wiki, even though they didn't get me. WMF Legal were involved in that. Then there is the horrific stuff that Lightbreather went through. - Sitush (talk) 06:16, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Sitush: I don't know anything about your situation, and it could be different. I was referring to random nonsense spewed over a forum by a troll, rather than some more specific conflict on a personal level. Wnt (talk) 14:17, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down - Answers made to inquiries on the ref-desks are only marginally helpful at best and dangerously incorrect at worst. There's no process of regulating the veracity of the answers given. The ref-desks are a net negative.--WaltCip (talk) 18:51, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose the fact that there are vandals or trolls abusing something is not a reason to get rid of it. Indeed that idea would seem laughable in any other context. We've had problems keeping the Main Page and some high profile articles free of serious vandalism lately, but that hasn't prompted any calls to get rid of them. The reference desk is a useful resource to have. I can understand those who think it should be moved to another project or split into a standalone project, but the way to implement that is to move it to another project or split it into a standalone project, not to close it down. Hut 8.5 19:15, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • I believe the proposal is to close the ref desks in their current form, which does not preclude that other stuff. What to do after they are closed down in their current form is and should be a separate question. ―Mandruss  19:27, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
      • "We've had problems keeping the Main Page and some high profile articles free of serious vandalism lately, but that hasn't prompted any calls to get rid of them" - but those are essential while the Reference Desk is not. I have yet to see anyone make the argument that the reference desk is essential. --Rschen7754 21:06, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
        • Sure, the proposal doesn't preclude moving the reference desks somewhere else, but there's no concrete plan to do this and if the proposal passes then the default option is that the reference desks stay shut down. I don't agree that we should separate things into whether to shut down the reference desk and what to do with it afterwards. The question should be what we do with the reference desk. Rschen7754: I certainly don't agree that the main page is "essential". We could just have a search page with some boilerplate text which is locked down like other interface pages. It would be a lot less vulnerable. The fundamental problem with making that change for security reasons is that the content of Wikipedia should be decided by editors, not vandals or trolls. Hut 8.5 22:08, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
          • Fine, complicate the question, dilute the debate by sending it in four different directions concurrently, rendering any consensus on anything virtually impossible. It won't be the first time; in fact that's probably why there was no consensus in the previous RfC. ―Mandruss  22:24, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
            • I take issue with that description. If you look at the discussion, there was a clear consensus not to close the refdesk. The closer worded that part minimally. Unfortunately the closer also found a consensus that something needed to change, which was a bit of overreaching — yes, a great many people thought something needed to change, but there was not much agreement on what, or indeed what the problem was. --Trovatore (talk) 00:56, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down – The reference desks have always been an example of what Wikipedia is not. It seems that they have turned into a rubbish version of Quora, or something like that. This is an encylopaedia...everything we do here should be about writing articles, or maintaining and improving those articles. The reference desk has nothing to do with that mission, and now has become a lighting rod for disruption. There is no reason to waste further administrative time on this attempt at a social media-type enterprise. It's time to condemn the reference desks to the dustbin of Wikipedia history. RGloucester 19:30, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    I've seen people mention WP:NOT multiple times now but can someone actually elaborate how that is the case? The only part of NOT that seems to apply, WP:NOTFORUM, explicitly endorses using the refdesks. Regards SoWhy 19:33, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a discussion forum. That line should be removed, as contradictory. I wonder when it was added, and whether it had any kind of consensus. In any case, Wikipedia is also not a host for original research, and many of the answers that I've seen largely qualify as such. RGloucester 19:50, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Added here (by a subsequently banned user), but long enough ago that it's reasonable to assume there's a consensus-by-default to leave it there unless a discussion leads to its removal. Because so few regulars ever have a reason to read the core WP:FIVE pages, paradoxically they tend to be among the worst-maintained. ‑ Iridescent 19:57, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Strongly oppose. I can't believe we're here again. Why do you want to remove the only legit means enquirers have to get help if they want to find stuff out? All this stuff about "we are creating an encyclopedia" - well encyclopedias are there to be consulted, and people want to consult - guess what - other people! As for "the time and energy spent would go to other places" well I'd just delete the bookmark altogether as there is nowhere else I can contribute. I'm with Joseph A Spadaro above: I've never seen a problem, you tell me that there is, but I've never seen it and that is I guess due to vigilance of other contributors. From my point of view the system is working and doesn't need fixing. TammyMoet (talk) 20:07, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Useful at times. They lack a definition but that can be a plus. As an oddball section of this project they function in a way that the rest of the project cannot. There are a cohesive set of principles that a consensus of editors at the Reference desks understand, accept, and enforce. The emphasis is on providing sources just as is the emphasis at the much larger and no doubt more important part of the project, but there is a looseness and jocularity and camaraderie that perhaps for good reasons is not found elsewhere. And of course information is in the mix, making them compatible with the encyclopedic mission. Bus stop (talk) 20:09, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The arguments here seem to me to be all wrong. If we shut something down because of trolls and vandals, what sort of message does that send to the trolls/vandals - be disruptive enough and Wikipedia crumbles? If we shut something down because 'it isn't the encyclopedia', are we going to close down the Teahouse, or user talkpages used for inter-editor chat, because they're not the encyclopedia? Encyclopedias are concerned with providing knowledge to readers. The ref desks are concerned with providing knowledge to readers. Why use the support for one manifestation of knowledge-sharing as a reason to knock down another? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 20:46, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    @PaleCloudedWhite: The Teahouse is for helping new editors how to edit Wikipedia, which is exactly related the encyclopedia. User talk pages are places where editors discuss matters regarding the project or occasionally user conduct. Moreover, I don't see questions like this one or this one relate the encyclopedia in any way? Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 08:53, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose per the previous three. Balkywrest (talk) 20:54, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: I learned a lot of useful things on the Wikipedia Reference Desks over the past several years. It really helps to have these desks because they allow people to ask questions about various topics and to learn new things. I strongly suggest that people look at my own history in regards to the Wikipedia Reference Desks to see just how useful these desks have been for me over the years. Futurist110 (talk) 21:15, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Transwiki to Wikiversity per Iridescent. I agree with PaleCloudedWhite's comment that "this gets vandalized a lot" is not a good reason to shut down, but it also doesn't really help the encyclopedia. As part of the transwiki, the link should be taken off the main page, but otherwise links could maybe be soft-redirected. — pythoncoder  (talk | contribs) 21:20, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    Striking because of others' comments on the low number of WV admins. — pythoncoder  (talk | contribs) 23:24, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose per PaleCloudedWhite's comment. Semiprotection may be an option, but "vandalism happens" is not a valid reason to shut a project down, and the Reference Desk is value added to readers of this encyclopedia. It helps our readers locate encyclopedic content and is much in line with encyclopedic purposes. Let the people who wish to continue volunteering at the Desk continue helping our readers. –Prototime (talk · contribs) 22:22, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - I think they are very helpful. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 22:29, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
Added: and compared to other question-and-answer places, it is easy to link to Wikipedia articles in the question or answer. Also, in the Wikipedia Math Reference Desk, it is easy to but the text in math format, using mathematical symbols, etc. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 07:53, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down or Transwiki Yeah, I know this would probably violate WP:DENY, but these don't seem like much for an encyclopedia, and other sites would work better. Additionally, I also Support Office Actions* against the RefDesk troll's ISP as per their massive disruption. (I'm not sure which one it is, is it the one posting defamatory statements against users in random namespaces?) This is probably the most effective option possible, community action is not enough to stop it. SemiHypercube 22:41, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    *or WMF legal actions, there's probably a difference that I'm not aware of. SemiHypercube 22:44, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    There is. WP:OFFICE is only for actions taken on-wiki by WMF staff and wouldn't cover contacting the ISP; that would be done by WMF legal via e-mail or the ISP's abuse-reporting system if it exists. As I mentioned above, most ISPs won't listen to abuse reports without contact from the website's hosts/owners. —A little blue Bori v^_^v Bori! 06:31, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    WMF legal contacting the ISP would not be effective. For $200 I can buy compete control of 10,000 computers with 10,000 IP addresses distributed among hundreds of ISPs, then use them as proxies to vandalize/troll Wikipedia. Even if WMF legal took action against each one as I used it, I would simply move on to the next -- a computer/IP that had never been disruptive before I bought control of it. See botnet. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:54, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I think we should revisit this if semi-protection doesn't achieve the desired effect. All of the major Q&A sites are hosted by for-profit companies, and the content on those sites are subject to their interests. The transwiki proposal looks appealing if Wikiversity or another Wikimedia Foundation project is willing to adopt the reference desks. I don't think office actions would be very effective, since the vandal(s) have access to multiple IP addresses that aren't being handled with a range block. — Newslinger talk 22:58, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The refdesks provide a valuable service in making our content more useful to readers. Hosting them at Wikipedia rather than at another project facilitates that goal. --Trovatore (talk) 23:23, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per Trovatore. Wikiversity has nowhere near the required amount of active editors watching it to support the reference desks, plus we cannot unilaterally move it there, because our community has no authority over theirs.--Jasper Deng (talk) 23:35, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down, and transwiki. I agree they can serve something of a purpose, but it is not WP's purpose, and maintaining them has been a disruptive waste of WP editorial time. They are a WP:NOT problem of several sorts (especially WP:NOT#GUIDE, WP:NOT#FORUM, WP:NOT#WEBHOST). They're a distraction at best, and at worst they've been a vandalism and dispute farm, irrigated with unsourced opinion and outright misinformation. — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼 23:45, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
    • I just want to comment on "waste of WP editorial time", which I'm not sure exactly what Stanton meant, but a lot of people seem to mean "if the refdesk volunteers weren't doing this, they'd be doing something else we value more". I want to remind everyone that everyone here is a volunteer, and entitled to allocate his/her efforts as he/she pleases. Their efforts do not belong to anyone else, and it is a moral error to treat their choices as a cost to the project. --Trovatore (talk) 23:48, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
If those editors are not WP:HERE to build an encylopaedia, then I'd suggest they go somewhere else, like Quora, where they can satisfy their desire to answer questions. RGloucester 00:21, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
The refdesk volunteers make our content more useful to the readers. That is part of the encyclopedic mission. --Trovatore (talk) 00:30, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
I think it is overly simplistic to say that editors "satisfy their desire to answer questions" at the Reference desks. Most of the editors that participate at the Reference desks also participate in article space and article Talk pages and AN/I and the Village pump. In short, they are involved with the project. Bus stop (talk) 00:51, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose, do not close but change the rules There should be a 100% enforced rule that only questions asking for references and answers providing such references should be accepted. Doroletho (talk) 23:56, 6 January 2019 (UTC)
I think that banning people from helping each other work through problems is a very bad idea also. For example, I gave this answer to someone who was trying to figure out unit conversions. There is no way I would have dug up just the right reference so I could post a bare URL as if it were an answer. Unless you accept the notion that all my calculation is OK because I directed him to Factor-label method in the process, in which case your change wouldn't matter much. I should add that I've added many redirects, like that one, in the course of answering questions. And that just happens to be a top homework term to look up for any beginner chem student. So are you telling me what I did in this case was bad, or can you accept it's part of the Wikipedia educational mission? Wnt (talk) 02:18, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
What you did was not bad, but that does not make the rule right. In most cases, answer without references are poorly written, biased, based on guesses, opinions, or simply a waste of time, among other things. Conceiving the mission of WK as an educational one would be a broad purpose. Indeed, the purpose is to create a free encyclopedia, which is a much more narrow obective.--Doroletho (talk) 21:52, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't think that's true. Yes, there are occasionally dead wrong off-the-cuff answers without references, but these are pretty rare and tend to be opposed right away. Whereas many good answers involve Wikilinks and a bit of guesswork. For example, every month we get one or two "can somebody tell me what this bird/bug/etc. is?" questions. Usually, the people who take them put up some good possibilities. Sometimes these are good enough and supported by enough people that we rename a Commons image from "pretty flower I saw" to the name of some species and we can use it in articles with as much confidence as the other illustrations we use in our articles (which is to say, not tremendous confidence but probably not wrong). Wikipedia is not a pristine, error-free resource anywhere on any page, but with a pool of good, interested volunteers looking over questions, we can improve it substantially. Wnt (talk) 02:42, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
That's an excellent example of a use for the ref desk which has no substitute that I can think of just now. Maybe the strong support voters have some ideas? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The Ref Desks and other similar sites like Quora, StackExchange etc. do help to maintain our articles here, particularly the ones on scientific and mathematical topics. Many edits here originate from questions raised in discussions where our articles are cited. Count Iblis (talk) 00:59, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's suggested that only answers that provide references should be accepted, but oftentimes a poster is not looking for a reference but for an explanation that will flesh out an edit he is contemplating, or clarifies how much weight to give to an aspect of it. My feeling is that explanations, rather than references, are what most OPs are seeking. There are some truly knowledgable editors who have given outstanding explanations (Nimur – aeronautics, Jayron – wide range of topics, and others). I see Closers here who don't seem to have made a ref desk edit in years, and suspect that they are frustrated that there are never any questions about topics in which they are highly knowledgable or even experts. My suggestion is that, rather than close the desks, clamp down on witticisms and trivia irrelevant to the topic. I'm often annoyed that the regular offender's witticism or rejoinder has taken the discussion off topic, finally ending several topics away from what was asked. Akld guy (talk) 01:57, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose throwing out the baby with the bath water is rarely a useful solution. The only problem right now is a few trolls who are attracted to the ref desks for their own purposes, and we've mostly worked out how to deal with them; as with all trolls, vigilance and quick action with no feeding works fine. --Jayron32 02:47, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    • The baby grew up and moved out ages ago, all that's left is a bunch of people lovingly caring for a load of dirty bathwater. ApLundell (talk) 20:22, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose shutting down the Reference Desks. I supported this about a year ago, but indefinite semi-protection was not an option then (and was anathema to the "idealists" who think that the Reference Desks are special as a mission to unregistered editors). Robert McClenon (talk) 04:04, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose as useful to readers: (1) who get pointers to WP articles when they might not even know where to start looking, for example, technical topics where one might need some baseline to even figure out the right keyword search; and (2) because (at least on /Science, where I'm a semi-regular) it often leads the regulars to find poor aricles that can easily be improved. No matter how many other or differently-featured sites exist, that doesn't support our not having it if it adds value to readers or articles. It's not obvious that editors who respond on them would spent more time editing articles if the RDs didn't exist, so it is a value-added not zero-sum to keep rather than close. DMacks (talk) 06:43, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut down per above. Wikipedia is not a Q&A site. -FASTILY 07:29, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose - The refdesks are about exchanging information, what should be the core of Wikipedia. The fact we're even proposing closing them shows how for the project has strayed. I rarely if ever edit in the articles these days, as the rules concerning topics I'm interested in are often ridiculous, and the editors often toxic. The refdeks are a shining beacon compared the the rest of the project. There is no reason to close them just because some people can't be bothered to clean up some vandalism. Fgf10 (talk) 08:24, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    @Fgf10: The refdeks are a shining beacon compared the the rest of the project. Does that apply to all of us? Or just you? Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 08:38, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
IT applies to the Refdesk. Not any individual editor. Do try and read what I wrote. Fgf10 (talk) 14:48, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I am referring to the whole phrase. You claimed that the refdesks are a shining beacon, but for me and many other editors I suppose, hate or avoid these. Do try and understand what I wrote. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 15:04, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    "...some people can't be bothered to clean up some vandalism..."???? Ohhhhh Anna, bite your tongue. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 08:46, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    Or in fact people could contribute to the real encyclopedia more if they didn't need to clean up vandalism there. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 08:56, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    Who exactly is forcing you (or anyone else) to clean up vandalism anywhere? Regards SoWhy 10:30, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose They are a good method of exchanging information and clearing misconceptions. Most of the talk pages do not allow any frank conversation. Dimadick (talk) 09:00, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Talkpages don't allow "frank conversation" because a core policy is that Wikipedia is WP:NOTFORUM but you correctly identify how the Ref Desks don't follow Wikipedia policy. Thank-you Legacypac (talk) 10:17, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Let me be clear: I really hate the reference desks. They are a cesspit of pontification, unqualified opinion, and lame in-jokes. But what I do is never look at them. If other people want to spend their time there, more power to them. There's a million different ways to participate, and I wouldn't presume that the way I prefer to contribute to Wikipedia is the way everyone should contribute. Fish+Karate 10:28, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
What a glowing endorsement for keeping them. Legacypac (talk) 10:37, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
Woosh. Fish+Karate 10:43, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
"They are a cesspit of pontification, unqualified opinion, and lame in-jokes." That is an oversimplification. You are describing human nature. Sure, some people pontificate. Sure, occasionally an opinion will be expressed. Sure, some people seek personal validation by means of jokes that only a few will understand. But the reference desks also allow the smarter ones among us (not me) to share information in an environment that generally hews to a defined question. My own pet peeve with the ref desks is a failure to force a clarification of a question. I think much time is wasted responding to a question that has not been clearly-enough defined. In fact that is a form of vandalism. Inquirers are adept at posing questions that serve their iniquitous purpose of sending their responders off on a wild-goose chase. Bus stop (talk) 15:01, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support But only temporarily because the bots will keep using them unless we shutdown and delete them for a while like 6 or 12 months then reopen them Abote2 (talk) 11:10, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    Which bot(s) are 'using' the refdesks? It is very easy to shut down particular functions of a bot. Moreover, what is the use of closing them temporarily? Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 11:54, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support The ref desks don't add any value to WP, infact, quite the opposite. How much resources have been wasted in discussions about locking the desk down and reporting issues at WP:ANI? It's a glorified chat-room, with no net-gain for the project. Lugnuts Fire Walk with Me 11:24, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Your core assertion has been demonstrated to be false. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:28, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    • "It's a glorified chat-room" That is a broad swipe. The reference desks are basically unrelated to a chat room except insofar as they are conversational. Bus stop (talk) 17:39, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose I find the reference desks usually give useful answers, which are not found on other forums. --TrogWoolley (talk) 12:33, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, even though I think we have lost most of the outside ref desk traffic already. The mathematics desk, for example, is moribund, and everybody seems to be asking their inappropriate homework questions on math.stackexchange instead. I would like to have a place like the Wikipedia reference desks where Wikipedians can ask each other for content help, though. Maybe merge some of the desks and stop advertising them to the outside world? —Kusma (t·c) 12:42, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose on principle because closing the refdesks gives the vandals a victory to celebrate, which is a violation of WP:DENY, a core anti-vandal policy. I am an occasional user of the refdesks, often to assist me to improve article content. The current/recent flurry of vandalism is being managed quite well, I'm fairly confident the vandal concerned will tire of their nonsense and go away. Burning down an entire house to get rid of one cockroach is an irrational overreaction. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 12:43, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, the questions and answers frequently contribute to building the encyclopaedia. Warofdreams talk 13:27, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. ChemWarfare (talk) 13:49, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support - they're out of scope. We don't built an encyclopaedia by answering random questions but rather by writing articles. Principled denials, such as that of Dodger67 above, seem to me to be particularly egregious examples of wikilawyering. Unless it was meant humorously? As someone said above, if you need an answer then ask Google, like everyone else. The Ref Desks don't even seem to appear in Google, whereas 1000s of other pages with answers do. - Sitush (talk) 14:53, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Aside from being out-of-scope (which I don't entirely agree with as an argument for shutting them down, but I digress), the reference desks are a very small niche in spite of the amount of effort invested in them by Wikipedia contributors. It would be seen as quite pathetic if only ten questions per day were asked at Stack Exchange. Jc86035 (talk) 15:34, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
"It would be seen as quite pathetic if only ten questions per day were asked at Stack Exchange." Even if there were only one inquiry per day fielded at the reference desks or one per week—the reference desks could still be considered a valuable resource if the information was of good quality—which I think it is. Bus stop (talk) 16:44, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose for reasons already stated above. Alansplodge (talk) 15:57, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support - they've outlived their usefulness and really don't have much to do with building the encyclopedia. —DoRD (talk) 21:18, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Wikipedia is not a library, and my attempts to ask my copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica trivia questions have not been fruitful. – Joe (talk) 21:30, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - they are a help to occasional readers and offer a way in to potential editors. We should be open to all, and the ref desks offer an opening. Whether they cause problems for established editors is - or should be - a very minor consideration. Ghmyrtle (talk) 22:07, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
The reference desks facilitate smart conversation. In that sense they are all the "humanities reference desk". All of the reference desks could be merged into the "humanities reference desk". This is not in violation of WP:FORUM because the educational purpose outweighs mere banter. Bus stop (talk) 22:36, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support (on balance): A strong part of me would mourn the passing of the Ref Desks. But the realistic part of me knows they get less and less traffic with every passing month, and they have come close to outlasting their usefulness. That is certainly the case with Humanities, Languages, Entertainment and Miscellaneous. The others I rarely visit (Computing never). I support the closure of the Ref Desks in their current form, but remain open to a rebirth of a similar service in the future, but one with more workable protocols. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 00:07, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    Et tu, Iacobe? But "outlived their usefulness" is really not an argument at all, per Template:U:Fish and karate above. Obviously some of us find them useful; the rest are free to stay away. --Trovatore (talk) 00:15, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: the idea of a ref desk, a place where a reader can ask for the location of the information (or just information itself) makes sense. I don't frequent the ref desk so I don't know the disruption problems but, to me, that's an operational problem and not the problem that has to be solved by removing the functionality altogether. (Say there is a sexual harassment problem; do you propose to remove women altogether?) -- Taku (talk) 00:30, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: I occasionally use them to learn about things missing in Wikipedia pages. Asking at the talk pages usually gets no answer or "this is not the place to ask". I did not know about special vandalism. --Error (talk) 00:58, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support with regret. When looked at on a balance sheet, the plus side of the ref desks just doesn't look that good. It has helped some people out, but often the accuracy of the information being provided has been dubious. And we need to be frank here. The ref desks have been a magnet for trolls and a massive sinkhole in terms of aggravation, and attention required from experienced editors and admins. Indefinite protection would be next least bad alternative. Whatever we do, the status quo is no longer tenable. -Ad Orientem (talk) 02:19, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    • One thing a shutdown would do, by default, is to settle the perpetual "medical advice" issue - by rendering it moot. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:39, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
It would certainly do no such thing. If you got your way, people would ask questions a) on article talk pages, where they belong if they are coached just the right way -- not "is aspirin safe for my teenagers" but "Can you include something about pediatric safety in this article...?" and b) on user talk pages, such as mine, any which way. Now to be sure, nobody but an intemperate braggart would pretend to actually give medical advice, as defined in that article, based on a text posting on the internet; but certainly we might give answers that reference things like Reye syndrome that you would say is medical advice and the whole "debate" would be the same as you've always made it. And I think you know that. No doubt the admin corps will be on hand to warn us that posting pictures of kittens and snowflakes on fellow-users' talk pages is a commendable use of project resources, but discussing aspirin or skyscrapers or anything with a question mark is a violation of whatever "consensus" a sufficiently bad decision here would make. If they are diligent enough, and have enough support from a corps of trolls vandalizing more pages, perhaps we can close all of Wikipedia according to the same arguments used here! Wnt (talk) 04:06, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
"If I got my way"? I don't follow. Nor the skyscraper comment. But let me ask you this: How often do editors ask for medical advice on article talk pages? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:57, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
If I Had My Way. Bus stop (talk) 09:54, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
I've been duped. ―Matthew J. Long -Talk- 03:51, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Lot's of medical advice requests posted here, so our help here is not needed. Count Iblis (talk) 11:56, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support closure: a net negative at this point and unclear alignment with the purpose of Wikipedia. --K.e.coffman (talk) 04:34, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per baby bathwater. They are a net positive when protected, so just protect them like any other page. A page is a page. The problem is not the refdesks existing, but rather unprotected refdesks. Same is true for other hot pages, like Donald Trump. No need to go from sacred cow that must not be protected, to dead cow. The measured response of longer protection will do fine. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 07:27, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • The reference desk is indeed a prime example of what Wikipedia is not. Historically, its prime function has been to make it easier to dismiss off-topic questions elsewhere: it's easier to say "go ask this in that Wikipedia-looking space" (an euphemism for "go screw yourself") than delete/remove/close off-topic questions. This, by the way, is the reason why on some other Wikipedia languages the equivalent has an intentionally unserious name, like "oracle" on the Italian Wikipedia. Nemo 09:01, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
I like that. "Humanities oracle", "Miscellaneous oracle", "Language oracle", "Science oracle", "Mathematics oracle", "Entertainment oracle" and "Computing oracle". That might work. Bus stop (talk) 09:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Where? The polymathic Professors Google, Bing et al. - Sitush (talk) 12:31, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Did you even look at the examples? Tell me how I'm supposed to look for ancient Hebrew terms that unambiguously refer to the hippopotamus, or how Google's going to tell me (in a way I unambiguously understand) the Commons category for a specific unusual Unicode character, or how in the world I'm supposed to search for the name of a kind of flower, or why I couldn't find the answer to EAFIT despite doing a bunch of searching first. Some of us actually do dead-tree research and still fail to find the answers to these questions. Nyttend (talk) 12:42, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Prof. Dr. Polymath's twitter feed :) Count Iblis (talk) 12:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • By the way, I'm a librarian in real life; I work at a reference desk for two or three days each week (and I know how to conduct a reference interview), and I have colleagues who specialize in reference. I know who knows the answers to most of my questions, and if they work with this kind of stuff, they're a lot more reliable than Google or Quora or any other place on the Internet, as well as being a ton easier to reach (I just walk across the building). I come here for questions to which they don't know the answers, or questions on specifically online stuff like "where does this go on Commons". Tell me in great detail how someone at any non-WMF site is going to know a good deal about computing and a good deal about the Commons category structure, and tell me how I'm supposed to ask anywhere else, since Commons doesn't have something like this (C:COM:HD isn't really for the purpose), and I don't speak the language used at any other Wikipedia's reference desk. Nyttend (talk) 12:48, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, I looked. The Commons-related question is are for the Help Desk (WP if not Commons), not the Ref Desk, surely. I don't see the problem with the hippo question, nor the flower one. You're not the only one who spends time researching and I've never yet needed to ask at the Ref Desk. -
  • Another function which the Ref Desk fulfils is to deal with queries and "citation needed" tags which have sat unanswered (sometimes for years) on article talk pages where there is little traffic. Editors bring these to the Ref Desk as a last resort and they can usually be sorted out. Perhaps they ought to be dealt with on Wikiproject pages, but some of them seem to be only visited by tumbleweed. Also, I have myself created a number of articles on subjects that have been raised at the Ref Desk where we don't actually have anything relevant. I can dig out examples if needed. Alansplodge (talk) 13:41, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • @Sitush: The problem is, there is no et al. I mean, DuckDuckGo is making a bold try at it, but they don't have the same database. Eventually Google/YouTube/etc. and Bing/Microsoft/etc. will be one company and you'll have to pay fifty dollars a month to access it. (Not to mention I would expect the only way to subscribe will be to have an open mic in your room supposedly only listening when you say an alert phrase) Wikipedia's database of questions and answers is a fleck of the archaic notion of alternatives. I don't see the virtue in giving up having an alternative to corporation(s) simply because you could. Wnt (talk) 21:41, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Close and mark historical. The reference desks are not part of the encyclopedia and are thus out of scope. If they're believed to be useful, they could easily be moved to some other project where they fit in better, such as Wikiversity. If the reference desks are kept, they should be tied directly to improving Wikipedia content. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 15:49, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
"If the reference desks are kept, they should be tied directly to improving Wikipedia content." Don't we see near-constant links to the encyclopedia-proper from the reference desks by means of internal links? I assume you are not impressed by this interrelatedness? Bus stop (talk) 16:20, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down, transwiki seems appropriate Per Iridescent and others. --AntiCompositeNumber (talk) 16:38, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support shutting down refdesk (with indifference to the precise details such as transwiki etc.). Quora and StackExchange are amusing, but there is no particular reason for an encyclopedia to host its own second-rate version of them. --JBL (talk) 18:24, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose and a Wildly Inappropriate RfC Format - they do actually sometimes answer questions in their original purpose. Additionally, it doesn't do any harm, and does some benefit, so why should it be shut down. I don't think some massive conspiracy is behind this, but some additional protective work doesn't justify dramatic shutting it down. Additionally, I'm very concerned about how this RfC was created. In effect, it was started with a massive block of negative !votes. If they were counted, every !vote that was not a "remove Ref Desk" should be counted as a support. Nosebagbear (talk) 22:08, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose throwing the baby out with the bathwater. A Ref Desk is an appropriate part of an encyclopedia. The paper version of Britannica had a similar reference service, which allowed encyclopedia purchasers coupons they could mail in with a question and they would get back a researched answer. A reader may not be able to find the relevant article, the article may be too technical,too mathematical, or laden with obscure specialized terminology for him to understand without discussions and explanations that are forbidden on the article talk page, or the information might have been omitted from the article. Wikipedia is a work in progress. I have used Ref Desk discussions as a basis for improving articles. Quora is full of repetitious questions that are asked at rapid pace by professional questioners, in their Partner Program, who hope to make money when people answer their questions or look at them and view ads. I have long wondered if the campaign to get rid of Ref Desk is backed by commercial question site operators. It is dumb to suppose that if some editors are no longer able to help readers on the Ref Desk, they will spend more time creating articles. We are not employees, but volunteers, and if some just leave, I think it would leave the project poorer. If someone likes to answer questions, let them answer questions. Edison (talk) 22:12, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose for two main reasons. 1: This would be feeding the trolls; the refdesk vandal would love to come by and see what permanent damage they've caused. 2: They'd just start doing the same thing elsewhere. In regard to the argument that it's useless (i.e. those who want to close it regardless of the vandalism issue), I strongly believe if people want to contribute there, let them. Vermont (talk) 22:37, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Massive Oppose this insane idea (no offense to whoever proposed it) Shut something down because it gets vandalized? By this logic we wouldn't have wikipedia! It is useful to have a place to ask questions, and this does promote article improvements. Per above this would also feed the trolls. Tornado chaser (talk) 22:39, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Tornado chaser beat me to it. Our constant cycle of temporary protection, rendering the refdesks unavailable to new editors, already was a form of feeding the trolls. Actually shutting down the refdesks? That's a reward beyond the wildest dreams of an LTA, changing our operations in such a significant manner. It's the ultimate feeding the trolls. If we shut down the refdesks, what about the Teahouse? It's already been targeted by LTAs, and could well be the next target. What about lesser adminboards? WP:AN/I? It's a very slippery slope. Better that the Refdesks take the flak rather than areas more important to the project. Bellezzasolo Discuss 01:08, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't edit there so looked at some of the questions related to my topics of interest and the answers ranged from acceptable to mediocre. Not amazing, but good enough. Many of the questions were a bit ridiculous so I would rather they stayed here than clogged up the talk pages. I think it still serves a purpose if for nothing else but keeping talk pages focused. AIRcorn (talk) 06:38, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose What a victory for trolls this discussion is. Per DENY, this should be blown out of the water. Outside of the trolling issues, the ref desks at their best signpost articles, prompt new ones to be created, are a way of bringing new people to editing. At their worst, they're awful. But why concentrate on the worst? --Dweller (talk) Become old fashioned! 14:06, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    Hi, Dweller. So, just protect them like any other page? Anna Frodesiak (talk) 14:15, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
    I've opposed that option because it prevents new editors from becoming interested in Wikipedia. But at least that option is not as utterly self-destructive, and contrary to sensible policy (DENY) as this one. --Dweller (talk) Become old fashioned! 14:25, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, no compelling reason for shutting has been offered since the last discussion. As has been noted above, shutting them down would mean bowing before trolls and vandals and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The refdesks is a valuable internal resource for improving Wikipedia from Wikipedia regulars themselves (unlike Quora, etc where most people aren't Wikipedia regulars and thus don't know which topics are already covered and which aren't). Semi-protection, either temporary or permanent, is a sufficient measure to prevent current vandalism trend. Brandmeistertalk 21:17, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose - other than the fact that there is some misuse (which we never use as a reason to make any other changes to the project: we don't ban anonymous edits just because a lot of them are vandalism) what is the problem? A lot of good work helping readers of the encyclopedia goes on there. Amisom (talk) 21:23, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Please don't shut down the refdesks. They are a great help to finding information, and should be improved. Benjamin (talk) 23:21, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Not now I take the WP:DENY concerns seriously; regardless of the merits of closing down the ref desk, shutting them down now is perhaps the biggest win we can give to vandals and trolls. I am strongly opposed in this specific circumstance, but undecided on the general principle. The desks themselves are not actively harmful, and there's no issue revisiting this discussion when it won't look like we let the trolls win. Wugapodes [thɑk] [ˈkan.ˌʧɹɪbz] 01:19, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The Reference Desks are useful. They help to uncover gaps in our coverage or confusing writing, and lead to improvements in the encyclopedia, which is something I've personally done on many occasions after being prompted by something discussed at the Ref Desks. Secondly, I think it is a fundamental mistake made by some of the commenters above to believe that Wikipedia is only an encyclopedia. It is also a community, and a set of tools and processes that make building the encyclopedia easier and more efficient. There are many things that exist in our Wikipedia world that are only peripheral to the main goal. At first glance, it is tempting to want to cut back to our "essence" and streamline processes. Do we really need WP:TEA and WP:HELPDESK and WP:VP? How about WP:AFD and WP:PROD and WP:CSD? Etc. But that line of thinking largely misses the point. The question should be, are these diverse sets of forums and processes useful to the people working on the encyclopedia. Not everyone has to have the same process or preferences, and a diversity of structures helps people find their own best way of making a contribution. The Ref Desks as a platform for encouraging people to probe the limitations of our content is one small tool among many that helps make us better. Dragons flight (talk) 01:55, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
The above explanation is excellent, in my opinion. "It is also a community, and a set of tools and processes that make building the encyclopedia easier and more efficient." I would add that the impetus to eliminate the Reference desks can be compared to the impetus towards Monoculture in agriculture. There are advantages and disadvantages to "growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time." The keeping and maintenance of the Reference desks can be compared to Polyculture, which is "a form of agriculture in which more than one species is grown at the same time and place in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems." Can anyone doubt that the Reference desks work with the project at large? As Dragons flight says above, the Reference desks are "one small tool among many that helps make us better." Bus stop (talk) 09:58, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. WP:DENY and throw the baby -Ref desks might not be that active as compared to Held desk or Teahouse but there is a valuable resource - a place questions could be asked, knowledge is exchanged and of frank conversations could be taken place. Vandalism or trolls would be easily dealt with with page protection. What gains do we have to shut down the ref desks? Nothing. Vandalism and trolls will emerge to other places such as Tea House and Help desk if Ref desks are shunt down - unless page protection is apply which will scale down the vandals and trolls. CASSIOPEIA(talk) 02:37, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Maybe my experience at the Reference Desks has been too limited, but I have not perceived a crisis in terms of vandalism, trolls, etc. at the RefDesks. I think the RefDesks should be kept. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 06:16, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
    Hi, Metropolitan90. Please see this. Best. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 12:43, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The ref desk serve a useful purpose (asking for information or sources about a subject) that isn't duplicated by other parts of Wikipedia. Article talk pages are explicitly for discussing changes to the articles and not for general discussions or questions about the subject. The Tearoom, Village Pump, and Helpdesk are all (as I understand it) for discussing Wikipedia itself, not for discussions or questions about article subjects. I'm a regular user of the refdesk (both as questioner and an answerer) and find it useful and informative. Yes, there is a problem with trolls (and also with certain regulars who seem too quick to assume bad faith, or other inappropriate behaviour), but I don't think any of those are prevalent enough to make the refdesks unusable. Iapetus (talk) 11:19, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose, the benefit of the ref desk does outweigh the downside risks. I am active on Wikipedia mainspace for a long time and just new to refdesk and you're planning to shut it down?? --It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:39, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Transwiki and/or Change ref desks so they are only to be used for writing for articles/Wikimedia purposes - I used refdesks asking users to type out text in non-English languages so I can add the text to Wikipedia articles (i.e. Arabic text in a photo). They can be useful in that sense, but it should be only used for Wikipedia purposes. Since many Wikimedia projects are being centralized (for example, Wikidata) I think such a thing should be centralized anyway. WhisperToMe (talk) 16:31, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I see people in this discussion complaining that the reference desks do not serve an encyclopedic function, and that for general questions there are better fora elsewhere online. I've put some thought into this, and today I went through my contributions and looked at how I've used the ref desks over the years. My most recent reference desk post is an exception, as it had nothing to do with editing Wikipedia, but rather it was just a convenient place to get help with an Excel formula I was struggling with. However, here and here I was asking people to identify species in photos I had taken, with the idea that those photos would be good additions to articles about those species (one of them is currently in the appropriate article). Here I was asking if there was a term for a type of phobia that I wanted to start an article about. Here I was trying to help someone find a more appropriate place than Wikipedia to publish his original research. With the exception of the Excel formula, all those were related to Wikipedia in some way. I'm not a reference desk regular, and I'm sure that most of the questions there probably are better suited to, say, Quora or Yahoo Answers or Stack exchange or something, however, it would be a shame if there was no place on Wikipedia for those types of discussions. ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 17:06, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose for reasons that I've detailed in previous similar discussions and that I'm too weary to repeat now. Deor (talk) 22:16, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Colossal Oppose The Reference Desks can be used to help articles by finding factual information. —Eli355 (talkcontribs) 00:55, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment I don't think the trolling is a legitimate reason to shut these down, but we do have to ask what function they serve that is related to our core function as an encyclopedia. If the reference desks are serving the function of a librarian, who knows where everything is and can help a user find what they need within the library, then that's fine. If the reference desks have become a version of stack exchange or quora, where anyone can more or less say what they like, then that maybe helpful to the user but doesn't really have a place on an encyclopedia. After some digging, I'm still uncertain which of these is a more accurate description, but I'm beginning to suspect its the latter. I don't know that we have the authority here to dump the refdesks on a different WMF project, but I'm sympathetic to such a possibility. Vanamonde (talk) 20:58, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
If I can paraphrase you are "beginning to suspect...the reference desks have become a version of stack exchange or quora, where anyone can more or less say what they like". Our reference desks function in relation to the encyclopedia. Stack exchange and quora do not have an encyclopedia attached to them. Responses on the reference desks often contain internal links to articles. Reliable sources are commonly included in reference desk dialogue. Such newly unearthed sources and their associated material are sometimes incorporated into articles. I think the reference desks benefit the encyclopedia. Bus stop (talk) 22:46, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
The refdesks are and should remain intermediate between these models. Sometimes the user doesn't know which word to type in to the search bar, and we get them there. Sometimes the user doesn't understand the article, so we help them with that. Sometimes the relationship is more complicated. The encyclopedia is about sharing learning, where learning is a question-and-answer process. Wikipedia focuses largely on better answers, i.e. better articles, each accessed by its own title. But the Refdesk allows us to lengthen our reach in the other direction by allowing more questions to get a valid response. While it may seem that the impact of each question is transitory and serves only one person, the whole database of questions remains available to all, CC-licensed to use, and I believe it has an ongoing role to play as a resource for the future. Wnt (talk) 01:03, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
This might be one of the "perennial proposals" but IP addresses should have their editing ability curtailed. Registered accounts are preferred, in my opinion, and incentives should be in place to push IP editors to register accounts. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished. Maybe IP edits could be limited in time or number. Such as a maximum of three IP edits per day. In my opinion this should apply both at the reference desks and at articles. And my reasoning is that this will suppress vandalism although obviously it will not eliminate it entirely. Bus stop (talk) 09:11, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose As many people have already said, the fact that something gets vandalized isn't a reason for shutting it down. The reference desks have been useful to many readers, including me. As for answers at the reference desks being less than absolutely reliable, frankly so what? It's well known that Wikipedia in general is less than absolutely reliable. Readers can use their own judgment to decide how seriously to take answers they get here. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 09:48, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support as Wikipedia is not a forum, there are other places where users can post content like this. I'm undecided on weather to have something similar on Wikiversity. funplussmart (talk) 16:40, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
    • At the very least, someone on the Language desk could have explained to you the difference between "weather" and "whether". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:15, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - part of the culture of Wikipedia, and useful in drawing people in to that culture. Allowing the trolling to shut down the refdesks would be a victory for the trolls, and a defeat for the Wikipedia community. If sorting this problem out requires the development of better anti-trolling tools, that would be a good outcome for Wikipedia in general. -- The Anome (talk) 17:37, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose The Reference Desk is a great part of Wikipedia to ask for Information. Thegooduser Life Begins With a Smile :) 🍁 22:55, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - people are going to come to Wikipedia and ask questions, so we may as well have somewhere to funnel this to rather than having them ask questions on talk pages, noticeboards, etc. --B (talk) 01:34, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I tend toward oppose here. The ideal function of the reference desks is compatible with our mission. If there are certain editors not treating it with the gravity it deserves on a regular basis, take that up at the drama board(s). --Izno (talk) 04:47, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose shutting down the refdesks. Benjamin (talk) 10:21, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. I monitor the Science Ref. Desk a few times a week, normally reading every word; it's usually as a little light relief from work. Perhaps every couple of months I provide an answer when the topic is within my expertise. I would be really disappointed if this page disappeared because it is full of interesting and diverse information that I would never come across elsewhere. The links cited often take me to Wikipedia articles of which I was unaware. That process can lead to Wikipedia articles being improved and the discussion quite often also identifies that an article needs to be created. If, for some reason, you don't like the Help Desks, nobody is forcing you to read them, but evidently many of us do enjoy them very much. I can't see any benefit of shutting them down. They are indeed different to the rest of Wikipedia, but I am sure that they get people involved in editing who might never think to do so otherwise. Nevertheless, I don't believe that the people that contribute would necessarily transfer much of their effort to other areas of Wikipedia. So please, be tolerant, and let us carry on. Jmchutchinson (talk) 18:09, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose. Dumbest idea in the history of mankind after the assassination of Kennedy. — (talk) 07:27, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
  • SHUT DOWN The Reference Desk has always been against the rules of Wikipedia, but it was useful enough that WP:IAR came into play. No longer. Not it's a sad shadow of it's former self. Primarily because it's not needed anymore. It was once the premiere service on the Internet to get a question answered, it certainly can't claim that now. It's not even in the top twenty. So, of course, legitimate usage has slowed to a trickle.
Now the Ref Desk is primarily just a forum where a small group of friends hang out. A significant portion of the questions are asked by a few regulars who ask questions just to keep the discussions rolling. Which sounds insane, but it's largely a social club now. The point isn't answering questions, the point is to have fun in the discussion that ensues.
The trolls are becoming more numerous, not because of some law of nature, but because the way the regulars react makes the refdesk the most **fun** trolling target on the entire project.
I can understand why people are reacting negatively to a suggestion to shut down their favorite online debate club, but it just doesn't belong on Wikipedia anymore. Hasn't for years.
ApLundell (talk) 20:18, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
"A significant portion of the questions are asked by a few regulars who ask questions just to keep the discussions rolling." How do you know this?

Unfortunately you removed the valid part of your post: "Additionally, by necessity, the RefDesk also has a much larger grey area between legitimate edits and nonconstructive edits. So trolls have endless fun pushing that boundary by asking legitimate, but embarrassing, questions about sex or religion, or racism, and the regulars react in a way that is endlessly amusing to a certain type of person."[4] That is a legitimate concern, in my opinion. Bus stop (talk) 20:44, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

I did remove that bit, if you think it's important, thank you for restoring it, because I still stand by it. I just worry when a comment gets past a paragraph that I'm just slowing down the discussion with too much text, and so I trimmed it. ApLundell (talk) 20:58, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
I agree. Long posts are as good as in the trash. I can be longwinded. Brevity is now my motto. But anyway, you are correct that a genuine problem are the non-legitimate questions at the reference desks. My suggestion in the past has been that responders should ask for clarification, and ask for clarification again. The burden should be shifted to the person posing the question to refine their question, the reason being that we don't want to go off on a wild-goose chase. Bus stop (talk) 21:07, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose to shutting down. Move them somewhere else if necessary, but keep them. There needs to be some sort of human interaction to supplement machine searches and provide ideas for new article topics. I have found the ref desks useful numerous times, to answer questions that aren't answered in articles, and occasionally an answer to one of my questions have resulted in me writing a new article (funding bias comes to mind). ~Anachronist (talk) 05:03, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down for all the many very sensible reasons given above. I do enjoy reading, asking, and answering the questions, but there are plenty of other places people can ask questions, and they will get answers just as unreliable (mostly) as the so-called reference desks. They might even learn do their own web searches.--Shantavira|feed me 10:44, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose. It's not clear who will be helped by shutting the RDs down, and very clear who will be harmed, for the following reasons:
  1. The reference desks are very useful, both for humanity as a whole and for Wikipedia's specific mission. Where an article is unclear, the RDs complement it by allowing asking questions. The discussions in the RDs also often highlight things that can be improved with the articles.
  2. These kind of questions will pop up, and with no RDs for them they will litter other places. I've had some experience answering questions on the help desk (I hope people are not suggesting we close that as well?) and when people asked general questions instead of questions about Wikipedia, it was very useful to be able to refer them to the reference desks. Without them, the quality of the HD as well as articles may deteriorate, and they would be harder to maintain.
  3. People who both edit articles and participate in the RDs, will likely leave the project altogether if the RDs are shut down. They will not use the freed up time to edit articles more.
  4. It was suggested above that people should just use Quora for all their Q&A needs. That's an extremely weak argument. I have a lot of experience with Quora, Stack Exchange, internet forums and WP:RD, and I can tell you this: They are all very different. Each has a unique mixture of UI, technical features, culture, policy and history, which leads each to have its own flavor of questioners, questions, answerers and answers. Each has its own strengths, and also numerous faults. Some questions can be asked on Quora. Some questions can be asked on SE. Some questions can be asked on both, but will lead to very different answers. As an answerer I write answers for Quora very differently than I write for SE.
My point of course is that WP:RD has its own unique style which some people (questioners and answerers) prefer, and if it shuts down, then by definition there will never be anything quite like it. The wiki markup language with the custom of indentation for replies creates its own conversation style. And of course, the ease at which Wikipedia articles can be linked, together with the perception that the RD is a part of WP, is very meaningful and not something you can replace. Asking questions inspired by a specific WP article, and answering with links to WP articles, feels very natural and is part of a shared understanding. While you can of course link to WP articles from other sites, it's not as technically trivial, and it doesn't feel the same at all - it's much more jarring and unnatural, taking you to an external site rather than staying in-house. -- Meni Rosenfeld (talk) 12:47, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
"My point of course is that WP:RD has its own unique style which some people (questioners and answerers) prefer, and if it shuts down, then by definition there will never be anything quite like it." The reference desks have the Wikipedia culture embedded in them. Quora for instance is unconcerned with such inconvenient concepts as sources and original research. In a nutshell, Quora is interested in entertainment. Bus stop (talk) 13:21, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
The way I see it, Quora isn't about entertainment per se, but about storytelling. Readers on Quora do want to learn, but often want it by way of a story about their topic of interest, rather than a straight-out answer. That's why it often has vague, open questions, and answers that can fill volumes (that's neither good nor bad, it just is). SE is more about well-defined questions and concise, factual answers. WP:RD is similar to SE in this regard, but as you say, it is also imbued with the Wikipedia culture. -- Meni Rosenfeld (talk) 20:24, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
"vague, open questions" We also suffer from "vague, open questions". There is room for improvement at our Reference desks. I feel that certain problematic questions call for clarification and that can sometimes be accomplished by asking the questioner a question or two about the nature of their inquiry. I think this accomplishes two things. It makes clear the question to be addressed, but it also brings the questioner into the conversation beyond the initial inquiry. I see all too often that wild-goose-chase questions are asked as an opening gambit, with virtually no further input from the questioner for the duration of the section. I think those responding should be aware of this and ward against it. Bus stop (talk) 15:30, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Comment: I am opposed to shutting down the Reference Desks, as I posted above. There have been many, many times that I asked a question. And the reply was "Well, Wikipedia has an article about exactly that!" ... and a link was posted to the relevant article. That is very helpful. Wikipedia has tons of articles that many people are not aware of, myself included. And I have been here for 12 years or so. For example, I once asked: "Why is the word Internet capitalized?" And I was referred to Capitalization of Internet. (And I subsequently went in and improved the article, once I was aware of its existence.) This sort of thing has happened to me numerous times. And to many others, as well, I am sure. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 14:48, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
The Reference desks function in many ways. The common denominator in all the ways it functions is discipline, and it derives that from the encyclopedia. This sets it apart from comparable entities although sometimes comparable entities are valuable. There is a very clear distinction between Quora and the Reference desks as regards discipline. Quora would clearly be in violation of WP:FORUM if it were part of Wikipedia. But we are self-correcting. Discussions that go off-topic are hatted. Bus stop (talk) 15:12, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Abyssal (talk) 16:52, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Shut them down per Beeblebrox, Iridescent, and Legacypac. The editors who waste their time responnding there could better invest their time on maintenannce tasks or buildinng conntent. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 23:18, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
    • OK, I have to call this argument out every time I see it. All Wikipedia editors are volunteers, and their time belongs 100% to them and 0% to you. You have no right whatsoever to direct how they should be spending their time. This one makes me angry. --Trovatore (talk) 01:17, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
      • You're right. It is not Kudpung's place, nor anyone else's, to dictate to users how they should spend their unpaid, voluntary time working within Wikipedia. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:18, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
@Trovatore and Baseball Bugs:, did either of you actually read what I posted? Don't take people's comment out of context, it's disingenuous to say the least and everyone has tghe right to make objective comments here. Sucvh comments are simply infamatory annd make me anngry. That said, the RefDesks are little more than a general forum and hardly working within Wikipedia, the encycloedia, even if they are using the same server. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 07:58, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
You've got it wrong. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:54, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

@Kudpung: Your opinion about how other editors can best invest their time is not required, and it was inappropriate to offer it. I really don't see what I've "taken out of context" here. --Trovatore (talk) 16:55, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
Volunteering to spend time on something that contradicts to our mission? Doesn't help the project at all. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 00:22, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
There is no contradiction to the mission, and it does help the project, by making our content more useful to users. --Trovatore (talk) 00:32, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose on principle per Dodger67. Double sharp (talk) 01:32, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, I have often been able to resolve ambiguities or otherwise improve articles in mainspace as a result of answers at the refdesks, and I have seen many other editors do likewise. If you don't like the refdesks, then don't go to them. Don't deliberately depriove other editors of a useful resource just to satisfy your own amour proper. DuncanHill (talk) 12:38, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose. "It get's abused, so shut it down". By that weak argument, we should shut down the whole of Wikipedia. My arguments for keeping are the same as DuncanHill above. O Still Small Voice of Clam (formerly Optimist on the run) 14:43, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - Deciding we should close something because of abuse is counter-productive, sends the wrong message, and flies in the face of DENY. It sets the very dangerous precedent that if someone with ill will makes enough noise and disruption for long enough that we will simply sweep that corner of the project away. I have helped clean out the Ref Desks with periodic revdel and protection over the last few months, however there are editors (anons and registered) who use and contribute to the desks frequently. In my brief work with them, they add value to the project and generally function fairly well. Shutting them down only would hurt those users who find value in them while there is absolutely nothing to suggest the current disruption will not simply move elsewhere (in my experience revdeling and protecting the boards, during the times when all the refdesks were semi'd, the disruption did not stop, it simply moved elsewhere (and coincidentally oftentimes took longer to catch as a result)). Considering closing them because of a single malcontent is tantamount to giving out a heckler's veto to those with a pet peeve and the willingness to be disruptive and is something I cannot support. Best, Mifter (talk) 05:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose "compiles the sum of all human knowledge". Shellwood (talk) 19:26, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. And can we stop doing this? If people keep proposing this for something that is at worst slightly helpful and frequently very helpful then the proposal might unfortunately pass some day like that idiot brexit prposal. There just isnt anything behind this besides irritation, which can be solved by not visiting the reference desk. Can we be more tolerant/generous of services thhat we don’t want to use outselves?Rich (talk) 00:32, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose
  • Wikipedia is an enormously complicated place, with over 5 million articles, and having volunteers assist readers in finding articles is of benefit to the encyclopedia.
  • I am a regular reader of the reference desks (usually science, humanities, and language), and I am consistently amazed by both the speed and quality of answers provided. There are both subject matter experts and people who are amazingly skilled at google-fu. (There are also some bad answers (much fewer in the past year or so) and banter which is not to everyone’s liking, but this is inevitable in any human undertaking, and is not seriously detrimental.)
  • I’m not seeing the disruption to the rest of the encyclopedia mentioned by some of the supporters.
  • Migration to a more appropriate platform may be worth looking into. But until some serious legwork has been done to make that a possibility, anything more than “look into the possibility of migration elsewhere” is probably beyond the scope of this RfC.
  • Per Meni Rosenfeld.--Wikimedes (talk) 03:36, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
  •  Comment: As a random user and occasional editor, I've been asked to: "share your thoughts on the matter". I don't have the patience or inclination to read all of the above, but would like to say that I often find the ref-desks useful, and believe they are on balance an asset to Wikipedia. Forums such as Quora are not a substitute for Wikipedia editing related questions, such as tracking down sources, etc. — (talk) 03:57, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. People who don't like the RefDesk are free not to read it - or indeed to completely ignore it. In my opinion, it provides a valuable service to Wikipedia and to the world at large. It helps with user retention, it points me to articles I want to read and maybe edit, and while there is questionable behaviour by some users some of the time, this is true for any part of the project, and it rarely if ever affects other areas. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 17:32, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Stephan Schulz nailed it. If you don't like the refdesk, nobody is forcing you to read it. Personally, I have found it to be a valuable service numerous times. If you don't like it, remove it from your watchlist. Just because you don't like it is no reason to ruin it for those who find value in the refdesk. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:18, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment If Reference Desk is shut down, where can I find a place to judge reliable sources? Mariogoods (talk) 08:38, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
    @Mariogoods: Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard is the place to judge reliable sources. Pkbwcgs (talk) 17:35, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
    And if questions are of a more general nature the Wikipedia:Teahouse can be helpful, Mariogoods. Bus stop (talk) 18:04, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If they're troll-infested, then keep them semi-protected. If certain editors use them as a place for mere anecdotes and chitchat, then dissuade them from doing so. If it gradually becomes clear that certain compulsive answerers are relying on "common sense" or what's "obvious" and don't know what they're talking about (as I suspect), then ask them for reliable references, and they're unable to produce these, then nudge them toward silence. As it is, these pages, though inefficient, are often useful. Actually I'd been intending to post a question today, about "rounds" in British pubs--what are they, and how prevalent are they? This doesn't seem to be explained in the Pub article, and by asking it I'd not only satisfy my own curiosity but perhaps also prompt the answerer to flesh out the article a little, thereby benefitting all. I didn't post the question, because I spent time answering two questions in Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language. One of the questions to which I responded, without references but I hope constructively, was titled l and r in Japanese, and read: Since they don't tell them apart, could it well be 'kalate', 'lamen', 'samulai'?--Doroletho (talk) 17:44, 22 January 2019 (UTC). Doroletho was a new name to me, and I was very surprised later when I noticed it above, as the author of Strongly oppose, do not close but change the rules There should be a 100% enforced rule that only questions asking for references and answers providing such references should be accepted (my underlining). I wonder how seriously one should take the censure and annoyance expressed in some of the comments above. More.coffy (talk) 08:20, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Deprecate (i.e. shut them down) - not because of the trolls, but because I think the function of the reference desks would be better served by allowing users to ask questions directly on article talk pages instead, maybe with a {{help me}} style tagging system to highlight requests. This would highlight deficiencies in content and provide opportunities for new editors to contribute directly. I see I'm not the only one observing this here. WP:NOTFORUM still applies but we could be more lenient on pages that don't have known issues (and there are some). Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 18:56, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
    • @Ivanvector: Interesting take. However, how do you propose talk pages can be changed to handle questions by people who are unable to find the correct article by searching (which is one of the functions of the ref desk as highlighted above)? Should they just ask at any talk page and wait to be redirected? Also, what if the topic is not yet covered? Where would someone ask about a topic if there is no talk page (since there is no article)? Regards SoWhy 20:20, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
Good observations. Maybe an automated system could direct them to a WikiProject? I don't know how good semantic search works these days and maybe I'm idealizing, but say an editor shows up at an automated search desk and asks a search tool, "who is the CEO of Canada's Island Garden?" Not chosen randomly, they're a cannabis producer in my province. We happen to have a Canada's Island Garden redirect to Cannabis in Prince Edward Island, which doesn't have the info they're looking for but which is tagged by WikiProject Canada and WikiProject Cannabis. A script could direct them to either of those projects to ask their question. Or maybe such a system could rely on keywords to recommend a project? I guess another alternative would be suggesting users ask questions using an attention-getting template on their own talk pages if they can't find an appropriate page to ask their question, which would be less overhead. You brought up a good point and honestly I don't really have an answer, but I do think we have an opportunity to redirect energy going into the refdesk now towards content creation. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 20:32, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose: (1) I find myself using it about 5 or 6 times a year, and I find it genuinely useful. (2) One of the things that distinguishes Wikipedia from traditional written references is that there is somewhere to go to ask a question. (3) As far as I can tell, it's pretty frequent that reference desk discussions lead to articles being improved or even written from scratch. - Jmabel | Talk 08:32, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose I find the desk very useful for minor questions and research that I can't do myself. Eddie891 Talk Work 16:20, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose To reiterate my point from the original proposal, step 1 is to semi. If that fails, then consider shutting down as step 2. Shutting down now is premature. Rgrds. --Bison X (talk) 08:45, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose - mainly because if this is a conduit into editing for even a handful of users then it is worth it. Also why I'd not want to see it turfed elsewhere outside WP, where the chances of people becoming WP editors would be nil. Also I do feel that by closing it now it is signalling that the trolls win (in a scorched-earth kind of manner). Not a Good Thing. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 10:51, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose: this seems like a moderation/spam protection issue. These helpdesks can be more useful if given a better chance. Perhaps a more powerful spam filter (e.g. checking against proxy lists and/or using captchas to edit) would be a better solution, especially as opposed to just throwing it all out. However, I'm new here, and not certain of how easy this would be, hence the weak oppose. ShindoNana (talk) 22:33, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose The reference desks should not be closed down because of vandalism or trolls, in that case I guess we should just shut down Wikipedia, and educational Internet sites. Their usefulness cannot be overlooked. déhanchements (talk) 02:54, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - We should have a place to share our experience, never the less to improve articles. It will ever have some trolling or stupid questions, but it helped me often and often I could help others many times. Let's take a look to the German Remote Desk (de:WP:Auskunft). Some users are banned due other established users are posing answers like buy this, or decide for that. It has been decreased to a influencers desk. This is not we see in the English project. Sometimes it is difficult to answer. This is what we need. Any forum and any talk can be an abused place for advertising or propaganda, but Wikipedia is known to be a reputable source against fake news. In early February as German Chancelloress Angela Merkel opened the new Berlin facility of the German Secret Service, she mentioned fake news as a part against the nation. We should should have answers to everyone, stopping and identifying such propaganda. --Hans Haase (有问题吗) 15:51, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Good point. I've heard Wikipedia described as "collective knowledge" or "group knowledge". The ref desks fit that concept. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:06, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose due to the large integration in the portal namespace. All new and revamped portals have a link to these pages. Portal creation is at the moment very fast, with each day seeing at least 10 or so portals. So the number of visitors is only going to increase. By redirecting we would only shift the problem somewhere else and with other projects suggested lacking admins, this would be a bad idea. Deletion would require removing links from around 4,000 portals and leave editors or readers who have questions, when there is no WikiProject (something which is common), without answers. Dreamy Jazz 🎷 talk to me | my contributions 08:16, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose - The problem I see with closing the reference desk is that discussion about articles would move to talk pages. Instead of having reversions on one page that is under constant monitoring, we would need to spend more time finding the talk pages with the malicious edits and reverting them. Since the purpose of talk pages are to discuss improvements to articles, the reference desk could be a place for user feedback. If the reference desk was to be closed, I would suggest that the reference desk features be moved to a WMFLabs tool or email address. Another option is to have JavaScript disable the editing form on the Reference Desk for everyone except administrators and have an automatically inserted question and answer field that would allow readers to ask and answer questions on the reference desk. In other words, either move the answer desk to email or a WMFLabs form or disable normal editing through JS (not the same as page protection). It would take some skilled vandal to figure out how to use the MediaWiki API. Ups @nd Downs 1234 23:00, 31 January 2019 (UTC) Actually leaning more towards weak support, if it is possible to pending changes protect project pages, since this would hide vandalism yet still allow users to answer questions. But fully shutting down the RD would not fix the problem because this would move Q&A and vandalism to talk pages. Ups @nd Downs 1234 22:15, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose I just came to an idea about a scientific project, but I don't know which application is suitable for my Mac. I was just looking for reference. If this is to be removed, I will have no other free and independent option to ask for reference online, as all other reference-based websites are mostly financed through advertisements or similar forms of business that do not support free and volunteer works and scientific projects. Vs6507 23:32, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose Sometimes you need a human instead of a Google search that has no way to know what you really want. Sometimes I want to improve an article but don't know which one to improve so there is no specific article talk page to go to and I have no idea which WikiProject, if any. Or how to ask a question on said project.— Vchimpanzee • talk • contributions • 21:33, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm not about to read all this but someone surely mentioned help desk questions that are not supposed to be answered there. Where would people then be sent?— Vchimpanzee • talk • contributions • 21:40, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Sttong oppose Despite what many people are saying, the refdesk does provide two useful services for Wikipedia. Firstly, knowledge questions can be in persuance of writing or improving an article. I have used the desks many times to get expert opinion to point me in the right direction. They can't be used as sources, but they can point you to the sources, or at least clarify what you should be searching for in sources. Secondly, it gets irrelevant discussion about a topic (rather than the article) off the article talk pages where they can cause severe clutter. That's not to say the refdesks can't be improved. There are too many people there just to pontificate with their own baseless opinions, or even worse, incorrect guesses. The procedures for answering questions ought to be better regulated, but close it altogether – oh no. SpinningSpark 11:58, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
The Ref desks are not frequented by experts but by people that use Google to provide answers that may or may not be correct. There are plenty of subject specific forums elsewhere to get better info. Legacypac (talk) 06:54, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, though I guess an RfC a year might get a different result at some point? -- Mentifisto 03:07, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
  • A couple comments:
    1. It seems a bit ironic that we are using a forum called the "Village pump" to argue about shutting down something that doesn't directly contribute to our mission of building an encyclopedia. (Wouldn't our time be better spend writing articles?)
    2. If people are so opposed to the existence of places on this site where users are allowed to pontificate, opine, make lame jokes, and generally do things that don't directly contribute to encyclopedia building, I suggest that those people practice what they preach and nominate their user pages for deletion. (Just saying...)
    3. It feels like we are trying to shut down a collaborative and constructive project maintained by volunteers because we think those volunteers' time would be better used elsewhere. That feels wrong.
    4. On a more serious note, I do get that there are problems, but it seems like a better solution to try to make structural changes rather than just blowing the whole thing up.
So put me down as an Oppose I guess. Let's see if indefinite semi-protection makes any difference. ~Awilley (talk) 03:09, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
  • WTF? Keep the Refdesks – ridiculous proposal. The refdesks are a wonderful interface between the Wikipedia community and the general public. They may entice readers into becoming more involved. They are also a great resource for editors. I've used the service many times, seeking and finding help in writing articles. I've also answered a fair number of questions. The refdesks help with the free flow of knowledge, which is the essence of Wikipedia's purpose. Definitely keep.    — The Transhumanist   08:25, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There can be no doubt, there is need for reform of the way the RefDesks operate, and personally I think this process should start with the removal of some bad actors who (not withstanding the fact that they operate from what they perceive to be a goodfaith place) have long abused the leniency of the community (both at the RefDesks and more broadly) by indulging in various WP:NOTHERE habits and constant WP:NOTAFORUM propensities for their own self-aggrandizement and hobby-chatting, and then often defend these practices in obstinate (indeed, often WP:TENDENTIOUS ideological terms relating to the virtues of free expression, in a flagrant display of an inability to accept WP:NOTFREESPEECH. These same users bear the lion's share of the blame for much of the disruption caused by IPs because they are often more concerned with seizing an opportunity to hear their own voice (in the figurative sense here, of course) than with considering whether a given question is appropriate and conforms to both desk and broader project guidelines--thus, they do not simply embrace WP:DENY when they should to not feed the trolls, but indeed, they instead provide an ultrahigh troll-calorie diet.
Nevertheless, these editors are a minority and there are simpler and more logical solutions to these problems than jettisoning a deeply valuable part of the project. If you were out to sea on a voyage and discovered that some less than helpful passengers had set themselves aflame and were running around in the cargo hold, would your first impulse be to the scuttle the ship and write off the whole endeavour. No, I think rather first you would try to douse them with water and, as a last resort, dump them overboard. Almost certainly better for them, and without question more reasonable with respect to the ship. What the desks need are tighter controls that map more explicitly to broader project policies (I'd be particularly interested in principles requiring y'know, references and placing limits on unsourced speculation), one or two admins willing to patrol on a semi-regular basis, and a very small handful of serious topic ban discussions for those editors who have been given years worth of opportunities to put the well-being of the desks and the encyclopedia ahead of their own vanity activities and have consistently failed to do so. But the desks themselves have served, and should be allowed to continue to serve, a valuable function for this project. Let's please not allow solveable issues to be the reason for losing that benefit, but equally let's please get serious about cleaning house this time. Snow let's rap 14:37, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Try to shut down the forum behavior and dumb questions. I dare you. Does not work been tried to death. Legacypac (talk) 06:54, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, well previous efforts have been toothless half measures. "Dumb questions" come with the territory, and are handled with terse answers (when it's a borderline call as to whether the OP really needs the information), ignoring them (when it is probable they are a troll) or removing the comment and blocking the IP as necessary (when it is vandalism or something else which unambiguously violates our policies). You might recognize this as the process which governs all the rest of Wikipedia. The first step is creating sharper rules for the desks that make it clear that it is meant to operate under the same policies, a discussion that needs to take place here, at VPP, where a couple (two or three) editors stonewalling, filibustering and digging in their heels by WP:BLUDGEONING every response can't create enough illusion that there is some will to go on flaunting Wikipedia's policies at the desks--where most of us have accepted all along that this embrace of forum-like behaviour is inappropriate in the extreme.
Once we change the language in the guidelines to explicitly replicate key portions of WP:WWIN and WP:Verification, we recruit two or three experienced admins willing to patrol every other day and block those who still are determined to pretend they are on Reddit rather than Wikipedia. If anyone still can't take a hint after a couple of blocks, we get TBANs for. I expect maybe one will go down clutching their guns and yammering away about how the whole enterprise is doomed if we don't give them unfettered free speech, determined to be a martyr, but given that the choice is between testing the larger larger community's patience to the point where they close down the desks entirely and complying with the same reasonable expectations on personal expression that have been in place for the rest of the project all along...pretty easy decision. Snow let's rap 13:28, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose If we shut down the reference desks, the RD trolls will simply move to a different venue once they're done celebrating their victory. What are we going to have to shut down next? Hopefully not our village pump! Iaritmioawp (talk) 17:23, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose Blimey, is this discussion still going on? The RD is the best place on the internet to go for answers to general knowledge questions. If I post a question there, I'm pretty sure of being able to get an accurate, high quality response within a day or two. None of the alternatives even come close to that and I would far rather ask a question on the RD than directly search for it myself on google when there is inevitably lots of noise to be filtered out. Most of the regulars (I include myself in this) are well educated, knowledgeable people. Plus, the troll seems to have got bored. --Viennese Waltz 08:15, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose For all of the well thought out and articulated oppose reasons above. hydnjo (talk) 18:13, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Keep them An invaluable resource and one of the few things for which I still visit the site. (talk) 05:37, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Whoops - this was me not logged in. Abeg92contribs 20:38, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose of closing. I find them useful and helpful and have seen no problems with them. -- SGBailey (talk) 23:53, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose Best starting point on the internet to spend an evening reading and learning. Joepnl (talk) 23:54, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Proposal III - Community General SanctionsEdit

WP:SNOW. Galobtter (pingó mió) 04:20, 8 January 2019 (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.

I am advancing Proposal III, which can co-exist with semi-protection, but cannot co-exist with closure. Proposal III is to impose Community General Sanctions on the Reference Desks, to allow any uninvolved administrator to impose a topic-ban (on any type of question or answer or all RD questions and answers). The Reference Desks have two separate problems that are not the same, trolls, and editors whose conduct at the Reference Desks is persistently disruptive, either because they give bad or worthless answers or because they are persistently uncivil or for other reasons. Trolls can be dealt with the semi-protection (and any trolls who actually register accounts can simply be indeffed as WP:NOTHERE). However, there are also a few editors who should be topic-banned, and this would permit topic-banning them without the need for WP:ANI. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:14, 7 January 2019 (UTC)

Survey on Community General SanctionsEdit

  • Support as proposer. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:14, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose too broad. Invites random admins to come in and drop the hammer out of the blue, with no process. A fair number of admins are outright hostile to the refdesks in the first place, as you'll have noticed. --Trovatore (talk) 04:21, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think this is a solution in search of a problem. Trolls are not going to obey any sanctions (as clearly occurs even now) and I don't think anyone should be banned from the reference desks without a discussion.--Jasper Deng (talk) 04:27, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose no demonstrated need. Balkywrest (talk) 04:34, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Better handled at WP:AN/I as there are a broad range of opinions on what constitutes acceptable behavior at the reference desk. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 06:13, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I might have supported this a year or so ago, but I don't see a need for it now. Behaviour at the desks among the regulars has improved markedly during the last months. As I said above, as long as we can keep the vandals out (via semiprotection), the desks are actually working fine now, better than ever I can remember. Fut.Perf. 06:04, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Future Perfect at Sunrise. When it was regular registered users creating problems, this would have been a possible solution but currently the only pattern of disruption seems to come from unregistered users. Regards SoWhy 06:24, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The only way to stop this is to shut down the refdesks and go after the ISP. If blocks/bans/protection could handle it, they would. Instead, it's become a perverse game of whac-a-mole. It's time the game got mothballed. —A little blue Bori v^_^v Bori! 06:26, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose not because I don't think various users should be topic banned but because I don't want to give even more authority to random Admins Legacypac (talk) 06:27, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Process is important. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 07:42, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is an open invite for admins to play judge, jury, and executioner, whether they have any interest in the topics at hand or not. Dimadick (talk) 09:03, 7 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The problems are rarely with established users that would adhere to sanctions anyway. Natureium (talk) 15:12, 7 January 2019 (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.

Proposal IV - Relocate to different product Edit

While my initial thought was to close as no consensus, there seems to be an overwhelming Consensus Against. There would need to be major reforms that would need to occur if this were to happen. As wnt pointed out, Wikiversity:Category:Help desks already exist with little traffic. One could suppose that things may change over time, but for now the opinions of the editors here are against this proposal happening. (non-admin closure)Matthew J. Long -Talk- 21:41, 3 February 2019 (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.

Several comments on proposal II have stated that we could also move the reference desks to Wikiversity or move them to Wikianswers and adopt it as a WMF project. The reference desk would be closed here on the English Wikipedia and instead relocated to a wiki with a project that covers a reference desk like page more. Wikianswers would basically be an entire wiki dedicated to a reference desk like wiki, whereas Wikiversity would have a few reference desk pages like the English Wikipedia does now. Having an entire wiki dedicated to questions could make sense given the success of websites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers. BrandonXLF (t@lk) 03:27, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

  • There are significant design differences that make Quora and Yahoo! Answers "successful". The ability to vote answers up or down is the most important thing. A wiki suggests various users can edit the information but Ref Desks are a series of signed posts which we don't edit. Basically they are a poorly designed chat forum. Legacypac (talk) 05:30, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

Survey: Relocate to WikiversityEdit

  • I'm not saying no, but with only 15 admins there and only half of them active, we would have to do some serious coordination with them or that site would tip right over. --Rschen7754 05:49, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose (this and all other alternatives in this section). To me personally, this would be tantamount to killing them. I sometimes provide answers at the desks, but only when I happen to see them on my watchlist here. I would never go to an external wiki for actively seeking them out, and I certainly won't touch Wikiversity with a ten-foot-pole. Fut.Perf. 05:59, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Blanket oppose for the reasons previously stated for keeping them, and because we do not have authority to transfer this to Wikiversity without their community's permission, not to mention that they are too small to handle our reference desks.--Jasper Deng (talk) 08:29, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - As an editor in which the English Wikiversity is my home wiki, I believe our community is too small to handle the English Wikipedia's reference desks. Plus, we seem to have only one active admin that might help with this whole move (other admins are professors that only dwell on their own side of Wikiversity, which is their class and the class' projects). Although my initial negative comments towards moving to Wikiversity, I'm still open to any suggestions on how WV can be a good place for this. --Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 12:08, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - The idea of Wikiversity supporting a reference desk is consistent with the Wikiversity:Wikiversity:Mission. In fact, many of the early learning projects were designed with this approach in mind. But over time, there weren't enough users answering questions when they came up. Whether or not moving the reference desks to Wikiversity now would work depends on which volunteers would come with the content. Are there sufficient volunteers willing to move to Wikiversity to continue to maintain this effort? Are any of them already users with advanced rights on Wikipedia? To suggest that Wikiversity doesn't have the admins to handle this is correct if one assumes that Wikiversity admins must take over the effort. But if there are already admins in place here who come with the reference desks and are willing to do admin work, the move could be supported. If there is interest in making the move, please provide a list of users who would be willing to help support this effort. -- Dave Braunschweig (talk) 21:35, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    Partial Support Assuming the technology to add the up/down vote /answer quality rating functionality could be implemented on Wikiversity. New Extension/Gadget? Anyone technical want to comment? ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 22:22, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
You do have a point there, Dave (in terms of "Whether or not moving the reference desks to Wikiversity now would work depends on which volunteers would come with the content" and for the admin activity: "To suggest that Wikiversity doesn't have the admins to handle this is correct if one assumes that Wikiversity admins must take over the effort"). I'd like to see if any Wikipedian here could answer to Dave's statements he has made here -- would be appreciated and would help Wikiversity users like me understand this a lot better. Thanks. Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 12:57, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Wikiversity:User:ShakespeareFan00/Wikiversity_All_Subject_Original_Research_Desk , The title can be worked on. I'd like someone to actually take on the challenge of making it a 'real' page, rather than an experimental draft. If the Reference Desk isn't a good fit for Wikipedia, lets see the supporters of it help develop an "appropriate" replacement within the WMF sphere. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 20:51, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

  • Comment Even if every single person here supports it, it won't happen. Enwiki doesn't have control over other projects, and I doubt Wikiversity editors would support that proposal. Vermont (talk) 10:57, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose any form of "relocation". You can't relocate the community. —Kusma (t·c) 20:53, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support as proposer. BrandonXLF (t@lk) 04:13, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Taken together, Wikipedia is the best host. --It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:46, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Wikipedia is most popular. —Eli355 (talkcontribs) 01:14, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - I held off a bit on mentioning this to see if anyone else would notice, but so far as I can tell no one has, which sort of speaks to the depth of deliberations here. Wikiversity already has reference desks. However, they don't have the traffic or the editors to get much going, and without the editors, and perhaps due to the structure of the site, they don't really organize them into a coherent whole the way Wikipedia has tried to do. I am skeptical of that site's ability to maintain enough traffic long term even if all the Refdesk regulars made a decent shot at it. Wnt (talk) 14:00, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, almost nobody knows that Wikiversity exists, and even fewer people ever go there, let alone edit it. This would be like hiding it in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'. DuncanHill (talk) 12:39, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - because we'd attract zero editors and potentially lose some Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 10:53, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support - I would leave in the link at Wikipedia to the Ref Desks, but have it now renamed and point to the "Wikiversity Ref Desk". Hopefully this would provide more traffic not only to the Wikiversity Ref Desk but to Wikiversity in general, leading to more editors and admins there. And answers would hopefully still contain links to Wikipedia, Wiktionary, etc., providing incentive to fix deficiencies in those articles there. SinisterLefty (talk) 21:48, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

Survey: Relocated to WikianswersEdit

There seems to be little to no interest by either party to move forward with this specific idea. Also, as Kusma stated, it would be hard to relocate the entire community. I have informed the other discussion page of this closing. Discussion should be restarted if current circumstances change, however. (non-admin closure)Matthew J. Long -Talk- 17:26, 30 January 2019 (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.

  • Given the response in that thread, I think it may be premature to assume this would be possible, but would support redirecting REFDESK questions there, if the Wikiversity option isn't viable.ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 22:31, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose Another blanket oppose, this time with the specific reasons that the Wikipedia reference desks serve a useful function for the project, and creating a whole new project to serve the needs of just us does not make sense.--Jasper Deng (talk) 08:29, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose any form of "relocation". You can't relocate the community. —Kusma (t·c) 20:53, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose as Kusma.--It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:48, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose as KusmaEli355 (talkcontribs) 01:16, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose because we'd attract zero editors and potentially lose some Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 10:54, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

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Survey: Do nothing because Yahoo! Answers and Quora already built a better mousetrapEdit

The proposed action is unclear. Editors who wish to comment on relocating the reference desks are advised to participate in the "Survey: Relocate to Wikiversity" and "Survey: Relocated to Wikianswers" sections. — Newslinger talk 22:56, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
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  • Support As proposer. Legacypac (talk) 05:30, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support The reference desks do their jobs pretty well.--Jasper Deng (talk) 08:29, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Let them have this type of Q&A service. Editors that like the ref desks can join one of those. Natureium (talk) 16:36, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Where registration is required? For users who don't want to register here, why would they want to register there? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:23, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia requires registration most of the time to post at Ref Desk. Arguably registration is required on other websites because it is a good way to create order, track problematic users and minimize vandalism. Legacypac (talk) 09:28, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
No it doesn't. And one reason it might be required elsewhere, as Wnt noted, is to build a tracking database. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:21, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support As proposer. --It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:49, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • SupportEli355 (talkcontribs) 01:17, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. I'm not sure how to take these answers; I think some of the supports disagree with each other? There are many good things that can be done with the Refdesk -- ideally, had we enough motivated editors, we would recompile, rewrite, and condense all our old answers into a new database of questions and answers in maximally reusable format. On the other hand, there is very little that can be done with either of those two commercial services. "Yahoo Answers" contains far more off-base just plain wrong commentary than the Refdesk ever does, and even when someone has the right idea they generally give less information. Quora, on the other hand, is much worse than that. Wikipedia is mooting registering editors to post questions or answers, but it makes https responses to queries that supposedly keep even spy agencies from tracing who asks what question (though that seems overoptimistic). By contrast, Quora demands registration even to look at the answers so that it can resell information about what people are interested in. Wikipedia is a throwback to the old kind of liberal-arts tradition where kids were told that "reading is fun" and they should be creative and learn. Quora is one of many products of this new age of intellectual slavery where a Book is, above all, a contract between a hapless human and a demonic overlord, which permanently stigmatizes the human in exchange for some supposed reward of meaningless knowledge. Today's college professors speak of teaching students precisely what they need to know to be useful products for sale to their future overlord. So no, I'm not too fond of any "better mousetraps" here, and I think the Refdesk has unused potential, but I also don't think it's bad as it is or in need of being moved anywhere, so does that make me support or oppose? Wnt (talk) 01:22, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
    • Just as a side note: https encrypts the contents of a web page query, but does not stop tracing back the query to an IP address (since the IP address has to be known to route the message), and since the result of a Wikipedia edit request is put into public view on the web, the contents can be retrieved from there anyway. isaacl (talk) 17:29, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
@Isaac1: I'm not talking about just editing. Quora will not let you read through the questions and answers without having your reading interests tracked via an account. You can occasionally blunder onto an isolated question there you can access via Google, sort of like reading a free New York Times article from the search result. But it's not Wikipedia! Wnt (talk) 00:45, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
Sure, I didn't say that Wikipedia was like Quora. I was simply commenting on your statement that https responses "supposedly keep even spy agencies from tracing who asks what question". https won't help with this specific scenario but of course will help with others. On yet another side note, you pinged someone else. isaacl (talk) 03:58, 13 January 2019 (UTC)
I just read the link posted by an IP above about how utterly awful Quora is. I obviously wasn't going to use a site that demands registration to read posts -- but this goes on to explain that they then push a mobile app on the people who register so they can do more intensive spying, demand profiles, pictures, real names, and of course censorship ... I mean, they make FACEBOOK look good by comparison. Given how much I despise Facebook, this is a strong statement. This context definitely raises Quora to a higher position on my list of suspects for who could potentially be behind the attempts to destroy the Wikipedia refdesks, since they are a product that almost no one would use if they have any choice. Wnt (talk) 05:12, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
Excellent point. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:04, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm a regular contributor to Quora but some things really bug me about it. The big one being the license, its not a free license so I'm basically giving the people who own the platform my content to do with as they will. We do get some good answers here and they need to be freely available. Closing the Ref Desk basically hands all Q&A to the private not-free domian. --Salix alba (talk): 01:13, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, Salix Alba makes a good point about the licence, and neither Quora nor Yahoo Answers contribute to improving Wikipedia. DuncanHill (talk) 12:41, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. What does it mean to "Do nothing because Yahoo! Answers and Quora already built a better mousetrap"? Can we have some clarification on that? I am familiar with the phrase "build a better mousetrap" so that is not the problem. For instance, I am in favor of not shutting down the Reference desks, but does that mean we can't tweak them to make them better? I don't know what people are supporting or opposing in this section. Some of us are supporting doing nothing? That makes no sense. Some of us are opposing doing nothing? That makes no sense. If one does not do anything, then one is doing nothing. I don't think we can debate whether or not to do nothing. Doing so would not make any sense. Maybe I'm taking this too literally. Or maybe the section heading needs clarification? Bus stop (talk) 00:25, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
    • I don't think it's a serious proposal; it looks to me more like a swipe at the quality of the refdesks. Insofar as there's any actionable proposal here, it's "do nothing". I guess I support that. Or rather, not strictly do nothing, but there is no specific policy change, decidable in this forum, that would be an improvement. In particular, closing the desks would not be an improvement. --Trovatore (talk) 01:11, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
      • Yes, there is no proposal. It doesn't matter if one supports or opposes this "proposal". One can launch any diatribe one pleases in response to this section heading. Perhaps that is a wonderful thing. Smile.png Bus stop (talk) 01:30, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

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  • Question should notice of this be posted on wikiversity (for option 1) and/or on meta (for the creation of a new wiki, option 2)? --DannyS712 (talk) 03:30, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Where's the option for supporting making a new WMF wiki for Q&A and how-to? It seems weird to randomly dump this on Wikiversity (isn't that more academic-oriented?), and commercial things like Google, Wikia, Yahoo, Quora, WikiHow, etc. are all thoroughly unacceptable for Wikipedia to promote (they're proprietary, they're anti-archival and don't allow easy exporting, they have obnoxious Web sites, etc.). —{{u|Goldenshimmer}}|✝️|they/their|😹|T/C|☮️|John 15:12|🍂 16:34, 12 January 2019 (UTC)

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Proposal V: Revitalize the Ref Desks by moving/continuing technical discussions on article talk pages to the appropriate Ref Desk instead of closing discussionsEdit

format fixer
  • As the !votes were few in number and more or less even, and virtually nothing has been added in the last month, I am going to close this as no consensus.
  • I would note however, that presently there is no procedural reason why an editor cannot, on the occasion of viewing an inquiry for references or additional contextual information on a talk page, direct the party making the inquiry towards WP:RD.
  • That said, it is definitely not any more acceptable to have a discussion that falls under the purview of WP:NOTAFORUM on a Reference Desk than it is to have that same discussion on a talk page--and a change in policy to allow for such discussions in any space is unlikely. Still, where an editor clearly seeks (ideally for purposes of improving an article) sources or information, rather than opinions and debate, that is exactly when the Reference Desks should come into play. Snow let's rap 09:52, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
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The Ref Desks work best when there is a lot of participation by many different people. We also want the Ref Desks to be an integral part of Wikipedia, so it would be good if there is a strong link between editing articles and Ref Desk discussions. But article talk page discussions must be narrowly focused on the actual proposed edits to an article. In practice, discussions that stray too far from being useful to edit the article are closed or abandoned. We should instead encourage editors to continue such discussions on the Ref Desks. Count Iblis (talk) 12:07, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

I question that we "want the Ref Desks to be an integral part of Wikipedia". The Ref Desks are a part of the encyclopedia. The appropriate analogy might be between a zoo and a wildlife refuge. The reference desks allow for normal conversation with a mindfulness of the restrictions placed on the use of article Talk pages. The reference desks are not unaware of the restrictions detailed in WP:FORUM. The reference desks merely loosen those restrictions to the degree that allows for normal conversation. Bus stop (talk) 15:05, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
@Count Iblis: I already do, for example Talk:Euler's formula#A simple explanation/proof for Euler's formula, and I see others doing as well. Isn't this already what we do in practice?--Jasper Deng (talk) 20:54, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, but it seems that editors of humanities subjects tend to not do this and their attitude of the Ref Desks are more negative than those of the science and math editors here. Count Iblis (talk) 12:59, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support, for whatever it's worth. I don't think there's any actual policy or guideline to be made here, but it's a good idea. Are you proposing mentioning the idea more forcefully somewhere? There's already a nod to it in WP:NOTAFORUM. --Trovatore (talk) 20:59, 8 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Perhaps Jimbo's page could be a good venue to raise this. Count Iblis (talk) 13:01, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose a bad idea proposed from a user that contributes essentially nothing to mainspace and has not for over 5years. Further enshrining the Ref Dssks as a place where Wikipedia rules are ignored is a very bad idea. Legacypac (talk) 09:26, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I occasionally make very large, very technical edits to mainspace. Who wrote this entire section and the small next section about the proof that the weights are positive? Not you but me! These days I mostly contribute to StackExchange, see here my contribution page. When I think that a topic is not well covered on the Internet as a whole, it makes sense to expand a Wikipedia page on that topic. A few years ago I noted that there was no good coverage of Gaussian quadrature in the case of general weights, so I included a section on that on the Wikipedia page. For me it doesn't matter whether a topic is covered on Wikipedia, MathWorld or some other readily accessible source on the Internet, but Wikipedia can be edited easily. Count Iblis (talk) 13:15, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Legacypac and more people will see the vandalism, which motivates and feeds the troll per WP:DENY. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talkcontribs) 09:46, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Much better to drive questions traffic from article talk pages to the ref desk (where questions will be answered) than the other way around. —Kusma (t·c) 15:32, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support good idea. --It's gonna be awesome!Talk♬ 14:51, 10 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The discussions should be left in one place. —Eli355 (talkcontribs) 01:41, 11 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. It is undesirable to move discussions too much. Even this page is an illustration of that now. I think it would be better to post that you're asking a refdesk question from the talk page and encourage people to follow you there. Having to start anew is overhead, yes, but it is worthwhile overhead in that you get to trim off the stuff that you think was settled or irrelevant and just focus on the question as you see it, affording everyone else the same right if they feel it necessary by posting their own questions. Wnt (talk) 22:15, 19 January 2019 (UTC)

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Proposal VI: A new Ask a Question pageEdit

While this proposal by DroneB is certainly unique (as has been noted), there is certainly no support indicated by users in this thread. It is suggested the proposer brings it forward to WP:Village pump (proposals) 6 months or so from now. Closed as no consensus for lack of participation and clarity in proposal. (non-admin closure)Matthew J. Long -Talk- 23:04, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
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I am persuaded that Doroletho's goal of "only questions asking for references and answers providing such references" would be an ideal way for the Ref.Desks to operate but I am not persuaded that the quality of questions or answers will be improved by enforcing a stricter discipline. However the following little plan of changes is practical and helpful. Change 1: NONE of the Ref. Desks shall have a button for asking questions. Change 2: The only button for asking a Ref. Desk question shall be found at WP:RD. Very little else needs to be changed on that page which will still offer links to allow inspecting the individual desks, but a questioner must use the single "Ask a reference question" button. Change 3: Pressing "Ask a reference question" brings to view an editing page for a to-be-created page for New reference questions. I suggest that this editing page can be made helpful to a newbie by showing some advice, and it would help everyone if it had an optional field for a questioner to enter the title(s) of Wikipedia articles that they think could or should be relevant to their question. This gives, in a non-intrusive way, an insight into whether the questioner is already looking in the right place (so probably needs a clarification, and/or the article is weak), or is not yet looking in the right place. Change 4: The first responder to a new question both answers the question and moves question+answer to the Ref. Desk of his choosing. This should ensure that the first response is a well considered answer, and that only serious answerable questions make it to the Ref. Desks. However I do not propose any new "quality enforcement". Any follow-on answers and comments can be added to the answer thread as they are today.

This proposal can be implemented on a trial basis and I predict its results will be:

  • Having a constantly updated page of New reference questions can maintain and increase interest in the Ref. Desks and give maximum exposure of difficult questions that need priority. The archiving time for the page can be adjusted to accomodate the rate of new questions. Already answered questions are shown with a link to their answer without occupying space on this page.
  • Both questions and answers may be improved by the information the questioner may give about a Wikipedia article he already knows about.
  • Vandals will do their thing and this proposal alone cannot change that. However in cases where semi-protection of a Ref. Desk is called for, the New reference questions page can usually be kept freely accessible, and is easier to monitor. Furthermore, an administrator may handle a bad treatment of a question on a Ref. Desk. by demoting the question back to New reference questions rather than dumping it.
  • Support as proposer. DroneB (talk) 12:20, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Oppose. That seems very strange and pointless. Occasionally I have moved a misplaced question from one reference desk to another, but only very rarely is this needed. Nowadays we have a few more misplaced questions because under the long-term semi-protection some of the refdesks have gotten smaller and people are getting tempted to ask where they see more traffic; I don't have the heart to complain. But there is certainly no reason to impose the makework of moving questions on anyone who first answers one, over the rare misfilings. Even if editors were supposed to act as a barrier to screen out 'bad questions', it would still be much easier to delete the offending one in situ than to move every other one that isn't a bad question. It would also be more honest relative to the intent of the scheme. I should add that I toyed around with whole-page Lua processing before with the refdesks. As short as they are now, it should be feasible to come up with various scripts to generate summaries if you're so interested. Wnt (talk) 00:08, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
I agree that questions misplaced among the reference desks is too small a problem to concern us, and you are probably also right that unequal semi-protections of the desks may be distorting incoming traffic. The point of my proposal is not to attack a non-existent problem but to empower volunteer responders with control over which questions+answer(s) make it to the reference desks. It is healthier for Wikipedia to make best possible use of the generous good guys (that includes you Wnt and other long-term responders that we know on the desks) than some proposals above that strive to contain a few bad guys. I would not have supported this latest proposal if it imposed on first responders the makework of moving questions the way it is done today. The whole action can instead be simplified to a single click on a button when we replace the "Publish changes" button with separate buttons for "Publish at Science ref. desk", "Publish at Computing ref. desk", etc. From then onwards any follow-on answers and comments can be added at ref. desks as they are today. The original question can remain visible on the New reference questions page but may henceforth carry a notation such as Wnt responded at Science ref. desk which will be a Wikilink. Incidentally the only occasion I see for responding on the New reference questions page itself is to ask a questioner for a clarification, or to say why the question is out of bounds e.g. asking medical or legal advice. DroneB (talk) 10:45, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
This could work if it was used as a form of pre-moderation - the question will only get posted to the relevant reference desk after it has been approved by an admin. This will stop the mass abuse being seen, and reduce the motivation to post vandalism/abuse. PC2 (if it was still allowed) might be help to enable this.Nigel Ish (talk) 21:32, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for reading the proposal but you have misunderstood it if you suppose it seeks to erect a barrier of "admin pre-moderation" between questioners and first responders. Obviously an admin may step in to halt an unacceptable question, and again an admin may moderate if a thread gets out of hand at a ref. desk. But your heavy-handed discipline of only permitting a question to reach a reference desk after an admin first approves it is a throttling censorship plan that undervalues the common sense of volunteer responders who are the unsung competent resource for the ref. desks. Please do not confuse the function of an admin with the function of a Nanny. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DroneB (talkcontribs) 14:25, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose stop trying to reinvent the wheel. DuncanHill (talk) 12:42, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

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Proposal VII - Just stop the vandalismEdit

There is nothing to be done with this proposal. Vandals are blocked, and per WP:PROXY open proxies can already be blocked at any time. (non-admin closure) --DannyS712 (talk) 22:10, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
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The main problem affecting the reference desk was a vandal who was using a program and a list of open proxies to generate lots of vandalism. The open proxies used were obviously got from a public list of open proxies but they were being stopped one at a time in Wikipedia after each bout of vandalism. It was not just the reference desks that were vandalized but they were by far the main target. I think someone in Wikipedia has now set it up so the whole list is automatically blocked so the vandalism should now be down to normal enough levels, I'm not certain about that, but they do seem to have been suppressed now.

This is the sort of work that needs to be done to deal with vandalism. Removing the reference desks rather than dealing with the root problem would have simply moved the problem elsewhere like help desks or the main landing page or user talk pages. Dmcq (talk) 12:16, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

Do you have any evidence to support your claims that "The open proxies used were obviously got from a public list of open proxies" and "someone in Wikipedia has now set it up so the whole list is automatically blocked"? For $200 I can buy complete control of 10,000 computers with 10,000 IPs on hundreds hundreds of ISPs and use them as proxies to vandalize Wikipedia. None of the proxies will be on any list, and indeed none would be proxies until I started using them. Please read [5] and tell me how you would "just stop the vandalism" if I bought access to the botnet described -- and remember, there are many more botnets if that one gets shut down. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:41, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
I checked a number of the ips and every one I checked was on a public list of open proxies.
What you are talking about requires more skill and is obviously illegal and requires money. If an attack by such a person becomes relevant it still won't be anything relevant to the reference desks as such. But we should deal with the straightforward cases which is vandals attacking through open proxies. This vandal turned it into an automatic process and Wikipedia's one at a time defenses are inadequate to deal with that - they should just deal with the lot automatically. These public lists also do checks on whether the proxies have been closed so Wikipedia could reenable such ips once the problem is fixed. Defenses just need to be more than sufficient for the purpose. More is nice of course but one shouldn't throw out the good that could be done now for the unspecified not coming soon and probably unneeded best. Dmcq (talk) 10:25, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
Re: "I checked a number of the ips and every one I checked was on a public list of open proxies", thanks! Good info. That makes the refdesk troll much easier to deal with. If we get several editors working on it, we can find and block the listed proxies before the troll tries them. It seems like Wikipedia:WikiProject on open proxies would be the place for this, but I don't see any lists of open proxies being dealt with there, just individual IPs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Guy Macon (talkcontribs) 20:43, January 15, 2019 (UTC)

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General comment: Too many proposals / alternatives keep getting added in a haphazard mannerEdit

Main proposal has wound down. Proposals other than the first two are almost all closed. (non-admin closure)Matthew J. Long -Talk- 23:18, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
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This above discussion seems a bit "unfair". I responded to the original question ("Should we get rid of the Reference Desks?"). Then, a day or two later, more proposals were added. Then, a day or two later, yet more proposals were added. And so on. We now have a total of seven proposals! That seems like a very "patchwork" way of conducting a discussion. There should be one question; and people should answer that. It's unfair to keep adding new proposals (surveys) to the original question. A person might have originally answered differently if the whole set of proposals was placed before them, at the outset. Also, some people will come in and respond, then leave. They may not come back and notice the extra proposals that were subsequently added. The whole thing seems a bit "off", if we are trying to gauge the question "Should we get rid of the Reference Desks?", which is what I thought we were doing. As of now, we have seven proposals, all subsumed under this one original heading. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 14:18, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

The proposal for wiping out life on Earth has not yet been introduced. We can expect such a proposal by Thursday. Smile.png Bus stop (talk) 14:51, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
I don't think it's intended this way, but it does seem as if mud is being thrown at the wall to see what sticks, so to speak. 331dot (talk) 14:55, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Separate proposals are usually added when some idea pops up in the original straw poll that is a compromise position or which seems to have some amount of support. The continued addition after the first 1 or 2 usually doesn't end with consensus. --Izno (talk) 17:57, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Though I made fun of the the large number of proposals above, I don't really think that a large number of proposals are a bad thing. As you point out, they don't usually reach consensus. In that sense I don't really think of them as proposals, except in name. They are attempts to reframe earlier proposals, especially the original proposal. I think this is a rational, reasonable, and defensible way to carry a discussion forward. Bus stop (talk) 18:11, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
But, people are "voting" on a question ... and then that question is continuously getting changed. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 18:56, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
The structure of a section on this page is being retained in name only. The longer the section drags on the less people are really "proposing" anything or "voting" on anything. The structure becomes merely a manner of speaking. Bus stop (talk) 19:10, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Garbage in garbage out is my feeling about this whole discussion. Some troll programmatically cause problems on the reference desk, response they are being indefinitely protected, they should be removed because they are causing problems. I added a proposal that the actual problem be dealt with properly rather than the victim which has practically nothing to do with it. I asked that Wikipedia block the list of open proxies and nothing was done about it for ages and I'm not sure they have actually done anything reasonable about it yet. If the problem isn't dealt with properly others will follow with this sort of vandalism, I'm surprised it doesn't seem to have been done before. Dmcq (talk) 21:45, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
OK, I am glad to concede your proposal (Proposal VII - Just stop the vandalism) is not only legitimate but a good idea. I don't know what an open proxy is but I'm all in favor of preventing the vandalism that results from open proxies. Bus stop (talk) 22:15, 14 January 2019 (UTC)
Please see my reply to that proposal. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:44, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
I looked at our article on open proxy. There is no way I can knowledgeably weigh in on the question of the causes and the solutions to vandalism on the Reference desks. But shutting them down seems like a drastic response to vandalism. I obviously totally disagree with some that the "desks" have outlived their usefulness. The pace at the desks has slowed down from yesteryear. But they are at least as valuable now as in the past. Bus stop (talk) 08:13, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
I have answered exactly why I believe a public list is being used. The query there seemed to be of the kind you're only talking about predicted tornadoes destroying the house, but what happens if somebody hires a bulldozer and attacks your house with that? Dmcq (talk) 10:32, 15 January 2019 (UTC)

Since this discussion is becoming so long as to be a bit unwieldy, should we have a summary of the various arguments so far? Benjamin (talk) 13:57, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Another aspect of haphazardnessEdit

Despite the multiplicity of proposals being discussed here, the pointer to here from each of the RD pages still only mentions the proposal to close (which, by the way, I would oppose if an unregistered user's vote counted). -- (talk) 02:31, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

Discussions are not votes, but you are free to comment above and your opinion does count. — Newslinger talk 23:04, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

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Regarding legal actionsEdit

There have been a few comments above about potential office actions or legal actions, WMF actions, suing or even prosecuting the troll(s). Personally, even though I suspect a commercial motive, I am not convinced that pushing for this would be a good thing even if it can be arranged. The problem I see is that Wikipedia to the police forces is probably just like the Refdesk to some of the admins and bureaucrats here who want it deleted. I mean, Wikipedia doesn't add to the GDP, doesn't generate tax revenue, just lets a bunch of potential workers waste (what is potentially) the company's time and not buy textbooks; it's just a bunch of prole schmucks who want to know stuff. If you actually get some online enforcers riled up to go after the troll for violating Wikipedia TOS, will they stop there? Or will they use some comparable expansion of their mission to go after the next Wikipedian who violates a museum's TOS to repost a public domain image to Commons or uses data from a "secret" leaked diplomatic cable on Wikileaks in an article? Maybe we should leave the whole can of worms closed for now. As sure as we don't want admins hovering like dementors over the Refdesk, we don't want online police hovering over Wikipedia looking to invent a new legal theory. Wnt (talk) 17:58, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

The troll is obviously a stupid person therefore we should feel sorry for them and not prosecute them. Bus stop (talk) 19:16, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
In response to "Wikipedia doesn't add to the GDP, doesn't generate tax revenue", Wikipedia content is essential to products from for-profit companies, including virtual assistants, smart speakers, and search engine features such as Knowledge Graph. Wikipedia also plays a key role in educating many people, and education is vital for economic growth, as detailed in the Education economics article. I do agree with your main point in that office actions are unlikely to be helpful for addressing vandalism. — Newslinger talk 08:58, 21 January 2019 (UTC)



  • Some of the Stack Exchange sites have a lot of related cross-over with us. They are Infovores who prefer Reliable answers (i.e. citations).
  • Stack Exchange says "User contributions are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.[5]" - That might be useful to know!
  • I was reading this lovely thread asking if there was an English term for a word that differs from another one by just one letter, and thinking of our refdesks. Almost every comment there links to Enwiki! There is cited content there that isn't covered here!
  • We could collaborate with them (more). Could help their regulars learn how to contribute over here (too) the things they find out for discussions there (if they want to, if they don't already know how to, etc).
  • There are some old notes at Wikipedia:Stackexchange and Reddit, mainly about how we could do outreach there to get a few of those prolific internet knowledge-base researchers/contributors to consider contributing here sometimes too.
  • We could keep our refdesks for IP-editor questions and local discussions, but re-focused on finding citations for articles (as many have suggested above), and at the top we could point links to those other related sites for the benefit of people who want to ask non-article-related questions (or just want to get a larger pool of answerers).
  • Build the web.

I hope at the least this inspires somebody whom is more familiar with Stack Exchange than I am, to figure out even better steps/possibilities (boldly pinging @Count Iblis: based on one of your comments I saw above. Maybe you can help fill in that notes page with more Stack Exchange examples and ideas? or more? :). I couldn't see a clearly obvious section to place this further above. HTH. Quiddity (talk) 04:01, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

Do they require registration? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:24, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes, which is partly why I commented about "IP-editor questions" above. Quiddity (talk) 17:06, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
I couldn't find that comment. In any case, some IP's don't want to register. So whether we permanently semi the ref desks, or send them to Stack Exchange, either way they're shut out. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:21, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

Question: When does this above discussion close? When will we have a "resolution", one way or another? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 21:02, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

Has hell frozen over yet? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:05, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
Hell has not yet frozen over. But, doesn't this discussion procedurally stop at some point in time? Also, I believe that all of the arguments -- for and against -- have been made above. Can some administrator close this out? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 05:21, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
With what conclusions? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:07, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
I have no idea. That's the job of the admin's, not me. Over the past few weeks, I have read all (or most) of the above discussion. It seems that all of the arguments that can be made (both pro and con) have been made, at this point. Also, it seems that the discussion has petered out. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 00:46, 30 January 2019 (UTC)

The discussion has become so long as to be unwieldy. Perhaps it would be useful to summarize the arguments that have been made so far. Benjamin (talk) 07:23, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

I think you've said that already once. Maybe you could give it a try. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:27, 31 January 2019 (UTC)

Close requestEdit

Can an administrator please "close out" the above discussion? It was opened some 38+ days ago. I assume that the "final verdict" is "no consensus". Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 01:38, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

It will be closed when someone gets to it. — JJMC89(T·C) 06:45, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
It does not require an admin - see Wikipedia:Non-admin closure. However, you, Bugs, and I should not do it in this instance because, as long-time users of the RefDesks, we have a conflict of interest. Pretty clearly a "no consensus" closure. Matt Deres (talk) 15:39, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I don't think it's no consensus. There is a clear consensus not to close the refdesks, with a vocal minority in support. I very strongly recommend that this time the closure should explicitly say there is a consensus not to close. --Trovatore (talk) 01:46, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
I think you are correct. There is a consensus to keep the Reference Desks open. I misspoke above. I meant to say that the discussion resulted in being "not unanimous" (which is clearly different from "not consensus"). Sorry. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 04:39, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
What does "vocal minority" mean in this context? I mean ... wasn't everyone who participated "vocal"?
It sounds like you're trying to down-play the significance of the participants you disagree with by implying that there are people who agree with you but for unknown reasons decided to not be "vocal".
ApLundell (talk) 20:07, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
What I mean to say is, there are people who feel very strongly that the refdesks should be closed, but while the depth of their feeling should be acknowledged, it should also be recognized that they are sharply in the minority, and consensus is against them. --Trovatore (talk) 22:07, 11 February 2019 (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.